Yorkshire Chess History



Henry Edwin Kidson











Made in Yorkshire



Sheffield Sub-Site



06/09/1832, Leeds


12/11/1832, St. Peter’s, Leeds


24/03/1910, Liverpool



Non-Chess Life


Henry Edwin Kidson’s entry in the baptism register of St. Peter’s, the parish church of Leeds, is number 2007.  Whoever completed the entry is to be thanked for inserting his date of birth in the left margin.  That bonus enables us to forgive the fact that the family surname was incorrectly recorded as “Kitson”.  Thus we are told that Henry Edwin, son of Francis Prince Kitson, butcher of Vicar Lane, Leeds, and his wife Mary Kitson, was born on 06/09/1832, and baptised on 12/11/1832 by J.W.L. (best guess at initials) Brown, curate.  St. Peter’s, at the foot of Kirkgate, was demolished in 1838, and then rebuilt.


In time the couple Francis Prince Kidson and Mary Kidson had at least the following seven children, all born in Leeds:


Henry Edwin Kidson

born 06/09/1832

Emma Kidson

born 1834/35

John Kidson

born 1838/39

James Kidson

born 1843/44

Joseph R. Kidson

born 1845/46

Catharine A. Kidson

born 1848/49

William Kidson

born Aug/Sep 1850


Pigot’s directory Leeds directory of 1834 listed Frederick P Kidson as a butcher at 7 Fleet Street, Leeds.  Subsequent directories’ entries make it evident that “Frederick” should have been “Francis”.


White’s Leeds directory of 1837 listed Francis Prince Kidson as a butcher at 7 Fleet Street, Leeds, with his home at 19 Templars Street, Leeds.


The 1841 census found 7-year-old Henry Kidson living with parents Francis Kidson (born 1810/1811), butcher, and Mary Kidson (born 1815/16) at Templars Street, Leeds.  His sister Emma was listed, but not John for some reason.


White’s Leeds directory of 1842 listed Frederick P Kidson as a butcher at 53 Lady Lane, Leeds.  This was may have been only a change in business address.


Henry Edwin Kidson’s initial foray into employments appears to have involved him leaving Leeds and moving to York, by early 1851, as the 1851 census found him living as an 18-year-old pawnbroker’s apprentice in the household of 26-year-old York-born pawnbroker John Colburn, his Dalby-born wife Jane Colburn (née Horsley), parents-in-law William and Jane (senior) Horsley, a Leeds-born, 15-year-old apprentice Edward Pullen, and a female domestic servant.  His surname looked rather like “Hidson”, which is how he appears in census transcriptions.


It is likely that it was while living in York that he struck up his friendship with another apprentice pawnbroker in York, fellow chess-problemist Walter Grimshaw, later of Whitby. 


The 1851 census list both parents and all the above children, except Henry Edwin Kidson, living at 3 Alexander Street. The father was erroneously listed as Thomas P. Kidson.  He was now described as a rate collector.  White’s Leeds directory of 1853 listed Francis Prince Kidson as acolr.” at 1 Alexander Place, Leeds.  (Did he live at no.1, next door to business premises at no.3?)


It is evident that Henry Edwin Kidson left York for Sheffield at some time from 1851 to 1853, as The Chess Player’s Chronicle of 1853 and 1854 mention him as hailing from Sheffield.  It is likely he had set up in business on his own account as a pawnbroker, but he is not evident in Sheffield directories of the period. 


The Chess Player’s Chronicle referred to H. E. Kidson in 1854, on page 59, saying, “Mr. Kidson must be reckoned a welcome accession to the ranks of the Sheffield players, as he has already evinced considerable talent.”  The “Sheffield players” at that time would have been members of the Sheffield Athenaeum Chess Club.  Kidson is not listed as having paid a subscription as a member of Sheffield Athenaeum Chess Club.  Indeed it’s doubtful that he’d be of adequate status to be admitted.  No record of anyone called Kidson being in Sheffield around that time is evident in directories, probably because he was of inadequate status or importance to be listed.  He is not listed as a pupil at Sheffield Collegiate School at any time.


His marriage to Martha Stowe, sister of a York pawnbroker, and daughter of Frederick Stowe of Westfields House, Bramley near Leeds, was registered at York in the first quarter of 1858.


The 1851 census had found Martha Stowe (born 1833, Bramley near Leeds) living in Straker’s Passage, St. Crux, York, with older brother Frederick W. Stowe (born 1825/26, Pudsey and younger sister Elizabeth Stowe (born 1843/44, Bramley).  It is unclear whether Henry Edwin Kidson had moved from Sheffield to York and there met his bride, or had perhaps visited fellow problemist Walter Grimshaw in York and met his bride that way.  That both chess problemists Kidson and Grimshaw were pawnbrokers and married a sister or daughter of a York pawnbroker, in York, suggests a possibly unseen connection.


Whether Kidson was moved back to York at some time is unclear, but at some time from 1854 to 1861 he moved to Liverpool, where he resided for the rest of his life.  He remained a pawnbroker, but added jewellery, works of art, and the like to the scope of his business interests.


The 1861 census found Henry E. Kidson, pawnbroker and jeweller, living at 149 & 151 Brownlow Hill, Liverpool, with wife Martha, and 2-year-old daughter Kate Mary Kidson (born 1858/59, Liverpool), with 2 servants.


On 10/10/1861 he attended the marriage in York of fellow chess-player and problemist Walter Grimshaw, signing the marriage register as a witness.


The death of his wife, Martha Kidson, aged 32, occurred in Liverpool on 16/11/1865.


The 1871 census found H. E. Kidson, widower, pawnbroker, residing at 58 Eastbourne Street, Liverpool, with one servant.


The death of his father, Francis Prince Kidson, aged 61, was registered at Leeds in the first quarter of 1872.


H E Kidson is elusive in the 1881 census, but was seemingly still resident in Liverpool.


The 1891 census found Henry E Kidson residing at 4 Beech Terrace, Beech Street, West Derby, Liverpool, with daughter Kate Mary, he a dealer in art works, she a music teacher.  They had one live-in servant.


Kelly's Directory of Liverpool & Birkenhead, 1894, makes it evident that Henry Edwin Kidson was in partnership with Vincent Spencer Pennington in a pawnbroker business called Kidson & Pennington, at 149 and 151 Brownlow Hill, Liverpool, while trading on his own as a dealer in works of art at 13 South John Street, Liverpool.  His home address was 4 Beech Terrace, Beech Street, Liverpool.


Gore's Directory of Liverpool & Birkenhead, 1900, listed Henry E. Kidson as a dealer in works of art at 13 South John Street, Liverpool, but the pawnbroker business was not evidently still active.  Former business partner Vincent Spencer Pennington was now a jeweller.


The 1901 census listed Henry E Kidson still residing at 4 Beech Terrace, Beech Street, West Derby, Liverpool, with daughter Kate Mary, he a dealer in art works (and an employer), she with no stated employment.  They still had a servant.


Henry E. Kidson was author of an illustrated 90-page book About Old China. Being some Account of the Origin and Manufacture of pottery and porcelain Throughout Europe, together with Descriptions of the Various Marks and Information and hints to Collectors, Liverpool and London, Edward Howell, Simpkin, Marshall, Hamilton, Kent and Co., 1908.




Probate records state that Henry Edwin Kidson of 13 South John Street, Liverpool, and 4 Beech Terrace, Beech Street, Liverpool, antique furniture and curio dealer, died 24/03/1910 at Beech Terrace.  Probate was granted to his spinster daughter, Kate Mary Kidson.  His effects were £1,556 11s.10d.




Henry Edwin Kidson is famous as a chess problemist, but was not so prominent as a player.


The Chess Player’s Chronicle of 1850 published a problem “re-modelled” by him, without stating where he lived, which would have been helpful.


The Chess Player’s Chronicle of 1853, p.351, published a problem “by Mr. H. E. Kidson of Sheffield”):


White playing first, to mate in four moves.


The Chess Player’s Chronicle referred to him in 1854 on page 59 saying “Mr. Kidson must be reckoned a welcome accession to the ranks of the Sheffield players, as he has already evinced considerable talent.”  The “Sheffield players” were in fact the Sheffield Athenaeum Chess Club, and in reality our man would be unlikely to have been accepted as a member.


He was one of those attending the Redcar chess meeting of 1865, though he did not compete in the formal tournament which seems tohave been limited to North Riding and Co. Durham players.


He attended the Redcar chess meeting of 1866,and on this occasion competed in the 12-player Class II all-play-all tournament, finishing second equal with Sigismund Hamel of Nottingham on 8 out of 11, behind the Rev. Francis Robert Drew of Malvern, who scored 11 out of 11.


Among subscriptions to Skipworth’s chess meeting in York, in 1868, which was the first described as of the “Yorkshire Chess Association”, the Chess Player’s Quarterly Chronicle,1868-69, page 89, listed H. E. Kidson, Liverpool, as subscribing £1 1s. 0d.


H. E. Kidson of ~Liverpool played on board 8 for Lancashire in the  20/05/1871 Yorkshire-Lancashire match which was played at the West Yorkshire Chess Association meeting at Bradford.


From 1871 to 1881 he is recorded as playing for Liverpool in club matches, and in internal club competitions.


The Westminster Papers of 01/02/1879 refers to his as President of Liverpool chess club in a write-up of the club’s annual meeting on 16/12/1878, when H. E. Kidson was succeeded as President by Thomas Whitehead, but remained on the committee.





Copyright © 2013, 2019 Stephen John Mann

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

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