Yorkshire Chess History



Rev. William Thorold











Made in Yorkshire



Sheffield Sub-Site



15/09/1833, Barnby Moor, Lincs. [8, 10]


15/09/1833?, Blyth, Lincs.


23/08/1900 [10], Scarborough


Manor Road Cemetery, Scarborough [10]


Non-Chess Life


William Thorold was Edmund Thorold’s younger brother, a brother of Eliza Mary Thorold, and uncle of Rev. Michael Edward Thorold.


He was born on 15/09/1833, at Barnby Moor, Lincolnshire, and baptised at Blyth, apparently on the same day.


The Blyth baptism register entry for William Thorold was no. 1300, which recorded the baptism on 15/09/1833 at All Saints, Blyth, of William Thorold, born to Michael Wynne Thorold, gentleman, and Eliza Thorold, of Barnby Moor, by J. Rudd A.M. [=M.A.], vicar.  The baptism register didn’t give his date of birth, but his gravestone gives his date of birth as 15/09/1833, implying he was baptised on the day of his birth (true?).


Fuller details of the family’s background appear under the entry for brother Edmund Thorold.  The family had arrived in Sheffield around 1844.


William started at Sheffield Collegiate School on Collegiate Crescent, which was in walking distance of the family residence at Mount Villa, in May 1849, sixteen months after brother Edmund had started there.  William finished at the Collegiate School in June 1851, his stay being shorter than that of Edmund, perhaps because his planned career didn’t necessitate so high a level of preparation as Edmund’s.


As was a common practice with second or subsequent sons of the families of gentlemen, William was steered towards the church, which had been his paternal grandfather’s calling.  Thus, though Edmund went to Oxford, William was packed off to St Bee’s theological college in Cumbria.


At one time, becoming a cleric in the established church necessitated being educated at Oxford or Cambridge, but as the population expanded, the supply from Oxbridge became inadequate in quantity, quite apart from the fact that quality was compromised by theological elements to training being often minimal and unregulated.  St. Bees came into existence as a theological college focussed only outputting formally trained parish priests, opening in 1816, in the repaired partial-ruins of St. Bee’s Monastery.


After leaving St Bee’s William had the following posts [8]:

1858-60, curate at St Luke’s, Sheepscar, Leeds;

1860-65, curate at Middleton, Leeds; and

1865-81 perpetual curate at Weeton, near Kirkham, Lancs.


On 24/11/1862, while curate at Middleton, 28-year-old William Thorold, son of Michael Wynne Thorold, was married to 27-year-old Fanny Nelson of Grafton House, daughter of George Nelson, ironmonger, at his former church, St Luke’s, Sheepscar, Leeds, by W. R. Sharpe, perpetual curate of St. Gregory’s, Norwich (perhaps a friend he’d known at St. Bee’s).  Fanny had been born in Leeds, within a year of William.


It appears William was accused by his congregation in Weeton of being a drunkard, and was removed from active pastoral care.


In 1881 William as living at 8 Crown Terrace, Scarborough, with his wife Fanny, sister Eliza and two live-in servants [5].  He’s listed in the census as still being “vicar” [curate] of Weeton, Lancashire, some way inland from Blackpool, but it seems William’s tenure of that post ended in 1881, and he moved from Weeton to Scarborough.  He’s recorded as still being at 8 Crown Terrace from 1881 to 1893, though the 1897 Kelly directory covering Scarborough shows him at 19 Crown Terrace.  The front door at number 8 was accessed by a steep flight of steps whereas end-terrace number 19 was accessed at ground level from the side in Crown Crescent.  (Click here for photographs of Crown Terrace.)


The removal to Scarborough may be connected with his parents and sister moving to the east coast of Yorkshire a decade, or more, earlier.  His parents were both dead by 1876.




He attended the West Yorkshire Chess Association annual meetings of 1858 (Halifax) and 1859 (Huddersfield), both of which were also attended by brother Edmund.


Cricket ?


A William Thorold was a cricketer [7] recorded in detailed match results as playing at least six times for Lincolnshire and seven times for Gentlemen of Lincolnshire, featuring prominently both in the batting and the bowling.  He may well have played much more cricket than is recorded in detail.  This doesn’t fit in too well with the places of residence of the chess-player, so the cricketer might have been a different person.




William died on 23/08/1900 [10], and was buried in Scarborough’s Manor Road Cemetery (in terrace “A” of the ravine, plot 59).  His wife, Fanny, died on 17/04/1907, and was interred in the same grave.


A stack of three differently-sized inscribed stones remain at the grave site, though the surmounting cross or similar has disappeared.  The inscriptions on the stones read:


To the Memory

of the


Revd William Thorold.

Born September 15, 1833.

Died August 23, 1900.


Also, of

Fanny, his Wife

Who Died April 17, 1907


(Click here for a photograph of the grave.)


References to “The Reverend Thorold”


As a Church of England cleric, albeit a curate rather than a vicar, William Thorold was properly referred to as “the Reverend William Thorold” or merely “Rev. Thorold”.


That both William and Edmund played chess seems to have caused some confusion.  Chess literature from time to time throws up confused references such as “Rev. E Thorold”, who may be “Rev. Thorold” (William) credited retrospectively with his brother’s initial, or may be “E. Thorold” (Edmund) credited retrospectively with his brother’s “Rev.”  Similar confusion is contained in Miscellanea Genealogica et Heraldica which contains the reference

“Thorold, rev. Edmund, born at Blyth, Notts, 8 or 22. Sept., 1832; 2s. Michael Wynne, gent. Worcester, matric. 20 March, 52, aged 19 (from school).”


The BCM of 1885, on pages 173 and 174, reviewed volumes II and III of Bird’s “Modern Chess”, and commented that on page 71 of volume III:

Mr. Thorold (p.71) is not entitled to the prefix of “Rev.”


More recently, The Chess Addict contained this confusion of Thorolds.


Edmund, William and Eliza’s nephew, the Rev. M. E. Thorold of Dewsbury, adds to the potential for confusion of Thorold identity.










Sheffield Collegiate School 1836-1885, a Biographical Register
Peter John Wallis; (hand‑typed copies, Sheffield Local Studies Library)


Thorold gravestone in Scarborough





Copyright © 2013 Stephen John Mann

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

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