Yorkshire Chess History



John William Stringer











Made in Yorkshire



Sheffield Sub-Site



1839, Wakefield



19/01/1914, Leeds



Non-Chess Life


John William Stringer’s parents were William Henry Stringer, a master mason born 1811/12, and Martha Burton Moody, born 1819/20 in Hull, a daughter of Edward Moody who was a merchant sea-captain.  The banns of their marriage were read at St. Paul’s, Leeds, on the 17th, 24th and 31st of July 1836, and they were married there on 13/08/1836, by Edward Brown.


Martha Burton Moody’s date of birth is not consistently attested in the various records, but the period 3rd to 7th April 1820 seems the best estimated on the census data available.  She may have been underage at marriage, or may have consistently overstated her age in censuses.


John William Stringer’s birth was registered in the first quarter of 1839, at Wakefield, but evidence of a baptism is elusive.  There had been a John William Stringer who had died at the age of one year, and had been buried on 12/11/1837 at All Hallows, Almondbury; it seems possible these two John William Stringers were related.


Another John William Stringer was born on 03/07/1842 to Joseph and Alice Stringer, but he could not have been the chess-player as he died (in the Bradford area) in 1882, which is before the end of our man’s recorded chess activity.


Tragedy struck when the father, William Henry Stringer died in November 1840, aged only 28.  He was still resident in Wakefield, but was nevertheless buried at St. John the Evangelist, Leeds, on 19/11/1840, by the curate, Francis Cookson, these details being recorded in entry 3507 of the burial register.


The mother, Martha Stringer, was “with child” at the time of her husband’s death, and Henry Stringer was accordingly born Feb/Mar 1841.  The birth was registered at Leeds, suggesting that Martha had moved to Leeds soon after her husband’s death.


The 1841 census accordingly found mother Martha Stringer, a schoolmistress, and two sons, 2-year-old John and 3-month-old Henry, living at Savile Street, Leeds.


The family suffered a second death, that of young Henry, whose death was registered in the third quarter of 1843, at Leeds.


The widowed Martha Stringer turned in part to the manufacture of artificial flowers to support her family.  Accordingly, the 1851 census listed 32-year-old Hull-born widow Martha Stringer as involved in a private school, and being a modeller of wax flowers, living with 12-year-old Wakefield-born son William Stringer who was now a scholar, at 165 Park Lane, Leeds.


In time the widowed Martha Stringer took a second husband, who was younger than herself.  Thus 26-year-old Leeds-born bachelor John Stubbins of Upper Wortley, Leeds, who was a merchant’s clerk and son of accountant Thomas Clay Stubbins, was married to 34-year-old widow Martha Burton Stringer of 1 Park Square, Leeds, on 05/06/1854, at St. Paul’s, Leeds, by John R. Stratten.  (Entry number 36 in the marriage register.)


The 1861 census found 33-year-old Leeds-born John Stubbins, a clerk in a woollen warehouse, 41-year-old Hull-born Martha Stubbins, and 21-year-old Wakefield-born John William Stringer, a woollen warehouseman, living at 1 Park Square, Leeds.


Kelly’s 1867 directory of Leeds listed John Stubbins at Henrietta Street, Leeds.


The family moved to Halifax.  On the basis of chess records must have been in the period from May 1869 to May 1870.


White 1870 directory of Leeds listed John Stubbins at 8 Old Lane, North Bridge, Halifax.  The 1871 census accordingly found 43-year-old John and Mary Stubbins, John William Stringer, and two servants, living at 8 Old Lane, Northowram, Halifax.  John Stubbins was now manager of a dyeworks, while step-son John William Stringer was a worsted-goods merchant.


The 1871 census found John Stubbins, Martha Burton Stubbins, and John William Stringer, who was described as “wife’s son”, living at 8 Old Lane, Northowram, Halifax.  John was now manager in a dyeworks, while John had become a worsted merchant.


The marriage of John William Stringer to Ellen Hutchinson (born 1841/42, Sheffield) was registered in the first quarter of 1872, at Halifax, but a marriage register entry is elusive.  The couple had six children, of whom two had died by the 1911 census, probably both in the first ten years of life or less.  The surviving four were the following:


Bernard Stringer

born 1874/75, Leeds

Sylvia Stringer

born 1878/79, Leeds

William Arnold Stringer

born Oct/Nov 1880, Leeds

Oliver Stringer

born 1884/85, Leeds


Chess records tell us John had moved to Leeds by May 1874.  Somewhat enigmatically, Porter’s Topographical and Commercial Directory of Leeds and Neighbourhood of 1872 listed J. W. Stringer, woollen manufacturer, at 11 & 12 Cloth Hall, King Street, Leeds, and at Halifax.  We are left guessing as to whether he resided in Leeds or in Halifax.


White’s General and Commercial Directory of Leeds etc dated 1875 listed J. W. Stringer, woollen merchant, living at 81 Hyde Park Road, Leeds (next to the Newland Hotel), which information was reiterated by McCorquodale’s 1876 and 1878 directories, though there our man is described as a cloth merchant.


Kelly’s West Yorkshire directory dated 1877 listed J. W. Stringer as a tweed merchant, trading at 12 White Cloth Hall, King Street, Leeds, and residing at 81 Hyde Park Road.


Kelly’s 1881 Leeds directory listed nobody as resident at 81 Hyde Park Road, suggesting the recent removal of the Stringers, who were listed instead at Ingle Bank, Otley Road, Headingley, Leeds.  This house, which in 1901 was described as 174 Otley Road, remained our man’s residence to his death about thirty-three years later.


The 1881 census listed John W. Stringer, a woollen merchant, wife Ellen Stringer, 6-year-old son Bernard (a scholar), 2-year-old daughter Sylvia, 5-month-old William, and a servant, living at Ingle Bank, Otley Road, Far Headingley, Leeds.  Ingle Bank remained John’s home for the rest of his life.


The 1891 census showed Oliver to have joined the family at Ingle Bank, while the servants now numbered two.  John Stringer was now more specifically a master shawl merchant.  The 1901 census revealed no significant change except that Bernard was now a printer, and William was now a shawl merchant’s clerk, presumably working for his father.


The 1911 census showed that Bernard had left home, though the other three children remained.  Father John was now retired, while second eldest son William was now a “woollen merchant (shawls)”, presumably having taken over his father’s business.  Oliver was photo engraver.  There was one servant.




The Leeds Mercury appears not to have carried a notice of his death, but The Yorkshire Evening Post of Monday, 19th January 1914 carried the following:

STRINGER. – January, 19th, at Inglebank, Far Headingley, John William Stringer (of pneumonia).


His funeral arrangements weren’t mentioned.  He appears not to have been buried at Lawnswood cemetery.


Probate and other records give the same date of death, also stating he was 74 years of age at the time.  Probate was granted to his two sons, William Arnold Stringer, woollen merchant, and Oliver Stringer, photo engraver.  He left effects of £357 18s 1d.  (Had eldest son Bernard died by now?)




He attended the annual meetings of the West Yorkshire Chess Association in the years 1869, 1870, 1871, 1874, 1876, 1878, 1883, 1884, 1885, 1886 and 1889.  He was listed as being from Leeds in 1869, from Halifax in 1870 and 1871, and thereafter from Leeds again.  He was at some time president of Leeds Chess Club.


He played in the 1877 Leeds-Bradford match.


He played in the 1883 Yorkshire-Lancashire match, at which time he was president of Leeds Chess Club.


He played in the 1884 Lancashire-Yorkshire match.


He played for Leeds in the Woodhouse Cup from the start.


He played in the 1887 Yorkshire-Lancashire match.


He played for West Yorkshire in their 1888 match against Tyneside / Tees Side.





Copyright © 2013 Stephen John Mann

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

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