Yorkshire Chess History



Daniel Yarnton Mills











Made in Yorkshire



Sheffield Sub-Site



29/08/1849, Sudgrove, Glos.



18/12/1904, Hampstead, London




Non-Chess Life


Daniel Yarnton Mills was born at Sudgrove, Gloucestershire, the elder son of Daniel Y. Mills senior (born 1817/18, Miserden Glos.) and Emily Mills (born 1825/26, London).


Sudgrove is an area 7miles NW of Cirencester; Miserden is a village in that area.  In the censuses of 1841 and 1851, the spellings “Miserdine” and “Sutgrove” were used, but “Miserden” and “Sudgrove” are the modern spellings.


Daniel Yarnton Mills (senior) and his wife Emily had at least the following four children:


Daniel Yarnton Mills

born 29/08/1849, Sudgrove

Alice Mary Mills

born Dec/Jan 1850/51, Sudgrove

Henry H Mills

born 1854/55, Miserdine

Agnes L Mills

born 1856/57, Miserdine


The birth of Daniel Yarnton Mills was registered at Stroud, where a number of other Mills births were registered around the same period, suggesting there were related families in general the area.


The 1851 census found the parents and eldest two children living at “Sutgrove, Miserdine” in Gloucestershire.  Father Daniel was a farmer of about 200 acres, employing 14 labourers.  The household included four servants.  Daniel junior was at this stage one year old.


The 1861 census found the father, Alice, Henry, Agnes and three servants living more specifically at “Sutgrove House, Miserdine”.  Mother Emily was not listed, but the father was “married” as opposed to “widower”, so Emily was presumably away visiting.  It seems 11-year-old Daniel junior may have been away at school, as one of 37 pupils listed in the census at the Royal Free Grammar School at Marlborough, Wilts., run by 40-year-old, Exeter-born, Rev. Frederick H. Bond.  The name “David” was used for an 11-year-old Sudgrove-born boy, who may have been Daniel or may have been a cousin.  13-year-old William Yarnton Mills, probably a cousin of Daniel, was another pupil.  Marlborough is a little over 30 miles SE of Miserden.


The 1871 census found 21-year-old Daniel Y. Mills as a clerk to a bullion-broker, lodging with the widow Motley and her daughter at 130 Stanley Street, Belgrave, London.


Relatively soon he must have moved into the insurance industry, initially, it seems, at the London office of Sun Life [1].


He also had got married by 1880, to Alice (born 1853/54, London), with whom in due course he had the following three children who all seem to have been giving the middle name “Yarnton” (unless the “Y” stands for something else):


Daniel Y. Yarnton

born 1879/80

Ellice Y. Darnton [female]

born 1881/82, Scotland

John Y. Darnton

born 1883/84, Weston‑Super‑Mare, Somerset


By the time of the 1881 census he had taken up an insurance job in Scotland, or at least took a trip to Scotland.  Accordingly, the 1881 Scottish census found our man living with his wife and one-year-old Daniel Y. Mills (junior) at 2 Cres Place, Old Kilpatrick, Dumbartonshire, which seems to have been in or near Glasgow.  Daniel senior was described as manager of an insurance company.


The Mills family must have moved to Leeds within 12 months of the 1881 census, as chess records find him active as a Leeds chess-player by April 1882.


His stay in Leeds appears to have been brief, as he was recorded as coming from Bath when he visited Bradford in December 1883.


He is recorded as playing for Bristol, against Bath, on 25/02/1885.


By 1889 he was living in Lancashire.


The 1891 census found 41-year-old Daniel Y. Mills, his wife, and children Ellice and John, living at 19 Park Street, Lytham, Lancashire.  Daniel senior was described merely as an insurance agent.  Daniel junior was perhaps away at school.  It appears that at this stage he may have been working for the Manchester office of Clerical, Medical and General [1].


The next move, it seems, was back to Scotland.  He was described as from Edinburgh in 1896.


The 1901 Scottish census found the family of parents, Ellice and John, with two servants, living at 1 Hermitage Drive, Morningside, Edinburgh.  Father Daniel was described as secretary of an insurance company.  That insurance company would seem to have been the Scottish Equitable Life Assurance Society [1], though that may have been when he was in Glasgow.


His working life was spent mainly in the insurance industry in which he started at the London office of Sun Life.  From there he went to.  He then went to the Edinburgh office of.




His health was said to have been failing since September 1903 [1].  He appeared to have made a significant degree of recovery, but died at his mother’s Hampstead home on 18/12/1905, while still normally resident in Edinburgh.


Probate records state that Daniel Yarnton Mills of 1 Hermitage Drive, Edinburgh, died 18/12/1904 at London.




He did not play “serious” chess until he was 26 (1875). [1]


In London he was a founder member, and for a while secretary of, the British Chess Club, for whom he played in a correspondence match versus St. Petersburg. [1]


There was a “D. Mills” of Bradford who was activities in the 1870s and should not be might be confused with our man.  “D. Mills, Bradford” attended the West Yorkshire Chess Association meetings of 1871, 1874 and 1877, and played bottom board for Bradford in the 1872 Wakefield-Bradford match.


At the 1882 Counties Chess Association congress at Manchester, “D. Y. Mills” finished 3rd-4th= in the top section.


“D. G. Mills” and “D. Y. Mills” respectively attended the West Yorkshire Chess Association meetings of 1882 and 1883, both being recorded as of Leeds.  “D. Y. Mills” played board one for Yorkshire in the 1883 Yorkshire-Lancashire match (losing to the Rev. J. Owen), when, in each case, he was described as of Leeds Chess Club.


In anticipation of spending a week in London, he issued a challenge to Gossip form a match, both over the board and blindfold.  (See letter in Chess Player’s Chronicle of 08/11/1882.)  This won’t have come to anything.


During 1883 Daniel Yarnton Mills started the chess column in the Bradford Observer Budget (the first occurrence being on 13/05/1882), conducting it until he left Bradford, when the column was taken over by Hartwig Cassell.  This was his lasting legacy to Yorkshire chess, though it was conducted for a much greater length of time by others after him.


At the 1883 Counties Chess Association congress at Birmingham, “D. Mills” finished 5th in the B section.


He had a talent for blindfold simultaneous display.  Though he was not remotely comparable in strength to Joseph Henry Blackburne, being able to play a number of games simultaneously, blindfold, and turn in an overall plus score, is in itself quite remarkable.  Examples of display he gave are those in 1883 in Sheffield, and in 1883 in Bradford.


His obituary in the British Chess Magazine said he was one of the founders of the British Chess Association, which at best is a misleading remark, and presumably meant he was one of those with a hand in the resurrection of the BCA from 1883 onwards.


On 25/02/1885 he played board 2 for Bristol, against Bristol, scoring 1-1 against J. Burt (whether a win a-piece, or two draws is unclear).  [Sheffield & Rotherham Independent, 07/03/1885].


At the 1887 Counties Chess Association congress at Stamford, “D. Mills” finished 2nd in the top section.


He played board one for Lancashire in the 1889 Lancashire-Yorkshire match (beating the Rev. E. J. Huntsman).


He played board one for Lancashire in the 1890 Yorkshire-Lancashire match (drawing with James Rayner).


He played in the British Chess Association events of 1885, 1886 and 1887.


He was involved in the organisation of the British Chess Association’s 1890 congress in Manchester, and there “D. Y. Mills, Manchester won the Newnes Cup for the BCA’s Amateur Championship which ran alongside the International tournament [Chess Player’s Chronicle, 20/09/1890, p. 194].


He played in inter-club matches representing Manchester and Edinburgh.


He won the Scottish Championship eight times out of the thirteen (or more?) times he entered:





















By winning the Scottish Championship three times in succession, in 1895, 1896 and 1897, he won the championship trophy outright, but donated it back for (presumably perpetual) competition.


During his Scottish period he was for some time secretary of the Scottish Chess Association, and also a vice-president.


He played in the 1895 British Chess Club v Manhattan Chess Club cable match, drawing his game.  He played in the first eight subsequent Anglo-American cables matches (1896 to 1903), winning in one and drawing in the other seven.


He was present at the 1896 Yorkshire-Cheshire match, and served as adjudicator for the games unfinished at the end of play.





Copyright © 2013 Stephen John Mann

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

Last Updated