Yorkshire Chess History



Charles Birchall











Made in Yorkshire



Sheffield Sub-Site



26/10/1824, Leeds




1894, Reddish/Stockport




Non-Chess Life


Charles Birchall was born on 26/10/1824, in Leeds, to Quaker couple Edwin Birchall (born 1789/90, Leeds) and Elizabeth (aka Eliza, born 1794/95, Ireland), who had at least the following two children, both born in Leeds:


Charles Birchall

born 26/10/1824

Eliza Birchall

born 1827/28


The 1851 census found the parents and two children living at 3 Park Square, Leeds, with two servants.  Father Edwin was a (retired) stuff merchant.  Charles was an accountant.


Around 1854, give or take three years, Charles Birchall moved to Sheffield.  He may have been the “C. B.” in the newspaper advert mentioned below, in which case, in late 1855, he resided at the premises of a Mr. Holmes, at 204 Glossop-road, Sheffield.  He had certainly moved to Sheffield by 1857, on the basis of chess activity.


On 15/11/1857, Charles Birchall married Hester Snowdon (born 1830, St. Martin’s, London – where baptised 21/08/1830 – daughter of George and Hester Snowdon), in Edinburgh.  Why the couple got married in Edinburgh is unclear.  Charles returned to Sheffield, with his wife, where the couple started a family, ultimately having at least the following four children:


Caleb Birchall

born 1858, Sheffield

Ernest Birchall

born 1860/61, Sheffield

Maude Mary Birchall

born 1862, Manchester

Harold Birchall

born 1871/72, Heaton Norris, Stockport


Melville’s 1859 directory of Sheffield listed Charles Birchall as an accountant and estate agent at 11 St. James Street.


The 1861 census found Charles, Hester, Caleb and Ernest living at 259 Pearl Street, Sheffield, with a servant.  Charles’s sister-in-law, Eliza Selina Snowdon (born 1839/40, London), was visiting at the time.  Charles was described as an accountant, employing 2 clerks.


White’s 1862 Sheffield directory listed Charles Birchall was an accountant, estate agent, and rent & debt collector, working from 11 St. James Street, and living at 259 Pearl Street.


By some time in 1862, the family had moved to Manchester, and wasn’t listed in White’s 1864 Sheffield Directory


The 1871 census found the family living in Hampden Grove, which ran along the railway line, in the Barton-upon-Irwell district of what is now Greater Manchester, Lancashire.  Charles was now a wholesale milliner, employing 12 women.  Caleb, Ernest and Maude were all scholars.  Why Charles should move from Sheffield to Manchester, and switch occupation from accountancy etc. to millinery, isn’t clear.


The 1881 census found the whole family, except Caleb, at 9 Church Lane, in the Harpurhey district of Manchester.  Charles was still a wholesale milliner.  Ernest was an accountant’s clerk.  Harold was a scholar.


The 1891 census found parents Charles and Hester living with Maude and Harold at 133 Broadstone Road, Reddish, Lancashire.  Charles was now a cashier and bookkeeper, employed by someone else rather than in his own business, and had so reverted from millinery to something more like his earlier occupation.




Charles Birchall died in 1894, aged 69, in or near Reddish.




He may have been the “C. B.” who advertised in a local paper in 1855 for a chess opponent.


With Edmund Thorold and Edmund Octavius Gilpin, he was involved in the attempted 1857 formation of a new Sheffield Chess Club.


“Charles Birchall” of Sheffield attended the 1859 annual meeting of the West Yorkshire Chess Association, and as merely “Birchall” attended the 1860 annual meeting of the West Yorkshire Chess Association.


He is recorded as paying his subscription as a member of the Sheffield Athenaeum Chess Club for 1859, 1860 and 1861.


He played in the 1861 George Lumley (blindfold) simultaneous display in Sheffield.





Copyright © 2014 Stephen John Mann

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

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