Yorkshire Chess History
William Tibetot Tiptaft
Identity of the Chess-Player
“W. Tiptaft” played for Sheffield (S&DCA) from 1884, at least until 1891. He seems never to be mentioned with a second initial, yet no feasible “W. Tiptaft” seems to surface in any source such as censuses and directories except this Mexborough grocer, William Tibetot Tiptaft. Quite where the middle name “Tibetot” came from is unclear, but it is understandable that he might keep quiet about it, and call himself just “W. Tiptaft” for everyday purposes.
An extensive obituary of William Tibetot Tiptaft confirms that he was indeed the chess-player, citing chess as one of his chief recreations.
William Tibetot Tiptaft’s parents were William Keal Tiptaft (born 1823/24, Houghton [Houghton-on-the-Hill?], Leicestershire – per 1861 census; the obituary said Braunstone, Rutland; died 1893, Birmingham) and Ann Tiptaft (née Atkin, 1821/22, Billesdon, Leicestershire; died 1892), who had at least the following seven children:
William Tibetot Tiptaft was clearly born in 1848 or 1849. The date of birth given is as given on a family history website  and the obituary in the Mexborough & Swinton Times .
The name “Tiptaft” readily lends itself to mishearing, misspelling and mis-transcription, so it is not that surprising that relevant reference in the 1851 census is difficult to find, but it is evident from the birth places of the children that the Leicestershire-born parents probably lived for a while in Welford, Northamptonshire, then moved to Abingdon, then in Berkshire but now in Oxfordshire, around 1848.
The 1861 census found that father William ran a school in Stert Street, one of the three streets forming a triangle in the centre of Abingdon, being described as “schoolmaster, teacher in classics and for commercial pursuits”. With him at Stert Street were his wife and the above seven children, of whom the five oldest were scholars, presumably at their father’s school.
Our man moved to Mexborough, between Rotherham and Doncaster, in 1870, to be manager of Jowitt Brothers’ grocery business in the Old Exchange, Market Street. He entered into partnership with the Jowitts, but differences arose resulting in the dissolution of the partnership, after which he set up in business on his own account in High Street, later establishing branches further afield. He finally gave up his main business concerns on retirement in 1926. 
A relevant reference in the 1871 census is difficult to find. He married Mary Wyatt (born 1848, Mexborough) at Mexborough in 1874. The couple went on to have the following three children:
Unfortunately, mother Mary Tiptaft died in 1878, presumably at or as a result of giving birth to Miriam.
In 1880, widower William Tibetot Tiptaft married Annie Dickinson (born 1848, Mexborough). The couple appear to have added no children to William’s existing three.
In the 1880 electoral register, our man was listed as residing on Doncaster Road, Mexborough, and being a “joint partner” (i. e. with the Jowitts) in Exchange Buildings, Market Street, Mexborough.
The 1881 census listed the couple, with William’s three children, living at 5 Albert Terrace, Mexborough. William was described as a grocer, and son Reginald was a scholar. There were two servants in the household, suggesting William was reasonably well off by now.
Up to 20/04/1884, John Butterfield Jowitt, William Tibetot Tiptaft, and Henry Jowitt were in partnership, trading as Jowitt, Tiptaft and Jowitt, grocers and drapers. Thereafter the partnership was dissolved, and William Tibetot Tiptaft went into business as a grocer on his own.
William’s second wife, Annie, died in 1884.
The 1891 census listed our man still as a widower, living at 67 High Street, Mexborough, with sister Julia Mary Tiptaft, brother [John] Robert Tiptaft, William’s children, Reginald and Miriam (but not Beatrice), and a domestic servant. Brothers William and Robert were grocers, young Reginald was a grocers’ assistant, and Julia was a housekeeper.
In late 1891, or early 1892, our man married Agnes Emily Paxman (born 1859, Abingdon), at Lambeth. In view of the latent Abingdon connection, one suspects William and Agnes may have been cousins. The couple added to Williams existing brood the following five children:
The 1911 census confirmed the number of children the couple had had as five.
Our man’s mother, Ann Tiptaft, died in 1892, and his father, William Keal Tiptaft, died in 1893, in Birmingham.
Electoral registers show 67 High Street, Mexborough, to have been a freehold shop and dwelling house. There existed on the internet an image of a postcard depicting the Tiptaft shop, with staff standing outside.
The 1901 census found William and Agnes living with Reginald, Miriam, William (junior), Agnes (junior), Cyril, and Winifred. William senior was a grocer and provision merchant, helped by Reginald and Miriam.
The 1911 census found William and Agnes living with his wife, children William, Cyril, Frances and Winifred, a visitor, and a servant, at Beechwood, [Green Lane,] Kilnhurst, now part of Rotherham. Green Lane appears to have been between Glasshouse Lane, Kilnhurst, and the currently built-up Kilnhurst Road, Rawmarsh. Curiously, William gave his 52-year-old Abingdon-born wife’s name as Agnes Maria Tiptaft rather than Agnes Emily Tiptaft. William described himself as a grocer and provision merchant, with son William Rutherford Tiptaft assisting him. Cyril, Frances and Winifred were scholars. Daughter Agnes was not mentioned by name.
Electoral registers, such as those of 1911 and 1913, show William still living at Beechwood House, Green Lane, Kilnhurst.
By the time he died, he was resident at 10 Princess Road, Mexborough.
Up to around 1912 he had been active in public life, but then retired from public service and devoted much time to the Baptist Church.
He was a member of the Local Board and for a while of the Urban Council which succeeded it, becoming its youngest chairman. He had an agile mind for figures, and while a member of the Finance Committee acquired the nickname of “The Lightning Calculator”.
Additionally, he served as a Guardian of the poor, a Montagu Hospital committee member, and a trustee of Mexborough Almshouses.
By religious persuasion, he was mainly a Baptist, being involved with the Strict and Particular Connexion in Mexborough and further afield, for 25 years, preaching on Sundays and weekdays over a wide area of the North of England. He was also a Wesleyan for a while, and was organist at the Mexborough Wesleyan Church.
In his youth he’d been fond of swimming and rowing. He was said to have saved three people from drowning, using his ability as a swimmer.
On the morning of Saturday 22/10/1927, William Tibetot Tiptaft was walking down Pym Road, Mexborough, having just set out from his home, Braunstone House, Princess Road, Mexborough. As he did so he experienced a fatal seizure. He was dead before people could get him home. The funeral took place on Tuesday 25/10/1927, in Mexborough. 
The deceased was presumably buried in Mexborough cemetery, though, confusingly, he doesn’t seem to be listed in the burial register. A speculative inspection failed to find evidence of his grave on the ground.
The Mexborough & Swinton Times of Friday 28/11/1927 carried an informal piece about him on page 11. The next edition, that of 04/11/1927, carried an extensive, more formal obituary, though didn’t state where the service took place, or the lace of burial (or cremation).
Chess was one of his chief recreations, and he played both in Sheffield and Yorkshire teams [according to the Mexborough & Swinton Times}.
“H. Tiptaff” played for the 1884 Sheffield & District CA match with Derbyshire CC. This was presumably “W. Tiptaft” mistranscribed.
“W. Tiptaft” played for Sheffield in its first-ever Woodhouse Cup match, 1886 Woodhouse Cup, Sheffield v Bradford, and thereafter at least to 1890-91:
“W. Tiptaft” was mentioned as a significant player absent from the 1893 Sheffield Athenaeum CC v Sheffield & District CA.
References and sources:
 Mexborough & Swinton Gazette, 04/11/1927, page 11
Copyright © 2014 Stephen John Mann
Census information is copyright of The National Archive, see UK Census Information