SHEFFIELD Chess History



John Carson

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Made in Sheffield




1793/94, Scotland




16/10/1866, Sheffield




Date of Birth of the Chess-Player


Of the ages quoted for John Carson in the 1841 census, 1851 census, 1861 census and death records, only the latter two are consistent.  In 1841, his age appears to understated by 2 years.  In 1851, in was apparently understated by 1 year.  On the basis of his recorded ages in the 1861 census and at death (registration and newspaper report), his date of birth must have been from 12/10/1793 to 13/03/1794.


A number of births or baptisms of a John Carson were recorded in Kirkcudbrightshire in 1793 and 1794.  The one which looks most likely to be the relevant one is that of the baptism of on 20/10/1893, at Colvend, Kirkcudbrightshire, of John Carson, son of William Carson and Agnes Carson (née McKie), who lived in Colvend.


Non-Chess Life


John Carson’s wife was Scotland-born Mary Cairns Carson (born 1804/05, Scotland); they evidently married in 1827 or before on the basis of the age of their daughter Mary.


White’s 1833 Sheffield directory listed John Carson as a linen and woollen draper at 23 Westbar, Sheffield.


Within about 4 years he changed his premises, and White’s 1837 directory listed John Carson John, draper, 6 St James' Street


The 1841 census found “45”-year-old draper John Carson living at an unnumbered address in St. James Street, in the centre of Sheffield, with 36-year-old wife Mary, and 13-year-old Yorkshire-born daughter Margaret, and a servant.


In 1849, daughter Mary married estate agent Francis Ebenezer Smith in Sheffield.


The 1851 census found John and Mary Carson, living with a domestic servant and a live-in draper’s assistant at 20 St. James Street, Sheffield.  John was described as a linen and woollen draper.


White’s 1852 and 1856 Sheffield directories listed Carson John, travelling draper, 20 St James' Street, Sheffield.


The 1861 census found John and Mary living with a servant at an unnumbered address in St James Street, presumably no. 20.


White’s 1862 Sheffield directory appears not to mention John Carson.  He had perhaps retired from the drapery business and moved home to the Endcliffe area of Sheffield.




The Sheffield Daily Telegraph of 17/10/1866 reported his death as follows:

“On the 16th inst., at Endcliffe, Mr. John Carson, in his 73rd year.”




John Carson was a member of the Sheffield Athenaeum Chess Club in 1848 and 1849.


He joined the Sheffield Athenaeum & Mechanics Institute Chess Club, and was on its committee for 1850 and 1851.


After the demise of the Sheffield Athenaeum & Mechanics Institute Chess Club, he appears not to have gone back to the Sheffield Athenaeum Chess Club the way others did.


It’s possible that he and fellow draper Andrew McTurk, across the road, played chess together in their spare time.





Copyright © 2014 Stephen John Mann

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