Yorkshire Chess History



James Crake











Made in Yorkshire



Sheffield Sub-Site





23/12/1847, Morpeth


14/11/1929, Hull




The Hull-based chess editor and problemist called James Crake, was seemingly the James Crayke born in Morpeth to John and Margaret Crayke, and baptised at Morpeth on 23rd December 1847.  The “y” seems never to reappear in records, suggesting it was spurious.


John and Margaret Crake had at least nine children, all born at Morpeth:


John William Crake

born 1841/42

Barbara Jane Crake

born 1843/44

Robert Crake

born 1844/45

James Crake

born 1847

George Crake

born 1849/50

Henry Crake

born 1851/52

Edward Crake

born 1853/54

Francis Crake

born 1858/59

William Crake

born July/August 1860


The 1851 census listed the parents and the first five of the above children, with one servant, living at Chantry Place, Morpeth.  Father ohn was described as a currier employing 1 man and 1 apprentice.


Slater's Commercial Directory of Durham, Northumberland & Yorkshire, 1855, didn’t mention James Crake, seemingly.


In Kelly’s Post Office Directory of Northumberland & Durham, 1858, John Crake was listed as a currier and leather cutter working from White Swan Yard, Newgate Street, Morpeth.


The 1861 census listed the parents and the last seven children, with one servant, living at 22 Howard Terrace, Morpeth.


James Crake must have moved from Morpeth to Hull in the late 1860s or in the 1870s, and in any event by 1881.


His address was given as 9 Rose Street, Beverly Road, Hull, in the Chess Player’s Chronicle of 1877, pages 186-187.


The 1881 census listed Morpeth-born James Crake as a 33-year-old bachelor, lodging with Timothy Holroyd, a tar distiller, and his wife Elizabeth Holroyd and daughter Charlotte Ann Holroyd, at 16 Rose Street, Sculcoates, Hull, and an accountant by occupation.


Whether James and Charlotte became enamoured as a result of James moving in as a lodger, or whether perhaps he moved in while the enamoured couple looked for a house prior to getting married, cannot be inferred.  However, nature took its course on way or another, and on the 21st December 1881 John Crake, son of James Crake, married 32-year-old Charlotte Ann Holroyd, daughter of Timothy Holroyd, at Sculcoates parish church.


White’s Directory of Hull for 1882 listed James Crake, accountant and auditor, and agent for the London and Lancashire (Fire) and British Equitable (Life), 3 Parliament Street; h. 4 Grafton Street.  There were also other consistent entries under various heads.  Presumably Grafton Street was the new marital home.


On the occasion of the marriage of Frideswide Fanny Beechey to Thomas Benjamin Rowland in 1884, he sent the couple a silver salver as a wedding present.


Bulmer’s History & Directory of East Yorkshire, 1892, listed James Crake, accountant, with home at 63 Grafton Street, Hull, and work at 3 Parliament Street, Hull.


The 1891 census listed 43-year-old James, now described as a chartered accountant, 41-year-old wife Charlotte, 68-year-old father-in-law Timothy Holroyd, 69-year-old mother-in-law Elizabeth Holroyd, and his wife’s 87-year-old aunt Mary Holroyd, all living at 63 Grafton Street, Cottingham, Hull.


Kelly’s, 1893 directory, gives James Crake’s home address as 63 Grafton Street, his former residence at number 4 now being occupied by one Frederick Gibson, and lists him as a chartered accountant in offices as before at 3 Parliament Street.


The1901 census listed 53-year-old chartered accountant James Crake, 50-year-old wife Charlotte, widowed 78-year-old father-in-law Timothy Holroyd, and the wife’s 87-year-old unmarried aunt Mary Holroyd, all living at Wansbeck House, 427 Beverley Road, Hull.


The 1911 census listed 63-year-old chartered accountant James Crake and his 61-year-old wife Charlotte Ann Crake now living on their own at 427 Beverley Road, Hull.  The census confirms that they never had any children.


Kelly's Directory of N & E Ridings of Yorkshire, 1913, listed James Crake, accountant, as resident at 427 Beverley Road, and working as a chartered accountant from Imperial Chambers, 9 Bowlalley Lane.




James Crake died on Thursday 14th November 1929, aged 82, at Hull.




An article in the Chess Player’s Chronicle of 1877, pp. 186-187, listed him as one of 28 players in a team representing Britain in a correspondence match with America.


James Crake edited a chess column in The Hull Miscellany and Baker St Programme from January 1878 to August 1878, which was transferred, still with Crake as editor, to the Bellman, a weekly magazine printed in Hull and distributed mainly in Hull and Grimsby, appearing from September 1878 to September 1880.  He probably conducted similar columns in other local publications at some time or other.


James Crake was a composer of chess problems.


The British Chess Magazine of 1885 carried the following problem “By J. CRAKE, HULL”:


White to play and mate in three moves.


The Leeds Mercury of 03/07/1886 published three problems by James Crake in each of which the pieces formed one of the initials (W. E. G.) of William Ewart Gladstone.  Gladstone was at the time in his third, brief, period of office as prime minister (from 1 February to 20 July 1886).  The composer liked the “G” best:


White mates in three moves.


Crake sent a copy to Gladstone, who replied on a postcard as follows [American Chess Magazine, 1898, p.30]:


Sir – Many thanks for your kind words. I am sensible of the compliment you have paid me, and join with you in your admiration of the noble game; but is it not too much for a game?  At any rate, for the residuum of brain force which I have to devote to it.

Yours faithfully and obediently,

W. E. Gladstone.

Hawarden, 12th December 1886.


Kelly's Directory of N & E Ridings of Yorkshire, 1893, lists under “Clubs”:
Hull United Liberal Club, 3 Albion Street, James Crake hon. sec.


He was the author of a 67-page book titled “Chess Whimsicalities” by “Expertus”, published by Chess Amateur, in 1916.


Hull Chess Club had a trophy called “The Crake Trophy”, which presumably was presented by, or named after, James Crake.


Australian IM Cecil Purdy was apparently a great nephew of James Crake.





Copyright © 2012 Stephen John Mann

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

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