Yorkshire Chess History
Joseph Louis Meöt de Montmusard
The element “Meöt de Montmusard” was his surname and that of his wife and children, but confusion was common. His marriage was registered as that of “De MONTMUSARD, Joseph Lewis Meot” as though “Meot” was a forename. His death was registered as that of “Montmusard, Meot de” with “Meot de” as the only entry in the forenames column; probate records misrepresented “Meöt” as “Méot”; and so on. The second forename was sometimes rendered Lewis, which is a relatively minor inaccuracy.
This French gentleman was believed to have been born in 1808/09 and declared himself to be a native of Paris. It is unclear quite when he arrived in England, but he was living in Chesterfield by 1840, as the Sheffield Independent of 11/01/1840 and the Sheffield Iris of 14/01/1840 reported, “MONS. MEOT de MONTMUSARD, Resident Teacher at Chesterfield, announces his intention of visiting Sheffield and its Neighbourhood, for the purpose of giving instructions in the FRENCH LANGUAGE in Schools and Private Families, and at his Residence.”
In subsequent such adverts he stated himself to be “from Paris” and later more specifically “a native of Paris”.
He move from Chesterfield to Sheffield in about June 1840, and the Sheffield Independent of 27/06/1840 announced, “THE FRENCH LANGUAGE, TAUGHT CHIEFLY by CONVERSATION. THREE LESSONS A WEEK. MONS. MEOT DE MONTMUSARD, from Paris, has the honour of announcing that he now resides in Sheffield, and will continue to give Instructions in the French Language …” &c.
The 1841 census listed “Meot de Montmusard” as a teacher of language living, presumably lodging, with cabinet maker William Fowler and his wife at what appears to have ben Rockingham Street (at right angles to West Street), Sheffield. (In 1933 William Fowler had been on West Street, and the 1841 entry followed on from West Street.)
Such newspaper notices as above continued through 1841, and by October he had added “the rudiments of Italian” to his repertoire, besides class lessons specifically for ladies.
The Sheffield Independent of 30/04/1842 announced the marriage on 25/04/1842, “at Rotherham, (of) Monsieur J. L. Meot de Montmusard, professor of the French language, to Frances, second daughter of the late Mr James Thompson, formerly of the firm of Thompson and Barber.” Frances Thompson had been born in 1803/04, at Attercliffe, near Sheffield (and now part of Sheffield).
The couple had at least four children:
By June 1842, his address for tuition purposes was being given as 150 West Street.
The Sheffield Independent of 14/01/1843 mentioned he was a member of staff at Wesley Proprietary Grammar School, (soon to become Wesley College, and, much later King Edward VII Grammar School), and announced he had “REMOVED to 23 WESTFIELD TERRACE, opposite the Mount Zion Chapel.
The Sheffield Independent of 20/02/1847 announced his removal to “SPRING FIELD PLACE, Glossop road, near the Toll Bar.”
Henrietta and Isabella were baptised on 25/05/1847 at St. George’s, Sheffield.
By July 1847 his adverts included “Member of the College of Preceptors”. This organisation was set up in 1846 to certify teachers. Later, “Member” became “Licentiate“. His connection with Wesley College continued to be stated up to 1853, but from 1855 seems to have been dropped, but his credentials now included “a native of Paris, late of the College de France”. At the inquest on his death he was stated to have been at Wesley College for 16 years.
In the latter part of 1847, Isabella died.
The 1851 census found parents and three surviving daughters living at Springfield Place, off Glossop Road, Sheffield.
The 1852 Sheffield directory listed Mons. Meôt de Montmusard, French teacher at Wesley College, with home at Springfield Place, off Glossop Road. (Putting “ô” for “ö” was not uncommon.)
The 1856 directory showed he had moved, as it listed Mons. Meôt de Montmusard, French teacher, 325 Glossop Road.
In early September 1856, the house he had occupied, 325 Glossop Road, was advertised as for rent, and he was advertised as having moved to “3, LOWER VICTORIA STREET, nearly opposite the Bath Saloon.”
The Sheffield Daily Telegraph of 01/05/1858 reported, “MONSIEUR M EOT DE MONTMUSARD begs to announce to his Pupils, that in consequence of his i being obliged to go to Paris on some urgent family affairs.”
The Sheffield Daily Telegraph of 27/05/1858 reported, “MONS. MEOT DE MONTMUSARD, L.C.P., PROFESSOR of FRENCH, wishes to contradict the Report which has been spread by certain Parties, viz , that he is . . .”
His adverts continued in the local papers even to 06/08/1859, the day on which the papers announced that his dead body had been found in a ditch near Heeley, with the throat cut, and that it was believed he had committed suicide.
The Sheffield Daily Telegraph of 26/02/1861 and thereafter carried notices that Mlle Meot de Montmusard, of 3 Victoria Terrace, where her father had lived prior to his death, was giving French lessons.
The 1861 census found widowed Frances and three daughters at 3 Victoria Street, with two boarders and a servant. Frances was a boarding house keeper. Josephine was a teacher of French.
The 1862 Sheffield directory listed Mrs. Meôt de Montmusard., teacher of French, 3 Victoria Street.
In 1869, in Sheffield, Henrietta married John Atkins.
The 1871 census found other Frances, daughters Fanny and Josephine, with John Atkins (30) and Henrietta in Sheffield.
Frances died 15/06/1878 aged 74.
The 1881 census found “Josephine Meot” to be lady’s help, at the time visiting sister Henrietta Atkins and family at 62 Victoria Street, Sheffield. Meanwhile Fannie was a boarding-house keeper, Chapel-en-le-Frith.
The 1891 census found Josephine and Fanny with 75-year-old aunt Susan Thompson living in Banks Lane, Baslow. Josephine was a teacher of French and Music.
Josephine eventually returned to Sheffield.
Woodlands, Baslow (Kelly)
Fannie died age 83 in 1925, in Sheffield.
Josephine died 28/01/1934, in Sheffield, at which time she was resident at 28 Mylnhurst Road, Sheffield.
Joseph Louis Meöt de Montmusard died on 05/08/1859 as a result of his throat being cut. It was believed he had committed suicide. His wife’s brother Hugh Thompson said at the inquest that the deceased was 48 years old. The verdict was that he had committed suicide while labouring under temporary insanity.
He had been depressed, seemingly due to various factors, but mainly a decline in the number of students, and “being deprived of an estate at Chateau de Monmusard, which is worth £4,000 or £5,000 a year, and of which he was joint heir.”
The Sheffield Athenaeum Chess Club treasurer’s minimalist records (usually only surnames were given) recorded “Meôt M” as paying his chess club membership fee of one shilling in 1848. This can only have been M(onsieur Joseph Louis) Meöt (de Montmusard). No further such record appears, though he was probably still a member of the Athenaeum club as a whole, though not specifically of the chess club within it.
Copyright © 2019 Stephen John Mann
Census information is copyright of The National Archive, see UK Census Information