Yorkshire Chess History



Joshua Muff











Made in Yorkshire



Sheffield Sub-Site





25/12/1782, at St. Peter’s, Bradford


29/06/1850, at Leeds


03/07/1850, at Headingley Chapel, Leeds


Family and Career


Joshua Muff was born in 1782, the son of William Muff.  His date of birth was some time from 30/06/1782 to 24/12/1782, based on age at death, date of death and date of baptism.  He was most probably born in December 1782.


He was baptised on 25th December 1782 at St. Peter’s (the cathedral), Bradford.  Father William was described in the baptism register as a joiner.  There were ten baptisms at the cathedral on that Christmas day.  Baptisms took place almost daily, and around eight baptisms a day were quite common around that time.  Christmas day seems to have been just another working day when it came to baptisms.


As father William Muff lived in Bradford, and Joshua was baptised there, it is reasonable to assume Joshua was born in Bradford.  Baines’s History, Directory & Gazetteer of Yorkshire, Vol. I: West Riding, 1822, listed William Muff as a cabinetmaker at Skinner Lane, Bradford, and (under “Alterations”) William Muff, junior, printers’ joiner and press maker, at Westgate, Bradford.  (Also listed was another William Muff, worsted spinner, at Hunsworth in the parish of Birstall.)  Another Muff family lived at Thornhill, 2miles SSE of Dewsbury, at least one being called Joshua.  It is possible the Bradford Muffs were related to them.


An unidentified Directory of Leeds, 1798, seemingly listed nobody by the name of Muff, suggesting they were still in Bradford.


It was in 1808, apparently, that Joshua Muff began to publish music from premises in Commercial Street, Leeds.  Baines’s Directory of Leeds, 1817, listed Joshua Muff as a dealer in music and musical instruments, trading from 17 Commercial Street, Leeds.  References to his commercial premises from 1826 to 1829 gave 12 Commercial Street whenever a number was mentioned.  From 1830 to 1842, the address given was 16 Commercial Street.


On 22nd March 1814, at Rotherham, he married Harriet Wilkinson, born Nov/Dec 1787, daughter of James Wilkinson, who became “senior surgeon” of Rotherham.  The couple had a daughter:

Eliza Muff,

baptised 21st March 1815, at St Peter, Leeds


In 1825 and 1837 he was listed as an original member of the Leeds Philosophical Society formed in 1825.


Parson’s General & Commercial Directory of Leeds, 1826, listed Joshua Muff as running a music and musical instrument warehouse, and also being agent to the County Fire and Provident Life Office, trading from 12 Commercial Street for both insurance and music, and living at 2 Infirmary Street [off City Square].


The 1841 census listed Joshua, with his wife Harriet and daughter Eliza, living at Infirmary Street, Leeds, so his home would appear to have been Infirmary Street for most if not all his time in Leeds prior to his move to Headingley in 1841 or 1842.


White’s Directory of Leeds & the Clothing District, 1842, listed Joshua Muff still plying the trades of music and insurance from 16 Commercial Street, but now living at Headingley.


White’s Directory of Leeds & the Clothing Districts, 1847, listed Joshua Muff, then 64 years old, as a resident of Headingley, without attributing a trade or profession, rather suggesting that at some time from 1842 to 1847 he had retired.




The Leeds Mercury of 6th July 1850, page 8, reported his death as follows:

Same day [i.e. on Saturday, as in an earlier entry], after a lingering illness, aged 67, Mr. JOSHUA MUFF, music seller,of this town.


Entry no. 654 in the burial records of “Leeds, Headingley Chapel” (now St. Michael and All Angels) records that Joshua Muff was buried there on 3rd July 1850.  The inscription on the grave reads as follows (click here for an image of the grave):


In Memory of


who departed this life

on the 29th day of June 1850

in the 68th Year of his Age.

Also of ELIZABETH, Daughter

of the Late James Wilkinson

Senr Surgeon of Rotherham, and

Sister in Law of the above, died

21st February 1857,

Aged 74 Years.

Also of HARRIET, relict of the above

named Joshua Muff, and Sister of the

above named Elizabeth Wilkinson, who

departed this life 26th Novr 1869

Aged 82 Years and 11 Months

Also ELIZA daughter of the above named


who died 21st Feby 1897,

Aged 82 Years.


After Death


White’s Directory of Leeds, Bradford etc, 1854, no longer listed Joshua, but instead listed Mrs. Harriet and Eliza Muff as music professors at 19 Rockingham Street, Leeds.


Harriet Muff’s spinster sister-in-law, Elizabeth Wilkinson, died 21/02/1857 and was buried in the same grave as Joshua Muff.


Harriet Muff herself died 26/11/1869 and was interred with her husband and sister.


Eliza, Harriet and Joshua’s daughter, died 21/02/1897 and has buried in the same grave.




Joshua Muff was one of the “committee” representing Leeds in the correspondence matches against Liverpool.  He attended the first two meetings of the original Yorkshire Chess Association, in January and November 1841.  He was a subscriber to R. A. Brown’s book of problems etc, published in 1844.


A Henry Muff of Bradford attended the 1888 WYCA meeting.  He is likely to have been a relative of Joshua, e.g. great nephew.





Copyright © 2012 Stephen John Mann

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

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