Yorkshire Chess History



Joseph Wollman











Made in Yorkshire



Sheffield Sub-Site



1851, Newcastle‑upon‑Tyne




28/06/1926, Sheffield




Name of the Chess-Player


The surname “Wollman” is apparently of German origin.  In chess reports it was often recorded as Woolman, which happens probably to be how the German translates to English, or even “Woollman”.


Non-Chess Life


Joseph Wollman was born in the Newcastle-upon-Tyne registration area to Prussian-born parents Mark Wollman (born 1824/25) and Frances Wollman (born 1826/27), who has at least the following six children:


Esther Wollman

born 1847/48, Newcastle‑upon‑Tyne

Cecilia Wollman

born 1849, Sunderland

Joseph Wollman

born 1851, Newcastle-upon-Tyne

Adeline Wollman

born 1853/54, Sunderland

Jane Wollman

born 1856, South Shields

Caroline Wollman

born 1858, South Shields


The family had evidently lived in Newcastle and/or Sunderland, but had apparently moved to South Shields by 1856.  Newspaper report from the South Shields area exist mentioning prizes won by a young Joseph Wollman, one at least apparently relating to astonomy.


The 1861 census found the family living at 76 West Holborn, South Shields.  Father Mark was a general dealer, while Joseph was a scholar.


The 1871 census found 19-year-old Joseph Wollman at a British & Foreign Society school on Borough Road, Southwark, London, where he was training to be a teacher.


He took up employment in Rotherham around May 1872 (44 years & 7 months prior to 20/12/1916), becoming headmaster of the British Temporary School, Rotherham.


In 1877, in Birmingham, he married Bertha Kaminski (born 1857, Germany).


The couple had at least eight children:


Hannah Wollman

1878/79, Sheffield

Harry Michael Wollman

1881/82, Rotherham

Rebecca Wollman

1883, Rotherham

Gertude Wollman

1885, Rotherham

Lilian Wollman

1886, Rotherham

Mabel Wollman

1887, Rotherham

Frances Wollman

1890, Rotherham

Reginald Cyril Wollman

1895, Rotherham

Maurice Wollman

1903, Rotherham


Though daughter Hannah Wollman was born in Sheffield, the family was presumably resident in Rotherham.


When in 1879 the Wellgate Board School was opened, Joseph Wollman was move there, presumably as its head.


The 1881 census found the family of three living with a domestic servant at 80 St. Ann’s Road, Rotherham, roughly where now is the roundabout at the start of Fitzwilliam Road.  29-year-old Joseph was an elementary school teacher.  White’s 1881 directory of the West Riding said more specifically that he was master of Wellgate Board School, which had 225 boys, 225 girls and 250 infants (700 children in total).


Lilian Wollman died within three months of birth in 1886.


The 1891 census found the family had moved to 73 St. Anne’s Road, Rotherham.  They still had a domestic servant.  39-year-old Joseph was now a headmaster at a board school.  Wife Bertha was now recorded as a British subject.


Joseph Wollman was a some-time secretary of the Rotherham Town Football and Athletic Company Ltd, which post he relinquished in late 1895 or early 1896.  He was personally summoned, nevertheless, to appear before Rotherham Borough Police Court regarding non-payment by the football & athletics company of £4 13s. 4d. for half a year’s poor rate in respect of the Clifton Grove football ground.  Joseph Wollman said he was no longer secretary.  Further, Mr. Gichard, defending, contended that the summons should have been addressed to the company, and served on the secretary only as their representative.  The bench upheld this claim and dismissed the summons, granting costs to the defence.


At some stage he became head of Thornhill Council School, Rotherham, which was opened on 22/02/1879, having been built at a cost (including the land) of £5,000, and enlarged in 1885 at a further cost of £705.  In 1911 it catered for 950 children.



According to the 1901 census, the family of two parents and seven children had now moved to 72 St. Anne’s Road, Rotherham, still with a servant.  49-year-old Joseph was a schoolmaster, eldest daughter Hannah was now a schoolteacher, and eldest son Harry was a warehouse clerk.


White’s 1905 directory of Sheffield & Rotherham listed Joseph Wollman, council schoolmaster, at 1 Brentwood, St Anne’s Road, Rotherham.  Brentwood was between the corner with Doncaster Road, and Nelson Street.  Fellow Rotherham chess-player Henry William Lear lived at number 5.  Brentwood is no more, but no. 1 would have occupied part of the site of the present Railway Club which 60 years or so later housed Rotherham Chess Club.


The 1911 census found the family had moved to 25 Clifton Bank, a dead-end hill rising up from Wellgate.  Hannah appears to have left home by now.  Joseph was still a head teacher; Harry was still a warehouse clerk.  White’s 1911 directory of Sheffield & Rotherham him at the same address.


It is evident that he was a member of the Rotherham District Oddfellows, the Sheffield Daily Telegraph of 12/10/1914 recorded that, “The quarterly meeting of the Rotherham District of Oddfellows (M.U.) was held at the Oddfellows’ Hall Westgate, Rotherham, on Saturday. Prov. G.M. Joseph Wollman presided.”


The 1916 directory recorded him still at 25 Clifton Bank.


On 20/12/1916, Joseph Wollman was presented with a walking-stick from his pupils, and a silver table-centre and fruit dish from colleagues and friends, on the occasion of his retirement on having reached the maximum age [65].  (The report in the Sheffield Daily Telegraph, 21/06/1916, supplied more information than his subsequent obituary.)


Following his retirement he moved to 95 Rustlings Road, Sheffield.  The 1917 directory listed him there as Joseph “Woolman”.  Thereafter, to his death, he was recorded there correctly as Joseph “Woolman”, and was described as an accountant, which probably was due to him continuing as an auditor to the Masbrough (later Rotherham) Co-operative Society.




Joseph Wollman died at his home, 95 Rustlings Road, Sheffield, at 2.30 p.m., on 28/06/1926, aged 74, after a long illness.  A notice appeared in the “Death” column of the Sheffield Daily Telegraph on 29/06/1926, and an obituary wherein he was mentioned to be a well-known chess-player followed on 30/06/1926.


Wife Bertha moved out of 95 Rustlings Road, which was apparently unoccupied in the 1927 directory, and occupied by Thos. H. Jackson in the 1928 directory.  She died in 1931, aged 73, in the Wortley registration district.




Examples of him playing for Rotherham Chess Club include:

1879: Rotherham Chess Club v Rotherham Liberal Association,

1879: Doncaster v Rotherham,

1882: Leeds v Rotherham,

1882: Wesley College v Rotherham.,

1882: Arundel v Rotherham.


He played in H. E. Bird’s 1883 Sheffield simultaneous display, the game being left unfinished.


He played for the Sheffield & District Chess Association v Manchester in 1883.


He also represented Sheffield (i.e. the S&DCA) in the Woodhouse Cup on a number of occasions, including:

1889-90 Woodhouse Cup,

1890-91: Woodhouse Cup,

1891-92: Woodhouse Cup

1892-93: Woodhouse Cup

1899-1900: Woodhouse Cup

1900-1901: Woodhouse Cup

1901-02: Woodhouse Cup


He played for Sheffield Association v the Sheffield Athenaeum 1893 match.





Copyright © 2017 Stephen John Mann

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

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