Yorkshire Chess History
James William Hamilton Richardson
In chess circles, James William Hamilton Richardson usually called himself simply “Hamilton Richardson”, which was abbreviated where appropriate to “H. Richardson”, using his full name in more formal contexts such his work as a solicitor.
He was a son (possibly only child) of solicitor James Richardson (born 1788/89, Leeds) and Jane W. Richardson (born 1794/95, Leeds). Hamilton was born in 1814, in London, and was baptised on 15/10/1814 at the Founders Hall, Lothbury, London. This was the trading hall of the Worshipful Company of Founders, which hired out its premises for various purposes, including “religious meetings and services held by the Scottish Presbyterian Church in London and by Nonconformist preachers.” This perhaps hints at the family having Scottish origins. (“Founders” in this context meant those who manufacture goods made of bronze and brass.)
What the Leeds-born couple were doing in London is not evident, but one of the partners of Leeds solicitors’ firm Tottie, Richardson, & Gaunt reportedly went to London around this time. James Richardson, solicitor, seems not to be listed in the 1822 Baines directory of the West Riding. If that was James Richardson who went to London, then he was back in Leeds by 1832.
White's Leeds Directory dated 1837 listed James Richardson, solicitor & clerk of the peace, with business premises at 15 Bond Street, and home at Part Street.
In 1838, “James William Hamilton Richardson” married Mary Ann Lawston, in Leeds.
The Richardsons are difficult to pin down in the 1841 census. Pigot’s 1841 directory of Yorkshire listed Messrs James and Hamilton Richardson, solicitors, 11 Albion Street, Leeds.
A Leeds directory dated 1847 listed James Richardson as Leeds Town Council’s “clerk of the peace”, a post he held to his death, whereupon son J W H Richardson took over the role. “H. Richardson” was listed as one of two honorary secretaries of the Leeds Dispensary. It also listed the following:
Richardson, Jas. & Hamilton, solicitors and agents to the Medical, Invalid, and General Life Assurance Co., 11 Albion Street;
Richardson, Jas. solicitor (of J. & H. Richardson) and clerk of the peace, 11 Albion Street; home at 5 Kingston Place;
Richardson, Hamilton, solicitor (of J. & H. Richardson) & commissioner. for insolvents' bail ; home Woodbine cottage, L. W.
(The meaning of “L. W.” is unclear, but most addresses including it were in Springfield Place, though some were just house names, including Joshua Tetley at “Belmont”.)
All the Richardsons moves the Headingley at some time from 1847 to 1851.
The 1851 census found parents James Richardson and Jane Richardson, with son “James W. H. Richardson” and his wife Mary A Richardson, and two domestic servants, living at 4 Headingley Terrace, Leeds. (Headingley Terrace was on Headingley Lane.)
The Leeds directory dated 1854 listed the following:
Richardson, James, solicitor (of Richardsons & Gaunt) and clerk of the peace, 11 Albion Street; home Headingley Terrace;
Richardson, James Wm. Hamilton (of Richardsons & Gaunt); home Headingley Terrace.
In this context, “Gaunt” was
Gaunt, William Henry, solicitor (of Richardsons & Gaunt); home 10 Blenheim Terrace.
A notice in the London Gazette of 20/01/1857 gave James William Hamilton Richardson’s home address as 9 Blenheim Terrace.
The Richardsons are elusive in the 1861 census.
Father, James Richardson, died in the latter part of 1861, and in 1862, his son formally took over his father’s role as clerk of the peace.
The Leeds directory dated 1866 recorded:
Clerk of the Peace, Jas. Wm. Hamilton Richardson, Esq.
Leeds Tradesmen's Benevolent Institution . . . . . Mr. Jas. Stables and Mr. H. Richardson are the honorary secretaries
Richardson, James Wm. Hamilton, solicitor (of Richardson and Turner), notary public, clerk of the peace for the borough, &c. 27 East Parade
(“Turner” here was Turner, Thomas, solicitor (of Richardson & Turner); home Francis Street)
The remaining Richardsons are again elusive in the next census: that of 1871.
It may be that James William Hamilton Richardson left Leeds in or shortly after 1871, as in 1871 he ended his various professional activities. The Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer of 31/01/1871, reported:
The Leeds Mercury of 31/01/1871 carried a formal notice of the dissolution of the partnership between James William Hamilton Richardson and Thomas Turner, with the latter continuing the business on his own.
The 1881 Leeds directory showed James William Hamilton Richardson had left Headingley Terrace. There were five people called “James Richardson” listed as resident in Leeds, but most probably none being James William Hamilton Richardson.
No record of the death of James William Hamilton Richardson is easily identifiable. The death of “James William Richardson” registered in the first quarter of 1891, in Lambeth, London, was perhaps that of James William Hamilton Richardson, who would then be about 77 years old.
He attended the annual meetings of the Yorkshire Chess Association held on 08/11/1841b (Wakefield), 02/11/1842 (Halifax), 08/11/1843 (Huddersfield) and 15/05/1845 (Leeds) – and possibly others.
He played in the 1843 Leeds v Wakefield match.
He was a subscriber to the R A Brown’s book “Chess Problems”, produced in 1844, and in which he was named as “Richardson H. Esq., Leeds”.
As secretary of Leeds Chess Club (and hence of the Yorkshire Chess Association for the next Annual Meeting), he wrote a letter to the Chess Player’s Chronicle, dated 27/04/1844, explaining the non-occurrence of a normal YCA annual meeting in 1844, due to the event to be held in Nottingham, signing it “Hamilton Richardson”.
Copyright © 2020 Stephen John Mann
Census information is copyright of The National Archive, see UK Census Information