A Medley for Morphy


In 1858 Morphy traveled to England where he beat Rev. John Owen and Johann Löwenthal in match play. Before crossing the English channel to Paris where he defeated Daniel Harrwitz, Adolf Anderssen and Augustus Mongredien in match play, Morphy engaged in many casual games with a variety of players of various strength. One of these players was a man named George Webb Medley. While Morphy beat Medley overall in their various casual and consultation games, to my knowledge not a lot has been preserved concerning their encounters. The Chessopedia entry on Medly (which article is essentially the same as's mini-bio on Medley - both presumably authored by the wonderful Bill Wall)  claims that "In 1858, he lost a match to Paul Morphy in London (+2-3=0)."  While I can aver with reasonable certainty that Morphy and Medley never played a match, it's possible they may have played a series of casual games such as Morphy did with Boden ( and it would have most likely taken place in July, 1858) though I've  never seen anything to indicate even that.  My impression has been that they simply met in several casual games. Whatever the case may be, in the preserved games between the two, the Englishman Medley had a good showing against the trans-Atlantic master and in the game below (which I've only been able to find in Malcolm Shibut's Paul Morphy and the Evolution of Chess - game #219) Medley beats Morphy in Morphy's own specialty, the Evans Gambit, the main line no less. Playing on even terms, I only know of 3 Evans Gambits that Morphy lost and this is the only one with the black pieces (He lost to Anderssen in 1858 and to de Rivière in 1859 playing the White pieces. This does not include a consultation game he lost with the Black pieces against the team of Paul Journoud and Jules Arnous de Rivière in 1858).





 The Chessopedia also claims that "In 1860, [Medley] lost a match to Ignatz Von Kolisch (+0-2-2). Against Medley, Ignatz Von Kolisch sometimes took two hours for three moves. After this match, there was a push to have a time limit in chess, which led to the introduction of sand glasses and clocks in chess."
I have no idea if this is accurate, but it makes a curious juxtaposition against Philip W. Sergent's blurb on Medley in Morphy's Games of Chess
          "secretary of the London Chess Club ; for some years 
          Hon.Sec. B.C.A.  ; d. December 1898. 
Medley deserves 
credit as the principal mover in the introduction 
          of a time-limit for chess."

     George Webb Medley, born in 1826, was 11 years older than Morphy. His father was an English stockbroker, but his mother was Jamaican. As an infant he found himself living in Jamaica where his family owned a plantation with 200 hundred slaves. The slave revolution on the island in 1841 sent the family packing back to England.
     George had a sister, Amelia and a brother, John. All three were well educated and all three were chess players. In the 1849 knockout tournament at Simpson's Divan, George and John tied for 2nd place with George securing that position in their play-off game.
     As alluded to by Sergeant, Medley held important roles in the B.C.A. He held the position of Honorary Secretary in 1862, 1866 and 1868. In 1872 he served as vice-president.
     Medley was rather wealthy, maybe partly from his inheritance, but most definitely from his business acumen. Starting off following in his father's footsteps as a stockbroker, Medley invested heavily in railroads both in England and America. He became the chairman of the Assam Railway and Trading Company.  In 1871 he married the independently wealthy Maria (Molly) Louise Selous. At his death,  Molly commission the erection of a hospital in his honor. At her own death she bequeathed the sum of £20,000 to create and fund The George Webb Medley scholarship at the
University of Oxford. This fund promotes the study of economics and includes:

            -George Webb Medley Endowment Fund
            -George Webb Medley Prizes for the M.Phil in Economics
            Two prizes, each of the value of £300, will be awarded on 
            the results of the M.Phil examination in Economics, one for 
            the best
thesis, and one for the best performance in the 
            written papers. 
            -George Webb Medley Undergraduate Thesis Prize 
            The Social Sciences Division Board gives notice that a prize 
            of the value of up to £150 may be awarded annually for a thesis 
            on an
Economics subject submitted in place of a paper in the 
            Final Honour Schools of Philosophy, Politics, and Economics, 
            or History and Economics, or Economics and Management.

   George Webb Medley
These prizes reflect George Webb Medley's interest in economics, particularly his commitment to the concept of Free Trade. 

     As a member of the Cobden Club and the Financial Reform Association, he had, just as a fellow chess player, Augustus Mongredien, published numerous pamphlets of the idea of Free Trade, including:
     -The fiscal federation of the empire . 1892. 15 pp. 
     -The trade depression: its causes and its remedies -  1885.  42 pp. 
     -Fair trade unmasked; or, Notes on the minority report of the royal 
         commission on the depression of trade and indu
stry - 1887. 96 pp. 
     -The reciprocity craze. A tract for the times - 1881.  36 pp.  
     -The German Bogey: A Reply to "Made in Germany"  - 1896.  99 pp.  


The photos here are small, cropped, low-res facsimiles of those presented here and used by for illustrative and educational purposes by virtue of Fair Use