Yorkshire Chess History



1851: 1st Caister Chess Meeting











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Grand Chess Meeting

Red Lion Inn, Market Place, Caistor

Thursday 9th October 1851


Caistor is a small market town in rural north Lincolnshire which, though of no great importance on its own, served as a focus for the small rural villages in the area.  Indeed, there was a “Caistor Union” which once embraced 76 or so rural parishes.


Caistor was the venue for the first of this type of chess meeting organised by Arthur Bolland Skipworth, perhaps being inspired, in broad principle, by the meetings of the original Yorkshire Chess Association.  Indeed, there’s a possibility he became aware that there would be no meetng of the Yorkshire Chess Association that year, and was tempted by this vacancy in the calendar.


Arthur Skipworth’s mother and siblings moved to Caistor after the death of his father.  At the time of this event, he was a Cambridge undergraduate, and not as yet ordained, but he went on to become the Reverend Arthur Bolland Skipworth.


The importance of this event was that it was the start of Arthur Bolland Skipworth’s chess-organising career which later blossomed, while he was a clergyman in Yorkshire, in a way which became of importance to “provincial” chess generally.


Pre-Event Advertising


The Chess Player’s Chronicle of 1851, page 318 carried a notice of the meeting, reading as follows:


A grand gathering of the Chess Players of Lincolnshire will take place in the Assembly Rooms of Caistor, on Thursday, the 9th of October next.  Invitations have already been accepted by Mr. Staunton, Mr. Newham and Her Lowenthal and many other distinguished players.

Play will commence at 10 A.M., and a dinner will be provided in the evening at which the President of the Caistor Chess Club will preside.

As Caistor is of easy access by Railway from all parts of the kingdom, and the attendance of amateurs from adjoining counties is confidently promised, a very numerous and influential assemblage is expected at this interesting celebration.

Application for tickets should be made without delay to A. B. Skipworth, Esq., Caistor.


The Lincoln, Rutland, and Stamford Mercury of 12th September 1851 announced the coming event as follows:

Caistor.- The Grand Chess Meeting.- We are happy to hear that Sir M. J. Cholmeley, Bart., M.P., A. Boucherett, Esq., G. Skipworth, Esq., and many other gentlemen in the neighbourhood, have liberally given their support towards the grand chess gathering which is to be held at Caistor on Thursday the 9th of October next.  A large attendance is expected, many eminent players having promised to be present.


This was an advertising approach which the unstated but inferred organiser, Arthur Bolland Skipworth, was later to adopt for other events organised by him - when advertising it, lend to it dignity and credibility by name-dropping.


The first-dropped name was that of to Sir Montague John Cholmeley, 2nd Baronet (born 05/08/1802, died 18/01/1874) who was MP for North Lincolnshire from 1847 to 1852, then again from 1857 to his death.  Presumably the surname is pronounced “Chumley”.


The second-dropped name was that of Ayscough (alternatively Ayscoghe) Boucherett (born 1792, died 16/03/1857).  He was the third of a series to bear that name.  He’s widely reputed to have been a some-time High Sheriff of Lincolnshire, though the only list seen of holders of the post doesn’t include him.  The Boucherett family resided at Willingham House, North Willingham, which was built for them in 1790.  They were descended from Huguenot immigrants to England.  In 1859 his daughter, Jessie, became a campaigner for women’s rights.  White’s History, Gazetteer & Directory of Lincolnshire, 1856, listed him as a magistrate in the Kirton division of Lindsey, as joint trustee for the real estate of the Lincoln Lunatic Asylum (est.1820), and as having had the parish school at North Willingham built in 1845.


These first two seems not to have shown their faces at the chess meeting, or to have had any obviously documented interest in chess.  They may, of course, have provided funds to support the enterprise.


The third-dropped name was that of George Skipworth, Lord of the Manor of South Kelsey, resident of Moor(e)town Lodge, and distant relative of the organiser, Arthur Skipworth.  (He shared a grandfather with Arthur Skipworth’s father, or something like that).  He did in fact attend the event, bringing with him some of his family.


The Day Arrives


The meeting duly took place on 9th October, 1851, at the Red Lion Inn, Market Place, Caistor, Lincolnshire.


Very similar reports were carried by the Lincoln, Rutland, and Stamford Mercury and the Doncaster, Nottingham, and Lincoln Gazette, both on 17th October 1851.  Essentially the same report, but sounding closer to what Skipworth himself probably wrote, appeared in the Hull Advertiser of Friday 17th October 1851.  (Click here for the texts of these reports.)


There was no detail in the papers of the chess played beyond references such as “the extraordinary skill and profound acquaintance with the mysteries of this antique and highly-intellectual game displayed by several eminent players who were present”.


A dinner was provided.  No information is offered of the funding of the dinner and room-hire.  The above advert didn’t mention a fee to participate.  It maybe that “Sir M. J. Cholmeley, Bart., M.P., A. Boucherett, Esq., G. Skipworth, Esq., and many other gentlemen in the neighbourhood” had donated funds to run the event.


After dinner, Samuel Newham of Nottingham was “unanimously elected to the chair” to preside over the toasts and “several eloquent and appropriate addresses” that were delivered.  Samuel Newham was one of the country’s strongest players outside London, possibly the strongest in his day.


Together the three reports list 53 people as being present (or 52 if Miss “K.” Bell represents Elizabeth or Frances, as seems likely).  Of these, 13 were clergyman (excluding Arthur Skipworth who was not yet ordained), i.e. 13%.  A more surprising feature, which comes to be a common feature of Arthur Skipworth’s early chess events, was the relatively high number of females present, mainly wives and daughters of men present.  15 females are listed, i.e. 28%.  (Click here for a combination and reconciliation of the three lists.)


The Eminent Players Present


Of the “many eminent players having promised to be present”, Samuel Newham, who took the chair after dinner, was the most clearly identified.


Although Howard Staunton appeared to be listed as present by the Lincoln, Rutland, and Stamford Mercury and the Doncaster, Nottingham, and Lincoln Gazette, he doesn’t seem to have mentioned the meeting in his magazine The Chess Player’s Chronicle.  Did he feel snubbed by not being presented prominently in the way which was common in such write-ups?  Did he resent playing second fiddle to Samuel Newham of Nottingham, who took the chair at dinner, and resent following in the listing a baronet, a major local lord of the manor, and a clergyman who merely composed chess problems?  On the other hand, the Hull Advertiser listed H. Stainton, seemingly of Louth, so maybe Staunton wasn’t present.  Nevertheless, identifying “H. Stainton” of Louth, or of the Lincolnshire/Hull area generally, is difficult, so the famous Howard Staunton remains the prime suspect.


Another eminent player was Johann Jacob Löwenthal.  At first “T. Lowenthal, Perth” may seem to mean someone else.  In those days a hand-written “J” was often misread by compositors as another letter, such as “T”.  That all three papers put “T” slightly erodes confidence in the person being the famous Löwenthal, and the Hull Advertiser’s “Perth” might seem more conclusively to preclude this person being Johann Jacob Löwenthal, yet when you remember that the great Hungarian was born and raised in Pest, before it merged with Buda to form Budapest, and when you further remember that Pest was sometimes written Pesth, then “Perth” becomes readily understandable as being in Hungary, not Scotland.  The Hull Advertiser’s compositor should not be blamed; his task was not an easy one.


Another eminent chess person, at a lower level, was the Reverend Horatio Bolton, rector of the combined parish of Oby, Ashby and Thurne, near Yarmouth, who was famous more for his chess problems than for his chess-playing, and was distantly related to Horatio Nelson, after whom he was named.


That Thomas C. Oldham of Lincoln was listed as one of those who “supported” the president, suggests he perhaps numbered among the “many eminent players”.


Remaining Dramatis Personae


What was the nature of the other people listed as attending the meeting?  A stark contrast becomes apparent, between the people attending this meeting at Caistor and those attending meetings of the original Yorkshire Chess Association.  At the later meetings, those attending were overwhelmingly people with an interest in chess; they were there for the chess, not the spectacle and the refreshments.


At this Caistor meeting, the majority of those listed as attending would seem to be there for the spectacle and the social occasion; they are predominantly the local bigwigs, clerics, professional men generally, and a good number of the wives and daughters of these people.  A few were people of only modest social standing from further afield, outside Lincolnshire; these were probably there for the chess, being predominantly from Hull or, it seems, Nottingham, though there were two from London.  Skipworth might have ranked these two as “eminent”.


Under the 1971 local government reorganisation “Humberside” was formed, trying to combine the north bank of the Humber estuary with its south bank, in a union which was none too popular with many (most?) living in its area, and which in time was scrapped.  Yet in the 1800s, Hull and Grimsby seem to have been quite closely associated culturally and commercially, being connected by sea rather than the long way round via the Humber Bridge.  Hull chess-players were very much nearer Caistor than to the West Riding of Yorkshire.  Hull’s was probably the nearest chess club to Caistor, at least as the crow flies.


One report lists “Thos. Hind, Esq., Jas. Hind, Esq., W. B. Bramley, Esq.” which accords with the three belonging together in some way, while the other report very clearly lists these three and “Thos. Worth” as coming from “Norfolk”, which is a strangely vague.  There was a James Hind of Nottingham at the 1850 Yorkshire Chess Association meeting in Leeds.  Trying to identify anybody, chess-player or not, answering to “W. B. Bramley” suggests he’s William Burdus Bramley from Nottingham.  It becomes clear that the references in the Hull Advertiser to “Norfolk” are erroneously derived from some written rendering of “Nottingham” or perhaps “Notts”.  The four are thus fairly clearly Nottingham Chess Club members accompanying Samuel Newham.


The two from London, or with London connections were

Drury, M(ichael),
Possibly Michael Drury, retired general practitioner, of Clay Hill, Bushey, Herts. (b. 1894/95 in Ireland);

Oldham, TC
Thomas Charles Oldham, BA (Cantab.), b. 04/12/1820 at Saltfleetby, Lincs., son of Thomas Oldham, soon to be admitted to Inner Temple (29/04/1852).



The those identified as coming from “Norfolk”, apparently meaning Nottingham, were

Bramley, WB
Presumably William Burdus Bramley pawnbroker of Nottingham, perhaps an associate of Samuel Newham.  Married Elizabeth, having at least one child, Kate Bramley.  Died 18/08/1866.  Lascelles & Hagar's Commercial Directory of Nottingham, 1848, listed William B. Bramley, pawnbroker and clothier, at 37 Clumber Street, Nottingham.  (There were also listed two by the name of merely William Bramley.)  The Post Office Directory of Derbyshire & Nottinghamshire, 1855, similarly listed William Burdus Bramley, pawnbroker, at 37 Clumber Street, Nottingham.  Wright's Nottingham Directory, 1858, listed William B. Bramley on the section of Mansfield Road between Villa Road and Mapperley Road.

Hind(s), Jas.
Presumably the James Hind of Nottingham, who attended the 1850 YCA meeting in Leeds.  (Wright's Nottingham Directory, 1858, listed James Fisher Hind of Hollins, Son, and Hind, with home at Wilford, and at Park Row, but this may not be our man.)

Hind(es), Thomas/Thos.
Quite probably a Thomas Hind related to the above James Hind, and probably from Nottingham.  Lascelles & Hagar's Commercial Directory of Nottingham, 1848, listed a Thomas Hind, clerk at the savings bank, Low Pavement.   Wright's Nottingham Directory, 1858, listed Thomas Hind, clerk at the savings bank on Low Pavement, with home at Trent Lane, Sneiton (about a mile east of the centre of Nottingham).  (The Post Office Directory of Derbyshire & Nottinghamshire, 1855, listed a Thomas Hind with his seat at Goverton, roughly fifteen miles NE of Nottingham, but this looks less like our man.)

Worth, Thos.
Presumably a chess-playing Thomas Worth of Nottingham.  Lascelles & Hagar's Commercial Directory of Nottingham, 1848, listed Thomas Worth, surgeon, 79 Upper Parliament Street.  The Post Office Directory of Derbyshire & Nottinghamshire, 1855, listed Thomas Worth, surgeon, Middle Pavement, Nottingham.  Wright's Nottingham Directory, 1858, listed Thomas Worth, surgeon, at High Pavement, Nottingham.


Those identified as from Hull were

Ayre, Fred(erick) T
Presumably Frederic Fearnley Ayre of Hull, then a 19-year-old attorney’s clerk (later a solicitor in his own right), son of William Ayre, solicitor, and clerk to the justices, and Mary Jane Eyre, the family then living at 1 Leicester Place, West Sculcoates, Hull [1851 census].  It seems probable that Frederic worked for his father.  F. White’s General Directory of Kingston-upon-Hull, and York, 1851, listed William Ayre, junior, solicitor, and clerk to the borough magistrates (the magistrates’ clerk’s office being at 14 Bowlalley Lane), living at Leicester Place.

Hands, Wm. (assuming “Mands” to be a typo)
Quite possibly William Hands of East Parade, Heworth Road, York

Howlett, E
Probably Elisha Howlett, described in F. White’s General Directory of Kingston-upon-Hull, and York, 1851, as a carver and guilder, of 40 Savile Street, Hull;

Kirk(e), JW/TW
Presumably Samuel Wharton Kirke (b. 1813/14 at Irby, Lincs.), hosier, living at 72 Lister Street, Hull.  He was listed as secretary of Hull Chess Club in 1854 [Chess Player’s Chronicle, 1854 monthly listing of chess clubs].

Lucas, E
Presumably the E. Lucas present as treasurer of Hull Chess Club at the 1847 YCA meeting in Hull.  Probably Edward Lucas, listed in F. White’s General Directory of Kingston-upon-Hull, and York, 1851, as a gold and silversmith, living at 7 Ocean Place.


There was one person from Lincolnshire, outside Caistor, who was definitely a serious chess-player:

Doughty, Chas.
Charles Doughty of Lincoln, who attended the 1868 West Yorkshire Chess Association meeting.  White’s History, Gazetteer & Directory of Lincolnshire, 1856, listed Charles Doughty as High-Constables for the Lincoln parishes.  Akrill’s City of Lincoln Directory, 1857, listed a Charles Doughty, merchant, at 201 High Street, Lincoln.  It also lists Joseph George Doughty and Son, seed-crushers, bone, cake, coal and seed merchants, 201 High Street.  This suggests Charles was the “Son”.  Joseph George Doughty’s home was at 45 Bailgate, which looks like being Charles Doughty’s home as well.  Lincoln Chess Club seems to have been formed in 1847 or 1848; Charles Doughty was its secretary in 1854.


There were nine people from Lincolnshire, outside Caistor (apart from the wider Skipworth family), who probably could not be thought of as serious chess-players, though a minority of them may well have had a significant interest, as Charles Doughty did:

Banks, Chas.
Charles E. Banks (b. 1831/32 at Louth) attorney’s articled clerk, son of John T. Banks and Susanne M. Banks who lived at Stewton House, Stewton Road, Louth, Lincolnshire.  John T. Banks (b. 1806/07, at Boston, Lincs.) was “Justice of the Peace and graduated MD of the university of Edinburgh” [1851 census];

Iles, Miss M(argaret), and

Iles, Miss T
Miss Margaret Iles, one of the daughters (b. 1829/30) of John Iles, farmer of Binbrook, and wife Elizabeth;
Miss T Iles (?), presumably a relative of the preceding (no sister apparent with initial “T”, initial possibly incorrect);

Macgregor, Rev Sir Charles, Bart, of Cabourne:
Rev. Sir Charles Macgregor, Bart, of Cabourne, rural dean and rector of Swallow, of Swallow Rectory;

Marshall, John D, and

Marshall, Thos.
The 1851 census lists these as two Sheffield-born brothers who were landed proprietors, despite being only 23 and 29 years of age respectively, living at Nettleton with 5 servants. 
John Marshall was named without a middle initial in the 1851 census, and as “Head” despite being the younger.  He may have returned at some stage to Sheffield, where the name is too common to make tracking him down very easy. 
Thomas Marshall may have stayed on in Lincolnshire, as a Thomas Marshall died in Q2 of 1910, aged 87, at Spilsby.

Steventon/Stevenson, Rev. H(I)
Rev. Henry James Steventon (born
1821, Osgodby, Lincs.) of the School House, Moulton, Lincs. (near Spalding), but only recently returned from spell in Jamaica.  Cambridge-educated, though Venn lacks any detail of life after getting BA in 1844.

Turner, Rev Sam(uel) and

Turner, Mrs Margaret
Rev. Samuel Turner, AM, rector of St John the Baptist, Nettleton, of Nettleton Rectory;
Mrs. Margaret Turner, wife of above.


There were seventeen people from Caistor itself (apart from members of the Skipworth family).  It seems unlikely that many of these had any great interest in chess.

Bell, Rev. T, and

Bell, Miss Elizabeth, and

Bell, Miss Frances, and

Bell, Miss K
A John Tesh Bell is listed in Pigot and Co.’s National Commercial Directory for 1828-9 lists, under “Grocers and tea dealers”, at Market Place, Caistor, and was presumably the John Tesh Bell born to Joseph and Frances Bell, and baptised at Caistor on 17th January 1786.  The same parents had on older son, Dickson Bell, baptised 13th November 1779.  Pigot and Co.’s National Commercial Directory for 1828-9 lists Dixon Bell as a wine and spirit merchant of Market Place, Caistor.  If we assume “Dickson” was the same as “Dixon”, then this Dickson/Dixon Bell would presumably be the one described by Venn as father of a younger John Tesh Bell who was born 1808/09 and became a cleric.  Dixon Bell was a wine and brandy merchant of Caistor according to a leaflet held by Lincolnshire Archive [1 DIXON 12/3/15 1836].  (An application to transfer an alehouse licence from Joseph Robert Atkinson to Dixon Bell was made on 4 May 1843 [Lincolnshire Archives CAISTOR PAR/13/11/2]). These four Bells are therefore presumably members of the family of John Tesh Bell, the grocer, and/or Dixon Bell the wine and brandy merchant.  Dixon Bell appears to have died at Caistor in 1864.
Rev. John Tesh Bell, born 1808, son of Dixon Bell, started as a pensioner at Peterhouse, Cambridge, on 30/06/1830, age 22;
Miss Elizabeth Bell, born 1814/15 at Caistor (sister of John Tesh Bell?);
Miss Francis Bell, born roughly 1815/16 at Caistor (sister of John Tesh Bell?);
Miss K Bell, less identifiable.

Daubney, JH
Joseph Heaford Daubney, solicitor, clerk to Board of Guardians, assurance agent, of Church Street, Caistor (b. 1812/1813 at Great Grimsby, d. Q4 1865 at Caistor);

Dixon, JG, and

Dixon, TP
James Green Dixon -
either the farmer; later corn coal and seed merchant, Market Place, Caistor (b. 1790/91 at Holton-le-Moor, died 27/02/1879 at Caistor);
or (more probably) his son of the same name (b. 1832/33 at Caister);
Thomas Parkinson Dixon (b. 1827/28, d. Q1 1906 at Caistor) of Market Place, Caistor, son of the above James Green Dixon, senior;

Ellis, W(illia)m
William Ellis LLD, unmarried schoolmaster of Butter Market, Caistor (b. 1802/03 in Scotland);

Jameson, Geo(rge)
George Jameson (b. 1812/13 at Jarrow, Co. Durham), medical practitioner of Market Place, Caistor;

Kirby, Thos.
Thomas Kirby, manager at Smith, Ellison & Co, bankers, & agent;

Macintosh, John J, and

Macintosh, Mrs
Dr John Innis Macintosh, MD, surgeon, of Market Row, Caistor;
Mrs. Macintosh, wife of the above;

Maclean, Rev H., and

Maclean, Mrs, Caistor
Rev. Hippisley Maclean (b. 1807/08 at Sudbury, Suffolk), Cambridge-educated vicar of Caistor
Mrs Charlotte Maclean (b. 1811/12 at Greenwich, Kent), wife of the above;

Padley, Rev AF, Caistor
Rev Augustus Frederick Padley, rector of Greetwell, Lincs;

Smith, Chas.,

Smith, JA, and

Smith, Miss
Charles Smith (b. 1799/1800 at Long Drax, Yorks.), attorney, widower with seven children, all born at Caistor, and
John A Smith (b. 1833/34 at Caistor), 17-year-old eldest son of Charles Smith, and
probably Maria Smith (b. 1832/33 at Caistor), 18-year-old eldest daughter of Charles Smith, next oldest daughter being only 8.


There were five of the Moortown family of Skipworths, who were distantly related to the organiser, Arthur Bolland Skipworth:

Skipworth, George, sen,

Skipworth, Mrs (as distinct from Mrs. P. Skipworth in Hull Advertiser),

Skipworth, Miss S,

Skipworth, Miss A,

Skipworth, GB (George, jun), and

Skipworth, James G.
George Skipworth, senior, was Lord of the Manor of South Kelsey, Moortown House, Moortown (
b. 1790/91);
Mrs. Emily Skipworth, wife of George Skipworth, senior, is probably the uninitiallied Mrs. Skipworth in the Hull report;
Susanna Maria Skipworth, baptised 04 Nov 1824, daughter of George Skipworth, senior;
Ann Elizabeth Skipworth, baptised 08 Jul 1830, daughter of George Skipworth, senior;
(the above four lived at Moortown House, Moortown [1851 census], but the following two had left home by then)
George Borman Skipworth,
baptised 09 Jan 1820, son of George Skipworth, senior, ;
James Green Skipworth,
baptised 29 Jan 1826, son of George Skipworth, senior.


There were three of organiser Arthur Skipworth’s immediate family, including himself:

Skipworth, AB (Arthur),

Skipworth, Mrs P, and

Skipworth, Miss Julia
Arthur Bolland Skipworth, Cambridge undergraduate who with his mother and some siblings lived at Caistor;
Mrs. Philip/Lucy Skipworth, Lucy, mother of Arthur Bolland Skipworth, widow of Philip Skipworth;
Miss Julia Owen Skipworth, sister of Arthur Bolland Skipworth.


Less readily identifiable are

Hands/Mands/Mauds, Wm.
Seemingly possibly another Hull player, judging by his position in the lists, but F. White’s General Directory of Kingston-upon-Hull, and York, 1851, lists none of these surnames in Hull, though all three versions exist as surnames.  Perhaps more local.

Johnson, Miss
Without initials, location, or accompanying fuller-named person of the same surname, difficult to identify; probably local, accompanied by friends.




Main sources (in addition to those stated in the text):

1851 census, and directories of Lincolnshire and Hull.





Copyright © 2012 & 2013 Stephen John Mann

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

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