Yorkshire Chess History



Neil Macvicar Forbes











Made in Yorkshire



Sheffield Sub-Site



1813/14, in Scotland  (at Anstruther ?)


21/11/1888, at Tilburstow Lodge, Godstone, Surrey


He signed his middle name with a lower-case “v”.


Neil Macvicar Forbes was born in Scotland in 1813/14.  His father was named as George Forbes of Anstruther, Fifeshire.


A name index to the Fifeshire Journal lists on page 1 of the edition of 24th August, 1833, a reference to Neil Forbes of Anstruther, describing him as agent for the Caledonian Insurance Company and a banker with the National Bank.


On 12th December 1836 he married Mary Jane Taylor at Anstruther Easter, Fife.  (Anstruther Easter has a correlate in Anstruther Wester.)  He later married in 1842, suggesting Mary Jane died, and that our man remarried.


He moved to Halifax was at some time from 1833 to 1841.


The 1841 census listed “Macvicar Neil Forbes” as a 27-year-old lodging at Green Hill Terrace, Halifax, in the household of Hannah Simpson and her three daughters.  This may have been a temporary state of affairs until more permanent arrangements were made.


In the first quarter of 1842, he married Elizabeth Beddome at Salford.  Elizabeth had been born 30th April 1816, a daughter of Benjamin Beddome, and Elizabeth Beddome who in turn was a daughter of one Daniel Lancaster.  The inference is that Mary Jane Forbes née Taylor had died.


Once resident in Halifax, the couple had at least two children:

Edward Beddome Forbes,

born 1842/43, at Halifax;

Francis Augustine Forbes,

born 1843/44, at Halifax.


White’s Directory of Leeds & the Clothing District, 1842, listed Neil Macvicar Forbes as a banker’s clerk resident in Rhodes Street, Halifax.


White’s Directory of Leeds & the Clothing Districts, 1847, listed our man living and working in Leeds as a share-broker in the firm Beardshaw, Kershaw and Forbes, at 12B Park Row, Leeds, and living at 56 Springfield Place, Little Woodhouse, Leeds.


At some time from 1847 to 1850 our man moved to London with aspirations to become a stock broker at the London Stock Exchange.  To be a stock broker in London, it seems, one had to have the freedom of London.  The document granting him this, subject to payment of the appropriate fee within the prescribed time, contained the wording:

IT IS ORDERED that the said Neil Macvicar Forbes [name entered by hand] be admitted into the freedom of this City by Redemption in the Company of Spectaclemakers [name entered by hand] paying unto Mr. Chamberlain for the City’s use the sum of Forty-six shillings and eight pence.

This reference to the Company of Spectaclemakers was clearly reflected a conventional device to facilitate the mechanism of granting the freedom of the City.  Our man wasn’t becoming an optician.  His signature on this document has a lower-case “v” in his middle name.


Accordingly, on 6th August 1850, Neil Macvicar Forbes, son of George Forbes (deceased), late of Anstruther, Fifeshire, then resident at 3 Copthall Buildings, Angel Court, London was granted the freedom of the City.  (A hand-written note on the form said he’d paid £6 6s.4d, which is more than the cost printed on the form.)


The 1851 census found the family living at Forest Hill, Lewisham.  Our man was described as a stock and share-broker.  Edward was a scholar.


The Post Office Directory of Essex, Herts, Kent &c, 1855, lists N. M. Forbes Esquire living at 2 Stainton Place, Blackheath, Kent.


At some stage he went into partnership with John Crossley Fielding, trading as Forbes and Fielding.  This partnership was dissolved by mutual consent in late 1860, as advertised in a notice, dates 20th December 1860, appearing in the London Gazette of 21st December 1860, wherein no indication is given of geographical location.


The 1861 census listed the family at 2 Stainton Place, Blackheath,Kent.  Our man was now described as a member of the London Stock Exchange.  Edward was recorded as being his father’s clerk.  Francis was presumably away at school somewhere.


The 1871 census listed the our man, with his wife and younger son, living at Tilburstow Lodge (now known as “North Lodge”), Godstone, Surrey.  (Tilburstow is frequently transcribed as the more probable-sounding “Tilburston”.)  Edward Beddome Forbes was living at Tottenham, Middlesex.


On 10th June 1873, Edward Beddome Forbes married Fanny Penrith, daughter of Anthony Penrith, at Church-Lawton, Cheshire.


The Post Office Directory of Surrey, 1878, listed Neil Macvicar Forbes as a private resident (as opposed to one plying a trade) living at Tilburstow, Godstone, Surrey.


The 1881 census listed our man and his wife still living at Tilburstow Lodge, without either son, though Edward seems to have moved back in by 1888.




Neil Macvicar Forbes died on 21st November 1888, at Tilburstow Lodge, Godstone, Surrey.  His will was proved by his sons Edward Beddome Forbes, of Tilburstow Lodge, and Francis Augustine Forbes, of Godden Green, Kent.


The 1891 census listed Edward and his wife fanny, and his mother Elizabeth, living at Tilburstow.


Elizabeth Forbes died at Godstone in the third quarter of 1897, aged 81.


Census records for 1901 and 1911 continued to list Edward Beddome Forbes in Godstone, Surrey.




He appears to have been quite active as a chess-player during his brief stay in Halifax.  He attended the first YCA meeting, in January 1841, and those of 1842 and 1843.  He attended the Nottingham Chess Club meeting of 1844 NCC.  He was a subscriber to R. A Brown’s book of problems etc, published in 1844.  He was a subscriber to the Souvenir of the Bristol Chess Club, published in 1845.





Copyright © 2012 Stephen John Mann

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

Last Updated