Yorkshire Chess History
James Meek (junior)
There were two Mayors of York called James Meek, who were father and son. The son, at least, had an interest in chess.
James Meek, Senior
James Meek senior was born 1789/90, at Brompton, Northallerton. His mother was Martha Meek (born 1766/67, died 17/04/1841, age 74).
He moved to York to take up an apprenticeship with Joseph Agar, a currier, in 1803. Thereafter he apparently worked in various places away from York, before settling there again upon marrying his wife Jane.
By 1814 he had married Ann (born 1784/85). The couple had at least the following three children:
Back in York he started a business in Goodramgate. In time he was involved in glass manufacture as well as banking and the railway. He was chairman of the York City and County Banking Company for a number of years. As a Methodist he was opposed to the introduction of rail travel on Sundays, and resigned as chairman of the York and North Midland Railway over the issue.
He was Sherriff of York in 1827.
James Meek senior became an Alderman in 1835, remaining so to his death, and was Mayor of York in 1836-37 and 1850-51. (One source says he was also Mayor in 1848-49, though another says Edward Richard Anderson was Mayor that year. Conceivably Anderson died in office and Meek replaced him mid-term. That seems the only way of reconciling the conflicting sources.)
F. White’s General Directory of Kingston-upon-Hull & the City of York, 1846, listed James Meek as a glass manufacturer with his home at Middlethorpe Lodge, which was on Bishopthorpe Road.
Slater’s 1848 directory for Yorkshire listed Meek, Spencer and Wilson, glass manufacturers, at Fishergate.
Slater’s directory of Yorkshire and Lincolnshire, 1849, listed Meek, Spencer and Wilson as in 1848, and listed James Meek, Esq., at Middlethorpe Lodge.
White’s directory of Hull and York, 1851, listed James Meek Esq. at Middlethorpe Lodge, as well as listing James Meek junior (as below).
James Meek senior’s wife, Ann Meek, died 28/02/1861, aged 76.
James Meek senior died 13/12/1862 aged 72. A large red granite plaque commemorating him and others of his family is mounted on the outside of the wall of the chapel (of which he’d laid the foundation stone on 04/04/1837) in York Cemetery, Cemetery Road, York, to the left of the door. The plaque says he “peacefully closed a life of evident usefulness and benevolence on the 13th December 1862, aged 72 years.”
Non-Chess Life of James Meek, Junior
James Meek senor and his wife had only one son, James Meek junior, who was born 28/06/1815, and baptised on 20/10/1815.
He was admitted as a pensioner to St. John’s College, Cambridge, on 11/04/1837, but left, without taking a degree it seems, to join his father’s commercial concerns.
On 19/06/1839 or 20/06/1839, at York, he married Hannah Kettlewell (born 1818/19), daughter of John Kettlewell of Acaster Malbis, but she soon died, on 07/01/1840.
On 30/04/1845 or 10/05/1845, at York, he married Eleanor Smith (born 1821/22), daughter of Matthew Smith of Scarborough. James Meek junior and his second wife, Eleanor, had at least the following seven children:
James, William and Siward all studied at Cambridge University.
White’s directory of Hull and York, 1851, listed James Meek junior as a currier and leather merchant at Goodramgate, with his home at 9 Bootham.
James Meek junior also became Mayor of York three times: 1855-56, 1865-66, and 1866-67, and was knighted by Queen Victoria in 1869, so becoming Sir James Meek. He was also an official of the local freemasonry lodge.
In 1860 he became Captain Commandant in the 1st West York Rifle Volunteers.
In 1861, he was resident at Clifton, but when his father died in 1862, he inherited Middlethorpe Lodge.
In August 1866, while he was Mayor of York, the Prince and Princess of Wales were in York, visiting the Yorkshire Fine Art and Industrial Exhibition in Bootham Park Hospital grounds, the Yorkshire Agricultural Society’s annual show, and the Great Volunteer Review of 21,000 troops, the latter two taking place on the Knavesmire.
He was knighted at Windsor Castle on 09/07/1869, reportedly on account of the hospitality the Prince and Princess of Wales received in York back in 1866. Thus he became Sir James Meek.
His second wife, Eleanor, died on 09/09/1874, aged 51 years, and was buried in York cemetery.
Death of James Meek, Junior
Sir James Meek died on 10/011891, and was buried in York Cemetery, Cemetery Road, York, in the same grave as his second wife, Eleanor.
The grave inscriptions read:
Sacred to the Memory of Eleanor the beloved Wife of Sir James Meek Knt
who Departed this life the 9th September 1874 in the 52nd year of her Age
Sacred to the Memory of Sir James Meek Knt
late of Middlethorpe Lodge near the City of York
who Departed this life the 10th January 1891 in the 76th year of his Age
Daughter Phoebe Margaret Meek is interred in a grave adjacent to that of James and Eleanor.
“Mr. Meek” was present at the 1868 Yorkshire Chess Association meeting in York. He was also listed as a subscriber. This had to be James Meek, junior, before he was knighted, as his father was by then dead.
The 1869 YCA meeting in York was advertised in advance as having Sir James Meek among the Vice-Presidents.
Copyright © 2013 Stephen John Mann
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