Yorkshire Chess History



Thomas Wilson Field











Made in Yorkshire



Sheffield Sub-Site



1844, Drighlington, near Gildersome,


12/05/1844, Gildersome






The hand-written text the letters I, J, T, F, and S have all been mis-transcribed, one for another, in copy submitted to newspapers.  For eight of his twelve outings to the West Yorkshire Chess Association meetings, T. W. Field was given a “T” as his first initial in reports of the meetings; in two (1869 and 1870) he was given a “J”; in one (1875) he was given an “S”.  “T”, “J” and “S”, of course, never attended the same meeting!  These data, on their own, make “T” a clear winner as providing the true identity.  However, the report of the 1871 meeting, printed in the Bradford Observer of 22nd May, 1871, excelled with an unprecedented flash of lucidity by naming him “Thomas W. Field”.


Origins and Non-Chess Life


Thomas Wilson Field’s paternal grandmother’s life had its misfortunes.  She was born as Emma Troughton, daughter of Samuel and Isabella Troughton of Drighlington, on 5th June 1811, and was baptised 7th July 1811 at All Saints, Batley.  On 21st June 1836, at St. Peter’s Birstall, she married Robert Ambler, a maltster, of Holbeck, who had been born 7th June 1811, baptised 12th July 1811 at St. Peter’s, Leeds.  The couple had at least two children:

Samuel Troughton Ambler

born 1837; baptised 25/06/1837, St.Peter’s Gildersome

Mary Ambler

born 1838/39; baptised 20/01/1839, St.Peter’s Gildersome


The 1841 census accordingly found Robert Ambler, maltster, and his wife Emma Ambler, living at New Lane Top, Drighlington.  They had living with them a female servant, a surgeon called George Field, a maltster called Joseph Ambler, and a certain Elizabeth Hartley.  Joseph Ambler was quoted as about 5 year younger that Robert, so was perhaps a brother or cousin of Robert’s, and worked with him.  The roughly 25-year-old George Field was fairly clearly a lodger in the Ambler household, as presumably was the roughly 50-year-old Mary Ambler.  (The enumerator was complying with directives to round ages to multiples of five.  The same directives meant the young children did not qualify for a mention.)


Unfortunately, Robert Ambler died at the age of 29, and was buried 11th June 1841 at St. Matthew’s, Holbeck.


This is where the Amblers’ surgeon lodger, George Field, emerges from the shadows, as the widow Emma Ambler of Drighlington, daughter of Samuel Troughton, manufacturer, married the bachelor and doctor of medicine George Field of Adwalton, son of John Field, bookkeeper, on 2nd March 1842, at St. Peter’s, Leeds.  (Quite why the abodes of the two were different is unclear; the two villages were adjacent, and together were roughly a mile across.  Perhaps the couple were marrying “from” their respective parental homes.)


George and Emma Field had at least three children:

Thomas Wilson Field

born 1844, Drighlington; baptised 12/05/1844, at Gildersome

Emma Field

born 1846/47

Georgiana Field

born December 1850


Thus Thomas Wilson Field was born in 1844, at Drighlington, near Gildersome, a village about 5 miles SW, as the crow flies, from the centre of Leeds, and a similar distance SE of Bradford.  He was baptised on 12th May 1844 at Gildersome by A.G. Kinsman, incumbent minister.  His baptism register entry, records his parents as George Field, a surgeon of Drighlington, and Emma Field.


White’s Directory of Leeds & the Clothing District, 1842, and Directory of Leeds & the Clothing Districts, 1847, both listed George Field, surgeon, in Adwalton, a village immediately adjacent to Drighlington.


Lightning then struck a second time in the same place, and Emma Troughton’s second husband, George Field, our man’s father, died in 1850, aged 42 years.  He was buried on 1st September 1850 at St. Mary’s, Morley.


The 1851 census thus found doubly-widowed 39-year-old Drighlington-born Emma Field (formerly Ambler, née Troughton), as head of a household consisting of Emma herself, her five children, and a servant.  Emma was described as proprietor of land, and farmer of 6 acres.


A hint at the reason for Thomas Wilson Field’s name may lie in that of the head of the household next listed in the census return, namely Thomas Wilson, 70 year-old wheelwright and joiner.  Quite how this Thomas Wilson fits into things, if at all, is not clear.


The 1861 census found 17-year-old Thomas Wilson Field at a boarding school in Halifax.  He was one of 12 boys and 5 girls who living with John Farrar and Hannah Farrar and their 3 sons and 3 daughters at 2 Park Place, Halifax.  He was described by occupation as “assistant”.  This looks like the start of a career as a schoolmaster.


On 4th January 1870 (or 31 December 1869, according to the source), at Holy Trinity, Southport, Lancashire, the 25-year-old batchelor, Thomas Wilson Field, schoolmaster of Halifax, son of George Field, physician, married 23-year-old spinster Fanny Winstanley Mee, daughter of Joseph Mee, gentleman, of Stockport.


The 1871 census duly found newly-weds 27-year-old Thomas W. Field, schoolmaster, and 25-year-old Manchester-born Fanny W. Field, at 59 Queens Road, Halifax.  (Queen’s Road, Halifax, seems no longer to exist.)


At some time seemingly from 1879 to 1881, he moved to another Queen’s Road, that of Brentwood Essex, where the 1881 census found him and him as a 36-year-old schoolmaster living with his 34-year-old wife Fanny, living at Bleak House, Queen’s Road, Brentwood, Essex, which was clearly a school as there were also there, as boarders, 22 boys.  There were also two servants.




He presumably died in the Essex area.  Records of his death are elusive.




He attended the annual meetings of the West Yorkshire Chess Association in 1867 and 1869 to 1879.  He represented Halifax in matches during this period.





Copyright © 2012 Stephen John Mann

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

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