Charles Henry Stanley (1819-1901)

By Bill Wall


Charles Henry Stanley was born in September 1819, in Brighton, England.


Stanley was well known from about 1837, in all the London chess clubs, and at the Divan, where he was a frequent visitor.  Stanley considered H. W. Popert (1797-1846) his principal chess instructor.  Popert lived in Hamburg, Germany, and visited London in the 1840s as a merchant.


In December, 1841, Stanley defeated Howard Staunton, winning 3 games, losing 2 games, and drawing 1 game, receiving odds of pawn and move.


In 1842, Stanley emigrated from London to New York to work in the British Consulate.


Stanley was considered the best chess player in New York from 1842 to 1857.


In 1844, Stanley defeated John William Schulten (1821-1875) in two matches at the New York Chess Club, Carlton House on Broadway, winning 11-5 and 11-9.


In 1844, Stanley defeated Charles Vezin at the Philadelphia Aethenaeum.  He won 11, lost 7, and drew 3.


Stanley became secretary of the New York Chess Club.


On March 1, 1845, Stanley started a chess column in The Spirit of the Times.  It contained the first chess problem published in America.  The chess column ran until October 4, 1848.


In 1845, Stanley, again, defeated Schulten in a match in New York, scoring 15-13.


In October, 1845, Stanley started a fourth match with Schulten.


In December 1845, Stanley defeated Eugene Rousseau, a bank clerk, in the first-ever U.S. chess championship (although the term “US Chess Champion” did not exist at the time).  The match was played for a stake of $1,000 (winner-take- all) and held at the Sazerac Coffee House in New Orleans.  Stanley won the match with 15 wins, 8 losses, and 8 draws.  Rousseau’s second in the match was Ernest Morphy, who took his 8-year-old nephew, Paul Morphy, to the match.  The match was held from December 1 through December 27, 1845.  Both players were foreign émigrés.


In March, 1846, Stanley lost to Schulten in their 4th match, losing 11 games, winning 7 games, and drawing 4 games.


In 1846 Stanley defeated Charles Vezin (1781-1853) of Philadelphia in New York, winning 11 games, losing 7, and drawing 3.


In 1846, Charles Vezin defeated Stanley in a correspondence game.


In 1846, Stanley beat George Hammond (1815-1881) of Boston in a match in New York with 11 wins, 3 losses, and 4 draws.  Stanley also played him in Boston and won with 5 wins, 2 losses, and 2 draws.


In October, 1846, Stanley started the American Chess Magazine: a periodical Organ of Communication for American Chess-Players, which folded in September 1847.

In 1846, he published the first U.S. book on a chess match, Thirty-one Games at Chess: Comprising the Whole Number of Games Played in a Match Between Eugene Rousseau of New Orleans and C. H. Stanley, Secretary of the N.Y. Chess Club, with Notes as Originally Reported for the New Orleans Commercial Times.

From November 4, 1848 until March 15, 1856, the New York Albion published Stanley’s chess column.


In 1850, Stanley got married.


In February 1850, Stanley defeated John Spencer Turner (1829-1905) in Washington, D.C. with 11 wins, 5 losses, and 1 draw.  It was considered the 2nd l U.S. chess championship match.  The match took place from February 11 through February 14, 1850.  They played for a stake of $1000 and played 17 games in four days.


In 1850, Stanley drew a match against Johann Jacob Loewenthal (+3-3=0) in New York.


In 1852 Stanley suggested the holding of an international chess tournament at the Great Exhibition in New York in 1853, but nothing came of it.


In 1852, Stanley drew a match with Pierre Charles Fournier de Saint Amant in New York (+4-4=0).  At the time, St. Amant was passing through New York on his way to the west coast.  Stanley had worked for the British Consulate and St. Amant had worked for the French Consulate.


In 1855, Stanley organized the first World Problem Tournament.


In June 1855, Charles Stanley, who was the British Vice Consul at the port of New York, was arrested in New York on the charge of violating the neutrality laws by inviting Americans to enlist in the British army and proceeding to the Crimea.  At the time, he was considered the US chess champion. (source: New Orleans Times-Picayune, July 8, 1855)


In 1856, Stanley was recalled to England to avoid a scandal involving recruiting people living in the United States to fight for England in the Crimean War.  He lost his position and a comfortable life-style as British Consul.


In October, 1857, Stanley was knocked out in the first round of the 1st American Chess Congress by Theodore Lichtenhein, winning 2 games and losing 3 games.  Paul Morphy won the tournament.  After the tournament, Morphy beat Stanley +4-1 in a casual match while giving Stanley the odds of "pawn and the move."  Morphy won the $100 stake and gave the money to Stanley’s pregnant wife (Charles Stanley had a drinking problem and would have spent the money on alcohol).  Stanley’s wife was so grateful, she named her daughter Pauline.


In December, 1857, Stanley’s daughter, Pauline, was born.


From October, 1858, to June, 1859, Stanley edited a chess column for the Harper’s Weekly.


In January, 1859, Stanley published The Chess Player’s Instructor, or, Guide to Beginners.  It went into a second printing by the end of the year.  The price was 50 cents.


In May, 1859, Stanley published Morphy’s Match Games.


In 1860 Stanley returned to England and took 2nd in the 3rd British Chess Association Congress in Cambridge, England, losing to Ignatz von Kolisch.


From 1860 to 1862, Stanley edited a chess column in the Manchester Express and Guardian.


In 1861, Stanley won a chess tournament in Leeds, England.


In 1862, Stanley returned to America.


In 1868, Stanley lost a match to George Mackenzie in New York, winning one game and losing two games.


In 1869, Stanley wrote a chess column for the New York Round Table.


In 1880, Stanley’s book, The Chess Player’s Instructor, was published under the title De Witt’s American Chess Manual.


In 1889, Stanley visited the 1889 Chess Congress in New York.


He spent his last 20 years in and out of institutions on Ward’s Island (State Emigrant Refuge and Hospital) and in the Bronx, probably due to alcoholism.  William Steinitz was also at Ward’s Island, and he died there on August 12, 1900.


Stanley died on October 6, 1901, at the age of 82.