Yorkshire Chess History



William Vernon Wilson











Made in Yorkshire



Sheffield Sub-Site



1845/46, Kilkenny, Ireland








Identity of the Chess-Player


“W.V. Wilson” features extensively in connection with Brighton Chess Club in the 1880s and 1890s, but never does the player seem to receive mention of his forenames in full in any chess records.  Nevertheless, the only person evident in any source who answers to the name and is connected with Brighton is Kilkenny-born schoolmaster William Vernon Wilson, who is named in full in the 1891 census, and is represented as “William V. Wilson” in the 1871 and 1881 censuses.


Non-Chess Life


The 1871 and 1891 censuses give ages implying William Vernon Wilson was born in 1845/46, though the age given in the 1881 census implies birth in 1843/44.  His place of birth was given as Kilkenny, or simply Ireland.  Records exist of him in Sussex of Surrey from 1871 (when he would be 26) to 1912 (when he would be 67).


The 1871 census found 25-year-old Kilkenny-born “William V. Wilson” living at 5 Brunswick Road, Hove, Sussex.  It seems numbers 3 to 6 together housed a “gentlemen's boarding school (Camden schools)” in which William V. Wilson was an assistant master.  Hove is adjacent to Brighton, forming a single conurbation.


The 1881 census found “William V. Wilson” now living in South Road, Reigate, Surrey, were a number of adjacent addresses made up a similar “grammar school”.  William was described, seemingly, as “Undergraduate of T. C. D.” (Trinity College, Dublin?) and “Asst. Master in Grammar School”.


On the basis of chess records, he must have moved back to Hove at some time from 1881 to 1886.


The 1891 census found (still unmarried) “William Vernon Wilson” lodging in a private residence at 18 York Road, Hove.  He was described as “Tutor Educational”, which may have meant he was a private tutor rather than teaching at a school.


He is elusive in the 1901 and 1911 censuses, but chess records.


On 14/01/1926, it was described how children in the care of the Steyning Board of Guardians had received present from the Christmas tree as it was taken down, and had later received further gifts “thanks to the generosity of Captain C. F. M. Chambers, D.S.O., and Mr. W. V. Wilson, of Brighton.




There seems no evident reference in any of the usual sources of the death of a “William Vernon Wilson” or a “William V. Wilson” which could refer to the chess-player.




“W. V. Wilson” seems to have engaged seriously with Brighton and Sussex chess from about 1886.  He played within Brighton Chess Club, represented the club against other clubs, and represented Sussex against other counties.  He also played in the two North v South matches or 1893 and 1894.  When the Counties Chess Association held its congress in Brighton, in 1892, he took the opportunity to participate, but otherwise seems not to have played in such events.


He won the Sussex individual championship in 1892 (and possibly other years).


He played in two county matches in 1905: Sussex v Surrey and Sussex v Kent, but at that stage was probably winding down.


A late chess reference was to his involvement with the Christ Church Club, a kind of sports and social club attached to Christ Church, Brighton, which included chess among its activities.  In the 1911-12 season, “Mr. W. V. Wilson” was reported as a prize-winner.






Copyright © 2020 Stephen John Mann

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

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