Yorkshire Chess History



Alfred Bilbrough











Made in Yorkshire



Sheffield Sub-Site



1842, Bruntcliffe



23/06/1915, Leeds



Identity of the Chess-Player


Leeds chess-player “A. Bilbrough” was sometimes more specifically named as “Alfred Bilbrough”.  There were two people of that name who present themselves as possibly being the chess-player.  There was Alfred Bilbrough, maltster of Gildersome, who was born 1819/20 and died 25/08/1891, and there was Alfred Bilbrough, druggist for many years of Beech Grove Terrace, Leeds, who was born 1842 and died 23/06/1915.  The two appear to have been related, perhaps as uncle and nephew, since William Nelson Bilbrough was an executor of both of them.


The chess-playing career of A. Bilbrough extended well beyond the death of the Gildersome maltster, which means the druggist was the chess-player.


Non-Chess Life


The date of birth of chess-player Alfred Bilbrough, as implied by census returns, was in 1841 or 1842.  As his birth was registered in the second quarter of 1842, at Leeds, we can take it he was born in 1842.  His place of birth was Leeds.


Alfred Bilbrough’s parents were Joseph Brook Bilbrough (born 1813/14, Bruncliffe, a mile to the west of Morley) and Sarah Bilbrough (born 1813/14, Leeds).  The couple had at least the following four children, all born in Leeds:


William R. Bilbrough

born 1839/40

Alfred Bilbrough

born 1842

John Bilbrough

born 1846/47

Ann Bilbrough

born 1849/50


The family seems elusive in the 1841 census, but the 1851 census found the parents and four children living with two servants at 17 Grove Terrace, Leeds.  Father Joseph was listed as a druggist, into which occupation Alfred was in due course to follow.  William and Alfred were scholars.


The 1861 census found the parents, four children, Joseph’s 18-year-old niece Anna E. Bilbrough, and two servants living at 15 Beech Grove Terrace, Leeds, which remained Alfred’s residence for the rest of his life.  Father Joseph was still a druggist.  Eldest son William had become a woollen merchant.  Alfred was now a druggist, perhaps working with his father.  John and Ann were scholars.


The 1871 census found parents, four children and two servants still living at 15 Beech Grove Terrace, Leeds.  Father Joseph was now listed as both a druggist and landowner.  Eldest son William was both commercial clerk and woollen merchant.  Alfred was still a druggist.


The 1881 census found things unchanged except for peoples occupations.  Father Joseph was no longer described as a landowner, just a druggist.  William was now a cashier in a cloth warehouse.  John had joined Alfred and his father in being a druggist.


The 1891 census no longer listed John.  Perhaps he had married and setup his own marital home.  Father Joseph appears to have died, leaving his wife Sarah living on her own means.  William was now described as a retired woollen merchant, while Alfred was a retired chemist, as druggists were becoming known.


Alfred Bilbrough seems elusive in the 1901 census, though not much can have changed.


The 1911 census found 69-year-old Alfred Bilbrough living on his own, apart from the usual two servants, at 15 Beech Grove Terrace, Leeds.  He never married.




Alfred Bilbrough of 15 Beech Grove Terrace, Leeds, died on 23/06/1915, aged 73.  Probate was granted to William Nelson Bilbrough, gent, John Ernest Town, paper maunufacturer, and John William Bointon, solicitor.  His effects totalled £149,015 8s 3d.




Alfred Bilbrough of Leeds attended the annual meetings of the West Yorkshire Chess Association of 1870, 1874, 1876, 1878, 1886, 1887, and 1888.


At the 15th WYCA meeting at Halifax in 1879 he played in the Third Class tournament, beating Thomas Fieldsend in round one, but losing in round two to Inman of London.


He played for Leeds in the Wakefield-Leeds match played at the West Yorkshire Chess Association meeting on Saturday 16th May, 1874, at Huddersfield, score 2-1 against William Ledgar Robinson.


The apparent hiatus in attendance at West Yorkshire Chess Association meeting suggests than maybe from 1870 to 1878 meetings were attended by the maltster from Gildersome, and that from 1886 they were attended by the druggist.  In the absence of information to the contrary it is here assumed all chess reports of A. Bilbrough of Leeds referred to Alfred Bilbrough the druggist.


“A. Bilbrough” of Leeds played for Yorkshire in the 1883 Yorkshire-Lancashire match.


He played for Leeds in the Woodhouse Cup in 1901-02 and 1904-05.





Copyright © 2013 Stephen John Mann

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

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