Yorkshire Chess History



John Morrell France











Made in Yorkshire



Sheffield Sub-Site



1810/11, at Wakefield


Q1 1884, in the Wharfedale area


John Morrell France was born at Wakefield in 1810/11.


On 15th September 1834, he married Margaret Ashburner at Saint Mary’s, Blackburn, Lancashire.  Margaret was born 1814/15, in Haslingden, Lancashire.


The couple had the following children:

Charles France,

baptised, 14th September 1835, at Wakefield;

James Ashburner France,

baptised, 9th March 1837, at Wakefield;

Annie Maria France,

baptised, 2nd July 1839, at Thornes, Wakefield;

John W France,

born 1844/45 in Leeds,

William H France,

born 1846/47 in Leeds,

Emily France,

born 1847/48 in Leeds,

Arthur A France,

born 1850/51 in Leeds,

Margaret W France,

born 1852/53 in Leeds.


In a letter from him, published the Chess Player’s Chronicle, and dated 19th October 1841, his address appears as Wood Street, Huddersfield.


The apparent change in club affiliation, described below, suggests the Frances moved from Wakefield to Leeds in 1842, which fits the birthplaces of the children.


Slater's Directories of Important English Towns, 1847, listed John Morrell France as an agent for “Family Endowment (and life)” and a share-broker, working from offices at 12 Albion Street, Leeds, and could presumably have played John Rhodes at chess during their lunch breaks, as the newly-built Leeds Stock Exchange was in nearby Albion Place.  White’s Directory of Leeds & the Clothing Districts, 1847, lists him as living at Roundhay, Leeds.


White’s Directory of Leeds, Bradford etc, for 1854, listed John Morrell France as an “agent”, resident at 2 St. George’s Place, while Slater's Commercial Directory of Durham, Northumberland & Yorkshire, 1855, confirms this.


In White’s Directory of Leeds, Halifax, Huddersfield, Wakefield, etc for 1858, John Morrell France is listed as a “commission agent, and agricultural tillage manufacturer”, working at Burley Street, Leeds, with his home still at 2 St. George’s Place.  Thus, from 1855 to 1858 he seems to have branched out into manufacturing ploughs!


John Morrell France died during the first quarter of 1884, aged 73, in the Wharfedale area.




John France of attended the two Yorkshire Chess Association meetings in 1841 as a member of Wakefield Chess Club, and was at the meetings of 1842, 1843 and 1857 as a member of Leeds Chess Club  He was Wakefield Chess Club’s secretary at the time of the November 1841 YCA meeting.  He was a subscriber to R. A. Brown’s book Chess Problems (1844), and to the Souvenir of the Bristol Chess Club (1845).





Copyright © 2012 Stephen John Mann

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

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