Yorkshire Chess History
Thomas Atkinson Knowles
Thomas Atkinson Knowles was born in 1841 and baptised at Christchurch, Harrogate, on 26/10/1841. His parents were John Knowles (born 1810/11, York) and Harriot/Harriet Knowles (born 1809/10, Kilvington, Lincs.). John Knowles’s occupation given in the baptism register is difficult to decipher, but might be something like “winier”, given that later on he is recorded as a wine & spirit merchant.
“Harriet” seems to be the preferred spelling of the mother’s name, yet “Harriot” appears occasionally. Her gravestone calls her “Harriot”, but the adjacent gravestone of her daughters who died in 1852 calls her “Harriet”.
John and Harriet Knowles had at least the following seven children, all born in Harrogate:
The 1851 census found the Knowles family of two parents and the above seven children living at 20 Parliament Street, Harrogate, with two domestic servants. The enumerator seemed to spell “Harriet” as “Harriot”, but the “e” seems more generally used. Also, Thomas’s middle name was omitted, but such omissions were very common in census returns.
On 03/10/1852 sisters Ann Mary Knowles and Jane Knowles both died, presumably of some disease, respectively aged 5 years and 10 months, and 4 years and 3 months. They were buried in the churchyard at Christ Church, Harrogate.
White’s Directory of Leeds, Bradford &c, 1854, listed John Knowles, wine & spirit merchant, Parliament Street, Harrogate.
Mother Harriet Knowles died 05/01/1861, and was buried at Christ Church, Harrogate, in a grave to the left of that of her daughters who had died in1852.
The 1861 census found 19-year-old Harrogate-born Thomas A. Knowles lodging in Bradford with Maria S. Britton.
Father John Knowles died 13/09/1867, and was buried at Christ Church, Harrogate, in the save grave as his wife.
Thomas Atkinson Knowles died on 28th March 1870 at the age of only 28. He appears not to have been buried in his parents’ grave, the inscription on which reads merely as follows:
In Memory of
WIFE OF JOHN KNOWLES,
WINE MERCHANT, HARROGATE,
WHO DEPARTED THIS LIFE JANRY 5TH. 1861
AGED 51 YEARS.
ALSO OF THE ABOVE JOHN KNOWLES
WHO DIED SEPR THE 13TH 1867,
aged 56 years
However, the grave to the left of that of his parents is now unmarked, so could be his.
Probate records described Thomas Atkinson Knowles as a wine and spirit merchant of Harrogate. Probate was granted on 16th June 1870 to his sister and sole executrix Lucinda Knowles. He left effects of under £600.
He played for Bradford against Huddersfield in the two-match contest in April 1864, in the follow-up match in November 1864, and in the match in April 1865. This was at a time then there was probably no chess club in Harrogate, necessitating travel to Bradford to find a chess club of any size.
He attended the West Yorkshire Chess Association annual meeting of 1867.
Copyright © 2012 & 2013 Stephen John Mann
Census information is copyright of The National Archive, see UK Census Information