Yorkshire Chess History
Dr. William Scott
Census records tell us Dr. William Scott of Huddersfield was born at Acomb, Northumberland, roughly two miles north of Hexham (not the Acomb near York), and his stated age implies he was born in 1828 or 1829. He was baptised at Hexham on 9th October 1829, suggesting was more probably born in 1829, as is given in his obituary. His mother’s name was Ann, though available information doesn’t identify his father.
He seems elusive in the 1851 census. A 22-year-old William Scott born in Acomb, Northumberland, was recorded as a visitor of Thomas and Jane Staton of East Gate Street, Rochdale, but as he was described as a commercial traveller in drapery, this seems not to be our man. There was another Acomb-born William Scott who was about two years older than our man.
He arrived in Huddersfield as “a young man” to be an assistant to a Dr. Ramsbotham, a practitioner of homeopathy, though quite when this was is unclear. Neither Dr. Ramsbotham (or “Ramsbottom” etc) nor our William Scott seems not to be mentioned in White’s Directory of Leeds & the Clothing Districts, 1847. However, White’s Directory of Leeds, Bradford &c, 1854, listed as physicians at New North Road, Huddersfield, both John Hodgson Ramsbotham and William Scott. That suggests our man set up as a physician in Huddersfield at sometime from 1847 to 1854.
It was while with Dr. Ramsbotham that William Scott obtained his qualifications, becoming an M.D. and Licentiate of the Royal College of Physicians (Edinburgh), himself becoming a practitioner of homeopathy, eventually taking over Dr. Ramsbotham’s practice.
Medicine and Society in Wakefield and Huddersfield, 1780-1870, by Hilary Marland, 1987, tells us the Huddersfield Medico-Ethical Society was set up in 1852, and had as members a number of medical officers of the Huddersfield Infirmary, including Dr. Scott, an “honorary surgeon” at the infirmary, but gives no precise dates to his involvement. It also tells us he was at some time the secretary of the society. It describes him as being a Fellow of the Royal Medical and Surgical Society of London.
Slater's Commercial Directory of Durham, Northumberland & Yorkshire, 1855, under “Physicians” in Huddersfield, listed both John Hodgson Ramsbotham and William Scott, both at New North Road.
William Scott apparently took over the practice of John Hodgson Ramsbotham. This seems to have been around 1855 to 1858, as White’s Directory of Leeds, Halifax, Huddersfield, Wakefield &c, 1858, listed William Scott, as a physician at 12 New North Road, Huddersfield, but not John Hodgson Ramsbotham. This suggests our man took over the practice around 1855 to 1858.
The 1861 census recorded him as lodging with 81-year-old widower Francis Crowther, in Fitzwilliam Street, Huddersfield. Fitzwilliam Street runs across New North Road, so 12 New North Road was presumably the location of his consulting rooms. (Forty years later, four of the six addresses from 44 to 54 New North Road were the premises of medical men.) William Scott was described as a Doctor of Medicine, Edinburgh, as a Member of the Royal College of Surgeons, and as a general practitioner.
White’s Directory of Leeds & the West Riding, 1870, listed William Scott, surgeon, Brunswick Street, off New North Road, and also at 1 York Place, off New North Road; one possibly contained his consulting rooms, while the other was his place of residence. York Place was off New North Road between number 37 and the infirmary (which was in effect number 39). He is listed at both addresses in the alphabetical section, which may reflect an old address and a new address both being listed in the same edition of the directory. His earlier premises at 12 New North Road had a new occupant.
The 1871 census found him no longer a lodger, but in a house of his own at in York Place, Huddersfield, with two domestic servants. Presumably this was number 1, as above.
At some time, seemingly from 1871 to 1876, he married Wakefield-born Mary Matilda Agnes (maiden name?), known as “Agnes”. She was somewhat younger than he was, having been born 1841/42, in Wakefield (per 1881 census, though 1901 census says Huddersfield). The couple had at least the following four children:
Kelly's Directory of West Riding of Yorkshire, 1881, listed William Scott, M.D., at Melbourne House, 48 New North Road, which address was confirmed by the 1881 census, which listed the household as consisting of the two parents, the first three children, and three servants. The census described William as a general practitioner; doctor of medicine, Edinburgh; and licentiate of the Royal College of Surgeons, Edinburgh. (Eighteen doors up the road, at number 84, lived fellow chess-player John Watkinson.)
He is a little elusive in the 1891 census, as is John Watkinson.
The 1901 census found him still at 48 New North Road, Huddersfield, with his wife Agnes, four children (“Maud”, “Graham”, “Percival” and “Muriel”), and a domestic servant. Agnes was described as having been born in Huddersfield, though that is at variance with the 1881 census. Graham was recorded as a medical student, and was so following in his father’s footsteps. Percival was in employment as a civil engineer.
In time, he was joined in his practice by a Dr. Thornton, and from 1904 or so our man more of less passed into retirement.
White's Directory of Leeds & the Clothing District, 1894, listed William Scott, M.D., at 48 New North Road, as a physician and surgeon in the trade section, but seemingly didn’t list Dr. Thornton, unless he was Fred Whitfield Thornton, L.R.C.P. (Ireland), of 11 Fitzwilliam Street West, Huddersfield.
As regards religion, he was a Congregationalist, and attended Highfield Chapel, as did members of the Watkinson family.
As regards politics, he was an “ardent and advances” Liberal, and had been asked to stand for election on one of the town’s wards, but had declined.
Besides playing chess, he played cricket, and sometimes represented Huddersfield & District in matches against All England teams in the days when All England teams toured the country to play against local teams.
He was an original member of the Huddersfield Gentlemen’s Club, and “rested their as often as the exigencies of his profession would allow.
His wife Agnes died on 24th September 1907, aged 64 years, and was buried in Edgerton Cemetery, Huddersfield.
William Scott died at his home, “Melbourne House”, 48 New North Road, on Tuesday 2nd July 1907, in the afternoon, but early enough to make the same day’s “cricket edition” of the Huddersfield Daily Examiner wherein, under “Deaths”, on page 4, was the simple notice:
SCOTT – July 2nd, at Melbourne House, aged 73 years, William Scott, M.D.
The cause of death was “cardiac failure, supervening upon passive congestion of lungs”. His illness was of short duration, but he had been in declining health for some time, and is said not to have recovered from the death of his wife.
He was survived by his four children. William Graham Scott was then a doctor practicing in Boston Spa. Percival Stewart Scott was a civil engineer.
He was buried in the family vault at Edgerton Cemetery, the grave being number 23 in the consecrated section 18.
The grave’s inscription reads:
Probate was granted on 15th August 1907 to William Henry [sic] Scott, merchant, and Denys Roger Hesketh Williams (born 1880/81, Uppingham, Rutlandshire), woollen manufacturer. He left effects of £6,850 5s. 3d. The identity of “William Henry Scott” is unclear, and may be a transcription error for “William Graham Scott”, but if that is the case then the “merchant” is also an error.
The Huddersfield Daily Examiner of Wednesday 3rd July, 1907, gave on page three the following obituary (here broken into paragraphs for ease of reading), which mentioned his involvement in cricket, but not that in chess:
“Dr. Scott” was President of Huddersfield Chess Club in 1856 [Chess Player’s Chronicle, 1856, p. 155], and he attended the meetings of the West Yorkshire Chess Association of 1858, 1859, 1869 and 1874. His name was usually presented merely as “Dr. Scott”.
Copyright © 2012 Stephen John Mann
Census information is copyright of The National Archive, see UK Census Information