Yorkshire Chess History



Charles Lewis Brook











Made in Yorkshire



Sheffield Sub-Site



26/05/1855, Meltham


15/07/1855, St. James, Meltham Mills




St. James, Meltham Mills


Non-Chess Life


The wider Brook family had a long association with Meltham, near Huddersfield.  The thread mills near Meltham which give Meltham Mills its name were those of Jonas Brook and his brothers James and Joseph, who operated as Jonas Brook & Brothers.  There are various buildings and institutions in the area which are attributable to the benefaction of the Brook family.


The parents of Charles Lewis Brook were Charles John Brook (born 1829/30, Meltham) and Mary Brook (nee Jones, born 1835/36, Meltham, daughter of the Rev. Lewis Jones).  This couple had the following three children, all born at Meltham:


Charles Lewis Brook

born 26/05/1855

Ruth Mary Brook

born 1856/57

Esther Frost Brook

born 1857/58


Entry no. 358 in the baptism register of St. James’s church, Meltham Mills, records the baptism of Charles Lewis Brook, son of Charles John Brook, master threadster, and Mary Brook, of Thickhollins [Hall], on 15/07/1855, by James Brook, we one assumes was a member of the extended Brook family.  (There is a short indecipherable word between “master” and “threadster”, which seems to add nothing to the meaning.)  The baby’s date of birth, 26/05/1855, was added in the left margin.  Charles Lewis Brook clearly got his middle name from his maternal grandfather, the Rev. Lewis Jones.


Thickhollins Hall had been the Brook “family seat” for some time.


The father, Charles John Brook, died on 17/02/1857, at the age of 27, while all his three children were very young, and was buried in the graveyard of St. James, Meltham Mills.  In the church is a memorial window to him.  Christ Church in the nearby village of Helme, was built by the Brook family in memory of Charles John Brook, and the foundation stone was laid by Charles Lewis Brook when he was three.


The 1861 census accordingly found Mary Brook as a 26-year-old widowed mother of three young children, including 5-year-old Charles Lewis Brook, living at Harewood Lodge, Meltham, with three servants.  Harewood lodge remained the home of Charles Lewis Brook for the rest of his life.


Charles, who was apparently often known as Lewis to distinguish him from the various relatives called Charles, was sent to Uppingham School.  The 1871 census accordingly found him as a boarding pupil at Uppingham School on High Street, Uppingham, Rutland.  His place of birth was given as Almondbury, in which parish his place of birth was in fact situated up to 1845 when Meltham Mills became a parish in its own right.


He left Uppingham school in 1874, and went to Trinity College, Oxford, where he secured an MA.


From Oxford he returned to Meltham to work in the family business.  the 1881 census thus found 25-year-old Charles Lewis Brook, “BA Oxford, cotton spinner”, living at Harewood Lodge with unmarried sister Ruth Mary Brook and three servants.  Mother Mary was presumably living elsewhere.


A relevant 1891 census entry is elusive, but he will have still been living at Harewood Lodge.  At some stage around now, sister Ruth Mary Brook married an Arthur Brook (1857-1888), presumably a cousin or similar.


One of his hobbies was meteorology, and on 18/02/1891, he was elected a Life Fellow of the Royal Meteorological Society.


1896 saw the amalgamation of Jonas Brook & Bros with other thread manufacturers to form J. & P. Coates, Ltd, of which Charles Lewis Brook was a director.


Besides being a member of Huddersfield Chess Club, he was also involved with Meltham Mills Cricket Club, and reputedly could throw a cricket ball well with either hand.  The field in which he achieved the greatest heights, however, was that of amateur astronomy (puns intended).  He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society in January 1899, and became a member of the British Astronomical Association in June 1899.


His sisters shared his interest in astronomy, and widowed sister Ruth accompanied him on a trip to Algiers to observe the total eclipse of the sun in May 1900.


In January 1910 he started a period of twelve years as the third director of the British Astronomical Association’s Variable Star Section, variable stars being, apparently, something of a speciality for him, in particular the variable star SS Cygni (now believed to be a dwarf nova, apparently).


The 1911 census found his mother, 76-year-old Mary Brook, living with him at Harewood Lodge.  55-year-old Charles Lewis Brook was still unmarried, and still a sewing thread manufacturer.




Charles Lewis Brook of Harewood Lodge, Meltham, died on 09/05/1939, aged 83, and was buried at St. James’s, Meltham Mills.  Probate was granted to Thomas White Hirst, cotton sewing thread manufacturer, and Reginald James Brook CBE, DSO, colonel in HM army.  He left effects of £240,222 7s 1d.  (Click here for images of the grave.)


The graves of his parents are nearby, the three being in a part of the churchyard which has been allowed to fall into a pretty poor state.




He played occasionally for Huddersfield in the Woodhouse Cup, though usually only in home matches.  He played in at least one Woodhouse match in 1899-00, at least two in 1901-02, at least one in 1902-03, at least one in 1903-04, and at least one in 1907-08.


He played for Huddersfield against North Manchester on 24/01/1903.


He also turned out for inter-county matches, e.g. on 02/03/1900 v Lancashire, on 23/03/1901 v Lancashire, and 18/01/1902 v Cumberland.





Copyright © 2013 Stephen John Mann

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

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