Yorkshire Chess History



John James Champion











Made in Yorkshire



Sheffield Sub-Site



07/04/1834,  St. George’s East, Middlesex


18/05/1834 at St. George’s


?, Sheffield ?



Non-Chess Life


He was born on 07/04/1834 in the parish of St George’s, London, to Samuel Champion, a master mariner, and Maria Champion of Prince’s Square.  He was baptised on 18/05/1834 at St. George’s by the unnamed curate.


Although there were Champions in the London area, there were others families by the name of Champion in Sheffield, so there may have been an existing Sheffield connection.


A certain Thomas Champion was Sheffield’s Master Cutler in 1822.  White’s General Directory of Sheffield, dated 1849, listed at least eight people with the surname Champion, as well as “Champion & Co., razor, scissor, and springknife manufacturers, 169 Broad Lane.  White’s Gazetteer & General Directory of Sheffield, dated 1852, revealed that the firm at 169 Broad Lane was run by Ann and Jane Champion.


John James Champion is illusive in the 1841 and 1851 censuses, when he’d be 7 and a week short of 17 respectively.


By about 1856 at the latest, our man was living in Sheffield.  White’s General Directory of Sheffield, Rotherham &c, dated 1856, listed John James Champion as a cutlery agent for Frederic Barnes & Co., of 220 Solly Street, Sheffield (also Birmingham and London), living at 29 Carver Street, Sheffield.  The fact that Frederic Barnes &Co. had premises in London may explain how our man came to Sheffield from London.


His marriage to Anne Taylor was registered in the first quarter of 1859, at Sheffield.  His wife Anne, aka Annie, was born in Sheffield, in 1839/40.  The couple had the following children:


Henry Taylor Champion,

born 1859/60, in Sheffield;

Agnes Champion,

born 1863/64, in Sheffield;

Frederick William Champion,

born 1865/66, in Sheffield;

Alice Champion,

born 1867/68, in Sheffield.


The 1861 census found 27-year-old John James Champion (born at St. George’s East), wife “Annie”, and first child Henry living with one servant at Queen’s Terrace, Glossop Road, Sheffield.  Our man was described as an “agent for Sheffield goods”.


F. White’s Directory & Topography of Sheffield, dated 1862, listed Frederic Barnes & Co., manufacturers of table and spear knives, files, &c., and general factors, at Cornhill Works, 220 Solly Street, Sheffield (and Birmingham & London), with John James Champion as agent, with his home at Endcliffe Terrace (on Glossop Road?).


The 1871 census John J. Champion and wife Anne, with all the above four children and one servant, living at 4 Northumberland Road, Sheffield.  John was now a commercial clerk in the cutlery and hardware business.  His three eldest children were scholars.


White’s Directory of Sheffield, Rotherham &c., dated 1879, listed John James Champion living at Rutland Villas on Ecclesall Road (seemingly between Botanical Road and Brocco Bank), describing him as a manager, suggesting a different job from that of agent or clerk.  However, he was still listed as agent to Frederic Barnes & Co. at Cornhill Works, 220 Solly Street, at 57 Livery Street, Birmingham, and at 109 Fenchurch Street, London.  (His name is also misprinted as “J. C. Champion” on one page.)


The 1881 census listed the family as living at 287 Western Bank.  John James Champion had apparently gone into business on his own account, and was described as a manufacturer of edge tools, and a factor of general hardware, employing 7 men and 3 boys.  The two sons seem to have joined their father’s firm, Henry Taylor Champion being a “manager” and Frederick William Champion being a “clerk” in an edge-tool concern, presumably their father’s.


It appears his venture into self-employment, as the London Gazette of 20/06/1882 carried two notices relating to the liquidation of his business.


The 1891 census found wife Annie with the four children, but no servant, living at 27 Durham Road, Sheffield.  Annie had originally been entered as “head” of the household, but that had been altered to wife; combined with the fact that she was recorded as married rather than widowed, suggests her husband was still alive but not at home on the night of the census.  Quite where he was is unclear.


White's Directory of Sheffield & Rotherham, dated 1901, listed Henry Taylor Champion, manager, living at 14 Aldred Road, Sheffield; Mrs. Annie Champion, at 5 Palmerston Road.  The separate listing of Mrs. Annie Champion is a fairly clear indication that her husband was dead, or had left her in a less terminal way.




Evidence of the death of John James Champion of Sheffield is elusive.  (The death of a John Champion, aged 72, which was registered in 1907 at Wortley, was that of an Oxfordshire-born groom who was resident in Penistone.)  Nevertheless, our man appears to have died at some time from 1882 to 1901.  If the description of his wife in the 1891 census implied he yet lived, then he would appear to have died from 1891 to 1901.


After Death


The 1911 census found 70-year-old Annie Champion, explicitly a widow, living at 3 Palmerston Road, Sheffield, with unmarried daughters Agnes and Alice, whose aged were quoted cosmetically as 40 and 35 respectively, rather than 47 and 42.  Annie entered the duration of her marriage as 50 years, and the number of children as five, of whom only four were still alive.  These entries regarding her marriage and children were struck out in red as inappropriate, but they nevertheless confirm the date of her marriage, and point to a fifth child not listed above.


The death of Annie Champion herself, aged 71, was registered in the third quarter of 1911 at Ecclesall Bierlow (now part of Sheffield).




John James Champion was a member of Sheffield Athenaeum Chess Club from 1861 to 1874 and probably beyond.  He attended the West Yorkshire Chess Association meeting of 1866, 1867, 1868, 1872, and 1875.  He was one of those who played against Joseph Henry Blackburne when he visited Sheffield in 1873.





Copyright © 2013 Stephen John Mann

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

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