Yorkshire Chess History



James Pollard Lea











Made in Yorkshire



Sheffield Sub-Site



1860, Worcester


baptised 05/08/1860, Saint Swithin, Worcester


1910, Honiton district of Devon


1910, Sidmouth


Non-Chess Life


James Pollard Lea’s parents were butcher John Lea (born 1835, Worcester; baptised 15/07/1835, St. Swithin, Worcester) and Elizabeth (née Pollard, 1835/36, Worcester), of the Shambles, Worcester, who married in Worcester in 1856, and had at least the following children:


Edward Chadwick Lea

born 1856/57, Worcester

Ada Eaton Lea

born 1858, Worcester

James Pollard Lea

born 1860, Worcester,


baptised 05/08/1860, Saint Swithin, Worcester

Elizabeth Lea

born 1861/62, Worcester

William Lea

born 1863/64, Worcester

Albert Lea

born 1869/70, Worcester


The 1861 census found the parents and three children living with James’s brother Charles, and 2 servants, at the Shambles, Worcester.


James Pollard Lea became apprenticed to a mechanical engineer in Bath, and the 1881 census found him lodging with a Charlotte Clark in Sydenham Terrace, in the Lyncombe and Widcombe district of Bath, south of the river.


In 1886, at West Bromwich, James Pollard Lea married Caroline Matilda Wilson, with whom he went on to have a daughter, Caroline Dorothy Clara Lea (apparently known as Dorothy Clara, the birth being registered under both names), born Jan/Feb 1891, in Moseley, now part of Birmingham but then counting as in Worcestershire.


The 1891 census found James Pollard Lea, now a gas engineer’s manager, living with wife, daughter, and mother-in-law Caroline Wilson (1836/37, Staffs.) in Moseley.  The daughter was recorded merely as Dorothy Clara Lea.


About a year later (by 1893 from chess sources) the family moved to Bath, where James had served his apprenticeship.  The 1895 post Office Directory of Bath listed James P. Lea living at 16 Park Road, Lower Weston, in the western suburbs of Bath, with business premises as an engineer at 7A Northgate Street in the centre of Bath.


At Bath Chess Club James Pollard Lea will have encountered sometime Sheffield chess-players Edmund Thorold and the Rev. Edward Pelham Pierpoint.


He was still in Bath in January 1896, according to chess sources.


By 1901, James Pollard Lea’s father had retired, and the 1901 census found him living with his wife, eldest son Edward, and a servant on the south coast in Highcliffe, Hampshire (now moved to Dorset).


The 1901 census found James Pollard Lea, wife Caroline Lea, and 10-year-old daughter “Caroline D C Lea” living as three of a number of boarders with a family called Taylor in the Handsworth district of Birmingham, then counted as in Staffordshire.  James was a mechanical engineer.


In 1909, wife Caroline Matilda Lea died in the Lichfield district of Staffordshire, to the north of Birmingham.


Death in 1910, the Honiton area, and burial in Sidmouth, Devon, suggest he perhaps retired as a widower to the south west of England, as had his parents, who were still living.


The 1911 census found father James Lea, a “gentleman”, and his wife, now both 75 years old, as lodgers in Highcliffe.


Daughter (Caroline) Dorothy Clara Lea may be the “Dorothy C Lea” who in 1933, in the vicinity of Wigan, married a Jack Milner.




The death of a 50-year-old “James P. Lea” was registered in the latter part of 1910 in the Honiton district of Devon.  “James Pollard Lea” was buried in Sidmouth, which is presumably where he died.




James Pollard Lea was best known as a chess-player in the Birmingham area, though there are records of him playing chess while in Bath, for example playing on board 4 for Somerset against Wiltshire on in Bath on 18/01/1896 (match drawn), and on board 3 for Somerset in the replay in Trowbridge on 13/02/1896.






Copyright © 2020 Stephen John Mann

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

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