Yorkshire Chess History



Harry William Scarlett











Made in Yorkshire



Sheffield Sub-Site



20/11/1909, Nottingham



1994, Cambridge



Identity of the Chess-Player


It is recorded that the Sheffield chess-player “H. W. Scarlett” moved to Cambridge around the end of 1935.  “H. W. Scarlett” is also well documented as a Cambridge chess-player thereafter.  His address as a Cambridgeshire chess official is recorded, and “H. W. Scarlett” at that address is listed in phone books as late at least as 1977.  The death registration index details for a Harry William Scarlett who died in or around Cambridge in 1994 give his date of birth as 20/11/1909.  Although there were others answering to “H. W. Scarlett”, none seems to fit known facts relating to the chess-player: the Henry W Scarlett who was born 1857/58 was born too early; the Henry W Scarlet, aka Harry Walter Scarlett, who died in London in 1955, died too early.  A Harry W Scarlett born in Devon was born too late.  The Harry William Scarlett who at age 18 enlisted with the Cambridgeshire & Suffolk Reserve Battalion on 11/10/1918 (regimental no. 66631) cannot be totally discounted, but doesn’t obviously fit with any plausible death record.


Non-Chess Life


The parents of Harry William Scarlett were John William Scarlett (born 1886/87, Wilford, Nottingham) and May Scarlett (née Edis, 1888/89, Wilford, Nottingham).


The marriage of John William Scarlett to May Edis was registered in the second quarter of 1909, at Nottingham.  The couple had at least the following two children:


Harry William Scarlett

born 20/11/1909, Nottingham

Ada Scarlett

born March 1911, Nottingham


The birth of Harry William Scarlett was registered in the fourth quarter of 1909, and his exact date of birth, 20/11/1909, was given at the registration of his death.  It is evident our man was conceived out of wedlock, but was born after his parents had married.


At the time of the 1911 census (02/04/1911), Ada Scarlett was under one month old, and her older brother, Harry William Scarlett, had clearly been shipped off to his maternal grandparents and aunt while the new baby got settled in.


The 1911 census found parents John and May living with baby daughter May at 12 Rupert Grove, Nottingham.  Father John was a fitter in the engineering trade.  Meanwhile, 1-year-old Nottingham-born Harry Scarlett was at 19 Turner Street, Nottingham, with 51-year-old Nottingham-born shoemaker, David Edis (of whom Harry was recorded as a grandson), his 50-year-old Nottingham-born wife Emma Edis, and his 24-year-old Nottingham-born unmarried lace-finisher daughter Ada Edis.


David and Emma Edis had been married 30 years and they had had just two children, both still living.  John and May Scarlett were recorded as having been married two complete years.  The total number of children born to the marriage of John and May was given as one, which may have been the correct answer in the context of Harry being conceived out of wedlock.


Quite when the Sheffield chess-player H. W. Scarlett moved to Sheffield is unclear, but he was playing organised chess in Sheffield as early as 1926, when he’d be about 17.


The chess column of the Yorkshire Telegraph & Star of 02/03/1935 announced that H W Scarlett was to be married that day at Cambridge, and that his address thereafter was to be 23 Greasborough Road, Tinsley, not 25 as hitherto.  He did not stay in Sheffield much longer.


The chess-playing “H. W. Scarlett” moved from Sheffield to Cambridge around Oct/Nov 1935, the move being announced in the aforementioned chess column at the time.


H. W. Scarlett’s address as Cambridgeshire county match captain was given in March 1946 as 50 Fallowfield, Cambridge.  This appears to have remained his address at least as late as 1977, when that was the address given for “H. W. Scarlett” in the telephone directory covering Cambridge.




The death of Harry William Scarlett, at age 84, was registered in the first quarter of 1994, at Cambridge.




H. W. Scarlett was playing organised chess in Sheffield as early as 1926.


He played for Hadfield’s in the Sheffield Works’ Chess League’s Woodward Trophy competition from 1926 to 1933, rising from bottom board to top board in that time, losing only 4 games.  In 1933-34 and 1934-35 he played for Swift Lewick’s in the Woodward Trophy.


He was the Works individual champion in 1932 and 1933.


Prior to 1932-33 he played for Rutland Hall in Sheffield Davy Trophy competition, but in 1933 he became involved in the formation of Tinsley Working Men’s Chess Club of which he was secretary from the club’s formation to his departure from Sheffield, playing for that club in the Weston Trophy competition.


Prior to 1933-34 he played for Sheffield in the I. M. Brown Shield, but as he was rapidly improving he played in the Sheffield Woodhouse Cup team in 1933-34 and 1934-35, scoring +8, =1, -0 out of 9 in 1934-35.  He played for Sheffield in the Woodhouse Cup in 1935-36, but only in the match played on 19/10/1935.


He was runner-up in the Sheffield championship of 1934-35.


He represented Yorkshire in inter-county matches in 1933-34, and 1934-35, both over the board and at correspondence chess.


He was paired against fellow Sheffielder C. R. Gurnhill in the preliminary round of the 1935-36 Yorkshire Championship competition.  The first game they played was drawn.  Our man then had to withdraw from the competition due to his removal to Cambridge.


He soon engaged with the Cambridgeshire chess scene, both in activities of the Cambridgeshire County Chess Association (founded 1896, revived 1930), and in those of the Cambridge & District Chess League (founded 1944), as well as joining chess clubs in Cambridge.


He played on board 13 for Cambridgeshire against Hertfordshire on 07/11/1936, at Cambridge (final score 8-8, but Cambridgeshire won on board elimination).


He was runner-up in the 1937-38 Cambridgeshire individual championship, beating T. Sharp in round 1, J. Dean in round 2, F. E .A. Kitto (Cambridge) in the semi-final, but then lost in the final to F. Higginbottom (Nelson).


Despite an apparently good showing in the individual (over-the-board) championship, he was not in the Cambridgeshire team in the Counties and District Correspondence Championship, but was to be found on board 2 of the Cambridgeshire correspondence second team, playing in a friendly match with Cornwall.  He drew with Cornwall’s C. S. Saxton.


At the start of the post-war period, in 1945-46, we find H. W. Scarlett of 50 Fallowfield, Cambridge, was county match captain, and was also one of his county’s three delegates to the Southern Counties Chess Union.  By 1947, not only was he county match captain and delegate to the SCCU, but was president of the Cambridge & District Chess League.


He played on board 7 for Cambridge in the 1945-46 Counties and District Correspondence Championship, losing to J. B. Macpherson.  Cambridgeshire finished 17th out of 29 teams.  In the 1946-47 competition he played on board five for Cambridgeshire, beating A. E. Webb of Hertfordshire.


H. W. Scarlett of Cambridge played in the first post-war British Chess Federation tournament of 1946, at Nottingham.  He played in Section 1 of the First Class tournament, finishing second, on 8½, behind B. Pawliszyn.


On 26/10/1946 he played board one for Cambridge County against Cambridge University, losing to K. P. Charlesworth.  (The University won 14½‑11½.)


On 27/02/1947 he played board 2 for the Cambridgeshire & District Chess League against Cambridge University, losing to A. Philips.  (The League won 15‑10.)


H. W. Scarlett was a member of Cambridge Town Chess Club (founded 1896), which had maintained activities throughout the war period, and he won the club championship in 1946-47.  In the Cambridge & District Chess League H. W. Scarlett played for Pye Radio (perhaps offering a clue to the nature of his work).


On 01/05/1948, at Cambridge, a 100-board match was played by Essex, as part of its Jubilee activities, against a combined team from Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire and Cambridge University.  H. W. Scarlett, of Cambridge county, played on board 10, beating B. Sturgeon.  (Essex won 57½‑42½.)


In the 1948-49 season, H. W. Scarlett was a vice-president of the Cambridgeshire Chess Association, as well as being its honorary secretary, and a delegate to the SCCU.


H. W. Scarlett won the 1948-49 Cambridgeshire County individual championship.


Records of his later activities are not to hand, but he appears to have played in the 1954 British Championship in Nottingham.




Sources (apart from the usual ones):

Yorkshire Telegraph and Star of 26/10/1935

Yorkshire Telegraph and Star of 14/11/1936

English Counties Chess Unions Combined Year Book for 1938-39

British Chess Federation Year Book for 1938-1945, for 1946-47 and for 1948-49

Essex County Chess Association 1898-1946 Jubilee Hand Book





Copyright © 2013, 2014 Stephen John Mann

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

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