Yorkshire Chess History
Samuel G Harrison, George Henry Harrison, Arthur E Harrison
Identity of the Chess-Players
There were a number of people called George Henry Harrison in Sheffield around the time “G. H. Harrison” was active as a Sheffield chess-player, but only the solicitor born 1863/64 looks a very likely candidate. This identification is circumstantially supported by this George Henry Harrison having two brothers who are recognisably also chess-players.
There was an additional G. Harrison, who sometimes played in the same team as G. H. Harrison, on a much lower board. He was variously recorded as “G. Harrison” or “George Harrison”. Whether this player was related to the above three is unclear.
Samuel Gardner Harrison, George Henry Harrison and Arthur E. Harrison were sons of Samuel Harrison (born 1825/26, Banwell, Somerset), who was listed in White’s General Directory of the Town and Borough of Sheffield &c, 1849, as trading as “printer, bookseller, stationer, and bookbinder, patent medicine vendor, and servants’ register office,” at 5 High Street, Sheffield.
The 1851 census found unmarried Samuel Harrison and his sister Mary Jane Harrison (born 1829/30, High Wycombe, Bucks.) living with one apprentice and one servant at 5 High Street. They were living over/behind the shop. Samuel was described simply as a bookseller and stationer
White’s Gazetteer and General directory of Sheffield &c, 1852 listed Samuel Harrison as trading as “bookseller, binder, stationer, printer, & patent medicine vendor, Ordnance Map, Railway Guide, & Regr. office,” at 5 High Street, Sheffield.
By about 1854, Samuel had married Mary (born 1831/32, Oxhill, Warks.). The couple had at least the following ten children, all born in Sheffield:
Censuses imply Samuel junior was born in 1857/58, but his age at death implies he was born in 1856/57, so, if both are correct, he was born in 1857. The above dates of birth of George is inferred from census returns. In the case of George, a quarterly birth return index entry is difficult to locate, though entries for namesakes are evident from Q3 1862 and Q2 1865, not to mention Q4 1868. The birth of Arthur Ernest Harrison was registered in the second quarter of 1865, at Ecclesall Bierlow, Sheffield.
The married couple removed their place of residence from the business address of 5 High Street, to 9 Wilkinson Street, Sheffield.
White’s General Directory of the Town, Borough and Parish of Sheffield &c, 1856, listed Samuel Harrison as bookseller, printer, agent the Ordnance maps, and joint proprietor of the Sheffield Times and Iris, with his business at 5 High Street, and his home at 9 Wilkinson Street.
The Sheffield Iris was originally a re-launch of a “radical” newspaper, the Sheffield Register. Poet James Montgomery, who had worked in the office of the Register, bought it after the Register’s founder, Joseph Gales, had fled from the country in 1794. The Iris had ceased publication in 1848, but was re-launched in 1855, only to fold again in 1856. One claim to fame of the original Sheffield Iris is that on 24/12/1816 it published James Montgomery's Angels from the Realms of Glory, now a well-known Christmas carol.
A growing family perhaps necessitated a further move of home. The 1861 census found parents Samuel and Mary, with children Edith, Florence, Samuel and Annie, and three servants, living at 36 Gell Street.
White’s General and Commercial Directory and Topography of the Borough of Sheffield &c, 1862, listed Samuel Harrison, printer and publisher of the Sheffield Times and Argus, Saturday, and Daily News, with his business now at 1 York Street, and his home at 36 Gell Street.
There was a “Mr. Harrison” who spoke at the Cutlers’ Feast of 1867, but whether that was Samuel is unclear.
The death of father Samuel Harrison, aged only 44, was registered in Ecclesall Bierlow, Sheffield, in the first quarter of 1871.
The 1871 census found widowed mother Mary Harrison with all ten children except Edith [married?], Samuel junior [at school?] and John (who registers only in the 1881 census) living at Oak Villa, Clarkhouse Road, Sheffield. Mary was clearly continuing with at least part of her late husband’s commercial activity, being described as a publisher.
The 1881 census found Mary and the ten children, except Edith, John and Ada, now living together at . Mary was now an annuitant, perhaps having sold up the printing business etc., but the family were still connected with the newspaper side of things; Samuel was now a newspaper reporter, and John was a commercial clerk in a newspaper office. George, however, had struck out independently, being a solicitor’s general clerk. Arthur and Frank were scholars.
The 1891 census found six of the children living with one servant at 83 Clarkehouse Road. (There were also two servants listed on their own at 85 Clarkehouse Road, without any indication of whose servants they were.) Mother Mary must have been away at the time. Samuel was still a journalist and reporter. George was now a corporation clerk. Arthur was an accountant’s commercial clerk. Frank was a private tutor.
The 1901 census found 83 Clarkhouse Road still occupied by mother Mary, and children Florence, Samuel, Annie, George and Arthur.
White's Directory of Sheffield & Rotherham, 1901, listed “Samuel Gardner Harrison”, journalist, living at 83 Clarkehouse Road, Sheffield, supplying his middle name, which was always represented by only an initial in the censuses, until 1911.
In 1907, Samuel Gardner Harrison married Leicester-born Emily Brown, who was ten years his junior.
The 1911 census found Samuel Gardner Harrison and wife Emily living with two servants at 4 Broomgrove Road, Sheffield. The couple had been married three complete years and had had no children.
The 1911 census found Arthur Ernest Harrison, an estate clerk working for Sheffield corporation, living in Chesterfield.
Samuel Gardner Harrison died on 17/07/1917, at the age of 60. The Sheffield Red Book, in its list of 1917 deaths, described him as “a well-known Sheffield journalist”.
The death of George H. Harrison, aged 84, was registered in the first quarter of 1948, at Chesterfield, Derbyshire.
(The death of Arthur Ernest Harrison?)
Among those attending the 1889 annual meeting of the West Yorkshire Chess Association was S. G. Harrison, one of five Sheffield representatives.
Samuel may have been the weakest of the three brothers. George H. and Arthur became noticeable members in Sheffield’s Woodhouse Cup team, with George H. seemingly being the stronger of the two, though Arthur sometimes played above George H. Samuel is not in evidence, at the higher levels at least.
“E. A. Harrison” (presumably A. E. Harrison) was recorded as being appointed as secretary of the Sheffield & District Chess Association in 1893, to succeed Robert Snow, who resigned due to pressure of work. A. E. Harrison, of Clarke Grove Villas was recorded as secretary of the Sheffield & District Chess Association in 1895. It is also recorded that he declined re-election at the 1896 AGM, being replaced by Duncan Smith. (At the same meeting the S&DCA decided not to enter the Woodhouse Cup for 1896-97.)
George H. started appearing in the Yorkshire team in county matches, for instance Lancashire v Yorkshire on 19/02/1898 at Manchester, Lancashire v Yorkshire on 02/03/1900 at Manchester, Yorkshire v Lancashire on 23/03/1901 at Leeds, v Lancashire 22/03/1902, v Lancashire 17/01/1903, v Cheshire 23/01/1904, and v Lancashire 24/03/1906, and probably later matches as well.
George H. appears to have won the Yorkshire Championship in 1899-00, earning him board one in the county match against Lancashire.
Arthur played in county matches less frequently, instances being the above 1900, 1903 matches in which George H. played.
George H. was a regular player in Sheffield’s Woodhouse Cup team. Arthur played much less frequently than George H. in the Woodhouse.
The clearly weaker player G. (or George) Harrison played on a lower board than G. H. Harrison when the two appeared together. He appeared in Sheffield Woodhouse Cup teams from 1900-01 onwards.
Copyright © 2013 Stephen John Mann
Census information is copyright of The National Archive, see UK Census Information