Yorkshire Chess History



Jean Franz Dittmar











Made in Yorkshire



Sheffield Sub-Site



1854/55, Cassel, Germany




1930/31, Stockton, Co.Durham




Non-Chess Life


The 1911 UK census tells us, as recorded by the man himself, that his full name was Jean Franz Dittmar, born in Cassel, Germany.  Ages in various sources always imply birth in 1954/55.  The names “Franz” and “Dittmar” are clearly German, but “Jean” suggest a French mother.


Unmarried German-born 24-year-old “professor of music” appears in the 1881 census as a lodger in the McIntosh household at Station Road, Northallerton, in the North Riding of Yorkshire.  His age suggests he may have only relatively recently come to England, assuming he was educated in his native Germany.  There were others of roughly similar age, with the name Dittmar, in the same general area.


In 1884, in the registration district of Guisbrough, which included Redcar, Jean Dittmar married Mary A Lane (born 1862, Middlesborough), and the couple went on to produce the following children, whose places of birth serve to track the family’s peregrinations around Yorkshire and Co. Durham:


Bertha Georgina Dittmar

born 1884,  Redcar;  died at or near birth in 1884

Ernest Dittmar

born 1886, Redcar; died 1959, Whitby

Ruby Maud Dittmar

born 1888, Redcar; died 1967, Durham

Ralph Dittmar

born 1889/90, Redcar; died 1965, Durham

Mary Dittmar

born 03/09/1891, Redcar; died 1970, Teesside

Henry (“Harry”) Dittmar

born 1892/93, Darlington

Jean Dittmar

born 25/01/1893, Darlington;

baptised 19/02/1893, St. Hilda’s, Darlington

Wilhelm Dittmar *

born 26/03/1894, Leeds; died 1978, Central Cleveland

Karl Dittmar *

born 18/07/1895, Northallerton; died 1971, Dartford

Jean Dittmar

born 1896, Egglescliffe

Emily Dittmar

born 20/04/1899, West Hartlepool; died 1980, Central Cleveland

Eliza Dittmar

born 1900, West Hartlepool

Franz Dittmar

born 21/09/1904, West Hartlepool;

baptised 03/11/1904, St. Paul, Hartlepool

* aka “William”

** registered as “Karl”, but shown in censuses as “Carl”.


The first “Jean” child is a bit of a mystery.  His baptism is recorded, with date of birth and place of residence, yet neither the birth nor a related death seem to have been registered, suggesting perhaps that he died before even his birth had been registered.


Sabina Berenice Dittmar, born 28/02/1903 (died 1976, Central Cleveland) may belong above, but may be from a different family.


Jean Franz Dittmar seems elusive in the 1891 census, perhaps due to his name being misrepresented, but it is evident he was in Redcar.


From chess records, Jean Franz Dittmar was evidently in Leeds in early 1892, as he played in the 1892 Leeds v Birmingham match on 13/02/1892, so maybe at this stage his family was still living in Darlington.  From the record of Wilhelm’s birth it is evident the whole family had moved to Leeds by 1894.


The Leeds directory for 1894 records Jean Dittmar, professor of music, residing at 17 Mount Preston, Leeds.


The family stayed in Leeds seemingly only for a year or so before moving to Northallerton.


The 1901 census found the family in West Hartlepool,


The 1911 census (completed by the householder) is where the man identifies himself as Jean Franz Dittmar, born in Cassel, Germany.  The family was now in Stockton-on-Tees.




Jean Franz Dittmar died in 1930/31 in the Stockton registration district, and probably more precisely in Stockton-on-Tees.  Wife Mary died in 1932.




He played for Leeds in the 1892 Leeds v Birmingham match and presumably other matches from 1892 to 1894.





Copyright © 2019 Stephen John Mann

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

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