Yorkshire Chess History
Henry Leonard Mort
Henry Leonard Mort’s father was merchant and edge-tool manufacturer, Henry Mort, who was born 17/02/1804, at North Shields, and was baptised 29/07/1804, at Salem Chapel, Hood Street, Newcastle-upon-Tyne. Henry Mort’s parents were James Mort and Doroth(e)y Taylor).
Henry Mort’s wife was called Ann. She was born from 1797 to 1811, depending on which census return you believe! The couple had at least the following four children, all Sheffield-born:
The last named was called “Harry Leonard Mort” in the quarterly index of births, and the name Harry sometimes occurs in census returns.
There were later Sheffield births and deaths under the name of Mort in the next few years. Some may have been within this family.
White’s History & Directory of Sheffield, Rotherham &c, 1833
Henry Mort, saw, edge tool, and shoe and butcher knife manufacturer at Castle Hill, with home at Gell Street Terrace,Sheffield.
The 1841 census found the parents and four children living on Glossop Road, Sheffield. Henry was described as a merchant, though directories make if clear he was also an edge-tool manufacturer.
In 1847 Henry Mort was Sheffield’s Master Cutler.
White’s General Directory of Sheffield, 1849, listed Henry Mort, as a merchant, & saw, edge-tool, and shoe & butcher knife manufacturer at Castle Hill, with home his at Philadelphia.
The 1851 census found that the family were now in Upperthorpe, Sheffield. Henry was described as a hardware merchant, and manufacturer of saws and edge-tools. Charles Henry Mort worked in his father’s firm. The two girls were scholars, but Henry Leonard Mort was not in evidence.
The Sheffield Times of 2nd June, 1852, reported how Charles Henry Mort, son of Henry Mort, merchant and manufacturer, of Castle Hill, had been attacked, one Tuesday night, at about 10 past midnight, as he went along Scotland Street, on his way home to Upperthorpe. He survived the attack, but had his pockets rifled.
White’s Gazetteer & General Directory of Sheffield, 1852 and White’s General Directory of Sheffield, Rotherham &c, 1856, list Henry Mort, Merchant, & saw, edge tool and shoe & butcher knife manufacturer at Phoenix Works, Castle Hill, with home at Upperthorpe.
White’s 1857 directory carried a similar entry, for Henry Mort.
The 1861 census found all the family, except Sophia Anne Mort, living at Thorne Bank, Ecclesall Road, Sheffield. 22-year-old Sophie Anne had presumably got married. Charles Henry Mort is now described as a hardware merchant, while “Harry” was described as clerk to his father.
From 1857 to 1862, the business seems to have transferred, in name at least, to eldest son Charles Henry Mort, as F White’s Directory & Topography of Sheffield, 1862, listed Charles Henry Mort and Co., joiners’ and edge tool manufacturers, steel converters and refiners, and general merchants, Phoenix Works, 29 Carver Street, with home at Thorn Bank, Ecclesall Road, Sheffield. (The chess-playing Rev. Charles Ebert was another of the five residents on Thorn Bank.)
The 1861 census and the 1862 directory differ as to whether there should be an “e” in Thorn(e) Bank.
The third quarter of 1870 saw the death of our man’s brother, Charles Henry Mort, at the age of 39.
At some time from 1867 to 1871 Henry Leonard Mort, who never married, went to live with a married cousin, Emily Penn Swan, and her husband. The 1871 census thus found the following complex household living at the Thorns, Southport Road, Lydiate, Lancashire:
Leonard Henry Mort was now described as a late merchant, and landowner. Back in Sheffield, his parents were now living at 13 Clinton Place, Sheffield. His father was described as a hardware merchant and agent.
During the next ten years, Robert R Swan presumably vanished from the scene, though the 1881 and 1891 censuses both listed Emily as married rather than widowed. Also, John D. Cockerton seems to have flown the nest, perhaps with his father. Thus the 1881 census showed the household at the Thorns, Southport Road, Lydiate, consisting only of Emily, as head, her mother, Susan Cockerton, and her cousin, Henry Leonard Mort. The somewhat surprising thing, as regards a man born into the traditional industries of Sheffield, is that cousins Emily and “Harry” were now engaged in a floristry business.
Meanwhile, our man’s parents were still living as before at 13 Clinton Place.
At some time from 1881 to 1891, the ménage at the Thorns, Southport Road, Lydiate, relocated to Froggatt, in the northern part of Derbyshire which these days is beloved of Sheffield hikers. There had been an addition to the household in the form of 20-year-old Darnall-born Vernon R. Cockerton, Emily’s nephew, presumably a son of a brother of hers. He was described as a solicitor’s articled clerk, whereas the three older members of the household were all described as living on their own means.
The reference to them living on their own means might suggest they’d packed in floristry, but if they had, then that was only a temporary hiatus, as the 1901 census found Emily and Harry living at Smalldale Head, Bradwell, Derbyshire, engaged in market gardening and floristry. Emily was now described as a widow.
The 1911 census found 74-year-old Emily Penn Swan and 70-year-old Harry Leonard Mort still living at Bradwell, and still working on their own account as florists. Emily’s handwriting on the census form had a wobbliness consistent with her age, and it’s hardly surprising the two had given up market gardening.
Henry Leonard Mort died in 1922, and was buried on 4th April 1922, at St. Barnabus’s church, Bradwell Derbyshire. It appears his grave is no longer visibly marked; about one in ten of the grave plots at Bradwell now lack visible headstones etc.
A chess-player called “Mort” was a member of the Sheffield Athenaeum Chess Club from 1864 to 1867. A player apparently listed as “Moet” had been a member in 1862 and 1863, and on balance it would appear this should also be read as “Mort”.
“Mort” played in the club’s match against Huddersfield in 1865. “Mort” attended the 1863 meeting of the West Yorkshire Chess Association. Only when we come to the record of his attendance at the 1866 West Yorkshire Chess Association meeting is he given the initials “H. L.”. Henry Leonard Mort is the only Mort with those initials to be listed in census returns or directories, and thus must be the chess-player.
The Chess Player’s Magazine of 1865, page 251, gave details of the Sheffield Athenaeum Chess Club’s 1865 club tournament, which was recorded as having been won by “Mr. Moet”, with no reference to “Mort”. In the absence of any hard evidence of the existence in real life of “Mr. Moet”, it seems most likely that the references in this report to “Moet” are a miss-reading throughout of (handwritten) “Mort”.
Copyright © 2012 Stephen John Mann
Census information is copyright of The National Archive, see UK Census Information