Yorkshire Chess History



John Craven (of Leeds)











Made in Yorkshire



Sheffield Sub-Site



15/04/1837, Leeds


03/05/1837, St. Peter’s, Leeds


19/06/1900, Leeds




Identity of the Chess-Player


There were three chess-players called John Craven who appeared at meetings of the West Yorkshire Chess Association, John Craven senior of Halifax, John Craven junior of Halifax, and John Craven of Leeds.  John Craven of Leeds attended WYCA meetings over the period 1875 to 1888.  One would expect him, therefore, to be listed in the “Court” section of Kelly's Directory of West Riding of Yorkshire, 1881.  The only John Craven of Leeds listed there is John Craven of 3 Beech Grove Terrace, Leeds.  Census searches throw up no other people who are likely be the Leeds chess-player.


The marriage register entry for this John Craven identifies his father, which facilitates identifying the baptism record for this John Craven.  Luckily, the baptism register records the date of birth as well.


Non-Chess Life


John Craven was born on 15/04/1837, at Leeds, the son of Joseph Craven, a machine-maker of Brewery Field, Leeds, and Mary Craven.  He was baptised on 03/05/1837 at St. Peter’s, Leeds, by Robert Taylor, curate.


There was also a John Craven born 18/07/1836 to policeman called Joseph Craven, and his wife Hannah Craven, but the father’s profession doesn’t match John Craven’s baptism register entry.  There was also a John Craven born 1837/38, son of Benjamin Craven, but he married Maria Stephenson who was not our man’s wife in census records.


The 1851 census records a 13-year-old Leeds-born John Craven as one of about 102 pupils at a school run by William Dove in the Making Place part of the scattered village of Soyland, half a mile NW of Ripponden, and five-and-a-half miles SW of Halifax.  This was probably our man, but it is not certain.  White’s Directory of Leeds, Bradford &c, 1854, listed William Dove’s “academy” at Soyland.


White’s Directory of Leeds, Halifax, Huddersfield, Wakefield &c, 1858, listed Joseph Craven, machine-maker (of Smith, Beacock and Tannett, ironfounders and tool, machine &c. manufacturers, Victoria Foundry, Water Lane, Leeds) with his home at Beeston Hill.


On 02/12/1867, 30-year-old John Craven, engineer of Beeston Hill, son of engineer Joseph Craven, was married by Rev. Thomas Hincks to 22-year-old Apulina Gaunt of Carlton Lodge, daughter of [fellow-chessplayer] Edwin Gaunt, cap manufacturer.


Apulina’s first name gets variously spelt as Appollina, Apolina, and Apulina.  Her own signature in the marriage register seems clearly to say “Apulina”.  Census returns carry little weight except those of 1911, where the householder completed the return.  John Craven’s probate record, however, spells his widow’s name “Apolina”.  Probate records are usually accurate, but perhaps not in this case.


The couple had at least the following three children, all born in Leeds:


Joseph Craven

born 1873/74

Frank Craven

born 1877/78

James G. Craven

born 1885/86


The 1871 census found 33-year-old John and 26-year-old Apulina living with one servant at 126 Beeston Road, the house apparently being named “Middleton Vue”.  John was listed as a partner in a machine toolworks.


The 1881 census found 43-year-old John, an “engineer master”, and 36-year-old Apulina with 7-year-old Joseph and 3-year-old Frank and two servants, living at 3 Beech Grove Terrace, Leeds.


The1891 census found both parent, all three children, and two servants living at 3 Beech Grove [Terrace], Leeds.


From his probate record, it would appear that by 1900 the Cravens had moved in with Apulina’s parents, Edwin and Caroline Gaunt, at Carlton Lodge.




John Craven of Carlton Lodge, Leeds, engineer, died on 19/06/1900.  Probate was granted to Apolina [sic] Craven, widow.  His effects amounted to £8,362 19s. 6d.




John Craven attended the West Yorkshire Chess Association annual meetings every year from 1875 to 1888.  He attended the first meeting of the Yorkshire County Chess Club in 1886.  He played in the West Yorkshire versus Tyneside & Tees-Side match played at Harrogate in 1888.  He played for Leeds in the Woodhouse Cup (e.g. Sheffield v Leeds, Woodhouse Cup, 1886)





Copyright © 2012 Stephen John Mann

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

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