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Charles French Smith
Number of games in database: 3
Years covered: 1849 to 1850

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(born 1828, died Feb-23-1868, 39 years old) Ireland (federation/nationality United Kingdom)

[what is this?]

Irish-born player who relocated to London in his youth, Smith became one of the leading amateurs in the city during the period 1847-1850. His career was interrupted when he was committed to the Royal Bethlem Hospital for several months during 1851 suffering from mental instability, thereby negating any involvement in the great chess congress of that year.

He resumed over-the-board play during 1852-53, and even won a significant correspondence tournament held between 1853-1856, but his chess days were coming to an end. The 1861 census found him in the Grove Hall Lunatic Asylum, and it was there in 1868, aged just 40, that he apparently hung himself.


(1) On the Trail of a Forgotten Victorian Expert

(2) Historical notes on some chess players; pp.81-90; John Townsend, 2014

Last updated: 2019-07-12 01:56:54

 page 1 of 1; 3 games  PGN Download 
Game  ResultMoves YearEvent/LocaleOpening
1. H Buckle vs C F Smith 1-0351849Ries' Divan TournamentC50 Giuoco Piano
2. C F Smith vs H Buckle 0-1291849Ries' Divan TournamentB40 Sicilian
3. Bird vs C F Smith  1-0211850Casual GameC51 Evans Gambit
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2) | Smith wins | Smith loses  

Kibitzer's Corner
Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: Some sources ( have identified this player as the mysterious <Smith> who flitted in and out of the Birmingham tournament of 1858:

Game Collection: Birmingham 1858

I'm unaware of any positive evidence for this, e.g., a contemporary publication that included any identifying initial, but my doubt has been reinforced upon reading the chapter on <C F Smith> in John Townsend's <Historical notes on some chess players> (2014).

His discovery that Smith's adulthood was bedevilled by mental illness supports the suspicion that Smith was already lost to the game by 1858.

Harding had already noted, back in 2011:

<Smith's chess career, brief as it was, falls into three periods. First comes the period 1848-50, the formative years from which about two-thirds of his known games come. Second, there is a re-emergence into competition in late 1852 and he is quite active in 1853. Now he is recognised as one of a group of accomplished amateurs, but he appears to have fallen behind his old adversary Bird, then approaching master strength. The third period is that of the postal tournament, after which no game by Smith is known except the one published in 1859, which may in fact have been played earlier.>

Premium Chessgames Member
  Stonehenge: Same chap methinks:

Charles France Smith

Premium Chessgames Member
  Tabanus: London Births and Baptisms, Parish of St. James, Clerkenwell, Middlesex has a "Charles French" born 21 Jan 1827, baptized 22 April 1827, parents James & Harriet Smith. Abode Lloyds row. Father's occupation: Cabinet maker. Why "Charles French" anyway, born in Ireland?
Premium Chessgames Member
  Tabanus: The Era, 7 November 1858, p. 13:

<Chess in the City-road. We hear that a Chess club has been lately organised at Browning's, Commercial Coffee-house, in the City-road, and wish it every success. Chess meetings at the same house were held some few years ago, and Messrs. Bird, C. F. Smith, and other good players, attended them regularly. The subscription to this new society is a monthly one, and the whole, we learn, only amounts to 6s. per annum.>

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  whiteshark: Here's a link to Harding's worth reading article: (that works for me)
Premium Chessgames Member

Charles French Smith in Renette's book. Name found by Townsend according to Edo chess. Must be the one born born 21 Jan 1827.

Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: <Charles France Smith> Mea culpa.

<Must be the one born born 21 Jan 1827.>

Why? The 1851 census, in which Townsend found the <Chas. F Smith>, a patient of Bethlem Royal Hospital, whom he identified as the chess player, states his birthplace as <Waterford, Ireland>, c.1828. Smith's hospital admission form gives the same birthplace.

Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: Renette's book adds one interesting detail - Falkbeer placed Smith in Birmingham in December 1857 (<Sunday Times>, 20.12.1857). This I admit increases the possibility that our man may have been present at the Birmingham congress.

I should explain why Townsend could be sure that Smith the chess player and Smith the <lunatic> are one and the same. Smith's surviving Bethlem hospital records reveal one of the two securities (a person legally responsible for the incoming patient) as John Smith (presumably his father or close relative) of <16 Spencer Terrace, Islington>. This same address had appeared in the chess column of <Bell's Life> in 1847 (May 2nd, p.8) requesting a correspondence opponent for one <C F Smith>. Sweet as!

Premium Chessgames Member
  Tabanus: The UK Lunacy Patients Admission Registers" gives "Smith, Charles French", licenced house "Grove Hall", d. 21 Feb 1868.

Hmm. The 1851 census is very blurred. has Institution Royal Hospital of Bethlehem, Chas F Benish, the "Chas F. Smith" there is member-submitted.

Plus I find no Charles Smith b. or bapt. in Waterford, Ireland.

Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: <Plus I find no Charles Smith b. or bapt. in Waterford, Ireland.>

Don't know if this will be of help using a certain well-known genealogical site, but Townsend's reference is <National Archives, HO 107, 1565, f.524.>

<Why "Charles French" anyway, born in Ireland?>

The French Connection:

Premium Chessgames Member
  Tabanus: Clerkenwell is situated in S part of Islington.

The Clerkenwell source is a <baptism> register, he was bapt. 22 April 1827. The birth date is written in the left margin (outside of the form), 21 Jan 1827. Is it therefore possible that he was born in Ireland, and that the two are the same.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Tabanus: Case closed? :)
Premium Chessgames Member
  Tabanus: Ireland, Select Marriages:

James Smith, spouse Harriet Helsham, married 10 May 1828 in Kill St Nicholas, Waterford, Ireland. If them, it's 16 months after Charles was born.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Tabanus: Ilustrated London News, 17 July 1847, p. 43:

<Any amateur wishing to play a Game at Chess by Correspondence, may hear of an opponent, by addressing "C. F. Smith, 16, Spencer-terrace, Lower Road, Islington".>

Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: <Smith's surviving Bethlem hospital records reveal one of the two securities (a person legally responsible for the incoming patient) as John Smith (presumably his father or close relative) of <16 Spencer Terrace, Islington>.>

In the 1851 census, at this address are found: John Smith, Irish-born, married, age 60, clerk in National Bank of Ireland; wife, Jane, 38, Irish-born; two sons, both at school, James, 16, Irish-born, and William, 12, born in Islington; a servant, Anne Pierse, 41, Irish-born.

The 1841 census has the Smith family living at another address in Islington - John Smith, 50, a clerk, Irish-born; no wife listed; <Chas. F Smith>, 13, a clerk, Irish-born; James, 6, Irish-born; Sidney, 4, and William, 2, both born in Middlesex; Anne Pierce, 25, Irish-born.

Townsend surmises the family probably moved from Ireland to London between 1835 and 1837, with John being transferred from the National Bank branch in Waterford to the head office in London.

Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: Illustrated London News, 17 July 1847, p. 43:

<ILN>, September 12th 1846:

Premium Chessgames Member
  Jean Defuse: ...

More game played by C.F. Smith:

Smith vs NN, 1852

A Simons vs Smith, 1852 (London)

Source: JWD


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