Yorkshire Chess History



Rev. Samuel Walter Earnshaw











Made in Yorkshire



Sheffield Sub-Site



21/05/1833, Cambridge


31/07/1833, St. Michael, Cambridge


20/10/1887, Ellough, Suffolk



Non-Chess Life


Samuel Walter Earnshaw’s paternal grandfather was Joseph Earnshaw of Sheffield.  His parents were Samuel Earnshaw and Ann [Venn says “Anne”] Earnshaw (née Wall) who had at least the following seven children:


Samuel Walter Earnshaw

born 21/05/1833, Cambridge

John W S Earnshaw

born 1835/36, Cambridge

Ann Isabelle Earnshaw

born 1837/38, Cambridge

Edward Earnshaw

born 1838/39

Charles Earnshaw

born Apr/May 1841

Alfred Earnshaw

born 1844/45, Cambridge

George E Earnshaw

born 1846/47, Cambridge

Sarah Elizabeth Earnshaw

born 1847/48, Sheffield


Father Joseph Earnshaw was a Cambridge graduate, getting his BA in 1831, then his MA in 1834.  It was while Joseph was at Cambridge that Samuel Walter Earnshaw was born on 21/05/1833, at Gonville Place, Cambridge.


Joseph went on to be ordained as a deacon in 1834, and a priest in 1846, whereafter he took up a chaplaincy was Sheffield’s parish church (now cathedral), remaining resident in Sheffield to his death in 1888.


The 1851 census found the Earnshaw family living at 2 Gell Street, Sheffield.  Father Samuel, and brothers Edward and Charles were not actually there on the date of the census.  17-year-old Cambridge-born Samuel was at that stage a scholar.


Samuel went on to be admitted as a pensioner at St John’s, Cambridge, on 21/05/1853, matriculating at Michaelmas, 1853.  He got his B.A. in 1857 and was ordained a deacon that same year, the made a priest in 1858.  He got his M.A. in 1868, and LL.M. in 1873.


In 1857 he married Eliza Stacey, in Sheffield.  The couple had at least the following five children:


Mabel Earnshaw

born Jan/Feb 1861, Sheffield

Eliza Beatrice Earnshaw

born 1862/63, Sheffield

Walter Herbert Stacey Earnshaw

born 1865/66, Sheffield

William Edgar Earnshaw

born 1867/68, Sheffield

Eveline Mary Earnshaw

born Jul/Aug 1870, Hemsworth


Eliza seems to have returned the Sheffield for the births of the first four children.


Samuel’s career in the church started as follows:



curate at St. Leonard’s, Bromley, Kent


curate at St. Thomas’s, Birmingham


The 1861 census found Samuel, Eliza and 2-month-old Mabel living with one servant at 140 Bath Row, Birmingham.  Samuel was described as senior curate at St. Thomas’s, Birmingham, and a Bachelor of Arts, Cambridge.


Samuel’s next clerical posts were the following:



curate at Nether Whitacre, Warks.

(about 10 miles ENE of centre of Birmingham)


chaplain at Tremadoc

(just outside Potmadog, Gwynedd, Wales)


At this juncture, in 1869, Samuel became headmaster at Archbishop Holgate School, Hemsworth, Yorkshire, not so far, relatively speaking, from his parental home town of Sheffield.


The 1871 census found Samuel, Eliza, the above five children, and Samuel’s sister, living at Hemsworth Grammar School, were Samuel was headmaster.  (Hemsworth-born Robert Holgate, Archbishop of York, had founded this free grammar school in the reign of Henry VIII.)


It was while Samuel was at Hemsworth that he was involved in chess in Yorkshire.


In 1877, Samuel returned to the church, becoming rector of Ellough, in Suffolk (3 miles SSE of Beccles, and about 9 miles SW of Lowestoft),which post he held to his death.


For some reason or other, the 1881 census found Samuel with his parents and their two servants, at 12 Beech Hill Road, Sheffield.  He was not recorded as a visitor, but presumably he was simply visiting.




Samuel Walter Earnshaw, aged 54, died on 20/10/1887, at Ellough.




Venn mentions that our man was partial to chess, and undertook frequent trips to London, where he played against leading chess-players there.


In 1858, while resident in Bromley, he went to see Paul Morphy in action in London


From 1859 to 1868 his nearest chess club was in Birmingham.  The Chess Player’s Magazine of 1866 (p. 152) listed Rev. S. W. Earnshaw playing on board 6 for Birmingham in a 7-board match against Worcester on Easter Monday, 02/04/1866, at Worcester.  (Interestingly, “Mr. Parrott”, presumably Walter Parratt, who was then private organist to the Earl of Dudley, was playing on board 4 for Worcester.)  In the return match (same magazine, p. 221), played on Whit Monday, at Birmingham, Rev. S .W. Earnshaw and the still-misspelt “Mr. Parrott” played each other on board 2, each winning one game.


His chess activity in Yorkshire was primarily during his tenure of the headship of Hemsworth school (1869-1877).  He’ll have faced the same dilemma as did George Wyville Moses, about 42 years later.  Moses had gone to his previous home city of Sheffield for his (continued) chess activity, though he later switched to Huddersfield.


Back in 1869, Sheffield may not have been an option for Samuel Walter Earnshaw, as almost certainly the only chess club in Sheffield at the time was the Sheffield Athenaeum Chess Club, amongst whose members clerical gentlemen were conspicuous by their absence.  Whether the church held it inappropriate for clerics to join such clubs, or whether the club itself chose not admit the clergy is unclear.  A disincentive will have been the cost of membership.


Anyhow, it seems to have been to the Leeds Chess Club that our man in time turned primarily for his chess while he was resident in Hemsworth.


“Rev. S.W. Earnshaw” attended the meetings of the West Yorkshire Chess Association in 1876 and 1877, on both occasion being listed as hailing from Hemsworth.  Examples of him representing Leeds in matches are the 1876 Bradford v Leeds match, and the 1876 Leeds v Bradford match.


Moving to Ellough in 1877 probably limited opportunities for playing chess reasonably locally, but he travelled to London to play chess, as mentioned by Venn, and was a member of the City of London Chess Club playing in matches for them.





Copyright © 2014 Stephen John Mann

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

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