Yorkshire Chess History



Maximilian (Georg) Edward Werner











Made in Yorkshire



Sheffield Sub-Site



06/10/1836, at Hildesheim, Hanover



18/10/1919, at Saguache, Colorado


Saguache, Colorado



Maximillan Edward Werner.

Taken in Alexandria, Egypt, probably in 1869,

at the photography studio of Schier & Schoefft.


Maximillan Edward Werner and second wife, Annie, taken probably in Autumn 1890, in Colorado.

(Photos kindly supplied by, and reproduced with the permission of, descendent Terry Dickinson.)




Maximilian Edward Werner of Bradford, and later Halifax, was born at Hildesheim, about twenty miles SSE of Hanover, Germany, one of ten children of Christian Wilhelm Werner and Adolphine Henriette Josephine Louise Werner (née Heinichen).


His full name was Maximilian Georg Edward Werner.  In German the Edward would have been “Eduard”, but that seems never to appear in English/US records.  Initially in England he seems to have used “Edward” as his day-to-day forename, perhaps as that was less foreign-sounding to the English ear than “Maximilian”.  In time, however, he seems to have acquired the confidence to adopt a punning variety of his first name, adopting the name “Max Milian Edward Werner”.  He seems never to have used “Georg(e)” after leaving Germany.


His date of birth is not clear from English records.  On his marriage register entry, on 23/04/1861, his age was given as 25, placing his date of birth from 24/04/1835 to 23/04/1836.  His date of birth in the 1871 census, on 02/04/1871, was 34, placing his date of birth from 03/04/1836 to 02/04/1837.  If these ages were both true, then the implied date of birth is from 03/04/1836 to 23/04/1836, which is relatively concise, but is apparently wrong.  The date of birth consistently quoted on privately compiled family history websites is 06/10/1836, which is presumably the result of deeper research, and is consistent with the age at marriage.  Nevertheless, the US 1900 gave him month and year of birth as October 1838, and his age as 61.  This different year of birth is perpetuated on his gravestone.  He seems to have been lying about his age somewhere down the line.


His place of birth is given as Hanover in the 1871 census.  The privately compiled family history websites give, more precisely, Hildesheim.


Life in England


He appears to have migrated to England in his early twenties.  Early “Werner” references in chess records suggest he adopted the name “Edward” in preference to “Maximilian”, thus it seems early references to “E. Werner”, “Edward Werner”, “M. E. Werner” (the commonest) and to “M. Edward Werner” are all references to the same man.  The fullest form of his name used in England seems to have been “Maximilian Edward Werner” which is found in directories of Bradford and Halifax.  He seems to have completely dropped the “Georg”, his mother’s father’s first name, once in England.  In time, perhaps clowningly, he sometimes called himself “Max Milian” rather than “Maximilian”, even in official documents, but this distortion of his name didn’t seem to penetrate the chess records.


His place of residence seems to have moved around between Bradford (1860, 1866,) and Halifax (1861, 1869, 1870, 1871, 1873), probably reflecting the foci of his activities as a stuff merchant.  In terms of chess clubs, his affiliation seems to have been initially to Bradford, later to Halifax.


White’s Directory of Leeds, Bradford ..., 1854, seems not to have listed any Werners.  Lund’s Bradford Directory, 1856, seems not to have listed any Werners.


Perhaps the earliest chess reference to him was of him attending the 1859 West Yorkshire Chess Association meeting in Huddersfield on 21/05/1859, when he was listed among the Bradford chess-players present, as “Mr. E. Werner”.  Soon after he appears playing in a chess match for Bradford against Settle on 10/06/1859.


The Chess Player’s Chronicle of 1860, pages 144 & 245, associates him with Bradford, variously referring to him as “M. E. Werner” and “E. Werner”.


One would expect to find our man in the 1861 census as resident in Halifax, but an 1861 census entry for him is elusive.




A certain Rebecca Robinson Johnson married William Dewhirst on 4th October 1843, at Halifax parish church.  This William Dewhirst, formerly of Halifax, but later of Harrogate, died at Harrogate on 23/06/1859, leaving effects in the “under £8,000” bracket.  Twenty-two calendar months later, on 23/04/1861, again at Halifax parish church, widowed Rebecca Robinson Dewhirst married our man.  As she had been born in about 1818, she was somewhat older than he was.


Both bride and groom were described as resident in Halifax at the time.  The groom gave his name as “Max Milian Edward Werner”, and he signed himself as such.  The civil registration of the marriage was indexed in the name of “Maximillian Edward Werner” (with double “l”).  The bride’s age was given as 30, but that was quite wrong.  The groom’s age was given as 25, although he was only 24, but such cosmetic upward rounding was not uncommon.


The occupation of the groom’s father, “Christopher William Werner”, is interesting, being given in the marriage register, was partially indecipherable, as something like “Consistorial & Stradsratte of the King of Hanover.”  This seems rather like another fantasy to go with “Max Milian”, but proves to be true.  (The notice of the death, on 13th August 1883, of Christian Wilhelm Werner in the Hildesheim Sunday Paper, 1883, No. 33, page 264, described him as the Royal “Oberconsistorialrat.”  The means “Head of the Governing Council” [1])  The occupation of the bride’s father was that of glazier or, depending how you read it, grazier [1].


One of the witnesses was “John Hall”, who at first glance may conceivably have been the Bradford chess-player, John Edmund Hall, but that chess-player would have been too young at the time.


White’s Directory of Leeds, Bradford, Huddersfield ..., 1866, listed Maximilian Edward Werner as a stuff merchant at 23 Booth Street, Bradford, living at 1 Ashgrove.


His wife died in Halifax, on 08/01/1869, and was buried on 13/01/1869, at Holy Trinity church, Halifax, by James Hope.  The burial register gave her age as 51, implying that when she married our man she was about 42, not 30.  Her will, wherein she left effects of “under £7,000”, was proved by “Max Milian Edward Werner” of Halifax.


White's Directory of Leeds & the West Riding, 1870, listed Maximilian Edward Werner in the Bradford section as a cotton warp agent at 35a Charles Street, Bradford, but now with his home in Halifax, without stating where in Halifax.  The Halifax section didn’t list him in its directory listing.


Starting a Family


Things then seem to have got a bit cloudy.  It seems around May 1870 he fathered a daughter by one Anne Elizabeth Firth, who had been born in April 1852 (per 1900 US census) and so was significantly his junior.  That daughter was born c. March, 1871, in Chorlton on Medlock, which is now part of Greater Manchester.  This location may have been a hide-away place for a mother with an illegitimate daughter.


The 1871 census found “Anne Werner” and a 1-month-old infant with the surname “Werner” lodging in the home of 57-year-old spinster Martha Parker, another lodger and a servant.  Anne was described as a married, 21-year-old, Selby-born annuitant.  The infant, whose gender was not stated, had “infant not christened” where its forename would have been.  If the child had turned one month old, then its date of birth would have been from 03/02/1871 to 02/03/1871.  The child was in time given the name Annie T. Werner.  The “T.” was given in the 1885 Colorado census, but what it stood for is unclear.  That Anne was married is unattested in the usual records.  She probably overstated her age as 21 for cosmetic purposes.  The term annuitant meant our man was doing the right thing by “Annie” as she was later usually more-familiarly known, by sending her money to live on.


The US census of 1900 claimed our man and Anne (by then usually known as “Annie”) had been married for 30 years.  Thus, it seems there’s an untraced marriage of the two, around 1869 or 1870, or else they married later but concealed the lateness of the marriage, or (more probably) they never actually married.


A descendent of Annie is not clear, and a possibility put forward by one personal family website has since been disproved.  A descendent of the family, Terry Dickinson, resident in the United States, has supplied the following two paragraph on the Annie he has be seeking for many years.


The true identity of Annie Firth, as well as the identity of her parents and family, has eluded the best efforts of several family members, who have searched through every record available and have found no information to solve this riddle.  Recently, it was discovered that Annie Firth Werner had a sister Ada with whom she corresponded.  However, this new information about Annie’s family has not provided sufficient information to unravel the identity of her family in England.


An interesting story carried down to the present in the extended Werner family is that our man was disowned by his relatively wealthy family back in Germany for marrying (or otherwise) a “fisherman’s daughter”.  This story may help to explain why Maximilian and Annie never talked to their children about their life in England or Germany.  The difference in their social status, the stigma that came with having a child out of wedlock in 19th century England, as well as the significant difference in their ages may have been the reason that our man and Annie decided that a fresh start in America, was a way to leave all of these unpleasant things behind them.


Maximilian applied to become a naturalised British citizen in the name of Max Milian Edward Werner van Wernshuysen, from Hanover.  (A descendent explains the somewhat bogus “van Wernshuysen” [1].)  The related certificate A.190, issued 19/12/1870, exists in the National Archives at Kew.


Despite him apparently having fathered a child, the 1871 census nevertheless listed our man as a widower, living with a housekeeper at 6 Carlton Street, Halifax.  He was described as born in Hanover, but a naturalised British citizen, and a worsted manufacturer and merchant by occupation.


The apparent link with Manchester is evidenced by M. Edward Werner playing on board 1 for Manchester against Liverpool, at Manchester, on 25/11/1871.


He seems to have switched his chess affiliation within Yorkshire to Halifax, as he played for Halifax against Bradford in March 1873, according to the Chess Player’s Chronicle, 1873, page 247.


Later in 1873, he emigrated to Colorado, taking with him Anne Elizabeth Firth and their daughter Annie T. Werner/Firth.  Whether he ever actually married Anne Elizabeth Firth is unclear.


Life in the United States


The 1900 US Census gives the year of his immigration as 1873.  It also states his marriage date was 1870, yet, as already stated, he’d been described as a widower in 1871.  Thus it would seem either that he married secretly in 1870, or that he and Annie were never formally married.


Once in Colorado, he became a farmer.  There is a theory that he’d owned factories in Germany, and had disposed of these to obtain land in the United States.


His father died in 1883, and the report in the Hildesheim paper reported that the deceased was survived by Captain Werner, who would be Wilhelm Jakob Theodor Werner, a younger brother of our man, whom the report didn’t mention, which fact was consistent with a story that our man had been disowned by his family for marrying “beneath” him.


The 1885 Colorado State census listed six children of the couple.  The place of birth of the eldest, Annie T. Werner, was stated as England, whereas that of the others was given as Colorado.  The 1900 US census listed the youngest four of those six, and a further four, also Colorado-born.  (The census revealed there had been 11 children in total, of which there were only 10 surviving.)


Those ten children were:

Annie T. Werner

b. 04/03/1871, at Chorlton on Medlock, Lancs.

William Jacob Werner

b. 30/09/1874, Colorado

Bechtold John Werner

b. 19/03/1877, Colorado

Herman Charles Werner

b. 28/04/1879, Colorado

Maximillian Edward (junior) Werner

b. 11/01/1881, Colorado

Otto Rudolph Werner

b. 08/08/1883, Colorado

Louis Richard Werner

b. 27/09/1886, Colorado

Barnett Gow Werner

b. 06/12/1887, Colorado

Roy Leonard Werner*

b. 02/09/1890, Colorado

Bessie Lillian Werner**

b. 20/06/1893, Colorado

* One source says “Leonard R Werner”; another says “Roy Leonard Werner.”

** One source says “Lillie Werner”; another says “Bessie Lillian Werner.”

(Above based on http://familytreemaker.genealogy.com/users/b/l/a/James-Blazier/WEBSITE-0001/UHP-0231.html & census data.)


One of his sons bore his own first name, but apparently spelt with two ells in “Maximillian”.  William was our man’s father’s second forename.  Bechtold was our man’s father’s father’s second forename.


The 1885 Colorado census listed our man as “Max Werner”.  The 1900 census listed him as “M. Ed. Werner”.  The 1910 US census listed him as “Edward Werner”.




He died 18th October 1919, at Saguache, Colorado, supposedly aged 81, though 83 would probably be nearer the mark.  The cause of death seems to have been complications arising from a fractured hip [1].


A picture of his grave in Hillside Cemetery, Saguache, appears at


The inscription reads:





1838 - 1919


The “Father” distinguished our man from his son of the same name.




As E. Werner of Bradford he is recorded as attending the West Yorkshire Chess Association meetings of 1859 and 1860.


In 1860 he played a match with Walter Parratt of Huddersfield, winning +7, =2,-5.  (See Chess Player’s Chronicle, 1860, pp. 144 and 249.)


Later in 1860 he started a similar match with John Watkinson of Huddersfield.  Watkinson won the first game, but the match was then suspended due to Werner’s ill health.  (See Chess Player’s Chronicle, 1860, p. 310.)  It seems the match may never have been resumed.


Also in 1860 he played three games with Harrwitz, who gave him odds of his queen’s knight.  Harrwitz move first in each game, but colours were alternated.  Harrwitz won 3-0.  (See Chess Player’s Chronicle, 1860, pp. 204, 206, 207.)


In the Chess Player’s Chronicle, 1860, page 204, he was described as “the best player of the Bradford Chess Club”.


As M. E. Werner of Bradford he attended Skipworth’s North Yorkshire & Durham Chess Association meeting of 1867, and his “Yorkshire Chess Association” meeting of 1868, then the West Yorkshire Chess Association meetings of 1868, 1869 and 1871 (the latter being in Bradford, the organisers perhaps claimed him as their own).


After his move to Halifax was evidently instrumental in reviving Halifax chess club, which appears at the time to have been moribund.  See 1869 Halifax-Bradford Meeting.


As M. E. Werner of Halifax he subscribed to Skipworth’s “Yorkshire Chess Association” meeting of 1868, and attended the West Yorkshire Chess Association meetings of 1870 and 1872.


“Werner” played on board 5 for Manchester against Liverpool, Liverpool, on 25/03/1871, presumably combining chess with a visit to his extramarital family.  Later the same year, M. Edward Werner played on board 1 for Manchester against Liverpool, at Manchester, on 25/11/1871.


One suspects that as a farmer in Colorado he had less opportunities for competitive chess than he had back in West Yorkshire.




[1]  Information kindly provided by Terry Dickinson, a great-grandson of the subject.





Copyright © 2012, 2014 Stephen John Mann

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

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