James Buckton and Thomas Leeming

The Hereford Chess Club

The Hereford Chess Club

It’s not every day that you come across a painting of your great great grandfather, but that is what happened to me, a short while ago.

Putting my great great grandmothers name into Google I came across her name in a blog by The Streatham and Brixton Chess Club. I read on, and was astonished to find a painting of a group of gentlemen playing chess, one of them, my ancestor, James Buckton. The painting, The Hereford Chess Club.

The blog, by two gentlemen from The Streatham and Brixton Chess Club, and called Every Picture Tells A Story, is about their search for details of the artist, Thomas Leeming, as well as the story behind the painting. In their expeditions to Hereford, they had uncovered the story of the friendship between Thomas Leeming and James Buckton.

Thomas Leeming, born circa 1788, probably in Lancashire painted pictures and miniatures of the aristocracy. It is unsure how Thomas and James met, both lived in London, both played Chess, so maybe at a Chess Club. Thomas married Mary Link in 1817 in Hereford. She was the daughter of George Link, a wine merchant, and freeman of the city of Hereford. Thomas must have introduced Mary to James Buckton, and in turn James met her younger sister Eliza Phillippa Link. They married in London in 1819, with Thomas as a witness.

Thomas had regularly exhibited at the Royal Acadamy between 1811 and 1822. One of the paintings, painted in 1815, is a group of gentlemen playing Chess, called The Chess Club of Hereford. Featured in the foreground is Samuel Beavan on the left, and Edwin Goode Wright on the right.

It would appear that Thomas copied his own painting in 1818, substituting James Buckton for Samuel Beavan and changing a few other details. Maybe James had commissioned the painting. We will probably never know. An interesting fact, Thomas has actually painted himself into both paintings, standing at the back, watching the games in progress.

Thomas died on 24th May 1822, at Park Street London. Mary went on the marry again, George Day. After Mary died in 1838, George Day then married Sarah Link, another sister of Mary and Eliza Phillippa. In 1841, George and Sarah are shown in the Isle of Man, with Thomas Leeming junior, and Mary and Georges three children, as well as Sarah Harriet Buckton, one of James and Elizas daughters.

Thanks to Richard and Martin at the Streatham and Brixton Chess Club for all their hard work.


Comments are closed.