Yorkshire Chess History



“Hinchliff”, “Hinchliffe”, “Hinchcliff” and “Hinchcliffe”











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Identifying people with names reported as “Hinchliff”, “Hinchliffe”, “Hinchcliff”, “Hinchcliffe” or something else similar, is fraught with problems.


At the outset, there is the problem that newspaper reports frequently confuse the names “Hinchliff”, “Hinchliffe”, “Hinchcliff” and “Hinchcliffe”, all of which exists as common enough surnames, and to these can be added forms such as “Hinchlife” which are more obviously typographical errors.


There is even a gravestone in Hepworth which, having mentioned the deceased 11-year-old “Martha daughter of Mary and Charles Hinchliff”, bears the subsequently added reference “Also the above Mary Hinchliffe” who died four years later.  So the problem arose with monumental masons just as it did with newspaper publishers and census enumerators.


Where two initials exist it is often easy to work out an identity if the surname is none too common in the locality, but the race in Hinch(c)liff(e)s in the vicinity of Huddersfield is so great that without specific detail, such as address as a club secretary, or a contemporary biographical write-up, then identification with only a single common initial to go on is here impossible.


An understanding of the geography of the semi-rural and rural environs of Huddersfield helps to understand some of what follows. 

Huddersfield is a major town with a long-established chess-playing tradition.

Honley is a town 3 miles south of Huddersfield,

Holmfirth is town a further 2 miles south of Huddersfield on the road through Honley.

Hepworth is a village 2 miles south-east of Holmfirth.

Meltham is about 2 to 3 miles W of Honley, and 5 miles south-west of Huddersfield.

Dewsbury is 10 to 15 miles ENE of Huddersfield and much nearer Wakefield.


The dramatis personae falling under this heading include the following:


Charles Henry Hinchliff

C. H. Hinchcliffe (born 1914, Hepworth; died 1987, death registered in the Aberconwy diistrict) played once for Huddersfield in 1924-25 Woodhouse Cup, but probably played more frequently for the 2nd team, in the I.M.Brown.

Martyn Griffiths, while compiling the history of Llandudno Chess Club, discovered that a C. H. Hinchcliffe had been North Wales champion.  Contact with a grandson of Charles Henry Hinchliff revealed that this was a member of a Hepworth family who had for generations been local postmasters, and that Charles Henry Hinchliff had been a keen member of Huddersfield Chess Club.  This facilitates easy identification of the Huddersfield player C. H. Hinchliff, and suggests possible identities for E. Hinchliff(e) and J E Hinch(c)liff(e).


It transpires that Charles Henry Hinchliff bought a post office business in Llanfairfechan, on Colwyn Bay, about 12 miles from Llandudno, in 1932, the business being taken over by a son in 1946 on return from the War.


After the handover in 1946, Charles Henry Hinchliff returned to the Huddersfield area, where he resumed chess activity at Huddersfield Chess Club, though perhaps later returning to live in North Wales, as that is where he died.


J E Hinchcliffe

who won the Yorkshire Championship in 1920/21, being described as from Huddersfield in reports.  The name is as on the trophy and is quoted by Sergeant in A Century of British Chess, yet a grandson of the C. H. Hinchliff mentioned below believed his grandfather had been a past Yorkshire Champion, but there is no evidence of this being the case.  Nevertheless, the said C. H. Hinchliff had an older brother, John Elliott Hinchliff (born 1893, Hepworth; died 18/09/1936, Hepworth) who, albeit on the basis of circumstantial evidence, is believed to have been winner of the 1921 Yorkshire Championship; perhaps memories and traditions within the family got confused.


At the YCA AGM on 30/04/1921, it was recorded that the final of the Yorkshire Championship was not yet complete, but that “Mr. J. Hinchcliffe” of Huddersfield had reached the final and would play H A Burton or W J Berryman in the final.  However, write-ups of the result are elusive.  A report of the result of the final recorded that “J E Hinchliff” of Huddersfield had beaten W J Berryman of Barnsley.


“J. Hinchcliffe”, specified as being of Huddersfield, was listed as one of those due to represent Yorkshire against Sussex on 08/10/1921.


Assumed also to belong here is J. Hinchliffe who played in a simultaneous display by Atkins in Huddersfield, on 25/09/1915, spelt “J Hinchliffe”.


Similarly assumed also to belong here is J Hinchcliffe, who played twice on boardd 2 for Bradford in the 1919-20: Woodhouse Cup (with “c” and “e”).

Kelly’s Bradford directory dated 1917 listed “Jas. Lee Hinchcliffe”, “Joe Hinchcliffe”, “John Hinchcliffe”, and “John Henry Hinchcliffe”, any of whom might have been a chess-player, yet the fact he was on board 2 suggests he was an established strong player, hence seems likely to have been the J E Hinchliff who was 1920-21 Yorkshire Champion.  He might have been working as a teacher in Bradford at the time, as he had been a student teacher in 1911.


There were plenty of other people called J. Hinch(c)liff(e), though which if any played chess is not evident, and there seem none associated with the Huddersfield area, so the Yorkshire Champion and the “J. Hinchliff who played Atkins look very much as though they were John Elliott Hinchliff, as does the J Hinchcliffe who played twice on board 2 for Bradford.


E. Hinchliff(e), who played for instance
for Holmfirth against Huddersfield on 01/03/1884 (spelt “Hinchliffe”)
for Huddersfield against Bradford Exchange on 19/04/1884 (spelt “Hinchliffe”), and
the same player was probably the uninitialled “Hinchliffe” who played for a team called “Huddersfield & Holmfirth” against the Sheffield & District Chess Association on 27/09/1884.
It is quite feasible that the same player, possibly resident at Hepworth, appeared for Holmfirth in relatively minor local matches, but also for Huddersfield in more prestigious clashes at a higher level.


This player seems likely to have been either
Elliott Hinchliff (born 1850/51, Hepworth; died 05/07/1893, Hepworth), or
Edwin Hinchliff (born 1859/60, Hepworth).


These two were uncles of the above Charles Henry Hinchliff andJohn Elliott Hinchliff.


In 1881 these brothers were living with their father, farmer Joseph Hinchliff (born 1823, Hepworth; died 25/03/1885, Hepworth; given an erroneous final “e” in the census return, simply “Hinchliff” appearing on his gravestone at Hepworth), along with their mother and siblings.


H Hinch(c)liffe (possibly the same as the following one), who played for instance
H Hinchcliffe once for Huddersfield in 1911-12: Woodhouse Cup,

H Hinchliffe thrice for Huddersfield in 1919-20: Woodhouse Cup,

H Hinchcliffe four times for Huddersfield in 1924-25: Woodhouse Cup.

Too many Huddersfield candidates present themselves to even guess at the identity.

The possibility comes to mind that C. H. Hinchliff (above) was known as “Henry”, and that in earlier chess reports he was named merely with the single initial “H”.  No evidence is to hand of “H” and “CH” playing in the same match.


H Hinchcliffe (possibly the same as the above), who played for instance
twice for Dewsbury in the 1891-92 Woodhouse Cup.

There is no obvious reason why the above H. Hinch(c)life would be playing for Dewsbury.  Too many Dewsbury-resident candidates present themselves to even guess at an identity among them.


J. H. Hinch(c)liffe , who played for instance
for Honley against Huddersfield A team on 19/12/1894 (spelt “Hinchcliffe”), and
for Honey against Milnsbridge on 26/03/1898 (spelt “Hinchliffe”).

A James Henry “Hinchliffe”, born 1868/69 at Hopton (NE of Huddersfield), a bread-baker, was resident with his mother and sister at Honley in 1891, 1901 and 1911.


There seems no close link between this J. H. Hinch(c)liff(e) and the above Charles Henry Hinchliff and John Ellott Hinchliff.


Richard Hinchliff (born 1819, Netherthong; died 15/11/1866, Huddersfield) who attended the

West Yorkshire Chess Association annuam meetings of 1859 and 1864, and

Huddersfield Chess Club opening night of 1864-65 season.

Possibly distantly related to John Elliott Hinchliff and Charles Henry Hinchliff.





Copyright © 2021 Stephen John Mann

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

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