Yorkshire Chess History



Joshua Moorhouse











Made in Yorkshire



Sheffield Sub-Site



1828/29, Upperthong


12/04/1829, Holmfirth




24/03/1890, Upperthong


Identity of the Chess-Player


In and around the more rural areas to the south and south-east of Huddersfield, there were a number of people called Moorhouse.  Not only that, there were a number called Joshua.  Not only that, two people called Joshua Moorhouse were baptised at the same church on dates just a week apart.  There also arises potential for confusion where corresponding relatives of two the Joshuas have the same name.


The report of the 1859 West Yorkshire Chess Association meeting reported the presence of Joshua Moorhouse JP, of Holmfirth.  That, however, was the only such reference to the Holmfirth Joshua Moorhouse being a JP.


If the chess-player was not in all cases the JP, then this identity applies possibly only to the 1859 WYCA meeting, and maybe others.


Non-Chess Life


The chess-playing Joshua Moorhouse was born to William Moorhouse, a cloth dresser of Lane, Upperthong, and his wife Lydia Moorhouse.  He was baptised on 12/04/1829, at the chapelry of Holmfirth, by Robert Taylor.  A week later Joshua Moorhouse, son of Joshua Moorhouse, carrier of Upper Bridge, Holmfirth, and his wife Charlotte Moorhouse, was similarly baptised at the chapelry of Holmfirth by Robert Taylor.


Upperthong stretches about half-a-mile to a mile to the west of the centre of Holmfirth.  It was an ecclesiastical parish (from 1846) within the civil parish of Almondbury.  Holmfirth is about six-and-a-half miles south of Huddersfield, and was also in Almondbury civil parish.


The small graveyard of the old chapel at Holmfirth has been converted to gardens.  No upright tombstones remain in situ, but a number have been propped up against the wall to the NE and against the wall to the SE (the retaining wall to Towngate).  More tombstones form a path.  These remaining tombstones offer little help, though one refers to people who were probably relatives of the chess-player:

In Memory of

JOSEPH MOORHOUSE, of Holmfirth, who died

June 12th 1940 Aged 51 Years.

ALSO MARIA, wife of the above JOSEPH

MOORHOUSE, who died December 27th 1844,

Aged 59 Years.


The 1841 census listed Thomas (not Joshua) Moorhouse, a carrier, and his wife Charlotte Moorhouse, living at Upper Mill, Upperthong, with six children who included a 13-year-old Joshua Moorhouse.  Our man’s family is presumably listed somewhere in the 1841 census, but tracking it down isn’t easy.


The relevant 1841 and 1848 Poll Books gave a clearer picture.  They listed under Upperthong township within the Holmfirth polling district three Moorhouses:

William Moorhouse,

residing at Carr House,

presumably our man’s father

Joshua Moorhouse,

residing at Holmfirth,

presumably the senior carrier

Samuel Moorhouse,

residing at Holmfirth.


These three were presumably all related one way or another.


The 1851 census listed the above Charlotte Moorhouse, now widowed, living still at Upper Mill, Upperthong, continuing the carrier’s business while also farming seven acres.  Among her three children who were still listed with her was Joshua, now 22 years old and with the occupation of “carrier (of goods)”.  Again our man’s family is difficult to identify in the census.


The mists thicken with the marriage on 16/06/1851, at Kirkburton, of 22-year-old Joshua Moorhouse, weaver of Ozzings, Shelley, son of William Moorhouse, dyer, married 18-year-old Sarah Ann Lodge, of Cliff Hill, daughter of Thomas Lodge, weaver.  Shelley is five to six miles from Holmfirth by road, and lies ENE of it.  Shelley is also about one-and-a-half miles WNW of Skelmanthorpe, and two miles SSW of Kirkburton.  Ozzings is a mystery.


On the 05/02/1852, Bilberry Reservoir burst, and caused death and destruction for miles down the Holme Valley.  In Holmfirth, the residence of Joshua Moorhouse, Esq., J.P., in Victoria Yard, was flooded, and his extensive warehouses, dyehouse, &c. were entirely destroyed.  A post in the centre of Holmfirth commemorates this flood, showing how high the water reached.  Eighty-one people lost their lives in the disaster.


The Bilberry Reservoir disaster came only eighteen days before our man’s first marriage.  On 23/02/1852, at All Hallows, Almondbury, 23-year-old bachelor Joshua Moorhouse, weaver of Upperthong, son of cloth dresser William Moorhouse, was married by Lewis Jones, vicar, to 23-year-old spinster Mary Ann Smith of Taylor Hill to the south of Huddersfield, daughter of John Smith, butcher.


It would appear that this couple had at least the following three children:


Mary E. S. Moorhouse

born 1852, Almonbury

William Moorhouse

born 1853/54, Upperthong

Walter Moorhouse

born 1857/58, Upperthong


Mary Ann Moorhouse of Park Head, Upperthong, our man’s wife, died in 1858, aged 29 years, and was buried on 04/07/1858 at St. John’s, Upperthong, by William Flower, MA, Trinity College, Dublin).  This left our Joshua Moorhouse a widower with three small children, one of those being but a baby.


White’s Directory of Leeds, Halifax, Huddersfield, Wakefield ..., 1858, listed a Joshua Moorhouse as a Mutual Fire & Life Office representative.


The 1859 Poll Book listed only two Moorhouses under Upperthong:


Joshua Moorhouse,

residing at Carr Terrace, Holmfirth

presumably our man

Joshua Moorhouse,

residing at Holmfirth,

presumably the junior carrier

Presumably William, our man’s father, had died.


The 1861 census found 32-year-old widower Joshua Moorhouse, woollen weaver, living at Fine Lane End, Upperthong, with 9-year-old Mary, 7-year-old William, and 3-year-old Walter.


The 1865 Poll Book listed only one Moorhouse in Upperthong, Joshua, residing in Holmfirth.  Why only one?  The 1868 Poll Book contained the same two Moorhouses in Upperthong as in 1859.


White’s Directory of Leeds, Bradford, Huddersfield &c 1866, listed at Holmfirth:

Joshua Moorhouse, Esq., JP;

Mr. Joseph and Miss Charlotte Moorhouse;

Moorhouse & Son, cloth merchants and furniture brokers.


In time our man decided to marry again.  The banns were read by William Flower in Upperthong parish church on the 6th, 13th and 20th of February 1870.  On 13/03/1870, at Upperthong, 41-year-old widow Joshua Moorhouse, weaver of Upperthong, son of William Moorhouse, cloth dresser, was married by William Flower to 32-year-old spinster Lydia Schofield, daughter of John Schofield of Upperthong, daughter of John Schofield, cloth dresser.


White's Directory of Leeds & the West Riding, 1870, listed at Holmfirth:

Joshua Moorhouse, Esq., JP, North Terrace;

Mr. Joseph and Miss Charlotte Moorhouse, Victoria Street;

Samuel Moorhouse and Son (Joshua), cloth merchants and furniture brokers, Huddersfield Road;

Mr. William Moorhouse, Rotcher Road.


The 1871 census found 42-year-old Joshua Moorhouse, woollen weaver, and his wife, 34-year-old Lydia Moorhouse, living at “Fives”, Upperthong, with 13-year-old Walter, scholar, son of Joshua by his first wife, and 9-year-old Emma Schofield, scholar, who was described as “daughter”.  This suggests Lydia had been a widow when she married Joshua, and had a daughter, Emma, from her previous marriage.


Joshua and Lydia appear to have produced at least two children together, to add to the existing brood:

Ann Moorhouse

born 1873/74

Agnes Moorhouse

born 1874/75


Kelly's Directory of West Riding of Yorkshire, 1881, listed at Holmfirth:

James and William Moorhouse, boot and shoe manufacturer, Ribbleden Road;

Samuel Moorhouse and Son, furnishing warehouse, Norridge;

Benjamin Moorhouse, tailor, Newgate

John Moorhouse, shoe and clog maker, South Lane

So where was our Joshua Moorhouse JP?


On 30/09/1889, 15-year-old Ann and 14-year-old Agnes, daughters of Joshua Moorhouse, weaver, and Lydia Moorhouse of Lane, Upperthong, were baptised at Upperthong parish church by J. W. Jeffery.




Joshua Moorhouse, of Lane, Upperthong, died in 1890, aged 61, and was buried at Upperthong on 24/03/1890 by J. W. Jeffery.




Joshua Moorhouse JP of Holmfirth was an occasional attender of meetings of the West Yorkshire Chess Association, attending those of 1859, 1864, 1867, 1869, 1874 to 1876, 1880 and 1881, and 1886.





Copyright © 2012 Stephen John Mann

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

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