Yorkshire Chess History
George Rennie Tetley
Identity of the Chess-Player
There were two contemporary people in or around Bradford called George R. Tetley, who on the face of it might have been the chess-player. There was George R. Tetley born 1851 to George Greenwood Tetley, stuff merchant and JP, and there was George R. Tetley born 1860/61 to Henry Tetley, worsted maker up and packer. “Geo. R Tetley” of Bradford attended the 1877 West Yorkshire Chess Association meeting. If this were the latter of the two mentioned then he’d be only 16 or 17 years of age, which is unlikely. The former, on the other hand, would be 26. The first-mentioned is therefore assumed to be the chess-player.
There is no obvious connection between this player and the more-commonly mentioned John Henry Tetley of Bradford and later of Leeds.
Entry 59 in the marriage register of St. Peter’s, Bradford, records the marriage there by John Meredyth, on 24/06/1840, of 34-year-old bachelor stuff merchant George Greenwood Tetley of Manningham, son of cotton spinner George Tetley, to 25-year-old spinster Mary Hodgson Smith of Horton, daughter of gentleman Joshua Smith. The groom’s middle name was incorrectly written as “Greenford” by the cleric, but the groom clearly signed his middle name as “Greenwood”, which occurs elsewhere as well. George Greenwood Tetley was born in 1805/06, at Birkenshaw. Mary Hodgson Smith was born in 1815, at Horton, Bradford.
In time this couple had at least the following four children:
White’s Directory of Leeds & the Clothing District, 1842, listed Geo. Greenwood Tetley as a merchant with his home at Melbourn Place, Bradford.
White’s Directory of Leeds & the Clothing Districts, 1847, listed Geo. Greenwood Tetley as a stuff merchant, with his home at 8 Melbourne Place, Bradford. He was represented as involved in the firm of Rennie & Tetley. Which “Rennie”, in any, was involved in the firm is unclear from White, but the fact that James Rennie, merchant, lived at 9 Melbourne Place, may be a clue. This business partnership presumably ties in with George Rennie Tetley’s middle name.
Ibbetson's Directory of Bradford, 1850, listed Rennie, Tetley & co., stuff merchants, Leeds Road, Bradford, and listed George Greenwood Tetley as a partner in Rennie, Tetley & Co., living at Manningham Lodge, Bradford. (There was also listed a William Tetley at Daisy Hill, Manningham, which is similar to George Tetley senior’s address in 1861.) Ibbetson’s also tells us that the Halifax, Bradford and Keighley Insurance Company’s fire engine was stationed in Rennie, Tetley & Co’s yard, opposite the court house.
The 1851 census found our man’s parents, George and Mary living with the first two children and one servant at Delph Cottage, Rawdon. George senior was a stuff merchant.
George Rennie Tetley was born in 1851, the birth being registered in the fourth quarter of 1851, at Ulverston. His place of birth was given in censuses as simply Grange, or as Grange in Furness, both referring to what is now Grange-over-Sands. “Grange” and Ulverston are both in the what was then the Furness district of Lancashire, and is now part of Cumbria. Quite how he came to be born there rather than in the West Riding is unclear.
White’s Directory of Leeds, Bradford &c, 1854, listed George Greenwood Tetley, of Rennie, Tetley & Co., stuff merchant, with his home at Daisy Bank, Bradford.
Lund’s Bradford Directory, 1856, mentioned that George Greenwood Tetley was one of two auditors for St. George’s Hall, Bradford, which was a 3330-capacity gas-lit hall for concerts etc finished on 27/08/1853. George Greenwood Tetley was listed as a stuff merchant in the firm Rennie, Tetley & Co., with his residence at Daisy Hill Lane, Bradford. The business address of Rennie, Tetley & Co. was given as 4 Leeds Road, Bradford. There was a George Calvert Tetley, of 33 Great Horton Road, who Lund gave as a partner in Rennie, Tetley & Co.
The 1861 census found parents George and Mary, daughters Mary and Alice, and one servant, living at Daisy Bank House, Manningham. Father George was still a stuff merchant. Grace had either left home or died. 9-year-old George Rennie Tetley was one of two boarders in the household of James G. Miall, an independent minister at a Salem chapel, and his family, at 5 Belle Vue, Manningham, Bradford. The census return didn’t specify that James G. Miall was privately educating his two boarders, though the two were described as scholars. It’s a little odd that a 9-year-old should lodge in Manningham when his parents lived in Manningham.
White’s Bradford Directory of 1861 listed George Greenwood Tetley of daisy Hill, and George Calvert Tetley of Chestnut Cottage, Manningham, as partners in Rennie, Tetley & Co., stuff merchants.
White’s Directory of Leeds, Bradford, Huddersfield &c., 1866, listed George G. Tetley as a borough magistrate. Rennie, Tetley & co., stuff merchants, were still listed at 4 Leeds Road, Bradford. One Thomas Spence of Clarendon Terrace, Bradford, was now listed as a partner in the firm, as was Edward Theophilus Tetley of Wildgrove, Bradford. Partner George Greenwood Tetley, JP, was now listed as residing at Duckworth Lane, Bradford. George Calvert Tetley seems to have disappeared from Bradford.
White's Directory of Leeds & the West Riding, 1870, listed in the Bradford section George Greenwood Tetley, JP, of Rennie, Tetley & Co., now residing at “Addingham, Leeds Road,” [Bradford,] which suggest his house in Bradford was named after the location of his other residence as described in the 1871 census.
The 1871 census found father George Greenwood Tetley, 19-year-old son George Rennie Tetley, daughter Alice Tetley and two servants living at Hall Croft, Addingham, in the northern extremities of the West Riding of Yorkshire. Father George was still a stuff merchant, and was also a Justice of the Peace. Son George was an assistant stuff merchant, presumably working for his father. The mother seems to have been away from home at the time (probably in Bradford).
The death of the father, George Greenwood Tetley, aged 67, was registered in the first quarter of 1873, at Skipton. Probate records state that George Greenwood Tetley, stuff merchant, late of Addingham and Bradford, died on 21/01/1873. Probate was granted to Mary Hodgson Tetley of Addingham, widow and relict, the effects falling in the under £180,000 bracket.
Byles’s Post Office Bradford Directory, 1879-80, listed Rennie, Tetley & Co., merchants, at 5 Hall Ings, Bradford, as well as at 4 and 6 Leeds Road. “Geo. R. Tetley” of Rennie, Tetley & Co. was listed as residing at Bingley. This would appear to show the chess-playing George Rennie Tetley having taken over his father’s interest in the merchants’ business.
The 1881 census found 66-year-old widowed Mary H. Tetley, living with son George R. Tetley, daughter Alice, and 72-year-old Birkenshaw-born brother-in-law Samuel Tetley, with two servants, at Heather Bank, Bingley, at the NW extremity of the Bradford built-up area. Mother Mary was living on her own means. George Rennie Tetley was now a stuff merchant, presumably having taken over fully his father’s business. Uncle Samuel was “retired from business”.
Kelly's Directory of West Riding of Yorkshire, 1881, listed George R. Tetley at Heather Bank, Bingley, in the court section. Under “Bingley” it listed George R. Tetley at Heather Bank, Miss Tetley [his sister, Alice] at Park Road, and Mrs. Tetley [his mother] at Heather Bank, Park Road. This suggests they all lived at a house called “Heather Bank” on Park Road, Bingley. The modern Heather Court on Park Road suggests it occupies the former site of Heather Bank, and nearby Heathfield Close seems possibly similarly connected.
Byles’s Post Office Bradford Directory, 1883, listed Geo. R. Tetley, of Rennie, Tetley & Co., living at Bingley, and Mrs Mary H. Tetley, of Rennie, Tetley & Co., also living at Bingley.
At some time from 1883 to 1891, George Rennie Tetley and his mother went to live in Wellingborough, Northamptonshire. White's Directory of Bradford, Halifax &c, 1887, seems not to have listed George Rennie Tetley, making the time of removal to Wellingborough look more like some tome from 1883 to 1887.
Kelly's Directory of Northamptonshire, 1890, described Hatton Hall as a stone gabled building in the tudor style, situated at the top of an eminence at the top of the town of Wellingborough. It said Hatton Hall was as owned by “Miss Tetley”, and was at the time vacant. It did not seen to list George Rennie Tetleyor his mother. Nevertheless, the 1891 census found the two living with three servants at Hatton Hall, on the top side of Broad Green, Wellingborough, Northants. Both were living on their own means.
Kelly's Directory of Beds., Hunt.s & Northants., 1898, listed Hatton hall, Broad Green, Wellingborough, as still owned by “Miss Tetley”, but occupied by George Tetley.
George Rennie Tetley seems elusive in the 1901 census, but his mother’s place of residence at death suggests she, at least, had moved to Bank House, Wellingborough.
Mary Hodgson Tetley, widow, of Bank House, Wellingborough, died, aged 85, on 07/10/1901. Probate was granted to her two daughters, who by then had both got married, namely Mary Emily Townsend (wife of Thomas Harry Townsend) and Alice Susan Harrison (wife of Thomas Harrison). Her effects totalled £42,383 8s 4d.
It appears something came to light at this stage regarding father George Greenwood Tetley’s estate, as probate in that respect was granted on 10/01/1903 to Mary Emily Townsend (wife of Thomas Henry Townsend), the effects involved totalling £213 3s.
George Rennie Tetley was now, seemingly, both financially secure and free of responsibility – assuming he was still unmarried. He appears to have moved to London, as that is where he died, but seemingly retaining a place in Wellingborough.
Kelly's Directory of Beds, Hunts & Northants, 1903, recorded that Hatton Hall, still owned by Miss Tetley, was occupied by Herbert William Miller, and it didn’t seem to list George Rennie Tetley, suggesting he had left for London by then.
He is elusive in the 1911 census.
George Rennie Tetley of 3 Coolhurst Avenue, Crouch End, Highgate, Middlesex, died on 14/09/1915, at Hattondale, Wellingborough, Northants. Probate was granted to Alice Susan Harrison (wife of Thomas Harrison), his married younger sister, and Geoffrey Townsend, solicitor, perhaps sister Mary’s son.
Kelly's Directory of Northamptonshire, 1914, listed Thomas Harrison as resident at Hattondale, Hatton Park, Wellingborough. It is apparent, therefore, that George Rennie Tetley died at the home of his married sister, Alice Susan Harrison and her husband Thomas Harrison.
George Rennie Tetley’s father, George Greenwood Tetley, is a highly plausible candidate for being the “Tetley” of Bradford who attended the 1861 West Yorkshire Chess Association meeting, but without initials one can only guess. Equally, if “Tetley” were the local Justice of the Peace of that name then there would be no need to but initials in the report in the local paper!
The sole apparent chess reference to George Rennie Tetley currently to hand is of “Geo. R. Tetley” of Bradford attending the West Yorkshire Chess Association meeting of 1877, which meeting was also attended by the seemingly-unrelated John Henry Tetley. This may have been a one-off chess activity. He may have been active in Bradford Chess Club. He may also have played chess while residing in Wellingborough or in London.
Copyright © 2013 Stephen John Mann
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