Gerard Killoran wrote:The first reference to London 1851 I could find is The Dublin Evening Mail - Wednesday 09 October 1850 which has the Staunton theory.
...The next report I can find is from the Liverpool Mercury - Friday 13 December 1850...
Good luck with the lecture, Paul, but I hope it will challenge the Staunton theory becauseI fear otherwise you will give it further currency. Certainly he adopted the idea and did much of the work but it was not his idea originally and his contemporaries were clearly aware of this. Also the way he organised it annoyed many people, chiefly the London Chess Club.
You certainly cannot rely entirely on the piecemeal evidence available in the British newspaper archive for this.
The issue of whether the 1851 London tournament was Staunton's idea (as of course he and his ardent backers like R. D. Keene will always claim) was challenged by sports historian Dr. Adrian Harvey in an article for Kaissiber 17 (2001) and further investigated by Harvey and myself subsequently. See page 54 of my "Eminent Victorian Chess Players."
The suggestion to organise a chess tournament in connection with the Great Exhibition was first made to Staunton by a "S.M.N." of Trinity College Dublin (eminent mathematician Dr. George Salmon) in a letter published in the Chess Player's Chronicle, January 1850.
On 22 May 1850 there was a meeting of the Chess Association at Leeds (curiously overlooked by Medley when he wrote his account of the B.C.A. for the book of the 1862 Congress). Saint Amant and Salmon were among those present but Staunton was not. Probably this was why the English chess press did not mention it but the July number of the French chess magazine La Regence had a long report (pages 193-203).
The idea of the tournament was clearly discussed in Leeds because Saint Amant, towards the end of his speech (see page 202) said:
"Honneur aux Amateurs d'Echecs de Londres qui, a cette occasion, s'occupent d'organiser un grand tournoi sur l'Echiquier."
Staunton was not specifically named in that connection. In the Illustrated London News of 9 November the idea of the tournament was put forward to a wider audience in one of Staunton's "anonymous" letters.
Finally, when Staunton's book appeared, it was attacked in a long review published in the form of a booklet (1852) by a member of the London Chess Club which is worth mentioning in your lecture. It is possibly still available in Google Books.