Yorkshire Chess History



George Cann Heywood











Made in Yorkshire



Sheffield Sub-Site



22/10/1853, Winkleigh, Devon




08/03/1895, Newcastle‑upon‑Tyne


12/03/1895, Elswick Cemetery



Non-Chess Life


The parents of George Cann Heywood were Walter Heywood (born 1812/13, Winkleigh, Devon – seemingly son of another Walter Heywood) and Agnes Heywood (née Cann, 1813/14, South Tawton, Devon, about 5 miles east of Okehampton), who married in 1848, in South Tawton, who at least had the following children:


Mark Cann Heywood

born 1851/52, Winkleigh, Devon

George Cann Heywood

born 22/10/1853, Winkleigh, Devon


The 1861 census found parents Walter and Agnes, the two sons, Walter’s 83-year-old widowed Chulmleigh-born mother, Mary Heywood, two farm employees and two domestic servants, living at “East Chapel” (name of a farm?), Winkleigh.  Father Walter owned and farmed 85 acres.


Winkleigh was a large rural village, and its ecomony was essentially agricultural.  The wider world was accessible via Eggesford station, on the North Devon Railway, about 4 miles to the north-east.  It seems sons Mark and George did not wish to follow their father into farming, and sought town or city occupations.  The nearest towns were Okehampton, very roughly 6 miles to the south, and Great Torrington about 6 miles to the north-east.


Thus the 1871 census found Mark and George living together on the High Street in Great Torrington.  At the time they were being visited by their mother and a certain Elizabeth Ann Heywood (born 1845, High Bickington, Devon) who was perhaps a cousin.  Mark was a printer and stationer, while George was a compositor.  George apparently worked for a while at Messrs. Barnicott (later Barnicott & Pearce, of 44 Fore Street), printers and book-sellers of Taunton, Somerset, suggesting he lived there for a while.


George obviously hankered after even greater lights than Great Torrington could offer, and in 1874 moved to London.  In 1876 he was a stationer resident in the parish of Shoreditch, Middlesex, as evidenced by his application dated 27/10/1876 for a marriage licence to marry a girl he had met back in Great Torrington.


George Cann Heywood married Margaret Jane Stoneman of Great Torrington, in late 1876, in Great Torrington.  They had the following children.


Walter George Heywood

born 1883/84, Poplar, London

Louis Frederick Heywood

born 1892, Newcastle-upon-Tyne


Meanwhile, White’s 1878-79 Devon directory listed Mark Cann Heywood, printer, bookseller, stationer, and agent for Star Life Assurance Society in Great Torrington, and listed Walter Heywood, junior, farmer, East Chapel, in Winkleigh.


The 1881 census found George and “Maggie” living at 19 The Parade, in the civil parish of Lee, Lewisham.  Living with them were George’s widowed mother-in-law, 57-year-old Bideford-born Elizabeth Stoneham, who acted as housekeeper, and a domestic servant.  George was a “printer etc” employing 2 men and 2 boys.


In 1885 the family moved to Newcastle-upon-Tyne.  Perhaps George had got fed up with the printing business and wanted to get into journalism, and moved from London to Newcastle to take advantage of a job opportunity.


The 1891 census found the family had for some reason moved to Newcastle-upon-Tyne, where George, wife “Maggie”, son Walter, and mother-in-law Elizabeth Stoneham lived at 23 Crown Street (seemingly no longer in existence), in the Elswick district of Newcastle-upon-Tyne.  George was no longer a printer and/or stationer, but was a journalist and advertising agent.  As a journalist he was involved both with the Jarrow Express, and the Newcastle Weekly Chronicle.


At some time from 1891 to 1894, perhaps to accommodate the increasing family, they family moved to nearby 20 Kenilworth Road, still in the Elswick area.  Kelly’s 1894 directory of Northumberland (probably reflecting data from 1893, still listed George Heywood at 23 Crown Street, and for Kenilworth Road listed no even numbers between 8 and 32, suggesting number 20 was newly built.




George Cann Heywood died on 08/03/1895, at his home, 20 Kenilworth Road.  He had had influenza, but continued about his usual business, expecting to shake it off.  After work, it being Friday, he went to the Art Gallery Chess Club, but there had been taken ill and was assisted to a cab to take him home, where he died as soon as he was placed on a sofa.  He was only 41 years old.  He was interred at Elswick cemetery.  The funeral service was conducted by a friend, the Rev. Thomas Hewan Archdall.  A detailed obituary was carried by The Newcastle Weekly Chronicle of 16/03/1895.


Mark Cann Heywood died in 1905, aged 53, in the Edmonton district of London.




An uncle, Mark Cann, of Plymouth taught him to play chess in 1869.  In Great Torrington, brothers Mark and George played chess and solved chess problems.  They had a copy of Staunton’s Handbook.  Both brothers also composed chess problems, in the absence of over-the-board play.  George composed problems, some of which were published from 1870 to 1880 or later.  Mark also composed problems, having some published at least in the period 1872 to 1876.


In London, George engaged with clubs such as the City of London Chess Club, the Divan, and Purnell’s.  In1880-81, he won the City of London Chess Club Handicap tournament, in the final beating Gunsberg, who gave him odds of pawn and move, by +2 =5 -0.


In Newcastle he joined Newcastle Chess Club and South Shields Chess Club.


In 1890, it was decided to revive a chess column in the Newcastle Weekly Chronicle, and George became the editor of that column.


In 1891, George pursued an idea that Newcastle might benefit from a second chess club, and this resulted in the formation of the Art Gallery Chess Club.  Newcastle Chess Club was one of a number of organisations occupying 2 Collingwood Street, Newcastle, James Graham being secretary in the mid-1890s.  The new club presumably met in the Art Gallery, Concert Hall, News Rooms & Club at 62 Grainger Street and Market Street (seemingly in the angle between), with George as president for a few years.  Chess tables were advertised as among the facilities in the YMCA reading room, but there was no chess club connected with the YMCA.


George was the first winner of Newcastle Chess Club’s Vaughan championship medal.


In 1892 he won the Art Gallery Chess Club championship, with 27 out of 28, despite having to give odds to all his opponents.  He also gave simultaneous displays, and on one occasion at the Art Gallery Chess Club he won 27 and lost 1 out of 28 games.


In October 1892, George played a match with Henry Edward Bird, consisting of 3 games on even terms (George won 1 game), 3 games with Bird giving odds of pawn and one move (George won 1 and drew 1), and 3 with Bird giving odds of pawn and 2 moves (George won 1 and drew 1, then Bird conceded the last game – perhaps having to get off home).


George played in such big events as came his way, including the 1888 West Riding v Tyneside match and the two North v South matches of 1893 and 1894.


George’s first published chess problem was a 4-mover published in the Gentleman’s Journal in 1870.  It was published again in the New York Clipper.  The following easy two-mover by George, published in the Mechanic and World of Science of 12/09/1873, has a certain geometrical and humorous appeal:


White to move and mate in 2.





Copyright © 2020 Stephen John Mann

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

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