Yorkshire Chess History



John Elliott Hinchliff











Made in Yorkshire



Sheffield Sub-Site



1893, Hepworth


21/01/1894, Hepworth


18/09/1936, Hepworth


22/09/1936, Hepworth


Identity of the Chess-Player


The winner of the 1920-21 Yorkshire Championship was J. E. Hinchliff of Huddersfield.  That at least was the spelling of the surname in some reports.  The spellings “Hinchliff”, Hinchliffe”, “Hinchcliff” and “Hinchcliffe” were frequently erroneously interchanged in chess reports regarding players with such a surname, and reports on the 1920-21 Yorkshire Championship also adopted other spelling for the name of the winner, such as “J E Hinchcliffe” which is what is engraved on the trophy.


The only chess reports found which include the middle initial “e” for such a chess-player are reports relating to the 1920-21 Yorkshire Championship.  However, some reports on this event omit the “E.”  One would expect other reports of chess activity of the player who won the Yorkshire Championship, so one is led to the conclusion that this particular player was more commonly referred to without the middle initial “E.”, as there are a number of references to “J. Hinch(c)liff(e)” without a middle initial, and these, or at least most of them, are here assumed to be references to the 1920-21 Yorkshire Champion.


Attempts at identifying a J. E. Hinch(c)liff(e) of Huddersfield point to this John Elliott Hinchliff, who was a brother of chess-player Charles Henry Hinchliff.  Equating the two seems justified by circumstantial evidence.  That there was another chess-player in the family increases the probability of the link being correct, but more significant is the fact that a grandson of Charles Henry Hinchliff held the belief that his grandfather had once been Yorkshire Champion.  This belief was unearthed by Martyn Griffiths, who is a historian of Welsh Chess.  It is here assumed that some confusion occurred over the years whereby the chess exploits of great-uncle John Elliott Hinchliff were transferred to his chess-playing brother, grandfather Charles Henry Hinchliff, the latter appearing to have been over the years, of the two, the more active and longer active in chess, though the weaker player of the two when both were active.


Non-Chess Life


Some detail of the history of this family, which was well-established in Hepworth, a village 2 miles south-east of Holmfirth, which in turn is 5 miles south of Huddersfield, are given under Charles Henry Hinchliff.


The 1911 census found him living with his parents and siblings in Hepworth.  The 17-year-old was described as a “Teacher Student”, which presumably meant the same as “student teacher”, and suggests he was destined to become a schoolteacher.  Although he was the older of the two sons, it was brother Charles Henry Hinchliff who moved into, and eventually took over his father’s printing business and related activitities.


In the First World War, he served n the 3rd Battalion of the Duke Of Wellington's (West Riding Regiment)


There was a “J Hinchcliffe” who played twice on board 2 for Bradford in the 1919-20: Woodhouse Cup.  Kelly’s Bradford directory dated 1917 listed “Jas. Lee Hinchcliffe”, “Joe Hinchcliffe”, “John Hinchcliffe”, and “John Henry Hinchcliffe”, any of whom might have been a chess-player, yet the fact that the “J Hinchcliffe” who played for Bradford was on board 2 suggests he was an established strong player, and hence seems likely to have been the J E Hinchliff who was 1920-21 Yorkshire Champion.  A plausible guess would be that John Elliott Hinchliff had taken up a teaching post in Bradford, and got roped in to play a couple of matches for the Bradford club, but if that was the case then he soon returned to the Huddersfield area, as that is where his six children were born, over the period 1922 to 1932.


He seems to disappear from chess records without trace after winning the Yorkshire Championship, so perhaps he took up a teaching post elsewhere in the country, but it seems more likely that after getting married and he simply gave up chess!  That he died at Hepworth suggests he did not leave the area.  Indeed, his wife’s occupation after his death suggest he became postmaster, and perhaps took over in 1932 from his brother Charles Henry Hinchliff when the latter bought the post office in Llanfairfechan.


John E. Hinchliff (spelt that way in the marriage registration index) married Mary Alice Sykes (born 11/02/1888, Huddersfield district) in 1921, the marriage being registered in the third quarter, in the Huddersfield district.  They had the following children, all birth being registered in the Huddersfield district:


John Hinchliff

born 1922

Eric Hinchliff

born 02/07/1923

Julia Hinchliff

born 1926

Hazel Hinchliff

born 1928/29

Alan B Hinchliff

born 1930

Mavis Hinchliff

born 1932


In 1936, at the time of his death, he was resident at 79 Far Lane, Hepworth.


In 1939, widowed Mary A. Hinchliff and son Eric Hinchliff, with up to six other people (probably the other 5 children an another person), lived at 36 Town Gate, Hepworth.  Widowed Mary was a postmaster, while Eric was a newspaper deliverer.




John Elliott Hinchliff died on 18/09/1936 at the Holme Valley Memorial Hospital, Holmfirth, and was buried there on 22/09/1936.


The death of a Mary A Hinchliff was registered in the foyrth quarter of 1964, at Upper Agbrigg.




He evidently had joined Huddersfield Chess Club by 1915, on the basis of the next paragraph.


H. E. Atkins, who had moved to Huddersfield to take up the post of principal at Huddersfield College in 1909, gave a simultaneous display in Huddersfield on 25/09/1915, and one of his opponents was “J Hinchliffe”.


The “J Hinchcliffe”, who played twice on board 2 for Bradford in the 1919-20 Woodhouse is believed to have been John Elliott Hinchliff, for reasons described above, though this is not certain.


He won the 1920-21 Yorkshire Championship.


At a YCA executive committee meeting on 01/10/1921, he was named as one of the pool of 18 players (16 to play, plus 2 reserves) for the match Yorkshire v. Surrey on 08/10/1921, but he did not actually play in that match, and seems not to appear again in the chess records.  Perhaps he was a reserve; perhaps the new Mrs. Hinchliff said, “No!” – and you cannot really blame her if she did.




Copyright © 2021 Stephen John Mann

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

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