Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Hoyle in Halifax?

In the essay "250 Years," I noted Hoyle's involvement in a maritime insurance venture in Rotterdam in the 1720s. That refuted my earlier assertion that nothing is known of Hoyle's life before he began to tutor and write about the game of whist in the 1740s. 

A recent email from Dave Walker hints that we may be able to find even earlier information. Dave sent me a snippet from Halifax Books and Authors by J. Horsfall Turner (1906), p177. You can find the book in the Internet Archive. The passage begins: 

THE HOYLES. As with the families of several other local authors that we have named, the Hoyles have resided in the parish ever since surnames were adopted, that is, before 1400, or even 1300 in many cases. The Hoyles take their name from their original place of residence, possibly places of residences, for there were Hoyles of Hoyle or the Hole in Hipperholme, Hoyles of the Hole in Sowerby, besides a family similarly named from the Hole in Colne Valley. I believe these had not a common origin...

In the essay "The Yorkshire Hoyles and the Doctrine of Chances," I've rejected the view that Edmond was one of the landed Hoyles of Yorkshire. The key reference is: 

Yorkshire has been called the county of [Edmond Hoyle's] birth, but the present representative of the Yorkshire Hoyles, who acquired (temp. Edward III.) estates near Halifax, Mr. Fretwell Hoyle, has taken great pains of his genealogy, and has come to the conclusion that the Edmond Hoyle of whist celebrity was not in any way connected with his family. (Julian Marshall, "Books on Gaming" in Notes and Queries, 7th Ser. VII. June 22, 1889, p481)

Turner suggests that the were multiple Hoyle families in Yorkshire. Perhaps Edmond was one of the others? He goes on to say:

Besides EDMOND HOYLE, whose work on "Games" reached numerous editions, claimed conclusively by Mr. E. J. Walker, in the "Halifax Guardian" Portfolio, as productions of a Halifax man...

Now, that is new and interesting! Before we look into the Halifax Guardian, let's consider Yorkshire geography. The image below, from Google Maps, highlights Rotherham, the home of the landed Hoyles in the 19c and Halifax, where it is suggested that Hoyle came from.


So is Edmond from Halifax after all? And from a different Hoyle family than Fretwell? 

I've found more about the Halifax Guardian and it's "Portfolios." The Guardian is no longer published, but there was an article in the Halifax Courier of March 13, 2015 (available here) that described the portfolios. The article was called "Recording tales of old Halifax" and continued "Newspaperman Walker collected stories that tell history of our town in years gone by." Edward Johnson Walker wrote a series of 100 columns in the weekly Guardian beginning in June 1856 called "Our Local Portfolio," devoted to "interesting matter connected with the parish of Halifax." The Portfolio was published nearly weekly--by the end of July, 1858, nearly 100 articles had appeared. 

The Halifax Guardian is available on microfilm at the Halifax Central Library, the British Library and the Library of Congress. Perhaps one or more will open soon and I can find someone willing to spend a day with a microfilm reader. 

What did Mr. Walker have to say about Hoyle?