Yorkshire Chess History
Rev. Edmund John Huntsman
The Huntsman Family of Steelmakers
In Sheffield, the surname Huntsman is perhaps best known as that of Benjamin Huntsman who invented a particular way of producing steel.
Benjamin’s parents, apparently, were German Quakers who migrated to England, not long before his birth, and were farmers at Epworth in Lincolnshire, not far from Scunthorpe, Gainsborough and Doncaster.
In his early working life Benjamin was a maker of clocks etc in Doncaster. It is said to have been a quest for a quality of steel better suited to the manufacture of clock-springs than was currently available, that led Benjamin to experiment with methods of making steel. The result was what is known as “crucible steel”, the success of which led Benjamin to move into the business of steel production.
In 1740 Benjamin moved his steel business from Doncaster to Handsworth, then a village outside Sheffield. In 1770 he moved his business to Attercliffe, also at that time a village outside Sheffield.
Benjamin’s son, William, in due course took over the business in Attercliffe, and then William’s son, Francis (born 1785; baptised 19/10/1785, St. Peter's, Sheffield), took over the business in turn. The period of greatest expansion was under the management of Francis.
Francis married Fanny Hawksworth (born 1791/92) on 20/02/1812 at Saint Peter's (cathedral), Sheffield.
Francis and Fanny appear to have had at least three sons and at least seven daughters, maybe more, including sons called Francis Huntsman, Benjamin Huntsman, and Edmund John Huntsman (who became the chess-playing reverend gentleman), and daughters called Helen Huntsman (5th daughter), Fanny Huntsman, Jane Eliza Huntsman (7th daughter), a daughter who married a Penrose, and presumably three other daughters.
Besides making steel, Francis was also a Sheffield Church Burgess and a governor of Sheffield Grammar School1.
By 1852, Francis Huntsman, with his wife Fanny, and unmarried daughter Jane Eliza, had moved into Loversall Hall (5), three-and a-half miles SSE of Doncaster. The hall was originally built over the period 1808 to 1816 by the Fenton Family of Leeds. In 1852 it was owned by a Mrs Cooke (5). It is now a Listed Building which has been converted to offices.
The chess-playing Reverend Edmund John Huntsman was thus a great-grandson of Benjamin Huntsman who invented the “crucible” technique for the manufacture of steel.
Life before Arriving at Harworth
Edmund John Huntsman was born at Attercliffe, now part of Sheffield, on 18th April 1829, to the above Francis and Fanny Huntsman, and was baptised at Attercliffe on 22nd October 1829.
His education appears to have started with a school run by one William Marshall, at Shirland, Derbyshire, about 2 to 3 miles NNW of Alfreton. The 1841 census found 12-year-old Edmund Huntsman as one of thirteen pupils there. After that he was sent to Sheffield Collegiate School where he started in August 1841 and left in June 1845.
Older brother Francis died 05/09/1845, aged 23, and was buried at Wadworth. Then older sister Fanny died 20/05/1846, age 28, and was also buried at Wadworth.
On 6th May 1848 he was admitted as a “pensioner” to Jesus College, Cambridge, matriculating in Michaelmas 1848, going on to receive his BA in 1852 and his MA in 1855. He is elusive in the 1851 census, but was presumably in Cambridge at the time.
On 10/04/1850, older brother Benjamin, eldest of his father’s surviving sons at the time, married Anna Maria neé Fitzmaurice.
Loversall Hall was Edmund’s home while he was at Cambridge.
The Doncaster, Nottingham, and Lincoln Gazette of Friday, 17th October, 1851, reported details of the return cricket match between Wadworth and Tickhill played on Saturday 11th October 1851. Wadworth is a little over a mile SSW of Loversall Hall. “E. Huntsman” opened the batting for Wadworth. This was surely the future reverend chess-playing Edmund Huntsman. Tickhill won by 9 wickets.
He did not go into the family business of steel-making, but embarked on an ecclesiastical career, the course of which Venn records as follows:
The location of his first post, Wangford, is a village 3 miles (5km) inland from the better-known Southwold on the Suffolk coast. It was at Southwold that on 13th January 1857 he married Charlotte Cordelia Tyrelline Lillingston, who was born 27th July 1833 at Ipswich, Suffolk, to Charles Spooner Lillingston and Harriet Lillingston. (This was just the start of family life among people with silly names.)
It was during his curacy at St. Peter’s, Birmingham, that he and his wife started a family. The couple had at least the following six children:
The first child appears to have been born at the end of Edmund’s curacy in Birmingham. The next three were born while he was at Walsall Wood.
The 1861 census found 31-year-old Edmund and 27-year-old Charlotte, with 1-year-old eldest son Benjamin, at the Parsonage House, Walsall Wood. They had a 23-year-old “scholar” boarding with them, and they had three resident servants.
Sister Jane Elizabeth Huntsman married James William Bowen on 17/08/1867 at Loversall. (Was Edmund roped in to officiate? Probably not.)
Vicar of Harworth
A vacancy had arisen at Harworth due to the death of the current incumbent, the Reverend Charles Eboral Rodgers (b. 1808, Charterhouse 1819, Trinity College Cambridge (6), licensed as curate at Tinsley, near Sheffield 1831(7), d. 1868). Huntsman’s seeking the opportunity to move to Harworth was probably influenced by its relative proximity (about 5 miles by road) to his father’s country residence, Loversall Hall, at Loversall near Doncaster.
The township or village of Harworth is right next to the Yorkshire-Nottinghamshire border, on the Nottinghamshire side, but within the remoter peripheral environs of Sheffield. Tickhill, in Yorkshire, is about 2 miles (3km) to the north-west. Bawtry, again in Yorkshire, is about 3 miles (5km) to the east-north-east.
Harworth parish included the township of Harworth, and part of Styrrup and Oldcoates, along with the hamlets of Hesley, Limpool and Martin to the north, and the hamlet of Serlby to the south. This amounted to 7,370 acres, with a population of 1,247. Harworth township itself covered 4,320 acres, and had a population of 687 (2).
The parish church of All Saints, Harworth, was originally built in the 12th century, though the present chancel was built in 1672 (2) which date is visible on the outside at the top of the east wall. It had been “thoroughly repaired” in 1856, and an organ had been purchased in 1860. Thus, when the Reverend Edmund John Huntsman M. A. took over as vicar in May 1868 from the Reverend Charles Eboral Rodgers M.A. (2), he was taking over a church in good material condition.
The Rev. Rogers had been assisted by a curate, the Rev. Edward John Grey B.A., who continues to be listed as the officiate at baptisms recorded in the baptism register, suggesting he remained after the change of vicar.
Roughly five months after his arrival at Harworth, Edmund’s 76-year-old mother, Fanny Huntsman of Loversall Hall, died in 1868 and was buried on 29/10/1868 at Wadworth.
The 1871 census found Harworth vicarage occupied by 41-year-old Edmund, his 37-year-old wife Charlotte, sons Benjamin (11), Alfred (7), Hugh (5) and George (3). Also living with them was 56-year-old Ipswich-born unmarried Mary Ann Stevenson, who was described as an annuitant. Additionally there were four members of domestic staff.
Cecil Ivry(?)Huntsman was born in July 1871. Her entry in the Harwood baptism register was no. 693, which recorded the baptism on 10/09/1871 of Cecil Ivry (? – not easy to read) Huntsman, born to Edmund John Huntsman, vicar of Harworth, and Charlotte Cordelia Tyrelline Huntsman, of Harworth. Edmund conducted the baptism himself. Edmund exceptionally added his child’s date of birth in the register’s left margin, in July 1871, but the day is two faint to read in the microfiche copy.
Lettice Neale Monica Huntsman was born on 07/01/1874. Her entry in the Harwood baptism register was no. 756, which recorded the baptism on 08/03/1874 of Lettice Neale Monica Huntsman, born to Edmund John Huntsman, vicar of Harworth, and Charlotte Cordelia Tyrelline Huntsman, of Harworth. Edmund conducted the baptism himself. Edmund exceptionally added his child’s date of birth in the register’s left margin.
In addition to being vicar of Harworth, in 1875 Edmund John Huntsman became chaplain to the Right Hon. George Edward Arundel Moneton Arundel, Viscount Galway, M.P., Baron of Kildare, who was the main landowner in the area, and whose seat was Serlby Hall (2), a mile or so north-east of Blyth, and a similar distance south of Harworth, on land positioned in a loop in the River Ryton.
Edmund’s 93-year-old father, Francis Huntsman of Loversall Hall, died on 20/02/1879 and was buried on 26/02/1879 at Wadworth.
(Click here for photographs and details of the two Huntsman graves at St. John the Baptist, Wadworth where Edmund’s parents and four siblings are buried.)
Church duties extended into neighbouring parishes from time to time as evidenced by a description of the church of Everton (3) in north Nottinghamshire, roughly 5 miles to the east of Harworth, which mentions that:
The Rev Herbert Francis Ramsay was inducted to the vicarage of Everton by the Rev E J Huntsman vicar of Harworth on the 1 Aug 1879.
The 1881 census recorded the household at Harworth Vicarage as consisting of parents Edmund (51) and Charlotte (47), sons Hugh (15), George (13), Cecil (9), and daughter Lettice (7). There were now five members of domestic staff, one of whom was the former annuitant, Mary Ann Stevenson, who now fulfilled the roll of lady’s maid. At the time of the census they had a visitor in the form of Edmund’s niece Elizabeth Harriet Anne G.....(?) Penrose (born 1860/61, Dedham, Essex). Alfred was at the time a scholar boarding at 1 Canonbury Place, Islington. He became a surgeon and in 1901 resident in Islington.
The 1891 census found the household included to 61-year-old Edmund, 57-year-old Charlotte, 17-year-old Lettice N. M. Huntsman, and Edmund’s 30-year-old niece, Elizabeth H. A. G. Penrose. 76-year-old Mary Ann Stevenson was still “lady’s maid”, and there were three more domestic servants.
Edmund’s older brother, Benjamin Huntsman, who had become a Deputy Lieutenant of Nottinghamshire, a JP, and was Lord of the Manor of Wadsley, and resided at West Retford Hall, died 26/06/1893.
The Reverend Edmund John Huntsman died at Harworth vicarage around 10.30 a.m. on Thursday 11th November 1897, aged 68. He had had poor health for some months, but had called the register at the school the day before he died.
He was buried at All Saints, Harworth. The entry in the burial register is no. 314, and records the burial on [Monday] 15/11/1897 of Edmund John Huntsman, age 68, by J. W. Scarlett, rector of Rossington [near Doncaster].
Three inscribed stones from the Huntsman grave are still present in the grounds of Harworth All Saints Parish Church, though they have been placed on top of another grave. The wording suggests a topmost stone with “In Memory of”, or similar, is missing. The inscriptions on the three stone blocks read as follows:
Vicar of this Parish
from may 1868,
to november 11th 1897,
charlotte cordelia tyrelline
huntsman his wife
born july 27th 1833 – died may 22nd 1903
That these loose stones are positioned on another grave is evidenced by the inscriptions on the perimeter stones of that grave, which read (on W, S, E, then N sides successively):
IN LOVING MEMORY OF
CHARLES ANDREW, LATE OF OLDCOTES, DIED DECEMBER 17TH 1893
AGED 71 YEARS
ALSO ANN HIS WIFE DIED JULY 13TH 1892 AGED 65 YEARS
A stone in the ground nearby bears traces of a patch of cement corresponding in shape and size to the largest of the Huntsman stones, as though the above three stones had originally rested there. So, that stone set in the ground may well mark the actual site of the Huntsman grave.
Probate was granted at London on 23/12/1897, to Charlotte Cordelia Tyrelline Huntsman, widow, and George Alexander Irvine Huntsman, solicitor. The effects left by the deceased totalled £22,398 0s. 6d.
The British Chess Magazine published an obituary in 1897, page 474, with corrections from the Rev. W. Wayte in 1898, page 36.
Removal of Family to Worksop
After the death of her husband, Charlotte Cordelia Tyrelline Huntsman and her family moved to Worksop. the 1901 census found 67-year-old Charlotte, with 33-year-old George, who was a solicitor, and Lettice, living at 33 Carlton Road, with three servants.
Charlotte died 22nd May 1903 and was interred with her husband at Harworth. Probate was granted to George Alexander Irvine Huntsman, solicitor, and Alfred Edmund Francis Fonnereau Huntsman, surgeon.
Involvement in Chess
The Reverend E J Huntsman doesn’t seem to be recorded as a chess-player until the 1880s. He played in minor tournaments at the Counties Chess Association meetings of 1882 (Manchester), 1884 (Bath) and 1885 (Hereford). By this time the Sheffield & District Chess Association been formed (in 1883), taking over from the Sheffield Athenaeum Chess Club its previous unofficial responsibility for representing Sheffield chess to the outside world. Also, the West Yorkshire Chess Association had initiated the Woodhouse Cup inter-town team competition.
This was a time when opportunities to play competitive chess were increasing greatly, but it may be that transport difficulties prevented him from participating more than he might have wished.
He played in the Yorkshire v Lancashire match played at the Albert Hall, Leeds, on Saturday 20th January 1883. This match was over 79 boards, with two games being played on most boards. Huntsman, who was described as being from Rotherham, though he didn’t get listed in teams representing Rotherham, lost his game. The final result was Lancashire 84 wins, Yorkshire 36 wins, with 18 draws.
He was not amongst those playing against Joseph Henry Blackburne when the latter played simultaneous games against locals at Sheffield Athenaeum Chess Club on Saturday 25th January 1883. He did not play in the match between the Sheffield Athenaeum Chess Club and the combined forces of the rest of the Sheffield &District Chess Association on Tuesday 17th April 1883. He was not amongst those who turned out to play against H E Bird on Saturday 25th May, at the Maunche Hotel, Sheffield. He didn’t play in the match between Sheffield and Manchester on Saturday 1st December 1883, at the Maunche Hotel, Sheffield.
He did, however, represent Sheffield & DCA against Derbyshire, on Saturday 16th February 1884, at the Maunche Hotel. The Sheffield team was stronger than that fielded against Manchester. The match was over fourteen boards, with two games played at each board, time permitting. The final score, after unfinished games had been adjudicated, was 13½-10½ to Derbyshire. Huntsman lost on board one to Derbyshire’s F E Phillips as follows:
White: F. E. Phillips (Derbyshire) – Black: Rev. E. J. Huntsman (Sheffield)
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6
3.Bc4 Bc5 4.c3 Nf6 5.d3 d6 6.O-O Ne7 7.d4 exd4 8.cxd4 Bb6
Sheffield had not entered the Woodhouse Cup in its first season, 1884-85, when the Cup was won by Bradford, but the Sheffield and District Chess Association had resolved to take part in the second season. It was as Sheffield Woodhouse Cup team captain for the coming season that the Reverend Huntsman attended the West Yorkshire Chess Association meeting on 25th April 1885, at the Bull Hotel, Wakefield. He was accompanied by one of his sons, George Alexander Irvine Huntsman. In the tournaments, the Rev. Huntsman was paired in round one of the Class A tournament with J E Hall who played board 2 for Bradford in the Woodhouse Cup, below the Bradford captain, G F Onions. This game went as follows:
White: Rev. E. J. Huntsman (Sheffield) - Black: J. E.Hall (Bradford)
1.f4 d5 2.e3 Nf6 3.Nf3 Bg4 4.Be2 Bxf3 5.Bxf3 e6 6.Nc3 c6 7.O-O Bd6
Players often had to leave WYCA meetings before they’d had time to play all their games, and on this occasion the Rev. Huntsman had to depart without playing T. Y. Stokoe of Leeds, who therefore won by default in round 2 and so secured a prize of £2 10s.
For its second season, the Woodhouse Cup competition had been thrown open to all Yorkshire clubs, not just those of the West Riding. Initially the entrants for 1885-86 were Bradford, Leeds, Wakefield, Huddersfield, Halifax, Hull Church Institute, and the Sheffield & District Chess Association. However, enthusiasm had to yield to pragmatism, and by the time the competition started the Halifax and Hull entries had been withdrawn. Then Huddersfield failed to raise a team for their first match, against Sheffield at Penistone; Sheffield offered postponement to a later date, but Huddersfield withdrew from the competition. The Woodhouse Cup thus was contested that season between only four clubs.
Sheffield beat Wakefield 12-10 over 11 boards, two games being played per board. On top board the Rev. Huntsman for Sheffield and F. H. Wright for Wakefield won a game each. On board 10 “A. Huntsman” lost both games to A H Hawke of Huddersfield. This Sheffield player was presumably Alfred E F F Huntsman, the Reverend’s (eldest?) son.
Sheffield beat Leeds 19½-16½ over 20 boards. On top board the Rev. Huntsman for Sheffield and James Raynor for Leeds won a game each, though the woeful write-up in the Leeds paper said Raynor should have drawn the game he lost.
Leeds beat Wakefield 13-5, Bradford beat Wakefield 9-6, and Bradford and Leeds drew 17½-17½. Sheffield beat Bradford 16-14.
As captain of the winning Sheffield team, the Rev. Huntsman received the Edwin Woodhouse Challenge Cup at the West Riding Chess Association meeting on 17th April 1886, at the Technical School and Mechanics’ Institute, Huddersfield. He again competed in the Class A tournament, but this time lost in round 1, to Thomas Spencer of Shipley. At this meeting the Rev Huntsman was accompanied by two of his sons, Hugh de Cisspigny Huntsman and George Alexander Irvine Huntsman.
At a WYCA committee meeting held on 6th November 1886 the playing of two games at each board in Woodhouse matches was abolished, with the provision that only one game be played.
The Rev Huntsman continued on board one for Sheffield in the 1886-87 season. He beat W W Hunter of Wakefield. He beat H H Waight of Halifax. He lost again to Thomas Spencer of Shipley in the match against Bradford. He was prevented from taking part in the away match against Leeds, which Leeds won 11-9. Sheffield finished 3rd-4th= out of five teams.
Results from the 1887-88 season are not to hand. Sheffield’s first match was to have been at home to Bradford, but Bradford had refused to travel to Sheffield due to the smallpox epidemic in Sheffield, asking that the match be held instead at Doncaster, which request Sheffield would not agree to. Sheffield doesn’t seem to have been represented at the 1888 meeting of WYCA!
The 1888-89 Woodhouse Cup competition was originally to have been contested by the six teams Sheffield, Wakefield, Halifax, Bradford, Leeds and Hull. Sheffield’s first match was to have been at home to Wakefield on 5th January 1889, but Wakefield withdrew from the competition about a fortnight beforehand. This left Bradford and Hull each with three away matches and only one home match, and those clubs requested a revision of the fixture list, but this was refused at a fraught committee meeting, causing the withdrawal of the disgruntled Hull team. That meant there were only four teams left!
Against Leeds (19th January 1889, at Leeds) the Rev Huntsman beat J S West on top board, but Leeds won the match 12½-7½. The other match results are not to hand, but Sheffield were the eventual winners of the cup. This occasioned another sortie by the Rev Huntsman to the annual meeting of the West Yorkshire Chess Association, this time on 27th April 1889, at Leeds Town Hall. He again participated in the Class A tournament, but lost in round 1 to J E Hall of Bradford.
The dates for 1889-90 Woodhouse Cup matches were set as 11th January 1890, 1st February 1890, and 15th February 1890. Halifax seem to have dropped out, leaving only three teams. The WYCA minute book mentions only that Bradford beat Sheffield on 11th January (not stating the game points), Bradford beat Leeds 10½-9½ on 1st February, and that Bradford thus won the Cup. There’s no mention of Leeds versus Sheffield (presumably scheduled for 15th February 1890), though the result would not have affected the overall winner.
The fixtures for the 1890-91 Woodhouse Cup included Hull Church Institute and Halifax once again, along with Leeds, Bradford and Sheffield.
Sheffield had a bye in round one. In round two they were at home to Bradford. At close of play the score was 4½-3½ to Bradford, with two games for adjudication, Huntsman’s game on top board against T A Guy, and the one on board six. The match was drawn, so Huntsman must have won or drawn on adjudication.
In round three Sheffield played away to Hull. At close of play, Sheffield led 10-9 with board two to be adjudicated. As G A Askham of Sheffield was claiming a win. Sheffield won the match one way or another. Huntsman drew on top board against E Freeborough of Hull.
In round four, Sheffield played away to Leeds who won 13-7. Huntsman lost on top board to James Raynor of Leeds.
The details of round five results are not to hand, but Sheffield beat Halifax.
Records in the WYCA Minute Book end with the printed report for 1890-91.
His obituary in the British Chess Magazine recorded how it had been his practice to travel from Harworth to Sheffield on Saturday for a Woodhouse Cup match, staying in Sheffield to 10 o’clock at night, then going by train to Doncaster, thence to drive (by horse-drawn vehicle) to Harworth, where he arrived in the small hours of Sunday morning, and getting relatively little sleep before performing his clerical duties on Sunday morning.
Besides captaining Sheffield and playing on board one, the Rev E J Huntsman is recorded as being president of the Sheffield and District Chess Association in 1889 and 1890, and his tenure of that office may well have extended before and/or after those years as he held that post at the time of his death in 1897.
The 1893-94 season
featured an enigmatic appearance of “Rev. E. J. Huntsman” on
board 1 for Scarborough against Whitby, in a 12-board, 2-games-per-board
match played on Wednesday 21st February 1894. Scarborough won
His obituary in the British Chess Magazine reported that he’d been president of Scarborough Chess Club at the time of his death. The origin of the Scarborough connection is unclear.
Sheffield Collegiate School 1836-1885, a Biographical Register;
2 White’s Sheffield Directory, 1868.
4 Minute Book of the West Yorkshire Chess Association
5 White’s Sheffield Directory for 1852.
6 List of Carthusians, 1800–1879, edited by William Douglas Parish, 1879.
8 Alumni Cantabrigienses, Venn
Copyright © 2012, 2013 Stephen John Mann
Census information is copyright of The National Archive, see UK Census Information