Yorkshire Chess History



John Baines Lewis











Made in Yorkshire



Sheffield Sub-Site



08/05/1897, Blackburn, Lancashire


18/06/1897, Blackburn, Lancashire


15/12/1971, Oak Bay, British Columbia, Canada



The Surname


Chess results of a “J. Baines-Lewis” were commonly reported, with a hyphen between “Baines” and “Lewis”.  The chess-player’s surname was in fact “Lewis”, and “Baines-Lewis” was not used in official documents, and his father wrote it without a hyphen in 1911, while he hhimself signed his own name in 1917 without a hyphen.


Non-Chess Life


The parents of John Baines Lewis were Henry Lewis (born 1856/57, Blackburn) and Betsy Alice Lewis (born 1857/58, Blackburn), who had the following three children:


Edith Lewis

born 1891/92, Blackburn

Mary Boys Lewis

born 1894/95, Blackburn

John Baines Lewis

born 08/05/1897, Blackburn


John Baines Lewis was born on 08/05/1897, at Blackburn Lancashire. [1, etc]  The birth was registered simply in the name of John Baines, in the second quarter of 1897, at Blackburn.  “John Lewis”, born 08/05/1897, to Henry Lewis and Betsy Alice Lewis, was baptised on 18/06/1897, at Blackburn.


The 1901 census found the parents and three children living with four servants at Billinge House, Witton, Blackburn.  Father Henry was a cotton spinner and manufacturer, employing people.  Mary was recorded with her middle name “Boys”, but John lacked his middle name “Baines”.


The 1911 census found the parents, daughter Edith, and son John (now with his full name of “John Baines Lewis”, written by his father without a hyphen) living with three servants at Billinge House, Blackburn.  Father Henry was still a cotton spinner and manufacturer, employing people.  John Baines Lewis was a scholar.


On 13/06/1917, at the declared age of 20 years and 1 month, our man completed the form to join the East Lancashire Corps as a reservist, signing his name as “John Baines Lewis”.  He was recorded as unmarried and as being a textile student.  His address was recorded slightly incorrectly as “Billenge House” rather than “Billinge House”.


In time John Baines Lewis seems to have chosen to re-invent himself as the double-barrelled “John Baines-Lewis”


At some time he moved to Harrogate.  Telephone directories from 1928 to 1934 listed him as resident at Regal Flats, Clarence Drive, Harrogate (tel. Harrogate 4803).  Poll books for 1931 to 1935 give his address as Flat D, 6-8 Clarence Drive, Harrogate.  In both sources he is hyphenated and filed under “B”, as “Baines-Lewis, J.”


Phone books of 1936 and 1937 list him living in the London area at Hartley Grange (near Longfield), Kent (tel. Longfield 196).


Phone books for 1938 and 1939 list him as living at Highfield St. Giles, Launceston, Cornwall.  This sounds rather like Highfield House, St. Giles-On-The-Heath, Launceston, roughly 20 miles NW of Plymouth.


He emigrated from England to Canada in1938.  A record of 40-year-old Blackburn-born “Lewis, John B.” crossing the US-Canada border at Niagara Falls, New York State, as an immigrant to Canada, on 20/07/1938, describes him as a teacher by occupation, and as having been resident at St. Giles, Launceston, England.  His age was actually 41.


After taking up residence in Canada, he made a number of trips back to England.


51-year-old “Lewis, John Baines” arrived at Liverpool from St. John, New Brunswick, on 29/12/1948.  He was by then described as retired, and his address in England as c/o Canadian Bank of Commerce, 2 Lombard Street, London EC3.


53-year-old “Lewis, John B.” arrived at Liverpool from Quebec, on 26/05/1950.  His proposed address in the United Kingdom was given as Mount Royal Hotel, Marble House [sic, meant Marble Arch], London.


57-yearold “Lewis, John B.” arrived at Liverpool from Quebec, on 21/09/1954, his intended UK address being the Mount Royal, Marble Arch, London.  He seemingly stayed in England for 56 days, as 57-year-old “John Lewis” departed from Liverpool for Quebec, on 16/11/1954, his UK address having been the Mount Royal Hotel.


“Lewis, John Baines”, stated to have been born 08/05/1897, arrived at Liverpool from Quebec, on 25/04/1957, destined once more for the Mount Royal Hotel, London W1, and stated to be intending to stay in England for 2 months.


“Lewis, John Baines,” again stated to have been born 08/05/1897, arrived at Liverpool from Quebec, on 09/10/1959, his intended UK address being, as ever, the Mount Royal Hotel, Marble Arch, London W1.  His stay was stated as being intended to last 6 weeks.


The engraving on the trophy for the Victoria High Schools Championship gives the hyphenated “J. Baines-Lewis” (its donor), and the suffixed initials “F.R.S.A.” for Fellow of the Royal Society of Art.  A cynic might wonder whether the “F.R.S.A” came from the same place as the hyphen.




“John Baines-Lewis” died on 15/12/1971, at Oak Bay, British Columbia, Canada [1].  The related entry in the British Columbia Death Registrations, 1872-1986 gave his date and place of birth, and stated that he’d been single.  In death he had been granted his beloved but spurious hyphen.




While resident in Harrogate, he was a member of Leeds Chess Club.


Possibly around 1928 or 1929, he donated a trophy to Harrogate Chess Club, still in use for the Minor club championship, he himself being the winner for 1928-29, that being the first engraved record of a winner.


He played for Yorkshire in the 1933 Yorkshire v Cheshire match and the 1933 Yorkshire v Lancashire match.  In the first case he was described as of Leeds (i.e. the chess club) and in the second case as of Harrogate (i. e. place of residence).


He played for Yorkshire in the 1934 Yorkshire v Lancashire match.


He played one match for Leeds in the Woodhouse Cup of 1933-34, specifically the one against Hull, on 24/03/1934.


In Canada, he won the Victoria and district chess championship (Gonnason Cup) in 1940, and then again, jointly with Thomas N. Curteis (a teacher at Mount View High School), in 1954. [2]


Reflecting the fact that he’d been a schoolteacher, he was donor of the Victoria High Schools Championship trophy (a shield), which was first won in 1956 [2].  (Click here for a picture of the trophy on the Victoria Chess Club website cited [2] below.) 





[1]  British Columbia Death Registrations, 1872-1986

[2]  http://victoriachessclub.pbworks.com/w/page/11477325/Club%20History





Copyright © 2014 Stephen John Mann

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

Last Updated