Yorkshire Chess History



Marmaduke Wyvill











Made in Yorkshire



Sheffield Sub-Site



22/12/1815, Fryston, near Castleford


25/06/1896, Bournemouth


Origins of the Wyvill Family


The Wyvill family is allegedly descended from Sir Humphrey D’Wyvill who came to England with William the Conqueror.  The family seat is at Constable Burton in North Yorkshire, not to be confused with Burton Constable to the north-east of Hull, though the estate in North Yorkshire was apparently known by both terms, as indicated by a legal document of 1863.


The quaintly named village and township of Constable Burton was in earlier times known simply as Burton manor, but, after the manor was given to the “constable” of Richmond castle, it acquired the name Constable Burton.  Subsequent marriage of a Wyvill into the family owning Constable Burton resulted in the Wyvill family becoming its owners.  The present Constable Burton Hall, which is still the home of the Wyvills, was built for the family by John Carr of York in 1768.


A certain member of the family, one of the numerous Marmadukes, was knighted by Elizabeth I, and in 1611 made a baronet by James I.  The main line of the hereditary baronetcy fizzled out when Sir Marmaduke Asty Wyvill, 7th Baronet, died without issue on 23rd February 1774. The branch of the family to which the baronetcy could have passed had migrated to America, and was so barred from the baronetcy by “alienage”.  The hall and estates, however, have remained intact in the ownership of the family to the present day.


Birth of the Chess-Player


It was into this family that the chess-playing Marmaduke Wyvill was born on 22nd December 1815.  His father was another Marmaduke Wyvill, J.P., D.L., who was born on 14th February 1791, and was twice elected M.P. for York from 1820 to 1826, and died in 1872.   His mother was Rachel, the daughter of Richard Slater Milnes and Rachel neé Busk.  His parents had married on 13th December 1813.  Marmaduke junior’s place of birth has been quoted by Venn and others as Constable Burton, the family’s seat, but the various census records give it as either Ferry Bridge or Frystone (now spelt “Fryston”).  Ferry Bridge and Fryston(e) refer to essentially the same place for these purposes.


Fryston, in West Yorkshire, is the area between Castleford to the west and the River Aire to the east, and is adjacent to where the old Great North Road crossed the River Aire at Ferry Bridge.  If you follow Fryston Lane, starting at the end of Sheepwalk Lane, Castleford, then you reach Ferry Bridge power station.


Historically there was a Fryston Hall (not to be confused with Monk Fryston Hall), whose existence is referenced by the name of Fryston Hall Farm.  It was somewhat to the north of the present Ferry Bridge power station.  At the time the chess-playing Marmaduke Wyvill was born, his mother’s brother, Robert Pemberton Milnes, lived at Fryston Hall.  The inference is that Marmaduke was born while mummy was visiting Uncle Bob.


Fryston Hall


In the days of the occupancy of Fryston Hall by the chess-playing Marmaduke’s cousin, Richard Monckton Milnes (also known as Lord Houghton, and who incidentally was reputedly Florence Nightingale’s romantic interest), various literary notables from Tennyson to Carlyle, as well as Disraeli and even the Prince of Wales (the future Edward VII), are said to have visited the Hall regularly.


It seems quite possible that Marmaduke visited the Hall in later life and encountered some of his cousin’s social circle.


The Hall and land were eventually sold off around 1905, but the partially derelict building was not demolished until 1934, when some of the stone was used to build the Holy Cross Church at Airedale.


Education and Training


Marmaduke Wyvill was educated privately, and then went as a pensioner to Trinity College, Cambridge, on 9th April 1834, matriculating in Michaelmas 1834, and taking a B.A. in 1839.  He was admitted to Lincoln’s Inn on 9th November 1840, and he became a D.L. and in due course a J.P. for the West Riding of Yorkshire.


Marriage and Children


The 1841 census saw him resident at Ewhurst in Surrey.  On 8th April 1845 Marmaduke married Laura, daughter of Sir Charles Ibbetson, Bart., of Denton Hall, Denton Park, Ben Rhydding, West Riding of Yorkshire.  (Following local government reorganisation, Denton Park is now just inside North Yorkshire.)  This resulted in Denton Hall passing into the Wyvill family in 1861.  On 5th March 1849 the couple had a son, Marmaduke d'Arcy Wyvill, who went on to be a J.P., became Deputy Lieutenant of the West Riding on 3rd January 1876, became M.P. for Otley 1895-1900, came to own Denton Hall after Marmaduke, and eventually died on 23rd June 1919.  On 26th May 1854 their second son, Frederick Christopher Wyvill, was born.  He went into business in Leeds and eventually died on 23rd June 1919.




Many earlier generations of the family had been members of parliament:


Sir Marmaduke Wyvill, 5th Baronet, was M.P. for Richmond, 1695-1698;

Sir Marmaduke Wyvill, 6th Baronet, was M.P. for Richmond, 1727‑1728;

great-uncle Richard Slater Milnes was M.P. for Richmond, 1759-1804;

uncle Robert Pemberton Milnes was M.P. for Pontefract, 1806–1818;

and father Marmaduke was M.P. for York twice from 1820-1826.


The chess-playing Marmaduke Wyvill and Henry Rich Esq. were the two M.Ps. returned by Richmond in 1847.  Marmaduke held his seat to 1865, having retained it in the 1861 election.  After losing it in 1865 he regained the seat to hold it again from 1866-68.


The 1851 census records him as resident at Hanover Street, Middlesex.  His address in May 1859 was Great Ryder Street, Middlesex.


While an M.P. he seems to have combined farming with working as an M.P. in London.  The London Gazette in the early 1850s carried notices of requests made by Marmaduke under the provision of this or that act for loans of money to drain land in and around Constable Burton, and similarly in 1862 regarding land at Denton Park.


Around 1862, 1863 and 1864 his “county” address was often given as Denton Hall, Denton Park, though he was still evidently draining land around Constable Burton.


The East and West Yorkshire Union Railway applied for a bill allowing them to build a railway passing though part of Marmaduke’s Constable Burton estate in November 1864, and the Skipton and “Wharfdale” Railway made a similar application in November 1865.


Chess Activity


Before he became an M.P. he seems to have been unknown as a public figure.  A “Mr. Wyrill” was recorded as attending the 4th annual meeting of the original Yorkshire Chess Association, held at the George Hotel, Huddersfield, on Wednesday 8th November 1843.  The writer of the Wakefield Journal’s report of Friday 17th November 1843 didn’t include him among in the main list of notable persons present.  His strength as a player was however noticed, and results of games he played were recorded.  It was reported that “Mr. Wyrill” won 2 games against F. W. Cronhelm of Halifax, and won 2 games against M. E. Francis of Hull.  However, in a contest of 4 games with Edward Cronhelm of Halifax (son of F.W.) he finished a close second, winning 1 and drawing 1, but losing 2.  He was clearly a promising player at nearly 28 years of age, though not yet good enough to beat Cronhelm junior.


One has to assume “Mr. Wyrill” was the typesetter’s misreading of handwritten “Mr. Wyvill”, who had not been recognised as of sufficient social standing to have been included in the list of the more notable people present.  In fairness to the typesetter, Wyrill was a name which existed in Bradford at the time, so it was a plausible misreading.  It was his father who was then owner of Constable Burton Hall; his father had long since ceased to be M.P. for York (1820-1826), so was perhaps not well-known.  Marmaduke junior’s own political career had yet to start; and he had yet to marry the daughter of Sir Charles Ibbetson, Bart.  In reproducing the report, the Chess Player’s Chronicle kept “Mr. Wyrill”.


Becoming an MP in 1847 meant Marmaduke had an excuse to be in London, where, of course, there were chess clubs to be found.  By 1850, he had become, according to the Chess Player’s Chronicle, one of the strongest players at the St. George’s Chess Club.


The Chess Players Chronicle Vol. XI, 1850, gives on pp. 353-356 three Wyvill wins over Harrwitz, played at the St. Georges Club.  Vol. XII, 1851, contained twelve Wyvill games.  Vol. XIII, 1852, contained only three Wyvill games.  Vol. 1 New, 1853, contained just one Wyvill game, a win over fellow MP F. W. Knight.  Vol. II New, 1854 contained three Wyvill games, and so on.


Though he became recognised as one of England’s strongest players of his day, he was essentially an amateur, appearing in only one major tournament, London 1851.  He was listed as a member of the Committee of Management for this event.  In the tournament he came 2nd behind Adolf Anderssen to whom he lost 2½-4½ in the final.


He did find time to attend the N&MCCA meeting of 1855, at Leamington.


When the prospectus for the Redcar Chess Meeting of 1866 was published, it listed “M. Wyvill, Esq., jun., M.P.” among the Vice-Presidents.


Years later he showed up at Scarborough Chess Club.  The Leeds Mercury of 27/10/1883 reported as follows:


SCARBOROUGH.- The members of Scarborough Chess Club have the honour of the company of Mr. Wyville, M.P., who won the second prize in the London Chess Tournament of 1851.  He still plays a capital game, winning of the best players of the club at Scarborough.



Later Years


Around 1870, when younger son Frederick went to Cambridge, Marmaduke appears from Venn to have been resident at 22 Warwick Square, London.  The 1871 census, however, says Marmaduke Wyvill was resident at Kippax, West Yorkshire, not too far from Fryston Hall, which was presumably his “country” address.


In 1882, Marmaduke Wyvill was listed as one of the twelve directors of the Pelican Life Insurance Company (established 1797), of 70 Lombard Street, EC, and 57 Charing Cross, SW. [Post Office London Directory, 1882. (Part 4: Law, Court & Parliamentary Directories, etc.)]


Around 1883, he spent time in Scarborough, as mentioned above.  Whether he was resident at or near Scarborough, or merely visiting by way of a holiday, or whatever, is unclear.


In 1888 he had a residence in London, as a mortgage document cites him as residing at 38 Eccleston Square, Middlesex.  One of the witnesses was “George Bryan, 38 Eccleston Square, butler”.  George Bryan was clearly Marmaduke Wyvill’s butler.


Marmaduke Wyvill later moved to Hampshire.  The 1891 census has him living at Christchurch, which was then in Hampshire but is now in Dorset.  Christchurch is five miles east of Bournemouth.  By the time he died he was residing at Ravenshall, West Cliffe, Bournemouth.


The move to Bournemouth must have been in 1891 or 1892 as a mortgage document dated 20th February 1892, relating to property in Burnby, near Pocklington, East Yorkshire, cites Marmaduke Wyvill as resident at Ravenshall, Bournemouth.  That document was witnessed once again by, amongst others, “George Bryan, Ravenshall, Bournemouth, butler”.


Today, Ravenshall, West Cliff Road, Bournemouth, BH4 8AT consists of 33 flats, one being in council tax band F and the others band D.  Whether these flats are wholly new, or are an adaption of Marmaduke Wyvill’s residence is a question.




Marmaduke Wyvill died at Bournemouth on 25th June 1896, in his 81st year.  He left £1,732 2s 6d.


He was survived by his wife, Laura, who is listed in the census of 31st March 1901 as a 77-year-old London-born head of household in the Christchurch registration district of Bournemouth and ecclesiastical parish of St Peter, Bournemouth.





Copyright © 2012, 2013 Stephen John Mann

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

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