Yorkshire Chess History



Thomas Young Stokoe











Made in Yorkshire



Sheffield Sub-Site



05/01/1832, Newcastle‑upon‑Tyne



30/06/1905, Leeds


04/07/1905, Holbeck Cemetery


Thomas Young Stokoe around 1900.

Photograph: Copyright © T Y Stokoe 2013
reproduced by kind permission of Thomas Young Stokoe’s great-grandson, Thomas Young Stokoe.


Thomas Young Stokoe became a well-known member of Leeds chess club, but his earliest chess appearances were in his native Northumberland.  There were numerous people in the area called “Thomas Stokoe”, our man’s father being one.  The obituary of Thomas Young Stokoe makes it clear that the chess-playing “Thomas Stokoe” in Northumberland and Durham was the Thomas Young Stokoe who established himself in Leeds.


Life Before Leeds


Thomas Young Stokoe was born at Newcastle-upon-Tyne, to Thomas Stokoe, senior, (who had been born 1796/97 at Bellingham, Northumberland) and Catharine Stokoe (née Young, 1800/01, Gateshead, Durham).  Bellingham is about 15 miles NNW of Hexham.  There were other, presumably-related, easily-confusable Stokoes in Hexham itself.


The date of birth of Thomas Young Stokoe given on his gravestone is 05/01/1832.  This is wholly consistent with ages given in censuses and in the passenger list when he departed to South Africa.  Such ages would be expected to have been given by Thomas himself, and so presumably were correct.  Taking into account the dates when the censuses were taken, and the date of sailing for South Africa, the implied possible range for his date of birth is 23/09/1831 to 30/03/1832.


However, a letter from one of TYS’s sons to one of TYS’s grandsons gives the date of birth as 07/01/1831, which is inconsistent with the possible date range calculated on TYS’s own claims as to his age.  The age at death recorded in the death registration index was 74, consistent with death on 07/01/1831, but not 05/01/1832.  James White’s obituary gave the same age, as did that in the Yorkshire Weekly Post.  The person (possibly a son) giving the age of the deceased when registering the death could well have been the effective source of the ages given in obituaries, thus potentially all arising from a single mistake, if it was a mistake.


No baptism register entry, which might throw light on the matter of date of birth, seems yet to have come to light.  Until that happens, the weight of evidence seems to the present writer to support 05/01/1832, which was consistently supported by data from a period of fifty years, rather than 07/01/1831, which seems potentially based purely on what a relative believed in the pressure of the moment when registering the death soon after the event.  The gravestone would be inscribed somewhat later, when the date of birth could have been thought about more.


Thomas, senior, and Catharine had at least three children:


John Stokoe

born 1829, North Tynemouth, Northumberland

baptised 19/07/1829, Tynemouth, Northumberland

Thomas Young Stokoe

born 1832, Newcastle-upon-Tyne

Ann Stokoe

born 1837/38, Newcastle-upon-Tyne


The 1841 census found the above five living at Denton Chase, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, presumably no.1, as in 1851.  Father Thomas was described as an agricultural labourer.  The enumerator recorded their surname as “Stoke”.


The 1851 census found the five at 1 Denton Close, Newcastle-upon-Tyne.  The father was now described as a painter’s labourer; John was a poor-rate collector, Thomas was an apprentice tailor, and Ann was a “scholar at home”.


The marriage of Thomas Young Stokoe and Jane Douglas was registered at Newcastle-upon-Tyne in the second quarter of 1856.  Jane was born 1835/36, at Hebron, Northumberland, about 2 miles north of Morpeth.


Kelly’s Post Office Directory of Northumberland & Durham, 1858, listed Thomas Stokoe, tailor, 37 Ellison Street, Gateshead, Co. Durham.  He seems usually not to have had his “Y.” in directory entries.


Thomas Young Stokoe and his wife, Jane, had at least the following four children:


Joseph Douglas Stoke

born 1857/58, Gateshead

Catharine Young Stokoe

born 1859/60, Gateshead

Mary Douglas Stokoe

born 1861/62, Gateshead

Jane Douglas Stokoe

born 1865; died 1865


The 1861 census found 29-year-old Newcastle-born married Thomas Stokoe, living at 1 Melbourne Street, Gateshead.  The former apprentice tailor was now a tailor proper.  At the time of the census, his wife and eldest two children happened to be visiting his mother-in-law, 52-year-old widowed schoolmistress Mary Douglass [sic], at Cargill’s Court, Wingate, Durham.


The fourth child, Jane Douglas Stokoe, died the same year she was born, and her mother died later the same year. [1]


Thomas Young Stokoe married again on 15/07/1867, at Newcastle [1].  His second wife was Sarah Matthews Brown, who had been born 28/03/1849 [1], at Wingate, Co. Durham.  This couple had the following five children:


Thomas Pearson Stokoe

born 1867/68, Gateshead

Elizabeth Jane Stokoe

born 1869/70, Ulverston, Lancashire

Henry John Stoke

born September 1871; died 1872

Alfred Stokoe

born 1872/73, Leeds

Robert Brown Stokoe

born 1874/75, Leeds

Harry Stuart Stokoe

born 1876/77, Leeds


In 1869/70, Elizabeth J Stokoe was born at Ulverston, Lancashire, presumably at the home of relations of her mother.  The first chess record to hand of our man in Leeds was from 21/05/1870, so maybe the pregnant Jane Stokoe had been packed off to relatives while her husband was organising the move of their home from Gateshead to Leeds.  According to the obituary by James White, our man moved to Leeds “about 1870”.  His great-grandson confirms the year as 1870 [1].


The reason for the move from Gateshead is not clear.  His friend, chess-player James White, moved from Tyneside to Leeds around the same time.  Presumably one chose Leeds as his new abode because the other had moved there, but which one moved first and which followed is unclear.


In the 1871 census, the surname seems to have been recorded by the census enumerator as “Stoker”, and was so digitised.  Thomas and second wife Sarah were living at 18 Moorville Street, Hunslet, with Joseph D. Stokoe, Catherine Y. Stokoe, Mary D. Stokoe, Thomas P. Stokoe, and Elizabeth J. Stokoe.  Father Thomas was a tailor still.  Joseph was an errand boy.  Catherine and Mary were scholars.


Second wife, Sarah Matthews Stokoe, died of appendicitis in 1876. [1]


The marriage of Thomas Young Stokoe to third wife, Sarah Jane Waite, was registered at Leeds in the second quarter of 1880.  Sarah had been born 1855/56, at Ulverston, Lancashire.  It seems there may be a connection with the fact that his first wife gave birth to one of their children at Ulverston.


The 1881 census found Thomas Y. Stokoe, a tailor, and his wife, Sarah J. Stokoe, living at 30 South Mount Street, Leeds.  All of the children from the first marriage were still at home except Joseph.  21-year-old Catharine was a woollen weaver; 19-year-old Mary, though listed as our man’s daughter, was nevertheless listed as a domestic servant (i. e. she helped with the housekeeping and the upbringing of younger siblings); 13-year-old Thomas was a painter’s apprentice; 11-year-old Elizabeth, 8-year-old Alfred and 6-year-old Robert were scholars; 4-year-old Harry was not listed with any occupation.  The household also included 7-month-old Arthur Stokoe who was shown as a grandson of Thomas Young Stokoe.  It transpires this Arthur was an illegitimate son of Mary Douglas Stokoe.


South Mount Street seems no longer to exist, but was presumably near West Mount Street, Beeston Hill, Leeds, where the family later lived.


Gateshead-born 23-year-old Joseph Stokoe, son of our man, was listed in the 1881 census as a lithographic artist with a wife called Kate, living at 35 Crawford Street, Leeds.


Sarah had acquired eight stepchildren, yet Thomas and Sarah between them went on to produce at least three children to add to those eight:


Nora [or Laura] Eleanor Waite Stokoe

born 1882/83, Leeds

Frank Greaves Stokoe

born 1884/85, Leeds

Leah Agnes Stokoe

born 1886/87, Leeds


Daughter Catharine Stokoe, of Beeston Hill, got married at St. Peter’s, Leeds, on 02/07/1887, to Alfred Bartle, a labourer of Beeston Hill, and son of John Bartle, a miner.  W. B. Pearson officiated.  The witnesses were Enoch Bartle and Catharine’s sister Mary.  It’s clear that Mary didn’t normally use her middle name, as she signed herself “Mary Duglass Stokoe”.  When she in turn got married, she signed the register “Mary Douglas Stokoe”.  Jane Stokoe’s mother’s surname was “Douglass” in the 1861 census, so Mary perhaps had grounds for confusion.


Kelly's Directory of Leeds, 1888, listed Thomas Stokoe, tailor, at 30 South Mount Street, Leeds.


The obituary cited below mentioned that our man had spent a while in his later years in South Africa, but gives no explanation for this somewhat unexpected turn of events, or when it was.  There is, however, a record of 68-year-old “T. Y. Stockoe”, tailor, departing from Southampton, on 22/09/1900, aboard the “Scot”, destined for the confusingly-named East London, in South Africa.


The 1891 census listed Thomas, Sarah and family at 29 West Mount Street, Leeds, a street which has since been totally redeveloped.  The apparent change of address seems odd, since they were back at their 1881 census address in the 1901 census.  The answer is probably that the family occupied both addresses between them over a period of time.  Living with Thomas and Sarah then were 23-year-old Thomas, a lithographic printer (working for his uncle Joseph?); 18-year-old Alfred, a mechanic; 16-year-ol Robert, a wholesale tailoring assistant; 14-year-old Harry, an errand boy; 8-year-old “Norah”, 6-year-old Frank and 4-year-old Leah, all three scholars.  Elizabeth and Mary were apparently elsewhere.


The 1890s saw at least four of the children married off.


Mary Douglas Stokoe, of 4 Brunswick Terrace, Leeds, was married on 30/04/1892 at St. John the Evangelist, Leeds, by Robert Weallens (?), curate, to widower George Francis Clark, joiner, of 43 Queen’s Place, Leeds, son of Thomas Clark (deceased).  Witnesses signing the register were Alfred Bartle, sister Catharine’s husband, and her sister “Lizzie” (i.e. Elizabeth) Stokoe.


Elizabeth Stokoe, of 40 Queen’s Place, Leeds, was married on 23/07/1894 at St. John the Evangelist, Leeds, by Robert Weallens (?), curate, to William Brown Mein, butcher, of 6 Belgrave Street, Leeds, son of Andrew Mein (deceased), publican.


Alfred Stokoe, turner, of 37 South Mount Street, Leeds, was married on 18/07/1896 at St. Cuthbert, Hunslet Moor, Leeds, to Miriam Bradbourne, machine hand, of 60 Meadow Road, Leeds, daughter of George Bradbourne, flour miller.


Robert Brown Stokoe, tailor, of 29 West Mount Street, Leeds, was married on 28/05/1898, at St. John’s, Leeds, by L. Brakeford Lewis (?), to Elizabeth Thornhill, daughter of Henry Thornhill, wool sorter.


White's Directory of Leeds & the Clothing District, 1894, listed Thomas Stokoe, tailor, still at 30 South Mount Street, Leeds.


The 1901 census found Thomas and Sarah living at 30 South Mount Street, Leeds, with the last three children, 18-year-old Nora and 14-year-old Leah, both tailor’s machinists (working with their father?), and 16-year-old Frank, a joiner.  At the time, married daughter Elizabeth Mein, her husband William Mein, and their 6-year-old daughter Lurie(?), were visiting.


His entry in the burial register gave his abode at the time of death as Northcote Street, Hunslet, suggesting a move from South Mount Street.


Three years after her father’s death, Leah Agnes Stokoe, of Lady Pit(?) Crescent, Beeston Hill, Leeds, was married on 06/06/1908 at St. Aidan’s, Leeds, to Thomas Bacon, railway “servant”(?), of 12 Dorset Road, son of Arthur George Bacon.  One of the witnesses was sister Nora Stokoe.




Some time before his death he’d had a stroke which affected his speech, and he himself suspected he had subsequently had a second, albeit slight stroke.  James White mentions noticing the weakening of the constitution of his friend, despite which the latter remained his usual cheerful self.


Thomas Young Stokoe died on 30/06/1905, and was buried on 04/07/1905 at Holbeck Cemetery, atop Beeston Hill, Leeds, near where he had lived for decades, by I. (or J.?). S. Griffiths.  He was interred in a grave owned by his daughter Mary Douglas Clark, in which her husband, George Francis Clark, had already been interred on 12/01/1904.  The inscription on the headstone reads:


In Loving Memory




DIED JUNE 30TH 1905.

“Rest in Peace”





DIED MAY 5TH 1908,



Quite why George isn’t mentioned on the headstone is unclear.  (Click here for an image of the grave.)  Arthur was 27 not 24 when he died.  There may have been cosmetic adjustment of his age to mask his illegitimacy.


The burial register recorded his age as 74, which is slightly at variance with the dates of birth and death as stated on the headstone.


The passing of Thomas Young Stokoe seems to have been un-noted in the death columns of the local papers, but James White gave an obituary in his chess column in the Weekly Supplement to the Leeds Mercury of Saturday, 8th July, 1905.  (Click here for the text of the obituary.)


Lasker’s Chess Magazine, Vol. 3, May-Oct 1905, p.122, reproduced a chess-related obituary from the Yorkshire Weekly Post.




While living in Gateshead, “Thomas Stokoe” participated in the tournament run in connection with the first meeting of the Northumberland and Durham Chess Association, in 1866.  He was a member of Newcastle Chess Club, and was rapidly improving in strength, according to James White, who was also a member of the same club, the two starting a friendship which lasted forty years.  (Click here for a photo of Stokoe and White playing chess.)


After the two had moved to Leeds, at about the same time, they both joined Leeds Chess Club, where our man was soon amongst the top players of the club.  He attended the annual meetings of the West Yorkshire Chess Association in 1870 to 1873, 1875, 1877 to 1880, and 1884 to 1889.  He played on board eight of the ten-board Yorkshire-Lancashire match played on 20/05/1871, the 1871 West Yorkshire Chess Association meeting at Bradford.


He played for Leeds in the 1877 Leeds v Bradford match played on 22/01/1877.


He was present at James Gavin Cunningham’s 1882 simultaneous display in Dewsbury, serving as one of two adjudicators of unfinished games.


He played board 4 for Yorkshire in the 80-board 1883 Yorkshire v Lancashire match.


He played board 8 for Yorkshire in the 80-board 1884 Lancashire v Yorkshire match.


He played board 4 for Leeds in the first-ever Woodhouse Cup match, Bradford v Leeds, 1885, as well as playing for Leeds in subsequent Woodhouse Cup matches.  He was still playing for Leeds in the Woodhouse Cup as late as 1893 and probably later.


He played in the Class A tournament at the 1886 Yorkshire County Chess Club’s, 1st Annual Meeting, losing in round one to James Rayner of Leeds.


He played board 14 for Yorkshire in the 1887 Yorkshire v Lancashire match.


He played board 5 for West Yorkshire in the 1888 West Yorkshire v Tyneside & Tees-Side match.


He played board 5 for Yorkshire in the 1888 Yorkshire v Ireland correspondence match.


He didn’t play in the 1889 Lancashire v Yorkshire match, nor seemingly in any later over-the-board county match.


He played board 4 for Yorkshire in the 1890 Yorkshire v Sussex correspondence match.


He was one of those who drew in Blackburne’s 1892 simultaneous display in Leeds.


He was one of the 15 competitors in the West Yorkshire Chess Association’s first Individual Championship, 1892-93.


He was one of the 22 competitors in the 1893 Yorkshire Championship, and with have been a participant in the same event in other years.


He attended the 1903 Yorkshire v Lancashire match as a spectator, invited as one of the Yorkshire players in the 1871 first Yorkshire v Lancashire match who were still living.


He was a keen correspondence chess-player.  There seems no evidence of him showing any interest in chess problem composition.


He was also a draughts player.





Besides the usual genealogical records, directories, newspaper sources etc, photographs have been made available by a present-day Thomas Young Stokoe, great-grandson of the chess-player, who in 2006 produced a 74-page C5 book “The Life and Family of Thomas Young Stokoe”, mainly for the benefit of family members.


[1]  Detail provided by the author of the above book, of the book itself – mainly precise dates and names.





Copyright © 2012, 2013 Stephen John Mann

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

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