Yorkshire Chess History



Thomas Bright Wilson











Made in Yorkshire



Sheffield Sub-Site



24/07/1843, Cheetham, Manchester



28/11/1915, Ilkley



Non-Chess Life


Thomas Bright Wilson was born in Manchester on 24/07/1843, the third son of George Wilson (born 1808, Hathersage, Derbyshire) and Mary Wilson (born 1809/10, Pendleton/Salford).  This was the George Wilson who advocated the abolition of the Corn Laws and more specifically was chairman of the Anti-Corn Law League.  George Wilson was also chairman of the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway Company.


His family history prior to 1871 is outlined under the entry for his younger brother, Arthur Cobden Jordan Wilson.


The 1861 census had listed Thomas Bright Wilson living still with his parents, and being by occupation a civil engineer.


By early 1871, Thomas had got married, and set up home at Cressbrook in his wife’s native Derbyshire.  It seems brother George may have  lived with Thomas in Cressbrook, as George’s (first) two child were born there.


The 1871 census found 27-year-old Manchester-born Thomas Bright Wilson living with his 24-year-old Eyam-born wife, Anne E. Wilson, and one servant, at Rack(??) House, Cressbrook, near Litton, Derbyshire.  Cressbrook is a hamlet about 3 miles south of the village of Litton, which in turn is about a mile east of the small town of Tideswell and about 4 miles WSW of the village of Anne’s native Eyam, famous for its self-imposed isolation from the outside world during the Great Plague.  Thomas was described somewhat illegibly as a manufacturer of woven fabrics and something involving cotton, which seems to represent a temporary deviation from the occupation of civil engineer.


Thomas and Mary had a daughter, Mary M. Wilson, born 1871/72, at Cressbrook.


Thomas’s wife, Mary, died at some time from 1871 to 1881.


The 1881 census found 14 members of the Wilson family living at 7 Brighton Grove, Rusholme, Manchester.  Living there with the 71-year-old matriarch, Mary Wilson, were daughter Frances Anne Wilson; son Charles Villiers Wilson (a portrait painter); son George David Wilson (a cotton manufacturer’s cashier), his wife Emma Wilson, and their children Mary T. Wilson and George Wilson (scholars); son Thomas Bright Wilson (civil engineer), widower, and his daughter Mary M. Wilson (scholar); son William Henry Wilson (mechanical engineer and agent), his wife Sarah Wilson, and their children Mary Wilson, William Henry Wilson junior, and Sarah Frances Wilson.


It may be that around this time, Thomas Bright Wilson lived for a while with his brother, Dr. Arthur Cobden Jordan Wilson, in Penistone, West Riding of Yorkshire.  Either that, or he at least visited his brother often enough to play in chess matches for Penistone.


In 1882/83, Thomas Wilson Bright remarried, to Emily Sarah [surname?] (born 1859/60, Cambridge), who so became Mary M. Wilson’s stepmother.  Thomas had no children from his second marriage.


The 1891 found Thomas Bright Wilson, second wife Emily Sarah Wilson, daughter Mary M. Wilson, and one servant, living at 25 Derby Road, Withington, Manchester.  Thomas was still a civil engineer.


At some time from 1891 to 1901, Thomas Bright Wilson and his wife moved to Cirencester, Gloucestershire.


The 1901 census found Thomas and Emily at 4 Millcroft Villas, Cirencester, which was the home of boarding-house keeper Charles Burrowes and family.  57-year-old Thomas was still a civil engineer.


The 1911 census listed Thomas and Emily enigmatically “c/o 13 Ashcroft Villas, Cirencester.”  Why “c/o”?  Thomas, as ever, was a civil engineer.


In the next four years of so, Thomas and Emily moved to Ilkley.




Thomas Bright Wilson, of Ghyllside Wells Walk (not evident on modern maps), Ilkley, Yorkshire, died on 28/11/1915.  Administration was granted to Emily Sarah Wilson, widow.  He left effects of £100.




His main claim to fame was an early design for a chess clock.


“T. B. Wilson” attended the 1881 meeting of the West Yorkshire Chess Association, held in Huddersfield, as a member of Huddersfield Chess Club.  He was one of the 20 players Zukertort took on simultaneously on that occasion.  It was recorded in a report of the Zukertort simultaneous display that T. B. Wilson was concurrently a member of Manchester [Athenaeum] Chess Club and of Huddersfield Chess Club.


He played in a few matches for Penistone (e. g. 1882 Wesley College v Penistone), suggesting he was at the time living with, or visiting, brother Arthur.


He played for the Manchester team in the 1883 Hull Church Institute v Manchester Athenaeum match.


“T. Wilson” of Huddersfield Chess Club similarly attended the West Yorkshire Chess Association meeting of 1886, which was again in Huddersfield.  This was probably a second sighting of Thomas Bright Wilson.


He played in the Lancashire-Yorkshire matches of 20/01/1883, 08/11/1884, 09/03/1889, and 08/03/1890.





Copyright © 2013, 2014 Stephen John Mann

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

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