Yorkshire Chess History



Thomas Joseph Kelly











Made in Yorkshire



Sheffield Sub-Site



16/12/1870, Manchester




13/12/1947, Manchester




Identity of the Chess-Player


From about 1901 to at least 1921, “T. Kelly” is apparent as a Manchester chess-player.  With reference to him in connection with the 2nd Class section at the 1905 BCF Congress, he is given a rare second initial “T”.  People in Manchester answering to “T. Kelly” were numerous, and seemingly all with the first name “Thomas”.  If the chess-player was “Thomas J. Kelly”, then there are still versions with “James”, “John” and “Joseph” to choose from.  This Thomas Joseph Kelly was well-rooted in Manchester and on the basis of various personal circumstances seems most likely to be the chess-player “T. Kelly”.  His middle initial or name cropped up in non-chess life fairly rarely, as it did in chess records.


Thus this Thomas Joseph Kelly has the “feel” of being the chess-player, but a definite link, like an address or full name in chess records, is needed to be sure.


Non-Chess Life


The parents of Thomas Joseph Kelly were telegraph clerk Edward Kelly (born 1844/45, Ireland) and Sarah Kelly (née Wood, 1845/46, Buxton, Derbyshire) who had at least the following children, all born in Manchester:


John Edmund Kelly

born 1867/68

Mary Ann Kelly

born 1868/69

Thomas Joseph Kelly

born 16/12/1870

Charles Patrick Kelly

born 1872/73

Sarah Ellen Kelly

born 1874

Clara Julia Kelly

born 09/01/1877

Ernest Edward Kelly

born 1879/80

George William Kelly

born 1881/82


The 1871 census found 3-month-old “Thomas J. Kelly” with his parents and two older siblings at 50 Sherwood Street, Manchester.


The 1881 census found 10-year-old scholar “Thos. J. Kelly” with his parents and six siblings at 14 Rushton Street, Manchester.  Significantly, father Edward Kelly was apparently secretary or similar of a chess club.


Father Edward Kelly died in 1881 at the age of 40.  In time widow Mary Ann Kelly remarried in 1885, in Manchester, to police constable Thomas Vickery (born 1841/42, Stamford, Somerset).  These two had no children.  The Vickery/Kelly family remained together at the Kelly home in Rushton Street.


The 1891 census found 20-year-old newspaper reporter “Thomas Kelly” with step-father, mother (now called Mary Ann Vickery), and siblings still at 14 Rushton Street.


The 1901 census found 30-year-old professional Thomas Joseph Kelly to be a shorthand writer (working on his own account) living with step-father, mother, and siblings still at 14 Rushton Street.  Thomas Vickery was now retired.  John was not employed.  Mary and Charles were telegraphists. Sarah was a milliner.  Clara was a school teacher.  Ernest was a reporter.  George was a shorthand clerk.


The 1911 census found the family had moved to 35 Smedley Road, Cheetham, Manchester, now with only six of the children, Sarah and Ernest having seemingly left home.  Occupations were essentially the same, though Thomas Vickery was now employed as a shorthand writer in a legal firm.


The 1939 register found journalist “Thomas Kelly” and assistant schoolmistress sister “Clara Kelly” living at 35 Smedley Road, Manchester.




Thomas Joseph Kelly (“otherwise Thomas Edmund Joseph [Kelly]” per probate records), of 35 Smedley Road, Manchester, died on 13/12/1947, 3 days short of his 77th birthday.  Administration of his estate was granted to sister Clara Julia Kelly.  He left £1,412 1s 9d, roughly equivalent to £46,282 in modern terms.




He was active in Manchester chess from 1901 or before, to the start of the First World War, and presumably thereafter, seemingly invariably referred to as “T. Kelly”, without a middle initial.


He played in the 2nd Class tournament of the 1905 BCF congress in Southport, when he was listed as “T J Kelly (Manchester)”.


He played in the British Championship proper at the 1907 BCF congress at Crystal Palace, when he was listed merely as T Kelly (Manchester), Crystal Palace 6th/7th, out of 12


He won the Manchester Chess Club Championship in 1907, as T Kelly, and possibly in other years.


He played for Lancashire against Yorkshire in 1920.


He played in the 1921 NCCU congress in Manchester.





Copyright © 2020 Stephen John Mann

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

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