Yorkshire Chess History



William John Berryman











Made in Yorkshire



Sheffield Sub-Site



1876/77, Ballinderry, Co. Derry




10/08/1930, Bexhill-on-Sea




Identity of the Chess-Player


The Chess Amateur of December 1909 (p. 69) conveniently mentions that W. J. Berryman who had recently been awarded a best-game prize among Irish players in a certain correspondence match was then resident in Barnsley.  This Irish-Barnsley connection eliminates others of the same name from consideration.


Non-Chess Life


Irish-born chess-player William John Berryman was given slightly inconsistent ages in censuses, but adding in his age at death it is evident he was born in 1876/77, at Ballinderry, County Derry, Ireland (Northern Ireland as it is now).


He seems to have come to England by 1901, as the census for that year lists “W. J. Berryman”, a 24-year-old Irish-born schoolmaster, lodging with two other schoolmasters and others at an unnumbered residence in Noble Street, Wem, Shropshire – 10 miles north of Shrewsbury.  The address makes it evident that he was a master at Wem Grammar School, which dated from 1690, and at the time had 38 boys.  Kelly’s Shropshire Directory dated 1891 gave Joseph Ohm B. A. as headmaster, with Arthur F. Eckersley B.A. as second master.  The 1895 directory gave Joseph Ohm as head, and J Scott Mason as second master.  William John Berryman didn’t get a mention by name in either directory.


In 1907, William John Berryman married Jessie Mary Bodkin (born 1871, Chelmsford; died 1949, Christchurch, Hants.) in the Marylebone district of London.  They had no children in the first 3 years or so of married life.


By 1909, the couple had evidently moved to Barnsley, as mentioned above, but in The Chess Amateur of December 1909 (p. 69) he was described as “of Moneymere [sic –means Moneymore], Derry” though then living in Barnsley.  Whether he had gone back to Ireland after leaving Wem Grammar is unclear.


The 1911 census found William John Berryman and Jessie Mary Berryman, both allegedly aged 35, living with one servant at 12 Lingard Street, Barnsley.  William was a master at “the Grammar School”, presumably Holgate school, which soon moved to Shaw Lane in 1912.  The ages look like a cosmetic equalisation.  William may well have been only 34 (cf 24 in 1891) while his wife was more like 40 years old.


He remained playing chess in Yorkshire to at least the mid-1920s, being recorded as from Barnsley as late as 1923.


He served out his working life at Barnsley Grammar School, and then retired to Bexhill-on-Sea, where he resided at Boveagh, Collington Lane, Bexhill-on-Sea.




He died at Bexhill-on-Sea after a short illness on 10/08/1930.  A death notice appeared in the Sheffield Telegraph & Star of 16/08/1930.  An obituary was carried by the Bexhill-on-Sea Observer of 23/08/1930.  He left £4,187.




He played for the Four-leaved Shamrock in a correspondence match with the British Correspondence Chess Association, winning the prize for the most brilliant game won in the event by an Irishman.  His prize was a handsomely framed picture of Lough Gill, Sligo.  The game went:


White: Berryman, W. J. (Four-leaved Shamrock), Black: Williams D. S. (BCCA), 1909, correspondence

1. e4 c5 2. d4 cxd4 3. Nf3 e5 4. Bc4 d6 5. c3 dxc3 6. Nxc3 h6 7. Qb3 Qd7 8. Be3 Nc6 9. Bb5 Nge7 10. Nd5 Qd8 11. Rc1 Bd7 12. Bc4 Nxd5 13. Bxd5 Na5 14. Bxf7+ Ke7 15. Qd5 g5 16. Bg8 Qe8 17. Nxe5 Rxg8 18. Nxd7 Bg7 19. Rc7 Qd8 (see diagram)



White now announced mate in 7 with the following:  20. Ne5+ Qxc7 21. Qf7+ Kd8 22. Qxg8+ Ke7 23. Qxg7+ Ke8 24. Qg6+ Ke7 25. Qf7+ Kd8 26. Qf8 mate.  Black resigned.


Although Barnsley has been within the scope of the Sheffield & District Chess Association since 1883, rather than play for Sheffield, he joined Leeds Chess Club and initially played for then in the Woodhouse Cup.


He played for Leeds in the 1911-12 Woodhouse Cup.


He played in the 1913 NCCU Championship tournament in Blackpool.


At the BCF Congress of 1923, Southsea, he played in Premier Open.


He played for Yorkshire versus Surrey on 11th October 1924.


He played for Sheffield in the 1924-25 Woodhouse Cup.





Copyright © 2017 Stephen John Mann

Census information is copyright of The National Archive, see UK Census Information

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