Yorkshire Chess History



Gerald Mutrie Reid











Made in Yorkshire



Sheffield Sub-Site



25/01/1896, Harrogate


06/02/1897, St. Mary’s, Low Harrogate


1958, York




Non-Chess Life


The parents of Gerald Mutrie Reid were Vernon Botterill Reid (born 1872, Holbeck, son of John Charles Reid and Hermin(i)a Ernestine Reid, née Botterill) and Agnes Annie Mutrie (a British subject born 1875/76, British Honduras; d. 1951 Croydon, Surrey) who had at least the following three children:


Gerald Mutrie Reid

born 25/01/1896, Harrogate

Hilda May Louise Reid

born 1898, Harrogate

Josephine Frances Reid

born Sep/Nov 1900, Leeds


“Vernon” seems to have featured prominently among forenames of people of the surname Reid.


There seems no evidence of Vernon and Agnes marrying in England, so it maybe that they married abroad, given Agnes’s place of birth.  Armstrong’s Harrogate directory dated 1891-92, that dated 1893, and that dated 1894-95, all seem to make no mention of members of the Reid family, but they crop up in force in Armstrong’s Harrogate directory dated 1895-96, whose data dated perhaps from 1894/95.  Vernon B. Reid is listed at 33 York Place, Harrogate, looking over The Stray (grassed open space).  Additionally, there were listed Colonel Reid at Stray View, 4 Leeds Road, Harrogate, overlooking The Stray from a different angle, and John Reid & Sons, cabinet makers at 69, 71 & 73 Station Parade, Harrogate.  This “John Reid” may have been Vernon’s father.


Gerald Mutrie Reid was born on 25/01/1896, in Harrogate, and was given his mother’s maiden name as his middle name.


He was baptised somewhat late, on 06/02/1897, at St. Mary’s church, Harrogate, by the incumbent Alfred Henry Rix.  At this time the family lived at 33 York Place, Harrogate, and Vernon Botterill Reid was an upholsterer.  Since Vernon was in 1901 described as a retired cabinet maker, it seems he was part of the family running of John Reid & Sons, cabinet makers.


Amstrong’s Harrogate directories for 1897-98 and 1899-1900 still listed Vernon B. Reid as well as John Reid & Sons as before, except that the latter was limited to numbers 69 and 71 only.  Colonel Reid seems to have evaporated.


The years of birth of the other children rather imply that the family moved to Leeds around 1899, give or take a year.


The 1901 census found parents Vernon and Agnes living with the three children and a servant at 13 Sholebroke Terrace, in the Potter Newton area of Leeds.  29-year-old father Vernon was described as a retired cabinet-maker.  Had he come into some money, enabling him to retire?


The first major upset in the life of Gerald Mutrie Reid was probably the death of his father.  Vernon Botterill Reid was evidently exercised by the question of what, if anything, happened after death.  Were the traditional Christian teachings correct?  Whilst Arthur Conan Doyle apparently planned to attempt to communicate with living friends after his death, he at least waited for his own natural death.  Vernon, it seems, couldn’t wait to see what really happened.  With apparent disregard for his family, he wrote a note addressed to the York coroner to explain the circumstances, then shot himself, at his parents’ home in Langwith Park Road, Collingham, where his body was found on the morning of Sunday 24/01/1909.  His death took place either on 23/01/1909, when he wrote the note or the following day.  He was only 37 years of age; Gerald’s 13th birthday was the next day after the body was found, a point missed by the newspapers of the day.  The note read:




Jan 23, 1909

No. 1 – Not insane.

No. 2 – This act of felo de se is not done through any worry, but because I am curious to know what is on the other side.  Please don’t bring in a verdict of temporary insanity, because what I am doing namely, shooting myself, I do after due deliberation and quiet consideration.  The conclusion come to is that I am trying to get to know whether our theories are right or wrong.


Yours truly,

Vernon B Reid


After some words from the coroner, without retiring, the jury of the coroner’s court returned a verdict of “felo de se – that deceased deliberately shot himself.”  Felo de se was a then-common made-up Latin term for “suicide”, roughly translatable as “felon with regard to oneself.”


Vernon Botterill Reid was buried at St. Oswald’s, Collingham, on 26/01/1909.  Collingham is about 2 miles SSW of Wetherby, on the Leeds to Wetherby Road.


The 1911 census found Gerald living apart from his mother.  While mother Agnes Annie Reid was living “on private means” with younger children Hilda May Louise Reid and “Frances Josephine Reid” as she was described, in north Leeds, Gerald was to be found in Harrogate.  .He, and a widowed Elisabeth Mutrie (born 1855/56 or 1875/76, Belize, British Honduras) living on private means, were living as boarders at 16 East Parade, Harrogate.  The age of Elisabeth isn’t clear (55 or 35), but she was presumably Gerald’s maternal grandmother or else less probably an aunt.  Gerald had no stated occupation.


At some stage from 1914 to 1920, Gerald Mutrie Reid joined the Yorkshire Regiment, and became a corporal.


By 1919 the young Gerald had moved to Scarborough, where, in 1919, he married Christina M. Little (born 31/12/1894, Scarborough).  The couple had at least the following three children, all born in Scarborough:


Gerald M Reid (jun.)

born 29/10/1920

Barbara M Reid

born 1923

Donald F Reid

born 11/12/1929


The Reid family of Scarborough seems to have moved home quite often.


Chess sources gave 14 York Place, Scarborough, as our man’s address in connection with the 1925 Scarborough Whit Congress.


Kelly’s N&E Riding directory of 1929 listed “Gerald Reid, boarding house, 18 Pavilion Square, Scarborough.”


Our man evidently came to experience financial problems.  Accordingly, Gerald Mutrie Reid filed a petition for his own bankruptcy on 02/01/1934.  His address at the time was 25 Esplanade Gardens, Scarborough, and his occupation was that of auctioneer’s clerk.


Bankruptcy usually arose as a result of failure in some kind of business venture.  In this case, as an auctioneer’s clerk, Gerald would be unlikely to experience serious business failure, so one can’t help but wonder whether our man had incurred excessive personal indebtedness due to continuing to run the Scarborough Whit Congress, in 1928 and 1929, after the withdrawal of funding by the local council.  Bankrupts often found it convenient to move to a different town, and our man chose to move back to his native Harrogate, possibly in part due to his still having relatives there..


Robinson’s Harrogate directories dated 1933, 1934 and 1935 seem not to have listed Gerald Mutrie Reid, perhaps because he was neither a householder nor self-employed.  Nevertheless, others of the name Reid were listed, namely John B. Reid (1933, 1934 & 1935), James Mansfield Reid (1933, 1934 & 1935), Robert McFarlane Reid (1933 & 1934), Tom Reid (1933) and Mrs. M. Reid (1935).


By 1935, however, our man seems to have set himself up as an estate agent.  G. M. Reid, estate agent, of 48 Station Parade, Harrogate, was listed in the telephone directory of 1935.  That would be his office address.


Robinson’s 1936 directory for Harrogate Knaresborough and Wetherby listed G. M. Reid, estate agent, Flat 2, 18 Cheltenham Mount, Harrogate, a modest terraced property which had been listed as vacant in the 1934 directory.


Kelly’s Harrogate directories dated 1937 onwards seem to make no mention of our man, presumably due to removal to Leeds sometime from 1936 to 1939.


The 1939 Register found the parents and three children living in Leeds, at 6 Kingston Grove.  The father was an auctioneer, surveyor and valuer.  The eldest son, of the same name, was a motorcar accessories store-keeper.


It seems that Gerald Mutrie Reid eventually moved to York, as that is where he died.




Gerald Mutrie Reid died in 1958, aged 61, in York.




“G. M. Reid”, while secretary of Scarborough Chess Club, instituted a series of annual Scarborough Whit Congresses, from 1925 to 1929.  The top section included a number of international players.


He himself played in the 1925 Scarborough Whit Congress, and possibly in later ones.


He played on board 19 for Yorkshire in the 1929 Yorkshire v Lancashire match.


Further records of him playing chess are not to hand, but he was presumably active as a player and possibly as an organiser, briefly in Harrogate, perhaps, and later perhaps in York.





Copyright © 2015 Stephen John Mann

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

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