Yorkshire Chess History



Hercules James Robertson, Lord Benholme











Made in Yorkshire



Sheffield Sub-Site



13/10/1795,  Edinburgh






Non-Chess Life


Hercules James Robertson was born on 13/10/1795, in Edinburgh, to George Robertson-Smith and his wife Isabelle.


He was educated at the Royal High School, Edinburgh, whence he went to the University of Edinburgh.


He embarked on a career in the legal profession and in 1817 was called to the Scottish bar.


In 07/07/1829 married Ann Wilhelmina Hope, the youngest daughter of Charles Hope, Lord Granton.  The couple had 4 sons and 2 daughters:


George Robertson

born 1830/31

Charles Robertson

born 1831/32

Alexander Robertson

born 1833/34

Charlotte Robertson

born 1836/37

David Robertson

born 1838/39

Isabella Scot Robertson

born 1840/41


The 1841 census found the parents living at 74 & 76 Great King Street, Edinburgh, with George, Charles, Charlotte and David, with four servants.  Our man was described as an advocate.


In 1842 he became Sherriff of Renfrewshire.  His wife died in the same year.


The 1851 census found the Hercules living at 76 Great King Street, Edinburgh, with 41-year-old Margaret Hope, Alexander, Charlotte, David and Isabella, with four servants.  The identity of Margaret Hope is unclear, but she was listed second, rather as if she was in loco matris to the children Our man was described now as an advocate and Sherriff of Renfrewshire.


On 07/12/1853 he was appointed a Lord of Session, with which office went a judicial title of Lord something-or-other.  Thus he became Lord Benholme, after the Kincardineshire seat of his mother’s family.


The 1861 census found Hercules, Margaret Hope, Charlotte and Isabella visiting the widow David Carnegie, who lived at Eastbury House, Watford, Herts., with Carnegie’s unmarried sister and two children.  Our man was now described as Senator of College of Justice, Edinburgh.


He was back in Scotland for the 1871 census.




He died on 15/09/1874.  In The Chess Players’ Chronicle, Vol. IV, 1874-75, page 153, (Skipworth) reported as follows:




Many of our readers will regret to hear of the death of Lord Benholme (H. Robertson).  He took great interest in chess, was present at several, of our Counties’ Meetings – most affable, most agreeable, a thorough personification of a gentleman of the old school.




He attended the Redcar chess meetings of 1865 and 1866, and in York in 1868 (possibly also 1867).  Quite what induced him to travel from so far away as Edinburgh isn’t immediately evident: simple enthusiasm for the game, it seems.  He appears to have been a chess-player rather than merely a presiding figurehead, as he played in the second class tournament in 1866. He donated £3 3s 0d to the prize fund for Skipworth’s “Yorkshire Chess Association” meeting at York in 1868.  He appears not to have participated in any of the tournaments when the usually London-bound British Chess Association held its meeting at Dundee in 1867.





Copyright © 2013 Stephen John Mann

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

Last Updated