Yorkshire Chess History



Ludwig Wilhelm (“William”) Roddewig











Made in Yorkshire



Sheffield Sub-Site



29/11/1829, Prussia


24/10/1829, Westphalia, Prussia


23/05/1902, Sheffield




The Name


This player was originally called “Ludwig Wilhelm Roddewig”, but it would appear he was known as “Wilhelm”, presumably because his father was “Ludwig”.  In England, however, he adopted the English equivalent of “Wilhelm”, namely “William”.  He was often referred to simply as “William Roddewig” of “W. Roddewig”.


Non-Chess Life


Ludwig Wilhelm Roddewig was born to Ludwig Heinrich Roddewig and Elisabeth Roddewig (née Kotting) on 29/11/1829, in the Westphalia province of Prussia, and was baptised on 24/10/1829 in an Evangelical (Lutheran) church located apparently in Hagen or Hamm, as transcriptions give “Hagen Hamm”.  (Possibly transcription of baptismal records has erroneously conflated data from Hagen and Hamm into a single “Hagen Hamm”, or maybe there was a “Hagen Hamm” sub-division of Westphalia.)  UK census records give his place of birth merely as Prussia.  His subsequent marriage register entry declared father was described as a “professor”.


It would appear he came to England, more specifically Sheffield, in 1855 or thereabouts.  He was an “engineer”, and spent all his working life in England working for the Sheffield firm of Messrs. Vickers, Sons, and Co.  The reason Wilhelm came to Sheffield may be connected to the fact that two members of the Vickers family, chess-player Thomas Edward Vickers and brother Albert Vickers went to school in Neuweidd-on-Rhine.  Tom Vickers, who in time took control of the firm, may have met Wilhelm during their school years.


He was not evident in the 1856 Sheffield directory, nor that of 1862, but that proves little.


It is evident the term “engineer” meant that he designed things and planned their manufacture, rather than that he himself banged rivets into steel plates: the brains as opposed to the brawn.  This was evidenced by a piece in the Sheffield Independent of 10/12/1859 which described “the casting of the largest steel bell which has yet been produced in Sheffield.”  The article went on to say, “The bell, which was designed by Mr. Roddewig, the engineer of the firm, is to be used as a fire alarm bell in the city of San Francisco.”


The 1861 census found 29-year-old Prussian-born engineer, Mr./Wm.(unclear) Roddewig, visiting William H Frith, the Borough Rate collector at 201 Glossop Road, Sheffield.  The nature of this visit is quite unclear; he was not. For instance, about to marry the daughter.


That he was an engineering “brain” was also evidenced by patents such as that dated 9th May, 1861: “L. W. Roddewig, Sheffield, engineer -improvements in steam boilers.”


The main activity to which he devoted his leisure time was apparently Freemasonry and charitable work connected therewith.


In 1870, as a 40-year-old batchelor and engineer of Low Fields, Sheffield (using his full name, but with “William” in the middle, he married 24-year-old spinster Felice Lucy Hall, of Surrey House, Arundel Street, Sheffield, at Sheffield parish church.  Felice was the daughter of fellow chess-player Dr. John Charles Hall, and the marriage register was signed by her father, her brother Richard J. Hall and sister Mary Garete Hall as witnesses.  There appear to have been no children.


The 1879 Sheffield directory listed Ludwig William Roddewig at 34 Crescent Road, Sheffield, without stating his business.


The 1881 census revealed that he had moved to Mount View Road, Norton, Sheffield, (no numbers to the houses) with his wife and two servants.  He was listed as manager of a steel works.


Wife Felice died at the age of 35, in 1881, in Sheffield.


The 1891 census found widowed William still at Mount View Road, but now with a house number: 35.  He had a housekeeper and groom.


It appears he retired from work in November 1895, as on 05/11/1895, the Sheffield Daily Telegraph advised, “This week a familiar face has gone from us.  Mr. Roddewig”, who came from the Fatherland to Sheffield some 40 years ago, has retired, and is returning to his native land to spend the evening of his days in Berlin.”


He was seemingly absent from the 1901 census, and also the 1901 Sheffield directory wherein 35 Mount View Road was no mentioned, as though unoccupied.  Nevertheless, he died in Sheffield.  Hence he never left, or he returned.




Ludwig William Roddewig died in Sheffield on 23/05/1902.  The death was registered in Sheffield in the name of “William L Roddewig”.  The death duty index indicated he died in Sheffield.




He is recorded as paying a membership fee for the Sheffield Athenaeum Chess Club in 1865, 1866 and 1867.


He entered the 1865 Sheffield Athenaeum Chess Club tournament, but was knocked out in round one.





Copyright © 2019 Stephen John Mann

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

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