Yorkshire Chess History



Samuel Keir











Made in Yorkshire



Sheffield Sub-Site



1867, Rastrick



24/12/1949, Lancaster



(from the Lancashire Daily Post)


Non-Chess Life


The parents of Samuel Keir were John Keir (born 1845/46, Brighouse) and Elizabeth Keir (1844/45, Clifton).  This couple had at least the following seven children:


Samuel Kier

born 1867, Rastrick

Laura Kier

born 1868/69, Rastrick

Henry Kier

born 1869/70, Rastrick

Lucy Kier

born 1871/72, Thornhill

Frederick Kier

born 1872/73, Thornhill

Hannah Kier

born 1875/76, Clifton

Jessie Kier

born Feb/Mar 1881, Clifton


The birth of Samuel Keir was registered in the second quarter of 1867, at Halifax, which was the registration location appropriate to Brighouse and its environs.  Censuses give his place of birth as Rastrick.  His age in censuses imply he was born no later than 02/04/1867.  Thus he was most probably born in March 1867, but possibly in one of the first two days of April 1867.


Rastrick is about a mile to the SW of Brighouse.  Clifton, in this context, is the Clifton situated about a mile to the east of Brighouse, and then in the township of Harsthead-cum-Clifton. Thornhill, in this context, seems to be as alluded to in the name of Thornhills [plural] Lane, to the NE of the Cock Walk area of Clifton.


The 1871 census found parents John and Elizabeth living with their first three children and one servant at an undetailed address in Thornhill, listed immediately before the households in Cock Walk.  Father John was a machine maker and farmer of 15 acres.


The 1881 census found the parents and all seven children living, without a servant, at Vine House, Clifton.  This would appear to be on or near New Street, Clifton, as Vine Garth, Vine Court, Vine Close and Vine Grove are modern cul-de-sacs to the south side of New Street.  Father John had given up farming, it seems, and was a woollen machine maker.  14-year-old Samuel was an office boy.  All the other children, except baby Jessie, were scholars.


The mother, Elizabeth Keir, died at some time from 1881 to 1891.


The 1891 census found Samuel Keir and brother Henry Keir living with their widowed grandmother, Lucy Keir, in Rastrick.  Lucy Keir was living on her own means.  Samuel was now a solicitor’s clerk.  Henry was a clerk and bookkeeper.  The widowed John Keir was living with living with the other five children in Hipperholme with Brighouse.


Chess records from 1892 connect S. Keir with Huddersfield.  It is quite possible that while living in Rastrick he was a member of Huddersfield Chess Club, though he may by then have moved into Huddersfield.


The marriage of Samuel Keir to Ann Whitaker (born 1866/67, Brighouse) was registered in the third quarter of 1895, at Halifax.  The wedding probably took place in Brighouse.  The couple went on to have five children, of whom the following four survived beyond infancy:


Edward Hugh Keir

born 1896/97 Huddersfield

Edith Margaret Keir

born 1897/98 Huddersfield

Charles Herbert Keir

born 1902/03 Lancaster

Winifred Mary Keir

born 1909/10 Lancaster


Chess records indicate Samuel Keir was still living in or around Huddersfield up to 1898, but by 1899 was living in Lancaster, implying a move in 1898 or 1899.


The 1901 census found Samuel, Ann, Edward and Edith living at 9 Royal Albert Cottages, Ashton Road, Lancaster.  By occupation, Samuel was described as clerk to an asylum.  The reason for the move to Lancaster seems likely to have been to take up this post.


The 1911 census found 44-year-old Rastrick-born Samuel, Ann, Ann’s widowed mother, the surviving four children and a servant living at Rossmore, Scotforth Road, Lancaster, where Samuel continued to live until his death.  Samuel was now described as secretary to the Royal Albert Institution.  Bulmer's History & Directory of Lancaster & District, 1912, described the Royal Albert Institution, Lancaster, as being “for the feeble minded of the northern counties”, and as situated on Ashford Road, about a mile from the town, commanding fine views of Morecambe Bay and the Lake District mountains.  The institution catered for over 700 inmates, who amongst other things were given training in various manual trades.


Bulmer's History & Directory of Lancaster & District, 1912, listed Samuel Keir as General Secretary of the Albert Institution on Ashton Road, Lancaster, with his home at Rossmore, [Scotforth Road,] Lancaster.




Samuel Keir, of Rossmore, Scotforth Road, Lancaster, died on 24/12/1949, at the Royal Infirmary, Lancaster.  Probate was granted to Edith Margaret Keir, spinster, and Winifred Mary Johnson (one of his daughters, wife of Edward Harrison Johnson).  He left £2,134 4s.




“S. Keir” was one of two players to beat Blackburne in his 1892 simultaneous display in Huddersfield.


“Keir, Huddersfield” was a participant in the first West Yorkshire Chess Association Championship, 1892-93, but not in the YCCC Yorkshire Championship of 1893.


He played for Yorkshire in the 1898 Lancashire v Yorkshire match.


Thereafter, he played for Lancashire in the ten Yorkshire v Lancashire (or Lancashire v Yorkshire) matches of 11/03/1899, 02/03/1900, 23/03/1901, 22/03/1902, 17/01/1903, 19/03/1904, 24/03/1906, 26/01/1907, 21/03/1908 and 27/04/1912 – and probably others in this period.  He was playing for Lancashire against Yorkshire in 1933-34, 1934-35, 1937-38 and 1938-39, implying Samuel Keir represented Lancashire for over 40 years.  It was reported in 1931 that he had played in every Roses match from 1897 to date (1931).


He won the Lancashire Championship in 1901 (at least), when the other finalist was F. E. Spedding, another player who lived at different times in Yorkshire and Lancashire.


Somewhat enigmatically, “S. Keir” played in the Woodhouse Cup for Huddersfield on at least two occasions in 1907 (v. Bradford on 11/02/1907, and v. Leeds on 19/10/1907), and maybe more often, suggesting that he travelled from Lancaster to play in the Woodhouse Cup, perhaps combining this with visits to relatives back in Yorkshire.





Copyright © 2013 Stephen John Mann

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

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