Yorkshire Chess History



Rev. William Ernest Bolland











Made in Yorkshire



Sheffield Sub-Site



26/05/1847, New Plymouth, Taranaki district, New Zealand




29/05/1919, Headington district of Oxford




Non-Chess Life


William Ernest Bolland’s parents were the Rev. William Bolland (born 11/12/1819, Swineshead, Boston, Lincs.) and Jane Bolland (née Wright, 1815/16, Stoke Newington, Middlesex, daughter of merchant Job Wright and his wife Dorothy) who married in 1842, in the Edmonton district of London.


The William Bolland had been educated at Sherbourne School, Dorset, and then University College Oxford, and was ordained in 1842.  In 1843 he was sent to be the first Anglican vicar of St. Mary’s, New Plymouth, in the Taranaki district (like a county) of New Zealand’s North Island.  With him went his wife Jane, brother-in-law Phillip Wright, and one Henry Govett who became the first Archdeacon of Taranaki.  Under the Rev. William Bolland’s supervision, the original parish church was built, it being opened for worship in 1846.


William and Jane’s first (and as it turned out only) child, William Ernest Bolland, was born in the stone vicarage beside the river Te Henui on 26/05/1847.  Three days later, on 29/05/1847, father the Rev. William Bolland died of what was believed to be typhus fever.  He was buried there at New Plymouth, but a memorial inscription was added to the side of his father’s grave at St Mary the Virgin, Cheshunt, Herts.  Jane Bolland stayed in New Zealand with her son William Ernest Bolland for a further two and a half years of so, then returned to England.


The 1851 census found the mother and son living with the mother’s parents, Job and Dorothy Wright, at “Friern Watch” (?!) somewhere in Finchley, London.


The 1861 census found 13-year-old scholar William Ernest Bolland living with an unmarried uncle, Henry Bolland, and an unmarried aunt, Margaret Burn Bolland, at Marchamley, 6 miles SW of Market Drayton, in an area known as Hawkstone, which included Hawkstone Hall, the seat of Rowland Hill, 2nd Viscount Hill.  Uncle Henry was chaplain to the Viscount.  Aunt Margaret was a share-holder (i.e. had income from shares).  It must have been through uncle Henry and that William Ernest Bolland met his future wife, a sister of the 2nd Viscount.


William Ernest Bolland was educated at Marlborough College.  From there, he went to Merton College Oxford, matriculating on 19/10/1867 (a little late at age 20, hence called a “postmaster”).


William’s mother, Jane Bolland, died on 12/12/1870, at Tunbridge Wells.  A memorial inscription was added to her husband’s grave in New Zealand.  (After William’s father’s above-mentioned friend Henry Govett died on 04/10/1903, he was interred in the same grave.)


The 1871 census found William E Bolland visiting the home of two fellow Merton undergraduates, sons of solicitor Frederick I Nicholl, at 120 Harley Street, Marylebone, London.


While at Merton College he played for his college “eleven”, but chess activity seems not in eveidence.


His B.A. was conferred upon him at Oxford on 15/01/1872.


William E Bolland of Merton College Oxford married Margaret Hill on 31/01/1872, at Sutton, Bedfordshire.  The bride was born 1847/48, in Madras, India, daughter of the late Colonel John Hill, Commissary-General of the Madras Army.  She was also sister to the above 2nd Viscount Hill, who had succeeded to the title due to the 1s Viscount (brother of Colonel John Hill) being without issue.  The wedding was conducted by the Rev. D. Wright, vicar of Stoke Bishop, Bristol, who was presumably an uncle on the groom’s mother’s side, or similar.


The couple in the course of time had the following children:


Herbert William Bolland

born 1872, Oxford

Margaret Jane Marie Bolland

born 1874, Oxford

Ernest Walter Bolland

born 1875, Bedford

Arthur Philip Bolland

born 1877, Bedford

Constance Muriel Bolland

born 1879, Bedford

Henry Archibald Bolland

born 1881/82, Worcester

Percival David Bolland

born 1888, Worcester

John Wulston Charles Bolland

born 1891/92, Worcester


William had an M.A. degree conferred on him on 23/04/1874.


After graduating, William had initially taken up coaching undergraduates.


On 23/05/1875, William Ernest Bollard was ordained a Deacon by the Bishop of Ely, at Ely Cathedral, and licensed to the curacy of St. Paul’s, Bedford.  William and Margaret accordingly moved with Herbert and Margret junior to Bedford.


While in Bedford, William collaborated with a friend called Andrew Lang in producing a translation of Aristotle’s Politics (books 1, 3, 4 and 7).  William did the translation, while Andrew Lang wrote introductory essays.  In was published in 1877, in London, by Longmans, Green.


One imagines life in the church did not appeal to William that much, and he turned to the other profession often preferred by those who had been ordained.  Thus, in 1879, William took up the headmastership of King’s Cathedral School, Worcester, a post he held right through to 1896.


The 1881 census found William, wife Margaret and five children living at 6 College Green, Worcester.  The household included five servants.


The 1891 census found the Bolland family now living in the Cathedral school itself, effectively next door to where they lived before.


In 1896, William Ernest Bolland shifted his career back to that of the church, and took up the cure of the village of Embleton, Northumberland, seven miles north of Alnwick, which was a major change in various aspects of life.


The 1901 census found parents and four children who remained at home living at Embleton Vicarage.  Four years later came the next move.


On 15/04/1905, William Ernest Bolland “was instituted to the Rectory and Parish Church of Denton, Norfolk, on the presentation of his Grace the Archbishop of Canterbury.”


The 1911 census found William, wife Margaret, daughter Constance, a boarder and three servants living at Denton Rectory.  By this time one of their eight children had died.


Chess records find William still in Norfolk as late as 1914, but it would appear there was one more change of home, back to Oxford, since he died in Headington, Oxford.  It may be that he retired from the church, and that that occasioned a move back from rural live to city life.




The Rev. William Ernest Bolland died on 29/05/1919 [probate], in the Headington district of Oxford [death reg.].




There seems no newspaper documentation of chess activity on the part of the Rev. William Ernest Bolland prior to 1881.  While at Merton College he played for his college “eleven”, but chess activity seems not in evidence, and chess activity while in Bedford is not evident either.


He was recorded as active in Worcester and Worcestershire chess over the period 1881 to 1896.  When he was about to leave Worcester, a special farewell gathering of Worcester Chess Club was held on 01/08/1896, at the Guildhall, when a presentation was made to him of the book of the recent Hastings tournament.


While at Worcester he played in both North of England v South matches, of 1893 and 1894.


Opportunities for chess in rural Embleton, Northumberland, seem to have been limited.  Perhaps he played friendly correspondence chess.


Over the period 1906 to 1914, he is recorded as representing Norfolk over the board and at correspondence chess.





Copyright © 2020 Stephen John Mann

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

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