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Post 14 Mrs. Phyllis Bosworth & Mr. Terence Reese


It’s just so sad for the lady Bridge players from before the war.   All we know for many of them is their surname and their marital status.    And I can say, after the numerous connections I’ve tried to make with family members, it’s so often the case that any knowledge of Bridge prowess has been lost over the years. Just have a look at pre-war news articles and you will see what I mean.    Maybe this was pre-war etiquette in newspaper reporting.

Let’s examine one particular example - I choose Mrs. Phyllis Bosworth.   In this case we are fortunate enough to have her Christian name as well - there are many other female Bridge stars where that is not the case.   Now perhaps I’ve got this wrong and one of you knows more about her than I do. It’s easy to reel off the tournaments and the like she played in by searching through Bridge magazines, I suppose. She played in the 1932 Crockford’s v. Anglo Dutch German match (playing with Captain Jack Dalton, Mr William Dalton’s son), and was part of the team that won the very first Lady Milne, in 1934, amongst other achievements ( before the war most correspondents referred to a “cup”, rather than a “trophy”, although some used both terms).

My interest in her was first aroused because she was in the front rank team that came down to Bournemouth in 1933, establishing this place as one of the premier destinations for Contract Bridge in Britain.   The team from the British Bridge World played a team from the famous Wessex Bridge Club (yes, the very one where Victor Mollo first played).   The match was on the exhibition floor of “Beales Department Store”.   Beales is still a department store, but the “Exhibition Floor” was blown up by the Germans during the war and the whole store was rebuilt in a monstrous design that is the opposite of a “glory to behold”.

A full report was written up in the “Bournemouth Daily Echo, Monday 20th November 1933, page 3” by the Wessex Captain, Roland Keen.   That newspaper has not yet been digitised in the British Newspaper Library archive.   A photograph of one table was the part-leader in the “Bournemouth Daily Echo, Friday, 17th November 1933".   I know because I’ve searched the copy micro-fiche in the Bournemouth Central Library - phew what a job !

Back to Mrs. Bosworth.   Book dealers who specialise in what’s referred to as “modern firsts” may have come across her.   Certainly crime novel collectors would have done.   She collaborated with a well known writer and produced a novel based around various bridge hands.   Here’s the book :

           Rose Henniker Heaton & Phyllis Bosworth, Contract With James,

           Elkin Mathews & Marrot Ltd., London, 1933, 1st edition.

As usual with these kind of novels, it has a a rather lovely dust wrapper and it’s these wrappers that are most highly prized.   It was quite the thing, if I can remember, in the 1950’s to chuck the wrapper and cover the book in brown paper.   For the books in my own collection, I’ve tried always to ensure they are with dust wrapper, since the wrapper (some call them jackets) is often a window to the author’s frame of mind.   This aspect, sadly, has been ignored by librarians over the years and one cannot tell by referencing, say Copac, the national library database, whether the copy has its wrapper or not.   A very important aspect of British art totally ignored I’m afraid.   And I notice, the E.B.U. reference collection sadly follows suit !.   Keep those jackets !

“The Bystander” was a rather exquisite society type newspaper (for what appears to be gossip and tittle-tattle) and in the “Tuesday 3rd July 1934, page 9” issue they show a sketch of Mrs. Bosworth.   She seems to be a fairly elegant lady if that is she, well turned out of course.

The final reference to her that I was able to find was in the “Bexhill-on-Sea Observer, Saturday, 13th May 1939, page 7”.   It reported that the cup for the highest local team in the Congress Teams-of-four included a Mrs. Bosworth.   Maybe that’s her and by that time maybe she was living “locally”.   If you check Ancestry for a “Phyllis Bosworth” there are several candidates - how does one choose.   All that was a year or more ago and I left it as a hopeless, unfulfilled task.   Recently I returned because a little bell in my head was ringing.

I had read earlier in that “The Bystander” article that she was “O.C.” to the “ten-shilling” Bridge game at Crockford’s.   Crockford’s, before the war, would call itself a gentleman’s club”, others might refer to it as a gambling joint.   Whatever, it occupied sumptuous premises at “16 Carlton House Terrace” in London.   This gave me an idea, maybe she lived in !   So I began searching the pre-war Electoral Rolls for Westminster, which includes the area around Carlton House Terrace.   And to my surprise, up popped a “Phyllis Bosworth”.

Her name on the pre-war rolls ( the ones I checked) is exactly that, “Phyllis Bosworth”, so my heart sank again.   But on the 1946 Roll there was a change. She’s still there, but this time the name is given as “Phyllis A. Bosworth”. That extra initial makes a world of difference. Searching the Ancestry databases gave a single match - “Phyllis A. S. Bosworth”, died about September 1965, born about 1890.

Now with those extra initials, I was able to find her probate - it shocked me to the core.   Here’s what it said :

              BOSWORTH Phyllis Aylward Sears otherwise Phyllis Sears

              of Banstead Hospital Sutton Surrey died 24 Septembe 1965

              Probate London 12 January to John Terence Reese Journalist. £2926.

Yes that’s our Mr Terence Reese, surely ?

The little bell in my head still hadn’t stopped ringing, still just a tinkle - why “Sears”.     Searching the internet on various permutations I located a family blog site, I think possibly in Canada, which gave this information :

             Samuel Medbury Bosworth (Son)

             d. Jan 17, 1927 in Surrey. England.

             Probate - London Sept 3, to Phyllis Aylward Bosworth, single woman.

             Phyllis married a Sears, and she died in 1966, not sure how she is related.

There are lots of ladies with the name “Phyllis Sears” in Ancestry, but one in particular springs to the fore.   “Phyllis A. Sears” married “Samuel M. Bosworth” in Eltham, Kent in about July-Sept. 1915.   So I haven’t been able to work out whether it’s “Miss Phyllis A. Sears” who became “Mrs. Phyllis A. Bosworth”, or “Mrs. Phyllis A. Sears” who was “Miss Phyllis A. Bosworth”.   What do you think ?

Whether this adds to what we know about Mr. Reese you will all have a view.   I haven’t read anything much so far about that rather private gentleman, so maybe this is all common knowledge.

B.W., Ken in B..

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