Yorkshire Chess History
William Henry Camm
The member of Sheffield Athenaeum Chess Club was usually referred to simply as “Camm” or as “W. H. Camm”. Contemporary with William Henry Camm as a resident of Sheffield was whitesmith William Husband Camm. Though the latter appears to have been self-employed, even employing men, he was not the sort of person who became a member of the Sheffield Athenaeum Club. On the other hand, we know from his obituary that William Henry Camm, accountant, was a member of the Sheffield Athenaeum Club.
William Henry Camm’s parents were William Camm (born c. 1805/06) and Hannah B Camm (née Biggin, 1803/04, Greenhill/Norton, then Derbyshire, now Sheffield). The 1851 census gave Hannah’s birthplace as Norton, Derbys., but thereafter her place of birth was regularly given as Greenhill, Derby. Norton and Greenhill are adjacent and were then in Derbyshire, though have since been absorbed into Sheffield.
William and Hannah Camm had at least the following four children, all born at Dronfield, which was then, and still is, in Derbyshire:
William Henry Camm’s birth was registered in the first quarter of 1843, at Chesterfield, so he might have been born in late December 1842. His obituary said he was born at Greenhill, but that seems incorrect, as it contradicts all census returns which list him, including the 1911 one, completed by William himself, where he states he was born in Dronfield. (Greenhill was where his mother Hannah was born.)
The 1841 census found the parents William and Hannah living with the elder three children at Dronfield, then too small for the census return to give a road name of other such detail. William was a spindle maker.
Our man, William Henry Camm, was born at Dronfield, most probably in the first quarter of 1843, but possibly in very late December 1842.
When young William was only about two years old, his father William Camm died, the death being registered in the first quarter of 1845, at Chesterfield.
The 1851 accordingly found widowed Hannah with all four children still living in Dronfield. Hannah was a shopkeeper.
Perhaps to provide better opportunities for employment for the boys, the family moved to Sheffield, where the 1861 census found them living at 74 St. Phillip’s Road. 57-year-old Hannah no longer had an occupation, but Bathia was a dressmaker, Isaac was a saw-maker, and Abraham was a file-cutter. On the other hand, our man, William, had embarked on a white-collar career, being an accountant’s clerk.
White’s General Directory and Topography of Sheffield &c, 1864, listed W. H. Camm as a county court clerk at 65 New George Street, Sheffield. (Did the directory data collector write “AC Clerk” which got interpreted as “CC Clerk”?) Kelly’s Post Office Directory of Sheffield &c, 1865, listed him as an unqualified “clerk” at the same address.
In 1865 he founded an accountancy firm which became known as Camm and Corbidge, with offices at 13 Cheney Row in the centre of Sheffield, by the side of St. Paul’s church, which was situated where later there was the open space popularly called the “Peace Gardens”. He was now in a position to take a wife.
His marriage to Annie Walton Unwin was registered in the first quarter of 1866, at Sheffield. The couple had at least the following five children, all born in Sheffield:
White’s Directory of the Boroughs of Sheffield, Doncaster, Chesterfield &c, 1868, listed Wm. Hy. Camm as an accountant, and collector of rents and debts, at 13 Cheney Row.
The 1871 census found William, his wife, the first two children and 67-year-old mother, Hannah, living with two servants at 87 Norfolk Street, Sheffield. William was now an accountant rather than merely an accountant’s clerk.
White’s 1876 directory listed Wm. Hy. Camm, of Camm & Corbidge, with his home at Holly Mount, 223 Cemetery Road, Sheffield.
When St. Matthias’s church opened for public worship in 1879, William Henry Camm became a churchwarden, which post he held for 35 years, retiring from it at Easter 1914. St. Matthias’s was on Summerfield Street, which runs from Cemetery Road down to Ecclesall Road.
White’s 1879 directory recorded the new office location of Camm & Corbidge, at 133 & 135 Norfolk Street, Sheffield. The Camms now resided at Willow View, 197 Cemetery Road, Sheffield. Kelly’s 1883 directory gave the same.
The 1881 found the Camm family had moved to 197 Cemetery Road, Sheffield. Eliza, Jennie, Amy and a servant were listed there with William. William was now a chartered accountant. At the time of the census, wife Annie and 4-year-old William visiting people in Camberwell. George was perhaps away at school somewhere, but may have died since he did not survive his father.
The death of Annie Wilton Camm was registered in the first quarter of 1886, at Ecclesall Bierlow, Sheffield.
Slater’s Directory of Sheffield & Rotherham and their vicinities, 1887, showed Camm & Corbidge had moved to 17 Bank Street, Sheffield. Kelly’s of 1888 gave the same.
William Henry Camm was an original member of the Sheffield Society of Accountants, and an original member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants. Accordingly, Kelly’s Directory of Sheffield, Rotherham and neighbourhood, 1888, listed Wm. Hy. Camm, of 197 Cemetery Road, as a chartered accountant of Camm & Corbidge, 17 Bank Street. (The estimable William White, in his General & Commercial Directory of Sheffield and Rotherham &c, 1889, arguably slipped up by omitting “chartered”, but included it in future editions!)
The 1891 census found widowed William, chartered accountant, still at 197 Cemetery Road. Living with him were Jennie, Amy, William, Frank and one servant.
The family moved to 43 Broomgrove Road, Sheffield. Accordingly, the 1901 census found 58-year-old chartered accountant William living there with Amy, William, Frank and two servants. 24-year-old William Unwin Camm was listed as a chartered accountant’s clerk, presumably working for his father.
By 1902, the accountancy firm had been joined by F. H. Metcalfe, assuming the style “Camm, Corbidge and Metcalfe”, which White listed though to 1907inclusive.
At 63 years of age, William Henry Camm took a second wife, his marriage to Rose Florence Croft (born 1856/57, Spilsby,Lincs.) being registered in the second quarter of 1906 at St. Pancras, London. The bride was 14 years younger than the groom.
At some time around 1907 to 1910, “Corbidge” withdrew from the accountancy firm, which thus became “Camm, Metcalfe & Co.”, which style persisted beyond our man’s death, after which the “Camm” element represented the son, William Unwin Camm. White’s directories of 1910, 1912 and 1913 listed both father and son as involved in Camm, Metcalfe & Co., with the father still resident at 44 Broomgrove Road, but the son resident at Hathersage in Derbyshire.
The 1911 census found William and Rose living with two servants at Broomgrove Road, as before. William was still a chartered accountant. He signed the census return “Wm. Henry Camm”, suggesting he was possibly know as “Henry” rather than “William”, which in childhood would have differentiated him from his father.
Besides being an accountant, he was a director of Strout’s brewery in Sheffield, from its formation, and was also a directory, from its formation, of Carter’s Knottingley Brewery, Knottingley.
Outside business he had various interests. At St. Matthias’s church he was much more active than simply being churchwarden. He was a member of a bowling club, of which he was sometime president. The was a member of the Sheffield Athenaeum Club, where he was a member of the Chess Club.
The Sheffield Daily Telegraph of Wednesday, 16/12/1914, reported the death as follows:
Probate records state that William Henry Camm of 43 Broomgrove Road, Sheffield, died 14/12/1914, probate being granted to Frank Arthur Camm, secretary of a Ltd company, and William Unwin Camm, chartered accountant. His effects totalled £10,674 3s 7d.
Glimpses of his chess activity exist on record.
He played for the Sheffield Athenaeum Chess Club in a match versus the relatively recently formed St. Peter’s Chess Club on 13/02/1877.
He played for the Sheffield Athenaeum Chess Club versus the Rest of the Sheffield & District Chess Association on 17/04/1883.
He played for Sheffield’s Woodhouse Cup team in its first season, 1885-86, when the team won the Cup.
Copyright © 2013 Stephen John Mann
Census information is copyright of The National Archive, see UK Census Information