Yorkshire Chess History



Henry Davy and Harold Davy











Made in Yorkshire



Sheffield Sub-Site



Henry Davy

Harold Davy

Born or

23/08/1832, Sheffield

1864/65, Sheffield




31/07/1895, Sheffield

23/12/1889, Sheffield


Henry Davy was born or baptised in Sheffield on 23rd August 1832.  His parent were James Smith Davy and his wife Mary Ann Davy, who ran a grocery business at Bridgehouses, Sheffield.  The earlier part of his working life was spent in the family business at Bridgehouses, and for a while he ran his own grocery business on Corporation Street, but toward the end of his life he worked with his younger brother Arthur in the business which developed into Arthur Davy and Sons Ltd, but which in earlier times was known for a while as Davy Brothers.


Henry, like younger brother Arthur, was for a number of years a member of Sheffield Athenaeum Chess Club, older brother Henry being the first to join.


The Davy Grocers at Bridgehouses


Bridgehouses is the name given to a street on the east side of the River Don, forming a continuation of Nursery Street northwards along the bank of the river.  The junction between Nursery Street and Bridgehouses is met also by the bridge at the bottom of Corporation Street, but, enigmatically, the locality’s name “Bridgehouses” seems to pre-date any known bridge crossing the Don at this point!


White’s 1833 directory for Sheffield lists “Davy Dennis, gent, 38 Harvest Lane”.  Harvest Lane is only a short distance from Bridgehouses, being a turning off Mowbray Street, which is a continuation of the street called “Bridgehouses”.  As pieces of the jigsaw emerge, this Dennis would appear to be grandfather of Henry and Arthur.


White’s 1837 Sheffield directory lists Mrs Mary Davy at 38 Harvest Lane, suggesting Mary had by then become head of that household upon the death from 1833 to 1837 of the said Dennis Davy, who presumably had been her husband.


White’s 1841 directory for Sheffield lists Mary Davy, “gentleman”, at 146 Harvest Lane.  “Gentlewoman” would have been more appropriate, but either way financial independence is implied.  This Mary at 146 Harvest Lane is not to be confused with the Mary Ann Davy, wife of the following grocer at Bridgehouses.


The 1841 census lists at Bridgehouses the following:

James Davy, age 43 [identifiable more precisely as James Smith Davy];

Mary Ann Davy, age 40;

Henry Davy, age 10;

Dennis Davy, age 8;

Edward Davy, age 10 months.


Also in the 1841 census are listed on Harvest Lane the following:

Mary Davy, age 65;

Arthur Davy, age 2; (apparently the future chess-player Arthur Davy)

and at a different address on Harvest Lane the following:

William Davy, age 40.


If we jump to the assumption that the above Henry and Arthur are the future chess-playing brothers, then piecing this all together suggests that Dennis Davy and Mary Davy (née Smith?) were the parents of James Smith Davy, whose wife was Mary Ann Davy, and that James Smith Davy and Mary Ann Davy were the parents of Henry, Dennis (junior), Arthur, and Edward.  The slightly unexpected circumstance is that 2-year-old Arthur appears to have been with his paternal grandmother at the time of the 1841 census.  Maybe Mary Ann was having a bit of a time dealing with young Edward at that period, and Arthur had been packed off to his grandmother for a short while.  As for William, he seems likely to be a brother of James Smith Davy.


White’s directory of Sheffield, dated 1845, lists:

James Smith Davy, “engineer & grocer”, 16 Bridgehouses;

Mrs. Mary Davy, 14 Harvest Lane [presumably a misprint for 146]


This description of James Smith Davy as an engineer seems to be a one-off which may well be attributable to understandable confusion in White’s office between the different Davy families and their separate main activities, engineering, cutlery and grocery.


White’s directory of Sheffield, dated 1849, lists:

James Smith Davy, grocer and flour dealer, at 16 Bridgehouses;

Dennis Davy, saddler, Change Alley [the above son of James Smith Davy?].


The 1851 census records, as living at 105 Wentworth Terrace, three Sheffield-born siblings, who may or may not have been related to the Bridgehouses grocers:

Jonathan Davy, age 26, a commercial traveller;

Deborah Davy, 22, who acted as housekeeper;

Henry Davy, 18, a journeyman grocer [the above son of James Smith Davy?];

and a servant.


White’s Directory of Sheffield, dated 1852, lists:

Dennis Davy, saddler and harness-maker, 21 Change Alley;

James Smith Davy, grocer and flour dealer, at 16 Bridgehouses;

Jonathan Davy, a [commercial] traveller, 105 Wentworth Terrace;

Joshuah Hopkins Davy, grocer and tea-dealer, 19 Fargate.


James Smith Davy, the Bridgehouses grocer, and father to Henry and Arthur, died on 19th December 1855, too late to avoid getting into White’s directory dated 1856.  This was reported by the Sheffield & Rotherham Independent of 22nd December 1855, as follows:

Davy.- After a short illness, at his residence, Bridgehouses, on the 19th instant, Mr. James Smith Davy, grocer, in the 58th year of his age.


White’s Directory of Sheffield, dated 1856, lists:

Dennis Davy, saddler and harness-maker, 21 Change Alley; home at Broomhill;

James Smith Davy, grocer and flour dealer, at 16 Bridgehouses; h. at Tower Hill;

Jonathan Davy, a [commercial] traveller, 105 Wentworth Terrace;

Joshuah Hopkins Davy, grocer and tea-dealer,
239 Glossop Road & 98 Trippet Lane.


Melville’s Sheffield directory of 1859 lists:

Davy and Son [singular], grocer & flour dealer, 16 Bridgehouses.

“Davy” would appear to be Mary Ann Davy continuing her deceased husband’s business, while “son” was probably Henry.


White’s Directory of Sheffield, dated 1860, lists:

Mary Ann Davy, grocer and flour dealer, 16 Bridgehouses;

Joshua H. Davy, grocer, 239 Glossop Road.  [Joshuah had become Joshua H]


Henry Davy married Isabella Wood in 1860, in Manchester.


In the 1861 census, a person who appears to be our Henry Davy is listed as a married man living at Bridgehouses, Sheffield:

Henry Davy, age 28, grocer and provisions dealer (the term used by Arthur Davy);

Isabella Davy, 24, his wife;

and a servant.


F. White’s Directory and Topography of Sheffield, dated 1862, lists:

Dennis Davy, saddler and harness-maker, 21 Change Alley;
home at Mount Pleasant, 169 Cemetery Road

Henry Davy, grocer (of Mary Ann Davy &Sons), 16 Bridgehouses, Sheffield.

Henry Davy’s home: 16 Bridgehouses.

Mary Ann Davy’s home: Spring Lane


Isabella Davy, Henry’s wife, died in 1867.


In 1868, Henry married Elizabeth Richardson, in Sheffield.


The 1871 census listed the following.

Henry Davy, age 38;

Elizabeth Davy, 39, his wife, who had been born at Peckham, Surrey;

Alfred Davy, 8, their son [born 3rd April 1862 to 2nd April 1863];

Harold Davy, 6, their son;

Mary Davy, 1, their daughter.


Mary Ann Davy, Henry’s, mother, died in 1875, and Henry seems to have come to be running the family business in his own right.  It seems to have transferred, at some point, by 1889 at the latest, to Corporation Street.


In the 1881 census, the family is recorded as living at 282 Pitsmoor Road, which is near Bridgehouses.  The household consisted of the following:

Henry Davy, age 48, a grocer employing 2 men and 2 boys;

Elizabeth Davy, age 49;

Alfred Davy, age 18;

Harold Davy, age 16;

Mary Davy, age 11;

Isabella Davy, age 9.


The second daughter seems possibly to have been named after Henry’s first wife.


White’s directory dated 1889 listed Henry as a grocer and flour dealer operating from 116-122 Corporation Street, on the other side of the river from Bridgehouses, premises which no longer exist.  His home was still at 282 Pitsmoor Road, Sheffield.


The 1891 census listed this same Henry and Elizabeth still living at 282 Pitsmoor Road, Sheffield, the household consisting of the following:

Henry Davy, age 58, a provision dealer’s assistant, Sheffield-born;

Elizabeth Davy, 59, his wife, born at Peckham, Surrey;

Mary Davy, 21, their daughter, a cashier to a provisions dealer, Sheffield-born;

Isabella Davy, 19, their daughter, Sheffield-born;

Laura J. Davy, 20, their niece, a school pupil-teacher, born in Manchester.


The significance of the phrase “provision dealer’s assistant” is that Henry was now working with his younger brother, Arthur, at the latter’s Haymarket shop.


The older daughter was presumably working in one of the shops run by her father or her uncle Arthur.


During the next four years or so the family moved to 12 Adelaide Place, which was apparently part of Tree Root Walk, off Glossop Road.


Piecing together the separate snippets, his career in the grocery trade seems to have run as follows.  Up to his father’s death in 1855, his working life had been spent helping in his family’s grocery business at Bridgehouses, run in his father’s name.  After his father’s death, the family business at Bridgehouses was run under the name of Mary Ann Davy and Son, Henry being the son.  It looks as though, after his mother had died in 1875, Henry had his own grocery business on Corporation Street from 1881 or before to 1889 or later, but had by 1891 switched to working for his brother Arthur at Haymarket.




Both he and younger brother Arthur played for the Sheffield Athenaeum Chess Club.  Son Harold appears to have been deployed in at least one match, perhaps because they became a player short at the last minute.


Henry was probably the “Davy” in the 1865 Huddersfield-Sheffield Athenaeum match.

He drew with J H Blackburne in the 1873 Blackburne simultaneous display in Sheffield.

He beat H E Bird in the latter’s 1883 simultaneous display in Sheffield.

He beat D Y Mills in the latter’s 1883 simultaneous display in Sheffield.

He lost to J H Blackburne in the latter’s 1883 Simultaneous display in Sheffield.

He played in

1884 Sheffield & District v Huddersfield & Holmfirth,

1886 Sheffield v Leeds, Woodhouse Cup,

1886 Sheffield v Bradford, Woodhouse Cup,

four of the 1887 Woodhouse Cup matches,

1893 Sheffield Athenaeum CC v Sheffield & District CA match,


The Harold Davy, Henry’s son, appeared in the following:

1884 Sheffield & District CA v Derbyshire Chess Club match,

1886 Wakefield v Sheffield, Woodhouse Cup,

1886 Sheffield v Leeds, Woodhouse Cup,

1886 Sheffield v Bradford, Woodhouse Cup,

two of the 1887 Woodhouse Cup matches.




The death of Harold Davy, son of Henry Davy, at the early age of 24, on 21/12/1889, at 382 Pitsmoor Road, Sheffield, was reported in the Sheffield Daily Telegraph of Monday 23/12/1889 (wherein his age was given as 25).


Henry died on 31st July 1895.  This was reported both by the Sheffield & Rotherham Independent of Friday 2nd August, 1895, page 6, and by the Sheffield Daily Telegraph of the same day, as follows:

DAVY.- July 31st, at Adelaide Place, Glossop Road, Henry Davy, aged 62 years.  No flowers, by request.


Lower down the same page of the Independent was the following article:

Death of Mr. Henry Davy.- Our obituary column contains a notice of the death of Mr. Henry Davy, of 4, Adelaide place, Glossop road.  The deceased gentleman, who was 62 years of age, was a brother of Mr. Arthur Davy, and managed that gentleman’s business in the Haymarket.  In this capacity he was a well-known business man, and general regret will be felt at his death, which occurred at his residence after a brief illness.


There seems some confusion as to his house number in Adelaide Place, as directories and a notice regarding probate gave his address as 12 Adelaide Place, Glossop Road, Sheffield.  Probate was granted in London to his widow, Elizabeth Davy, and that his effects amounted to £59 18s.


The Sheffield Daily Telegraph of Saturday, 03/08/1895, carried the following:


THE LATE MR. HENRY DAVY.- Many friends will regret the death of Mr. Henry Davy, of Adelaide Place, Glossop Road, who passed away on Wednesday, after an illness of several months.  Of a very gentle and retiring disposition he was known in a comparatively restricted circle, but all who enjoyed his acquaintance will deeply lament his loss.  In his boyhood he became an ardent chess player, and his love for the royal game remained with him to the last.  He was a devoted member of the Athenaeum Club, and when business engagements permitted no one more readily assisted to uphold the chess prowess of his native town.  Few players in Yorkshire had a better knowledge of all the subtleties of the game.  He was 62 years of age.







Copyright © 2019 Stephen John Mann

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

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