SHEFFIELD Chess History



Charles Dyte

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29/07/1819, London




21/12/1893, Ballarat, Victoria, Australia




Identity of the Chess Player


There was a chess-player called Charles Dyte, who lived for a while in Sheffield.  There is only one Charles Dyte traceable anywhere at the time in question.  He passed almost unnoticed while he lived in England, but became a famous historical figure in the Australian gold-rush town of Ballarat.


Non-Chess Life



Charles Dyte was born into the Jewish Community of London on 29/07/1819, as the son of David Moses Dyte (born 1770), and Hannah Dyte (née Lazarus, 1777).


The 1841 census found Charles Dyte, an assistant tailor, living in Wine Street, in the St. Peter’s area of Gloucester.  His was recorded as a 20-year-old born outside the county.  Our man setting out on a career as a tailor.


In 1846, in Liverpool, he married Evelina Nathan (born 1820/21, Liverpool).  The couple went on to have five children:


Hannah Dyte

born 1848, London

Rosina (“Rose”) Dyte

born March 1851, Manchester

David Moses Dyte

born 1853, Liverpool

Miriam Dyte

born 1858, Australia *

Theresa Dyte

born 1858, Australia *

* presumably Ballarat.


The London Post Office Directory of 1848 listed Charles Dyte, tailor, living at 13 Mount Street, off Whitechapel Road, London


In 1850, Charles Dyte was recorded as active in Sheffield chess, suggesting that the family moved to Sheffield at some time from 1848 to 1850.  The family’s stay in Sheffield cannot have lasted long, about three years at the most, as by 1851 the family had moved to Manchester.


The 1851 census found parents Charles and “Eliza” living with Hannah, and an as yet unnamed daughter (Rose), living at 137 Dean’s Gate, Manchester.  They were being visited at the time by 24-year-old Liverpool-born Rachel Nathan, presumably Evelina’s sister, come to see and/or help with the new baby.  Charles was still a tailor.


Whellan & Co’s Manchester Directory of 1852 listed Charles Dyte & Co., tailors, at 94 Oldham Street, Manchester.


Charles Dyte soon after that emigrated to Australia.  In 1853, 32-year-old married Charles Dyte departed from Liverpool, without wife or children, aboard the Vernon, and arrived at Melborne, Australia, on 28/08/1853.  From Melbourne he went first to Maryborough, to take a job working for John Levy and Co., but relatively soon he moved on to Ballarat in the State of Victoria, to set up in business on his own.


In Ballarat, he became a shopkeeper, selling china, crockey and glassware.  One assumes his wife and family had followed him to Australia in due course.


He had a bit of bad luck when, as part of a scheme to open a new shop, he temporarily lodged some merchandise destined for the new shop in a building attached to the Eureka Hotel run by a friend, James Bentley.  This happened on 16/10/1854.  On the following day, 17/10/1854, some sort of riot or uprising on the part of local miners, due to dissatisfaction over terms of diggers’ licences, was quelled by troops, who killed a number of miners in the clash.  The miners seem to have created a stockade in or near the Eureka Hotel, subsequently known as the Eureka Stockade and the hotel got burnt down.  The exact location of the “stockade” was later hotly debated.


Charles Dyte’s merchandise stored at the hotel was destroyed by the fire, except for one musical box, and Charles claimed £416 1s from the government in compensation, but, like nearly all the other claimants, didn’t get a penny.  This must have made Charles sympathise, the more, with the plight of the miners, and attended a miners’ meeting on 06/12/1854, at Bakery Hill, and with fellow Jews W. Levy and Henry Harris (first president of the Hebrew Congregation in Ballarat) helped draft resolutions to assist in the miners’ cause.  This was the point at which Charles Dyte started to become a man of public affairs.


In 1856, he succeeded Henry Harris as president of the Ballarat Hebrew Congregation, and as such, on 25/01/1861, laid the foundation stone of Ballarat Synagogue.  (Click here for the Order of Service on an external website.)


He was appointed a magistrate for the Colony of Victoria on 27/05/1861.


He was a Member of the Legislative Council of Victoria, for Ballarat East, from November 1864 to January 1871, and then again in and 1874.




Charles Dyte died around 11.00 p.m., on 21/12/1893, at his home.3 Ligar Street, Ballarat, and was buried in what is now Ballarat Old Cemetery.  (Click here for an image of the grave on an external site.)




Charles Dyte was vice-president of the Sheffield Athenaeum and Mechanics Institute Chess Club for 1850-51, but was not on the committee for 1851-52, tying with him having moved to Manchester.





Copyright © 2014 Stephen John Mann

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