Yorkshire Chess History



William Rowland Thomas and Andrew Rowland Benedick Thomas











Made in Yorkshire



Sheffield Sub-Site


William Rowland Thomas


Andrew Rowland Benedick Thomas


1867, Haverfordwest


Born: 11/10/1904, Great Crosby, Liverpool







04/03/1936, Crosby, Liverpool


Died: 16/05/1985, Devon







Non-Chess Life


The parents of William Rowland Thomas, the future Lancashire chess-player, were Samuel Thomas (born 1839/40, Llanhowell [=Llanhywel,4½ miles NE of St.David’s], Pembrokeshire) and his first wife (maiden name Rowlands) who had, seemingly just the one child:


William Rowland Thomas

born 1867, Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire


William Rowland Thomas was born in 1867, at Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire, Wales, the birth being registered in the third quarter of 1867, at Haverfordwest.  He is not to be confused with the identically named William Rowland Thomas whose birth was registered in the second quarter of 1867, at Wrexham, Denbighshire.


William’s mother seems to have died before William was 15 years of age, since he acquired a stepmother, Mary Anne Thomas (1848/49, Bilston, Staffs.).


The 1871 census found father Samuel with son William, 27-year-old unmarried sister-in-law, Sarah Rowlands, an assistant, four apprentices and two servants.  Samuel was described as married rather than widowed, but his wife was not listed.  Samuel was a draper; his sister-in-law was a draper’s assistant.


William’s mother seems to have died, since at some time from 1871 to 1881, Samuel took a second wife, Mary Anne Thomas (1848/49, Bilston, Staffs.), who so became William’s stepmother.


The 1881 census found Samuel, Mary and William living on the High Street, Haverfordwest, with a draper’s assistant, three apprentices, two servants, and a bank manager’s household who were lodgers.  Samuel was still a draper.  13-year-old William had no stated occupation or schooling.


Father Samuel died at some time during the next ten years, as the 1891 census found widowed Mary Ann [without an “e”] Thomas and 23-year-old stepson, William R. Thomas, living on Milford Road, St. Thomas, Pembrokeshire, both living on their own means, presumably having sold the drapery business.


The 1891 census found 33-year-old Haverfordwest-born William R. Thomas living at 13 Thorndale Road, Waterloo, near Southport, Lancs.  William was now a schoolmaster.


The marriage of William Rowland Thomas to Ellen Myfanwy Phillips (born 1872/73, Brynmawr, Brecknockshire) was registered in the third quarter of 1903, at Cardiff, Glamorganshire.  After seven years of marriage they had had two children, of whom only one remained alive:


Andrew Rowland Benedick Thomas

born 11/10/1904, Great Crosby, Liverpool


“A. R. B. Thomas”, as the chess world came to know him, was thus born on 11/10/1904, at Great Crosby.  His third forename was “Benedick”, not “Benedict”.


The 1911 census found father William, wife Ellen, son Andrew and one servant, living at 9 Prince’s Avenue, Great Crosby.  Father William was an assistant master at the Merchant Taylors’ School, Crosby.


In time William Rowland Thomas became a senior master of Merchant Taylors’ School, Crosby, Liverpool.




William Rowland Thomas of 4 Mariners Drive, Blundellsands, Lancashire, died at age 68, on 04/03/1936.  Administration was granted to his widow, Ellen Myfanwy Thomas.  He left £657 6s 1d.


Andrew Rowland Benedick Thomas died on 16/05/1985, in mid-Devon.




W. R. Thomas of Liverpool played for Lancashire in the 1905 Yorkshire v Lancashire match, in the 1907 Yorkshire v Lancashire match, and in the 1912 Lancashire v Yorkshire match.


After Edmund Spencer died on 07/01/1936, while in office as secretary of the NCCU, W. R. Thomas took over that function, but only eight weeks later.


“A. R. B. Thomas” became a well-known player in tournaments and team matches.


He played in (at least) three matches for Lancashire in 1932-33 inter-county matches.


He ended up in Devon, where in later years (e. g. early 1970s) he would turn out for the Devon county team against stronger opposing teams, but not the weaker ones.





Copyright © 2014 Stephen John Mann

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

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