SHEFFIELD Chess History



Ernest Edward Sibray

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1867, Handsworth, Sheffield



28/03/1939, Retford, Notts.



Non-Chess Life


Sibray was not a common name in Sheffield.  There were, however, a number of Sibrays resident at Handsworth, most involved in manufacturing concerns of one sort or another.  The exception to the manufacturing line of business was the nurserymen’s and seedmen’s business of our man and his father.  The families involved were presumably all related.


F. White’s Directory & Topography of Sheffield, 1862, listed a George Sibray as assistant overseer, and registrar for births and deaths for the parish of Handsworth, and as providing the service of a post office (.


Ernest Edward Sibray was seemingly the only child of Henry Sibray (born 1836/37, Handsworth) and Julia Sibray (born Julia Holmes, 1842/43, Handsworth), whose marriage was registered in the first quarter of 1866, at Sheffield.


Ernest Edward Sibray was born, like his parents, at Handsworth, then just outside Sheffield, to the east, the birth being registered in the fourth quarter of 1867 (presumably with the above George Sibray, who was probably the child’s uncle or grandfather).


The 1871 census found parents Henry and Julia living with 3-year-old Handsworth-born Ernest E. Sibray, at Clifton View, Handsworth.  This road is no longer evident but was perhaps erased by the building of Sheffield Parkway.  Father Henry was a nurseryman and seedsman.  This may not seem a lucrative line of trade, but seems to have done well for the Sibrays.


White's Directory of Sheffield, Rotherham ..., 1879, listed Henry Sibray of Fisher, Holmes & Co, nurserymen and seedsmen, also at Sheffield & Rotherham.  However, the Addenda and Corrigenda said it was now Fisher, Son and Sibray.  Henry was in partnership originally with Charles Fisher (resident at Oakfield, Handsworth) and Holmes, which that changed around 1878/79 to Fisher senior and Fisher junior.  Henry’s home was given as The Poplars, Handsworth.  George Sibray was no longer listed, and no longer ran the post office.  There was, however, a Frank Sibray, of Frank Sibray & Co, merchants and manufacturers of gas fittings etc, at Atlas Brass Works, 13-15 Regent Terrace, Sheffield, with his home at Glenwood House, Handsworth; and there was also a Frederick Sibray of Sibray, Hall & Co., electroplate manufacturers, at 111 St Mary’s Road, Sheffield, with his home at Plumpton Cottage, Ecclesall.  (“Hall” was Job Frank Hall, resident at Fitzwalter House, Norfolk Road, Sheffield.)  Finally there was Joseph Sibray, steel manufacturer of William A. Tyzack and Co., also with his home at Handsworth.


Kelly's Directory of West Riding of Yorkshire, 1881, mentioned that the nurseries of Fisher, Son and Sibray, at Handsworth, occupied upwards of 300 acres.  It listed Frank, Henry and Joseph all resident at Handsworth, seemingly all at Glenwood House.


Ernest was educated at Wesley College, and the 1881 census found 13-year-old Handsworth-born Ernest Sibray as one of twenty-five boarders at Wesley College, 457 Glossop Road, Sheffield.


Ernest’s mother, Julia Sibray, died in 1886, her death being registered in the second quarter, at Sheffield.  Ernest will have been about eighteen and a half years old at the time.


The 1891 census found 54-year-old widower Henry Sibray, and 23-year-old Ernest E. Sibray, living at Handsworth Street (the modern Handsworth Road?), seemingly two doors or so past the post office, with two servants.  Both father and son were now nurserymen.


Henry Sibray of Handsworth, nurseryman, died, according to probate records, on 24/10/1894, probate being granted to Ernest Edward Sibray, nurseryman.  He left effects of £13,517 12s 11d.  His death, aged 57, was registered in the fourth quarter of 1894, at Sheffield.


At some stage Ernest became a member of the Sheffield Athenaeum Club, becoming secretary of its chess club.


The marriage of Ernest Edward Sibray to Beatrice Sidwell (born 1872/73, Sheffield) was registered in the fourth quarter of 1900, at Gainsborough, Nottinghamshire.  Whether Ernest had moved to north Nottinghamshire before getting married, or whether he moved there after marrying is unclear.  Either way, the couple settled in Retford, Notts.


White's Directory of Sheffield & Rotherham, 1901, listed Fisher, Son & Sibray Ltd, nurserymen, at 38 Corn Exchange, Sheffield, at 4 Market Street, Sheffield, at 39 Church Street, Rotherham, and at Handsworth.  The nursery grounds (“Royal Nurseries”) at Handsworth were now described as of upwards of 210 acres (so 90 acres sold off for housing??), and employing 200 hands.  W. Atkinson, resident at Birklands, Handsworth, was managing director.  The only Sibray still listed at Handsworth was Frank Sibrey, at Glenwood.


White's Directory of Sheffield & Rotherham, 1901, also listed Sibray, Hall and Co. Ltd, electroplate manufacturers, at 111-115 St. Mary’s Road.  It also mentioned a quartermaster-sergeant C. Sibray attached to the Rotherham Volunteers.  It seems a Sibray daughter may have married a Wheatcroft, as at Wentworth, near Rotherham, there was listed a veterinary surgeon called John Sibray Wheafcroft.


The 1901 census found “Ernest Ed. Sibray” and his wife Beatrice Sibray living with one servant in Babworth Road, West at Retford.  (West Retford is the part of Retford lying on the west bank of the River Idle.  Babworth Road leads eastwards )  33-year-old Ernest was described as a retired nurseryman and seedsman, suggesting he was reasonably well off financially.


Kelly's Directory of Nottinghamshire, 1904, enigmatically listed John Sibray as a private resident on Babworth Road.


White's Directory of Sheffield & Rotherham, 1905, listed no Sibrays left residing in Handsworth.


The 1911 census found the couple still at Babworth Road, and still without children.




Ernest Edward Sibray, of 15 Babworth Road, Retford, Notts., died, according to probate records, on 28/03/1939.  Probate was granted to Beatrice Sibray, widow.  He left effects of £25,146 11s 9d.




One of the earliest chess references to Ernest Edward Sibray as a chess-player must be an account of a match between Wesley College Chess Club and Arundel Chess Club, appearing in the Sheffield & Rotherham Independent of 12/04/1884.  Ernest lost both his games with S. Scott, but Wesley College won 7-3, which is more important.


What is somewhat surprising is that, though resident in Retford, “E. E. Sibray” was recorded as secretary of the Sheffield Athenaeum Chess Club from 1900-01 (and possibly before) to 1904-05, after which L. Whitaker took over that post.





Copyright © 2013 Stephen John Mann

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

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