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C. T. Blanshard (1852-1924)

Charles Thomas Blanshard   M. A.

(26th Jan.1852   -   Aug. 1924) 

C. T. Blanshard.


Charles Blanshard was born in Leeds in 1852, the son of the Rev. Richard Blanshard of Lincoln College, Oxford. An ancestor of his was William Isaac Blanshard, a barrister at law and an expert at taking notes in a shorthand he devised himself, and published a book on it in 1779, though it never reached the popularity of Pitman’s method. He also helped defend Warren Hastings when he was impeached in 1787 for corruption in his position as first Governor General of India. 

Charles attended Clifton College and took a scholarship to Queen’s College, Oxford, and in 1874 took first class degrees in both Chemistry and Physics, the first person at Oxford to do so. In 1880 he took up the study of phonography, much like his forefather, William. He started the Oxford School of Shorthand and tried to get the University authorities to take the subject seriously, without any lasting success. 

His main occupation was teaching, natural science, shorthand and modern languages being his forte. There was a Charles T. Blanshard listed as headmaster of Calday Grange Grammar School, on the Wirral, between 1886 – 1891, who could be our subject – the name, initials, profession and dates are exactly right, but there is, at present, no corroboration. 

He was a great traveller, having visited most countries of Europe, including Scandinavia and Russia. Three of these trips he made in a canoe. He was fond of mountaineering and cycling. 

Apart from his many writings on shorthand and articles on various scientific topics, he published five books on chess, including a series entitled Chess Master Play, which gave the best games played in international tournaments between 1887 and 1896. There were also three small volumes called Classified Chess Openings. These were later published in one volume. 

He started a chess column in the Plymouth-based Western Daily Mercury in August 1902, which he edited for a year, together with Philip Dancer, General Secretary of the new Cornwall C.A., who contributed the Cornish input. 

That he was not among the strongest of Devon players at that time, is illustrated by the fact that he lost to Mrs. Rhoda Bowles on Board 8 of the North v South Devon match in 1902. But at the same event, he gave a blindfold exhibition, conducting two Knight’s Tours simultaneously, so clearly possessed a considerable mental dexterity. In fact, the Knight’s Tour held a special fascination for him, as it did for several other chess-playing mathematicians. H. E. Dudeney was a leading expert at the time, but Blanshard, working independently, made several discoveries in this field which he published in the Chess Amateur in August 1923 (p.349). 

At the Southern Union Congress in Plymouth in 1903, he played in the third American Section, where he won but a solitary point out of seven, and that was against a Miss Hunt from North Devon, who scored a complete blank. Henry Bremridge came 1st= with 5½.  Yet the fact that in the photograph below he was seated front centre hints at the esteem in which he was held by his peers.

S.C.C.U. Congress at Plymouth 1903


A group from the Southern Union Congress at Goodbody’s Café, Bedford Street, Plymouth, September  1903.

Front row: G. E. H. Bellingham, A. Clark.

Seated (l – r): C. J. Lambert (Exeter); Rhoda Annie Bowles (born in Dawlish); R. F. B. Jones; C. T. Blanshard (Totnes); Rev. W. C. Palmer; Mrs Joughin; F. W. Forrest.

Standing: E. D. Fawcett; Thomas Taylor (Plymouth); A. Emery; Henry L. Bowles; W. P. Weekes; C. F. Lewis; Rev. J. F. Welsh; C. F. Cooper.

Back row: F. J. Welsh; J. A. Parry; W. P. MacBean; W. H. Watts; A. Axtell. 

When the Devon Association was founded in October 1901, Blanshard was on the committee, and he founded the Totnes club at this time. It is not clear whether he stayed in Devon throughout the remaining 23 years of his life. He certainly played postal chess for the county during this period, and as late as 1922 was paying an annual fee of 52p to be one of the Association’s 28 Vice Presidents, but was not listed among the membership of any Devon club. So perhaps he was living a distance away in his later years, but maintaining contacts. 

At the DCCA’s A.G.M. in October 1924, the General Secretary, George W. Cutler, reported  on the passing, that year, of a great swathe of Pioneers, including Carslake Winter-Wood and his sister, Mrs. W. J. Baird, the Secretary of the Totnes Club, the “genial and much loved J. Darley Dingle”, and followed by “Mr. C. T. Blanshard, who was playing for Devon in a correspondence match at the time of his death, and whose name and connection with Devon Chess from the foundation of Association will be familiar to very many of you”. 

Having been so active at the time of Devon’s Chess “Big Bang” (1901 -02) Charles Blanshard was indeed a true Pioneer. 

 R. H. Jones. copyright 2011 

Bibliography: BCM 1903.

Website: Knight’s Tour Notes by George Jelliss.

Website: Calday Grange Grammar School, The Wirral.

Devon Chess Pioneer – G. W. Cutler (1845-1927).

George W. Cutler. (1845 – 1927) 


George W. Cutler



Photograph by T. Arthur Goard, son-in-law, fellow member of Exeter Chess Club and Vice-President of Exeter Camera Club. 

George Cutler was a tireless worker for the Devon County Chess Association for almost a quarter of a century from the time of its formation in 1901. 

George William Cutler was born in Christchurch, Hampshire in August 1844. He first learned the game about 1868 and for about 10 years was his main recreation. Then his career in banking took over and he didn’t play for about 20 years. He retired as a Bankers’ Accountant and moved to Exeter in 1896 and finding himself with more leisure time returned to the game, joining the Exeter Club and playing most days. 

The 1901 census records that he was a widower and lived with his daughter Matilda Ellen and her husband, Thomas Arthur Goard, a 35 year old dentist living at 7, Elm Grove Road, Exeter, with their 3 year old son Arthur. Goard was also a member of Exeter Chess Club and a keen photographer (see above) 

When the Devon County Association was founded in 1901, although the Rev. Henry Bremridge was the hard-working figurehead, he had Cutler’s full and active support. At the Association’s 1905 A.G.M. Bremridge had determined to give up the posts of both Secretary and Treasurer. In the end, a compromise was reached when Cutler took over as Treasurer on condition that Bremridge remained as Secretary. 

The BCM of January 1908 contained a very affectionate portrait of Henry Bremridge, written by Cutler, in which he stated that he was a regular visitor to Bremridge’s  Winkleigh Vicarage. The Editor added the footnote,  “The kindly sentiments expressed here show how close is the bond of friendship is between the two leading officials of the Association”. 

Eventually, in 1909 Bremridge did resign as Secretary, and it wasn’t long before Cutler held both key posts himself. He held these posts as late as 1924, when he was still living at his son-in-law’s house in Elm Grove Road. According to the Exeter club minute books, Cutler attended their A.G.M.s but played no active role in the club’s administration, reserving his energies for the Devon Association. 

He was a strong correspondence player, having played 9 games for Devon by 1906, winning 7 and drawing 1. In Rhoda Bowles’ postal tournaments in Womanhood, he played 25 games of which he won 17 and drew 5. He won 2nd prize in Section B of the 4th Tournament and was awarded the Brilliancy Bronze medal.

In 1927, Goard died aged 61 (“one of the club’s oldest members”) and Cutler, then 82, left Exeter and moved to 3, Kingsdown Road, Epsom. He died there in November 1927 aged 83. There is no mention of his death in the Exeter Club’s minutes nor any obituary in other contemporary chess literature. He seems to have died a forgotten man, but someone who devoted himself to the first quarter century of the D.C.C.A. must be remembered as a true Pioneer. 

© R. H. Jones   2010   All rights reserved. 


BCMs 1906 & 1908

Exeter club minute books.

1901 & 1911 census online.