Yorkshire Chess History



George Frederick Onions











Made in Yorkshire



Sheffield Sub-Site



1847, Millwall, London 



1886, Bradford



Non-Chess Life


George Frederick Onions was born in 1847, in Millwall, London.  The birth was registered in the fourth quarter of 1847 at Poplar (district of Tower Hamlets), London, which fact, combined with his age when he married, implies he was born at some time from 14/10/1847 to 31/12/1847. His father was Baptist minister George Onions (born 1809/10, somewhere indecipherable in Derbyshire).


The job of father, George Onions, meant the family moved about the country quite extensively.  Quite when his family arrived in Bradford isn’t clear, but the dates of birth of the children imply it was probably 1865, give or take one or two years.


The family appeared in the 1871 census as resident in Wyke, at the southern extremity of modern Bradford, about 4 miles south of the city centre.  His father’s wife was then Mary A. Onions (born 1832/33, Cheltenham, Glos.).  George (senor) and his wife Mary were living in 1871 at Griffe House, Wyke, with three servants and the following nine children:


George [Frederick] Onions

born 1847, Millwall, London

Sarah Onions

born 1849/50, Ipswich, Suffolk

Francis Onions

born 1852/53, Baldeen (?), Cornwall

Ellen Newton

born 1852/53, Birmingham, Warwickshire

Amelia Onions

born 1860/61, Southwark, London

Samuel Onions

born 1861/62, somewhere, possibly Cranbrook, Kent

Georgina Onions

born 1862/63, somewhere, possibly Cranbrook, Kent

Agnes Onions

born 1867/68, Bradford

Donald Onions

born 1868/69, Bradford


It is evident from the ages of all concerned that the eldest three children were born by a previous wife of George, that Ellen was Mary’s daughter by a previous marriage, and that the remaining five children were those of George and Mary’s subsequent marriage.


Father George was a Presbyterian minister, his wife Mary was principle teacher at a ladies’ school, 23-year-old George was a bookkeeper in a merchant’s office, and Sarah was a school teacher.


Entry 452 of the marriage register of St. Peter’s, Birstall, records the marriage by license on 13/10/1871, by the curate John Kemp, of George Frederick Onions, 23-year-old bachelor bank cashier of Wyke, son of independent minister George Onions, to Emily Alice Fearnley, 20-year-old spinster of Scholes, daughter of innkeeper Thomas Fearnley.  Emily had been born 1850/51, in Bradford.  Young George had evidently made a recent change in his occupation, from merchant’s clerk to bank cashier.


The couple had the following three children, all born in Bradford:


George O. Onions

born 1873/74

Hester A.Onions

born 1876/77

Emily C. Onions

born 1878/79


The 1881 census found 33-year-old George F. Onions, a “cashier clerk”, wife Emily, and the three children, of whom George O. Onions was a scholar, living at 126 Heap Lane, in central Bradford, about a quarter of a mile from Forster Square.


Kelly's Directory of West Riding of Yorkshire, 1881, listed Rev. George Onions as resident at 35 Brearton Street, Manningham, Bradford, and as the pastor at the Baptist Mission Hall, Worthington Street, Bradford.  It didn’t list George Frederick Onions at 126 Heap Lane, giving details of only 68, 70 and 106 on the even-numbered side.


Locally-produced Byles’s Post Office Bradford Directory, 1883, listed G. F. Onions as secretary of the East Ward Liberal Club on Butler Street, Bradford, but listed only 68, 70, 106, and 128 in the evens of Heap Lane in the street section.


It is possible one or even two more children were born later, but no more as father George died aged only 39, or nearly so.




The death of George Frederick Onions was registered in the fourth quarter of 1886, at Bradford.


James White, in the chess column in the Leeds Mercury Weekly Supplement of 24/12/1886, wrote the following notice:


THE LATE MR. G. F. ONIONS.- We regret to learn of the death of a member of Bradford Chess Club, Mr. G. F. Onions.  He was highly respected for his gentlemanly and retiring disposition, and stood in the front rank of the Bradford players.  He was not to be considered strong and robust physically, but from our own experience of him as a chessist he had an excellently well cultivated and intelligent mind.  The Bradford Club has experienced a decidedly great loss by his premature removal.




He attended the annual meeting of the West Yorkshire Chess Association as a member of Bradford chess club in 1874, 1876 to 1879, and 1884.


He played for Yorkshire in the Yorkshire-Lancashire match of 1884.


He was captain and board one for Bradford in the early Woodhouse Cup competitions.





Copyright © 2013 Stephen John Mann

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

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