Yorkshire Chess History
Censuses imply John Reoch was born in 1848/49, while his age at death implies he was born in 1847/48, thus, if both are correct, he was born in 1848, more specifically from 06/04/1848 to 18/11/1848. His place of birth was often given in English censuses merely as “Scotland”, but in 1891 it was given as Glamis, Scotland, and in 1911 (by the man himself) as Glamis, Forfarshire. Glamis is also mentioned on his gravestone. Glamis is a village in the former Forfarshire, now Tayside, Scotland, about 10 miles north of Dundee, and famous for Glamis Castle, historical seat of the Lord Glamis (including Shakespeare’s portrayal of Macbeth), which is nearby and was the birthplace of Princess Margaret.
John Reoch is difficult to trace prior to 1881. He first becomes noticeable in Sheffield when he married Clara Furniss (born 1851/52, Sheffield), the marriage being registered in the first quarter of 1881, at Ecclesall Bierlow, Sheffield. The couple had five children, all born in Sheffield, of whom only four survived:
Margaret’s middle name is difficult to account for; Greenhill is one of the southern suburbs of Sheffield.
The 1881 census found John and Clara living at 39 William Street, Sheffield. John was by occupation a commercial traveller for a bridle merchant.
As was often the case with commercial travellers, having married, John switched to an office job. Thus Kelly’s Sheffield directory for 1883 recorded John Resch (sic - soon seen to be a misprint) as a cashier living at 148 Nottingham Street, Sheffield. Then White’s directory of Sheffield for 1884 clarified the matter, recording John Reoch (spelt correctly) as a clerk living at 148 Nottingham Street, Sheffield.
By 1887, the family had moved again. Slater’s Directory of Sheffield and Rotherham with their Vicinities, 1887, listed John Reoch, manager, living at 26 Andover Street, Sheffield. The word “manager” may reflect a change of job.
The 1891 census found John and Clara had moved to 26 Andover Street, Street, Sheffield, with Alexander, Winifred and Colin. Margaret was probably with her maternal grandparents at the time. John now had an office job, being a brewer’s cashier.
Kelly’s Directory of Sheffield & Rotherham, and Neighbourhood, 1893, listed John Reoch, manager, at 26 Andover Street, as did White’s directories for 1895-96 and 1898.
The 1901 census found the parents and all four offspring still living at 26 Andover Street. John was still a brewer’s cashier.
In about 1901/02, the family moved house again. White’s directory of Sheffield for 1902 listed John Reoch, cashier, at 205 Rock Street, Sheffield. The same address was carried through in the 1905 and 1907 directories.
White’s 1905 directory still listed John Reoch as a cashier, yet it also listed the coal merchants’ firm of Black and Reoch, Midland Railway coal depots, Westgate, Rotherham. It seems White’s staff had perhaps yet to make the connection and register John Reoch’s change in occupation.
White’s 1907 directory gave a significant change in John’s occupation, listing him as a partner in the coal merchants’ firm Black and Reoch, which had its depot at the Midland Railway coal depots, Station Yard, Westgate, Rotherham. “Black” was Thomas Black, whose home was given in Kelly’s 1911 Sheffield & Rotherham directory as Balgownie, Hathersage, Derbyshire.
This change in occupation made it expedient to move home to Rotherham.
The 1911 census found John and Clara, with all four children, living at 3 Collegiate Terrace, Moorgate Road, Rotherham.
John Reoch died on 18/11/1919, aged 71, at 3 Collegiate Terrace, Moorgate Road, Rotherham,. Probate was granted to Clara Reoch, widow. He left £2,228 9s. 2d.
The Sheffield Daily Telegraph of 19/11/1919 carried a notice of his death.
He was buried in Rotherham’s Moorgate Cemetery. The grave inscription reads:
In loving memory of John Reoch
the dearly beloved husband of
who died 18/11/1919
in his 72nd year.
Also of the above named
who died 22/04/1930
in her 79th year.
“J. Reoch” was evident as a member of Sheffield’s Arundel Chess Club as early as 1883.
He played in the 1883 Athenaeum v Rest of Sheffield &DCA match.
He was one of those playing in the 1883 simultaneous display by H. E. Bird.
He played for Sheffield in the Woodhouse Cup in 1885-86, Sheffield’s first season in the Woodhouse Cup, when the team won the Cup.
He played for Arundel in the Sheffield league from its start in 1893-94, onwards.
Copyright © 2013 Stephen John Mann
Census information is copyright of The National Archive, see UK Census Information