Yorkshire Chess History
Identity of the Chess-Player
“J. Parker” of Grimsby was for some time probably Grimsby Chess Clubs strongest member, if we discount the Rev. Arthur Bolland Skipworth, who played in matches for Grimsby. Reports of his activities seem never to have given his name in full, which is perhaps not surprising.
Numerous people existed answering to “J. Parker”, even in a small town such as Grimsby. As it happens, the Chess Player’s Chronicle of 1877 listed the members of a correspondence team which included “J. Parker, 8 Albion Terrace, Grimsby.” This address serves to identify the chess-player.
Joys Parker was born in Grimsby, resided there all his life, and died there. Though not a Yorkshire Chess Player, some of his more celebrated successes at the board took place in Yorkshire, and he played in matches against Hull clubs.
Joys Parker’s father, Hewson Parker, was a son of George Parker and Ann Parker, and was baptised on 12/10/1817. The 1841 census found Hewson Parker as a single man in the household of draper Michael Plaskett, in Louth.
At some time from 1841 to 1851, Hewson Parker married Maria [maiden name?], born 1819/20, in Grimsby. The couple had at least the following six children:
The 1851 census found father, Hewson Parker, was by then a draper in his own right, living with his wife and first two children at High Street, Grimsby.
Joys Parker was born in December 1853, in Grimsby.
The 1861 census found parents Hewson, a draper, and Maria living with five of their children (not Alice), two servants and one of Hewson’s two apprentices at Carter Gate, Grimsby. Joys was a scholar.
The 1871 census found parents and all six children living at Albion Terrace, Grimsby – presumably no. 8 as in 1881. Joys was a merchant’s clerk.
The 1881 census found the family of eight living more specifically 8 Albion Terrace, Grimsby, the address given for “J. Parker” as a correspondence chess-player. Joys was still a merchant’s clerk. Brother George was a bank cashier, going on, in time to become a bank manager. Brother Hirst(e) was a draper, presumably working with his father.
In 1882, Joys Parker married Maria Davy (born 1865/66, Shropshire). The couple had at least the following two children:
Joy and Maria are difficult to locate in the 1891 census.
Joys Parker’s wife, Maria, died in 1898, and was buried in Scartho Road Cemetery, Grimsby.
As a widower with two daughters, remarriage was expedient for Joys Parker, and in 1899, in Grimsby, he married Cornelia Jane Thomas (born 1865/66, Pontesbury, Shropshire). The couple added no further children to the existing two.
The 1901 census found the family of four living at 3 Belgrave Terrace, Chantry Lane, Grimsby. Joys was a commercial traveller (perhaps for a timber merchant).
Hewson Parker, our man’s father, died on 29/12/1905, in Grimsby.
The 1911 census found the family of four still living at 3 Belgrave Terrace, Chantry Lane, Grimsby. Joys was now a timber merchant.
Second wife, Cornelia Jane Parker, died at Grimsby on 27/10/1916, and was buried in St Michael’s Church Cemetery, Little Coates, Grimsby.
Joys Parker died on 04/12/1932, when resident at 32 Chantry Lane, Grimsby. This may well have been the earlier address of 3 Belgrave Terrace, with the numbering of Belgrave Terrace incorporated into that of Chantry Lane as a whole. He was buried with Cornelia in St Michael’s Church Cemetery, Littlecoates, Grimsby.
Grimsby and District Chess Club was formed in 1875 [see Chess Player’s Chronicle, 1882, p. 508], and Joys Parker evidently became a member in the first season, possibly being a member from the very start. He played for Grimsby in1875, probably in the 1875 Hull Church Institute v Grimsby match, and certainly in the return 1875 Grimsby v Hull Church Institute match.
He was one of eleven players taken on simultaneously at Grimsby, on Wednesday 23/02/1876, by the Rev Arthur Bolland Skipworth, and he secured a draw.
In 1877 he attended a modest chess event in Louth, Lincolnshire, at which a Lincolnshire Chess Association was formed, with the Rev Arthur Bolland Skipworth, Rector of Tetford, Lincs., becoming secretary and treasurer.
He played in the 1877 Grimsby v Hull Chess Club. He was now seemingly the strongest club member by then, apart from the Rev. Skipworth who was on board one.
He was described as Grimsby & District Chess Club’s “indefatigable secretary” in 1882. [Chess Player’s Chronicle, 1882, p. 508]
He appears to have liked travelling to play against masters giving simultaneous displays, allegedly never losing in such events. He played in the 1879 simul at Hull given by Edmund Thorold; his game remained unfinished. (He appears to have missed the following year’s 1880 simul at Hull given by Edmund Thorold.) He won his game in the 1884 Zukertort simul in Bradford, the game being given in the British Chess Magazine, 1885, page 16. He drew his game in the 1885 Bird simul on Leeds, the game being given in the British Chess Magazine of 1885, page 295.
That Edward Freeborough of Hull regarded Joys Parker as a strong player is shown by Freeborough’s annotations to the game Joys Parker v Frederick Fernley Ayres in the 1885 Hull CI v Grimsby match played 06/12/1885.
In a piece in the British Chess Magazine of 1928, it was stated also that he had drawn with William Henry Krause Pollock, and beaten Joseph Henry Blackburne (twice), Rev Arthur Bolland Skipworth and Fred Dewhirst Yates in simultaneous displays.
He played for the North in the 1894 North v South match.
It appears that at about two months short of the age of 66 he defeated the future World Champion in the 1919 Capablanca simul in Sheffield. Local papers recorded the player from Grimsby as “J. E. Parker”, though it appears this was in fact Joys Parker.
Copyright © 2014 Stephen John Mann
Census information is copyright of The National Archive, see UK Census Information