Yorkshire Chess History



John Wisker











Made in Yorkshire



Sheffield Sub-Site



30/05/1846, Hull



1884, Richmond, Victoria, Australia



Non-Chess Life


John Wisker’s parents were William Wiles Wisker, born 1806/07 in Cottingham about 4 miles NW of the centre of Hull, and Esther Wisker, born 1806/07 in Hull.  The couple had at least eight children, all born in Hull:


Mary Wisker

born 1828/29

William Wisker

born 1832/33

Martha Wisker

born 1834/35

George Wisker

born 1836/37

Ann Elizabeth Wisker

born 1838/39

John Wisker

born 30/05/1846

Henry Wisker

born 1848/49

Hannah Wisker

born Aug/Sep 1850


The apparent gap between Ann and John intriguing


Throughout John Wisker’s childhood, his father seems to have been a foreman at a dock company in Hull, never giving his middle name “Wiles” to the census enumerators.


A convincing 1841 reference to this Wisker family is elusive.


The 1851 census found both parents and the above eight children living at 2 Dock Company Buildings, Waterhouse Lane, Hull, by Prince’s Dock.  The father was a foreman to a dock company.  John, Henry and Hannah were scholars.


By the time of the 1861 census all the children except John had seemingly flown the nest (or died).  The1861 census found parents William and Esther with son John living at the Dock Company Buildings, though no number was given.  Father William was still a dock company foreman.  Son John was now a pupil teacher.


John Wisker reportedly moved to London in 1866 [British Chess Magazine 1896, p.397], becoming a journalist.


The1871 census found both his parents still living at Waterhouse Lane, Hull, with unmarried daughter “Annie” Elizabeth Wisker, and two Sheffield-born grandchildren, Frederick Henry Wisker (born 1860/61) and Anne Maria Wisker (born 1865/66).


William Wiles Wisker, dock company foreman of Kingston-upon-Hull, died 28/10/1874 at Kingston-upon-Hull.  His will was proved by son John Wisker of 95 Clifton Street, Finsbury Square, London, newspaper writer, and daughter Ann Elizabeth Wisker of Kingston-upon-Hull, spinster.


John Wisker seemingly contracted tuberculosis and, in the hope of improving his health, emigrated to Australia in 1876.




The death of John Wisker at Richmond, Victoria, aged 37, was registered in 1884 (registration no. 2550).  His father’s name was given as William (correct), but what is odd is that his mother’s name was apparently given as Ann Truelove, presumably meaning Ann Truelove Wisker, not Esther.




He visited the 1865 Redcar Chess Meeting.


At the 1866 Redcar Chess Meeting he competed in the 8-player Class I tournament, finishing 2nd-4th equal on 5 out of 7, beating Ve Dere (the winner) and Thorold (also 2nd-4th =) but losing to the Rev. Owen (also 2nd-4th =) and to Dr. Wilson (5th).  He was named as a member of the General Committee.


At the time of his departure from Hull he was regarded as Hull’s strongest player [British Chess Magazine 1896, p.397].


Once resident in London, he competed in the 1870 and 1872 British Chess Association meetings, finishing first equal with Amos Burn in 1870, and first equal with Cecil Valentine De Vere in 1872, in each case winning the play-off, thereby winning outright the Championship Trophy by virtue of having won it twice.


Over 1873 to 1875 he played two matches with Bird and two with MacDonnell, scoring on aggregate +23, =8, -26 against Bird, and +7, =5, -7 against MacDonnell.


While resident in England he had at various times been editor of chess columns in the Sporting Times and Land and Water, and was co-editor with Skipworth of the Chess Players’ Chronicle from 1872 to 1876.


In Australia he was apparently editor of a chess column in the Australasian [Oxford Companion to Chess].




Copyright © 2013 Stephen John Mann

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

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