SHEFFIELD Chess History



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A weekly Sheffield newspaper call The Iris carried on page 2 of the issue of 30/04/1839 a report of the annual meeting of Sheffield Chess Club, held at the Cutlers’ Hall on Wednesday, 24/04/1839, as follows.


SHEFFIELD CHESS CLUB. – The annual meeting of the Society was held at the Cutlers’ Hall, on Wednesday, the 24th, Instant, for the purpose of auditing the Treasurer’s accounts, &c.  After the usual business of the meeting, a vote of thanks was passed to Saml. Hadfield, Esq., Master Cutler, for his kindness in allowing the use of the Hall.


This tells us next to nothing, directly, about Sheffield Chess Club, but some things can be inferred.  Firstly, the club had clearly been in existence for at least one season, as otherwise there’d be no annual meeting with accounts presented.  That places its origin in 1838 of earlier.  Secondly, use of the prestigious Cutlers’ Hall implied a highly regarded organisation (unlikely, as chess at this time still attracted the stigma of “gaming”), or perhaps that industrialist Samuel Hadfield, Master Cutler of that year, was himself a chess-player!


The Iris of 03/09/1839 carried the follow notice on page 2:






CLUB are informed, that the First Meeting of

the Season will be held on WEDNESDAY , the 11th

Instant, at Seven o’Clock, p.m.


Honorary Secretary.


Presumably the members would know where the meeting place was.  One thing we know of Sheffield Chess Club’s activities is that on 01/10/1839 it embarked upon a pair of simultaneously conducted correspondences games with Hull.  Identifying “John Rodgers” would require more information, such as an address, as there were too many manufacturers and/or merchants of that name to be able to reasonably infer which one was the chess-player.  (In White’s Sheffield Directory date 1852 there are two such explicitly described as “jun.”)


The Sheffield & Rotherham Independent of Saturday, 05/09/1840, carried on page 5 the following notice:






are informed, that the First MEETING for the

Season will be on FRIDAY Evening next, the 11th inst.,

at Seven o’Clock.       HY.  GILBERT CUTTS,

   September 3rd, 1840                 Honorary Secretary.


As before, there was no indication of where the meeting place was.  The secretary is easily identifiable as Henry Gilbert Cutts, second son of John Preston (or sometimes “Priston”) Cutts.  He was in partnership with his father and older brother, both as an optician and merchant (partnerships dissolved in 1849).  He emigrated to Argentina, seemingly in the last 1840’s.


Another year later, the Sheffield & Rotherham Independent of Saturday, 04/09/1841, carried on page 5 the following notice:






are informed, that the First MEETING for the

Season will be on WEDNESDAY Evening next, the 8th

instant, at Seven o’Clock.       JOHN S. LEWIS,

   September 3rd, 1840                 Honorary Secretary.


The day of the week for meetings had changed and the secretary’s name had changed, though the date of the notice remained unaltered, which fact may have been the cause of some embarrassment and/or annoyance to Mr. Lewis.  We all do it.


There were chess-players from Sheffield who attended the first two Yorkshire Chess Association meetings, in January and November 1841 respectively.  Unfortunately, reports of the meetings usually give surnames, but no initials.  For this reason it is virtually impossible to identify the players concerned, in most cases.


Sheffield players at the January 1841 YCA meeting in Leeds were “Deakin”, “Greaves”, “Lewis” and “Linley”.


Sheffield players at the November 1841 YCA meeting in Wakefield were “Lewis”, “Linley”, “Parker” and “Piper”.


It is probably safe to assume “Lewis” who attended these two YCA meetings was the above-named Sheffield Chess Club secretary, John S. Lewis.  It seems “Piper” could be only be the Rev. Henry Hunt Piper of Norton.  Reference to censuses and directories reveal too many people with the other surnames to allow identification of those chess-players attending the YCA meetings.


“Linley” may well have been the Arthur Linley who for a time was in partnership with Henry Gilbert Cutts’s older brother William Waterhouse Cutts.


Looking at future members of the Sheffield Athenaeum Chess Club we find no mention of Deakin, Lewis, Linley or Piper.  (The Rev. Piper left the area in 1843.)  However, James Haines Greaves was an early member of the Sheffield Athenaeum Chess Club, so he might possibly have been the above “Greaves”.  As for “Parker”, there were both Elliott Parker and “G Parker” who were members of the Athenaeum.  Either of them might have been “Parker”.  Even then, the identity of “G Parker” is uncertain, as there were at least two plausible suspects with that name in the directories.





Copyright © 2014, 2016 Stephen John Mann

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