Yorkshire Chess History



Seth Ward (senior)











Made in Yorkshire



Sheffield Sub-Site



1834 at Rothwell


02/11/1834, Holy Trinity Rothwell


23/01/1903, Harrogate




Identity of the Chess-Player


There were a number of Wards in the Dewsbury and Ossett area of West Yorkshire, with “Seth” cropping up in different places, making identification of the chess-player a little difficult.


Traditionally, the main chess-playing Seth Ward is said to have been born in 1835 and died in 1903 (British Chess Magazine obituary).  The Seth Ward who was active in the West Yorkshire Chess Association was always described as being a member of Dewsbury Chess club.  There was only one Seth Ward resident in Dewsbury during the relevant period, and his birth and death dates match the ones quoted, so he presumably was our man.  His obituary in the British Chess Magazine confirms his place of birth as Rothwell.


His younger brother George Ely Ward was also a chess-player, while George’s son, another Seth Ward junior was also a chess-player.


The chess activity of Seth Ward senior, of Dewsbury and Harrogate, and that of Seth Ward junior, of Dewsbury and Sheffield, are potentially difficult to distinguish around the early 1890s.


Private Life


The parents of Seth Ward (senior) and George Ely Ward were James Ward (born c. 1808/09, Yorkshire) and Mary Ann Ward (née Jubb, 1810/11, Soothill).  Soothill is a district to the east of Batley, which in turn is adjacent to Dewsbury, to the north, and in the parish of Dewsbury.  The banns of marriage of James Ward, of the parish of Rothwell, miner and widower, and Mary Ann Jubb, of the parish of Dewsbury, were read at All Saints, Dewsbury, on 27/10/1833, 03/11/1833 and 10/11/1833.  Accordingly, on 15/12/1833, at the same church, James Ward, miner and widower, of the parish of Rothwell, was married by Thomas Allbutt(?) to Mary Ann Jubb, spinster of the parish of Dewsbury, in the presence of James Jubb and Joseph Ward.


This couple went on the have at least the following five children:


Seth Ward

born 1834, Rothwell;

baptised 02/11/1834, Holy Trinity, Rothwell

Alfred Ward

born 1835/36, Rothwell;

Ellen Ward

born 1838/39, Rothwell;

baptised 18/05/1845, Holy Trinity, Rothwell

George Ely Ward

born 1844/45, Rothwell;

baptised 18/05/1845, Holy Trinity, Rothwell

James Ward

born 1848/49;


Seth Ward was baptised on 02/11/1834 at Holy Trinity Rothwell.


The 1841 census found parents James and Mary living with a 12-year-old Hannah Ward, Seth, Alfred and Ellen at Crop(?) Hill, Rothwell.  The 1841 census didn’t state relationships, but her age suggests Hannah was a daughter of James by his earlier marriage (given he was a widower when he married Mary Ann Jubb).  Father James was now a shopkeeper rather than a miner.


The father, James Ward, died in 1849, aged 40.  Entry 2817 in the burial register of Holy Trinity, Rothwell, records the burial there of 40-year-old James Ward, of Rothwell, on 03/07/1849, by Richard H. Hamilton.


The 1851 census recorded Mary Ann Ward as a widow living with the above five children at Batley Carr Road (not now known by that name, it seems), Dewsbury.  Mother Mary was a grocery and provisions dealer, presumably continuing the former shop-keeping business of her deceased husband.  Seth was working as a bookkeeper.  Alfred and Ellen were cloth dressers.  George was a scholar.


In the first quarter of 1859, Seth married Jane Ingram (born Oct-Dec 1838, in Dewsbury), daughter of Thomas Ingram (born 1793/94, at Nafferton, in the East Riding).


By the time of the 1861 census, Seth and Jane were living with Jane’s father, the widower Thomas Ingram, at Dewsbury Bank, Dewsbury.  Thomas was a wool and waste merchant, while Seth was no longer a bookkeeper, but was now a woollen manufacturer.


Directory of Leeds, Bradford, Huddersfield ..., 1866 listed:

Ingram and Ward, waste dealers, Wakefield Road, Dewsbury

Ingram John (Ingram and Ward); home on Wakefield Road, Dewsbury

Ward Seth, wool merchant (Ingram and Ward); home on Wakefield Road.


Thus Seth was in business with one of his wife’s relatives, and living on Wakefield Road, Dewsbury.


White's Directory of Leeds & the West Riding, 1870 listed:

Ingram John (Ingram and Ward), Bradford Road, Dewsbury

Ward Seth, rag merchant (Ingram and Ward), Bradford Road, Dewsbury

There were also listed the following, who appear not directly connected:

Kitcheman William, ale etc bottler (Ward and Kitcheman); h. 16 Moss Street.

Ward Seth (Ward and Kitcheman), 2 Orchard Street, Bradford,

Ward and Kitcheman, ale and porter bottlers and ginger beer manufacturers, 2 Orchard Street, Bradford.


The 1871 census recorded Seth and Jane still living with Thomas Ingram, but now at Rishworth Street, Dewsbury.  Thomas was now retired, while Seth was a wool and waste dealer.  They had a live-in servant.


It seems that in addition to running a wool merchant’s business, Seth had a sideline in the form of acting officially in liquidations of local businesses, a somewhat specialised extension of his original occupation as a bookkeeper.  Thus in August 1878, Hanson’s Sewage Company Ltd went into voluntary liquidation, appointing “Mr. Seth Ward, of Dewsbury, Wool Merchant” as liquidator.  Notices relating to this liquidation appeared in the London Gazette of 17 September 1878.


Kelly's Directory of West Riding of Yorkshire, 1881, listed:

Ward Seth, Oxford Road, Dewsbury


The 1881 census enigmatically found Seth and Jane lodging with a certain Ellen Giles and two nieces, at 50 Promenade, North Meols, adjacent to Hoylake on the Wirral.  They were perhaps on holiday.  Seth’s business is stated as that of wool-worsted and waste merchant.


In 1883 he was “Trustee under the Liquidation” of the affairs of Robert Greenwood and Arthur Greenwood, woollen manufacturers of Dewsbury, trading as John Greenwood and sons.  Notices in the London Gazette of 20th November 1883 and 19th February 1884, relating to this liquidation process, specify Seth Ward’s address as Oxford Road, Dewsbury.


Kelly’s Directory of the West Riding of Yorkshire, 1889, listed Seth Ward living at Fairfields, Oxford Road, Dewsbury.


The 1891 census found Seth and Jane visiting the household of John D. Thompson at Hanover H[ouse?], 31 Mount Parade, Harrogate, accompanied by Seth’s New Zealand-born niece, Sarah E. Hey.  It seems he had not yet moved home to Harrogate, though the Wards had moved their home to Harrogate at some time from 1889 to 1895, as Seth was competing in the Harrogate club tournament in 1895.


Armstrong’s directories of Harrogate dated 1889-90, 1891-92 and 1893 all seem to lack any reference to Seth Ward, but the directory dated 1894-95 lists “Mr. Ward” at 24 Beech Grove, Harrogate.  This appears to mean our Seth, yet the directory dated 1895-96 more specifically names “William” Ward at 24 Beech Grove.  That was probably an error, as the directories dated 1897-98 and 1899-1900 both name “Seth” Ward at 24 Beech Grove.  Unless “William” was some relative who died, leaving Seth s householder, then “William” in the 1895-96 directory would seem to be an error.  The year of Seth Ward moving to Harrogate thus seems to have been 1893, give or take a year at most.


Seth, Jane and Seth’s niece Sarah appear on the Isle of Wight in the 1901 census, at 7 Alexandra Gardens, Ventnor, Isle of Wight, with Seth as “head”.  They were presumably on holiday, as the “Court” section of Kelly’s Directory of the West Riding of Yorkshire, 1901, listed Seth Ward living at 24 Beech Grove, Harrogate, which was his address when he died.




Seth appears to have died in Harrogate.  Probate records record that Seth Ward 24 Beech Grove, Harrogate, died on 23rd January 1903 (some sources say 22nd), age 67 (some sources say 68), probate being granted to Jane Ward, widow, William Henry Fitton, bank manager, and Samuel Joseph Chadwick, solicitor.  His effects totalled £18,643 11s.


The British Chess Magazine recorded his death as occurring on 22/01/1903, in his 69th year.  The probate record seems to have his age wrong; he’d be 68 years old, at least, on the basis of the date of his baptism.




An unidentified “”Ward” played in the second class WYCA tournament of 1861.  This may have been Seth.


“Seth Ward” (Dewsbury) attended the West Yorkshire Chess Association annual meetings of 1866, 1871, 1878, 1882, 1884 to 1886, and 1888.


“S. Ward” played in the 1887 Yorkshire v Lancashire match.


He played in the 1888 BCA tournament in Bradford.


“Ward” (Dewsbury) played in the 1889 Lancashire v Yorkshire match.


“Seth Ward” played in the Liverpool-Bradford match on 06/01/1890.


“S Ward” (Dewsbury) played in the 1890 Yorkshire v Lancashire match.


“S Ward” (Dewsbury) played in the 1890 Yorkshire v Sussex correspondence match.


At Harrogate Chess Club, during the 1895-96 season, a 14-player all-play-all-twice tournament was held, in which Seth Ward and J. Sutcliffe came first equal on 22½ out of 26.


Later references allow more scope for confusion of Seth Ward (senior) and Seth Ward junior.


“Seth Ward” (Dewsbury) played in the 1895 Yorkshire County Chess Club’s 10th Annual Tournament, where also “G. E. Ward” (Dewsbury) entered but defaulted.  It is unclear which Seth Ward this one was, though it was presumably the younger one as he was given as coming from Dewsbury, whereas the older one was by then resident in Harrogate.


The “S Ward, junior” (Dewsbury) who played in the Yorkshire v Lancashire match at Manchester on 19/02/1898 seems more conclusively to be our man’s nephew of the same name.





Copyright © 2012, 2013, 2015 Stephen John Mann

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

Last Updated