Yorkshire Chess History



Edward Freeborough











Made in Yorkshire



Sheffield Sub-Site



18/08/1830 (?), Hull



14/09/1896, Hull


Newlands Cemetery, Hull


(From American Chess Magazine 1898)


Non-Chess Life


Edward Freeborough is said to have born on 18/08/1830 [1].  His place of birth was uniformly stated in census returns as Hull, but doubt is cast on 1830 as his year of birth by his ages as stated in the censuses.


His age of 11 as stated in the 1841 census puts his date of birth from 07/06/1829 to 06/06/1830, which is close to 18/08/1830.  His age in the censuses of 1851, 1861 and 1891, together place his date of birth from 08/04/1831 to 30/03/1832.  His age of 40 as stated in the 1871 census is consistent with birth on 18/08/1830.  Someone, at some time, intentionally or otherwise, was getting it wrong.  It might be that he wasn’t even certain of his year of birth, though the day and month of his birthday might have been accurately handed down.  (His 1881 census entry is elusive, so offers no help.)


Edward’s maternal grandfather was hatter William Tinkler.  Baines’s History, Directory & Gazetteer of Yorkshire, Vol. II: East & North Ridings, 1823, listed to-be grandfather William Tinkler as a hat-maker and furrier at 55 Lowgate, Hull.  William and his wife Mary had a daughter (name?) who married an Edward Freeborough who so became father of the chess-player of the same name.  The couple had probably only two children:


William Tinkler Freeborough

born 1809/10, Hull

Edward Freeborough

born 18/08/1830 (probably), Hull


Apparently, the boys’ father, Edward Freeborough senior, left the country in 1832, leaving Edward junior and his brother to be looked after by their maternal grandparents.  Letters were received from their father, but when these stopped in 1840, it was assumed their father was dead. [1]


The whereabouts or fate of the boys’ mother is unclear.


The 1841 census accordingly found 13-year-old William Freeborough and 11-year-old Edward Freeborough living with their maternal grandparents, 60-year-old William Tinkler, described as “independent” though more specifically a retired hatter, and 65-year-old Mary Tinkler, in Gibson Street, Hull, presumably at number 14 as in 1851.  The boys were said to have been educated by their grandparents, and to have led a lonely life, with no friends, and passing their time studying maths and languages, and playing chess [1].


William Tinkler Freeborough was the first of the brothers to get married.  His marriage to Ann Read was registered in the first quarter of 1850, at Sculcoates.  The couple had at least the following eight children, all born in Hull:


Francis Freeborough

born Dec/Jan 1851/52

Henry Freeborough

born 1852/53

Lucy Freeborough

born 1856/57

Jesse Freeborough

born 1862

Charles Freeborough

born 1863/64

George Freeborough

born 1864

Fanny Freeborough

born 1866/67

Nellie Freeborough

born 1867/68


There was a George Freeborough whose birth was registered in the second quarter of 1864 at Sculcoates.


By the time of the 1851 census, both William and Edward had left the grandparental home.  22-year-old William and wife Ann were living with 2-month-old Hull-born Francis Freeborough, and a servant, at 3 Marine View Terrace, Hull; William was a wine merchant.  “19”-year-old Edward was a commission merchant’s clerk boarding with the Featherstone family in North Gate, Hessle.  Grandparents William Tinkler, recorded as a retired hatter, and Mary Tinkler were living now on their own at 14 Gibson Street, Hull.


White’s General Directory of Kingston-upon-Hull, and York &c, 1851, listed William Freeborough, merchant’s clerk, 3 Marine View Terrace, Hull.  It also listed William Tinkler, gent, at 14 Gibson Street, Hull; also a John Tinkler (son?), hat and cap maker, at 59 Lowgate, Hull; and another William Tinkler (son?), engraver, and copper-plate and lithographic printer, 5 Bowling Alley Lane, and home at 16 Spencer Street, Hull.


The death of Mary Tinkler was registered in the fourth quarter of 1854, and that of William Tinkler in the third quarter of 1855, both at Sculcoates, Hull.


Edward’s marriage to the Maria Davey, or possibly Dancy, (born 1830/31, Hull) was registered at Sculcoates, Hull, in the last quarter of 1855.  Edward and Maria seem to have lived initially in Hull rather than out at Cottingham, but then moved around 1858 to Cottingham, where Edward then resided for the rest of his life.  The couple had at least four children:


Alice Freeborough

born 1856/57, Hull

Reginald Freeborough

born 1859/60, Cottingham

Violet(te) Freeborough

born 1861/62, Cottingham

Edward Freeborough

born 1868/69, Cottingham


After getting married, Edward set up in business on his own account, as a merchant.  Thus the 1861 census found “29”-year-old Edward and “29”-year-old Maria, with 1-year-old first-born Reginald, and three servants, living in Snuff Mill Lane, Cottingham.  Edward’s occupation was given as that of seed and oil merchant.  (It seems Maria was more probably 30.)  It would appear that Cottingham, on the northern edge of the modern Hull’s built-up area, was the area of Edward’s residence for most of his life.


The 1861 census found wine merchant William and his wife Ann living with Henry, Lucy and one servant in Peel Street, Hull, probably number 36.  First-born Francis wasn’t listed in the household.


The “seed” element of Edward’s business appears to have been dropped, as the 1871 census described Edward merely as an oil merchant, living with Maria and all above four children in North Gate, Cottingham.  Edward and Maria’s ages where both given as 40.


Elsewhere in the 1871 census, William and Ann were living with children Henry, Lucy, Jesse and Fannie, and two servants, at 36 Peel Street, Hull.  Charles, George and Nellie were not listed in the household.


The death of William Tinkler Freeborough, aged 46, was recorded in the third quarter of 1874.  Probate records, which enigmatically describe his as a ship-owner, give his date of death as 28/09/1874.  Probate was granted to Ann Freeborough, widow, relict and sole executrix.  William left under £30,000.  The reference to ship-ownership may have been related to Ann Freeborough’s brother being a shipowner.


Seven months and one week later, Ann Freeborough in turn died, on 05/06/1875, at Hornsea.  Her will was proved by her brother Thomas Lister Read, a shipowner, and Joseph Edward Otter, merchant.  She left under £25,000.


The 1881 census accordingly found siblings Jesse, Charles, George, Fannie, and Nellie living with a housekeeper and general servant at 10 Park Crescent, Beverley Road, Hull.  Jessie had no occupation, and was head of the household, Charles was a sailor, while George, Fannie and Nellie were still at school.  One imagines uncle Edward was keeping an avuncular eye on his orphaned nephews and nieces.


The Edward and Alice prove elusive in the 1881 census.


White's Directory of Hull, 1882, listed Edward Freeborough, oil merchant, oil broker and commission agent, at Commercial Chambers, Prince’s Dock Street, Hull, with his home at Northgate House, Cottingham; it also listed Edward in the classified section under Accountants, at Commercial Chambers.  Thus is seems that Edward was hiring own the business-accounting skills he’d built up in his own business, and in time this seems to have become his main or only occupation.


The same directory listed George Freeborough (presumably Edward’s nephew), corn merchant, living at 10 Park Crescent, Beverley Road, in the Stepney district of Hull, and also under Coke & Coal Merchants in the classified section.


The death of Edward’s wife, Maria, at age 54, was registered at Sculcoates in the second quarter of 1885.  The 1891 census thus found widowed 59-year-old Edward, now a “professional accountant and auditor”, living with daughters Alice and Violet, and son Edward, at 60 Alexandra Road, Cottingham.


Bulmer’s History & Directory of East Yorkshire &c, 1892, listed Edward Freeborough, accountant, at 9 Parliament Street, Hull, with his home at 60 Alexandra Road, Hull.  It also listed George Freeborough as a corn and cake (not coke) merchant working in partnership with [Francis Charles] Birks as “Freeborough and Birks” at Burnett Avenue (off High Street between numbers 150 and 152), Hull, with his home at 4 Thwaite Villas, Cottingham.  A Reginald Freeborough (Edward’s older son?) was also listed as a commercial traveller living at 115 Salisbury Street, Hull, and another Edward Freeborough (Edward’s younger son?) was listed as a jam manufacturer on Sitwell Street, Hull.


Kelly's Directory of N & E Ridings of Yorkshire, 1893, listed Edward Freeborough, accountant and auditor, at 9 Parliament Street, Hull.  It listed George Freeborough living at 4 Thwaite Villas, Hull Road, Cottingham, and working in partnership with Francis Charles Birks as “Freeborough and Birks”, corn & cake merchants at Burnett Avenue, High Street, Hull.




Edward Freeborough of 60 Alexandra Road, Hull, died around 11 a.m. on Monday, 14/09/1896, after an illness which lasted about sixteen days.  He’d been taken ill at Hull Chess Club on 29/08/1896.  Later he experienced an attack of what was described as apoplexy which left him in a comatose state which led to his death.


Administration of his estate was granted to daughter Alice Freeborough.  He left £92 19s 3d.


After Death


The 1901 census found Edward’s daughters, Alice and Violet, living not at their father’s former residence at 60 Alexandra Road, but nearly at 56 Alexandra Road.  44-year-old Alice was a teacher at a private school, and 39-year-old Violet was a certificated teacher of cookery.




When John Wisker left Hull in 1866, Edward Freeborough was regarded as the strongest Hull player of those remaining. [1]


“E. Freeborough” was one of those managing to win his game during a 21-board simultaneous display by Edmund Thorold at Hull on 16/01/1880.


When James Crake’s chess column in the Bellman ceased in 1880, it was continued by Edward Freeborough in the Hull Packet.


He joined the assistant editorial staff of the British Chess Magazine in 1883, when John Watkinson was chief editor, remaining as such to his death.


He played board 4 for Yorkshire in the match against Lancashire on 08/11/1884 at Manchester.  It is interesting that Frederick Fearnley Ayre was on board 3, suggesting Edward was no longer regarded as Hull’s strongest player.


At the formation of the Yorkshire County Chess Club at the Bull Hotel, Wakefield, on Saturday, 5th September 1885, Edward Freeborough was one of the vice-presidents appointed.


He played board 1 for a relatively weak-looking Yorkshire team in the match against Lancashire on 18/06/1887 at Bradford.  He was by then past his best, an lost a poor game to fellow Hull native Amos Burn.


In 1889 the first edition of Chess Openings Ancient and Modern, by the Rev. Charles Edward Ranken and Edward Freeborough was published.  As with its successor, Modern Chess Openings, subsequent editions were printed, the third having been completed just before Edward died.


He was president of the Hull Chess Association in its first four seasons of existence.


Edward Freeborough was quite well known as a chess problemist.


Whether brother William had featured on the Hull chess scene prior to dying in 1874 is unclear.




The British Chess Magazine of 1896, p 396 et seq.





Copyright © 2013 Stephen John Mann

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

Last Updated