Town and University teams of Cambridge 1847 by Felix (Permission of MCC Museum) See New writing page for a discussion of this picture entitled “Two of a kind”
1) To share my research findings and current research into cricket in Cambridgeshire 1700 – 1890.
2) Invite comments, queries and contributions by email
My name is WillieSugg.
I have researched Cambridgeshire cricket of the 18th and 19th centuries for about 20 years. I have written three small books: “A Tradition Unshared”, “The Cambridge Cricket Club Era”, and “Fenner’s Men”. Books are a limited medium, however, (at least mine are) and this site is intended as a more flexible way of sharing and updating information. It has been in a bit of a mess in recent months, but I think I have tidied it up enough to be readable. Not perfect but getting there. I hope you find it interesting, useful and enjoyable.
Acknowledgements for pictures
Pictures used on this site have been haphazardly collected – mostly from books (often very old), newspapers, and library archives. I am trying to track down sources and copyright so that I can seek permission to use them. If you know the copyright owners of any picture where I have given no acknowledgement please let me know so that I can either do so or remove the picture if preferred.
The “Home” page contains a random selection of items that I have come across in my research (and sometimes other people’s).
“Research so far” is an overview of Cambridgeshire cricket from the 17th century to 1871.
“Research gaps” summarises what I am looking into at the moment.
“18th century”, “1800-21”, “1822-37”, “1838-48” and “Villages 1822-48” contains references to players, matches etc in the respective periods.
“1857-71” is an article outlining my view on the reasons for the Cambridgeshire sides of that period coming to a halt.
“1st Cambs sides” is a discussion of which of several possibilities might best be considered the first Cambridgeshire representative side.
“Robert Carpenter”, “Billy Buttress”, “William Cornwell”, “George Tarrant” and “Israel Haggis” are player profiles.
“Local context” attempts to put the cricket history into the context of the local history and geography of Cambridgeshire.
“What’s in a name” is about a match in 1861 which I think tell’s much about Cambridgeshire cricket at that time.
“Gallery One” and “Gallery Two” contain pictures of Cambridgeshire players, matches and places from the 19th century.
“New writing” is the beginnings a history of early Cambridgeshire cricket told through key events. See below for a list of contents.
“Email me”– I would love to receive comments, queries and information.
“Maps 1700-1848” is a look at how the game spread in Cambridgeshire using a series of maps.
A bit slow on the uptake.
It has taken me some time, but eventually I have, with the help of Steve Kent-Phillips, put two and two together to make sense of the report of a Suffolk v Cambridgeshire match played at Newmarket in 1791. The following year, a match between Cambridge and Newmarket was billed as a return match. In the absence of any report of a match earlier in that season it seems most likely to have been the return of the 1791 match, meaning that the earlier match was not a county match at all. See the article in “New writing” on this match for a fuller discussion.
For the Million
When F P Fenner opened his cricket ground in 1848, with the priority of serving the Cambridge University Club, there was considerable objection to the possibility of the Town and County Club also playing there rather than, as before, on the public Parker’s Piece. On 27th May a letter appeared in the Cambridge Independent Press under the name of “Argus” voicing one such objection and referring, as a part of his argument, to the then current trend for making things accessible “for the million”. On first reading that letter I was curious as to the origin and significance of “for the million”.
On further research I have found several examples of the phrase being used at around that time. In 1847, for example, Punch Magazine headlined an article on cheap bread: “Consolation for the Million” and Thomas Cooke, who founded his travel company in the 1840’s, is quoted as saying “Railway travelling is travelling for the million.” 1842 saw the publication of the “Family Herald or Useful Information and Amusement for the Million” and two years later that of the “Magazine for the Million”. Whilst these examples, and a piano advertisement which appeared in the Liverpool Mail of 29th June 1850 announcing “A Million Piano-Fortes For the Million”, appear to have had a largely commercial intent, the phrase was also used in a more socio-political context. Thus the 1840s saw appeals for both “singing for the million” in relation to music education and for the understanding of English Grammar to be made accessible in the same way. On a more neutral and observational note a report of a race meeting in the New Sporting Magazine of 1846 commented that on that occasion “the sport for the million was capital”.
It would appear then, that Argus was using a popular phrase to emphasise his argument against the use of a private ground by implying that reducing access to cricket for the general public ( charges for spectators were being mooted) was flying in the face of then current sentiment. Unfortunately, I fear, he underestimated at least two important factors. Firstly the early Victorian period was umbilically tied to the kind of entrepreneur that was embodied in F P Fenner. Secondly Cambridge University was a nursery for the elite classes in England that were to have such an influence on the future of cricket — a force that needed more resistance or co-operation than sentiment.
I am indebted to Garry Monger for his help in finding reports of matches, particularly in the north of the county around Wisbech, Thorney etc. An early example is an advance notice of a match between Moulton of Lincolnshire and Wisbech in 1791, a time for which just one further report is a massive contribution to our knowledge of how much and where cricket was being played.
Who Played Who? – mapping in progress
In an attempt to get a clearer idea of who played who, in and around Cambridgeshire, as the game developed, I have recently been compiling four maps of the county showing which teams played which and when. The visual results are interesting, showing graphically, for example, how cricket was initially played in three distinct areas, north, central and south, with towns such as Wisbech and Cambridge appearing as hubs of activity. Later on other teams did the same and were increasingly joined by clusters of teams that played each other. Whilst these clusters occurred across the county, the last map, 1840-48, illustrates vividly how the village cricket in the south of Cambridgeshire, though later in its development than in the north and centre, had by that time spread far more widely. See “Maps 1700 – 1848” for both the maps and analysis.
When I first researched Cambridgeshire cricket of the 1840s one village stood out as receiving detailed reports of matches that sounded important. That village was Chippenham. A recent request for information on the club’s origin’s reminded me of the feeling that Chippenham CC was somehow a significant club. The reality is perhaps a little more prosaic in that Chippenham did not play big matches or harbour famous players. What it did do, however, was important in its own way.
The first reference I know of appeared in the Cambridge Independent Press of 3rd June 1843: “On Thursday the 25th ult. a cricket match was played in the park of J. S. Tharpe, Esq., between the Chippenham Victoria Club and the Freckenham Prince Albert Club, which terminated in favour of the former by 28 runs.” The full scores were given as well as an account of the after-match “excellent dinner, provided by mine host of the Hope Inn, Chippenham.” Chippenham Park was, I believe, jointly owned by Joseph Sidney Tharp and his elder brother John. J S was a contemporary and acquaintance of famous cricketers of their time E H Budd and Squire Osbaldeston, but appears to have been better known for his partridge shooting grounds. This first match report gives the impression that J S was definitely hosting the match in the same way that the Braybrookes of Audley End would do a few years later, but on a less grand scale. This appears to be the last reference to Chippenham Victoria Club as such but cricket continued to be played at Chippenham Park, sporadically through the 40s and then more stably up until the 1870s. Early opponents were Freckenham, Cheveley, Soham, Mildenhall, Newmarket, Fulbourn, Tuddenham and Cavenham and J S Tharp was regularly thanked for his patronage.
Matches continued to be played against local villages until the mid-60s when, in 1865, Chippenham were defeated once by the Cambridge Victoria Club and, the following year, played the first of a string of annual matches against Cambridge University colleges. For the next few years early season matches were played against Corpus Christi, Caius, Magdalene and Trinity Hall. Following a six year gap, during which time J S Tharp died, these and local matches were reinstated. Cambridge university cricket was a little in the shadow of the Cambridgeshire sides of the 1860s but was nonetheless developing, both by way of expanding the University Club’s fixtures and internally with the individual colleges increasing their activities. Playing early season games against the likes of Chippenham, Ashley and Bottisham gave college teams valuable as well as enjoyable experience and presumably helped increase the standard of the game within the university. Thus, in its early years, Chippenham cricket was notable for predicting the later trend of country house cricket and for playing a significant role in the development of the Cambridge University game.
March Grammar School
The earliest reference to March Grammar School I have found so far is from 1863:
“3 July 1863 at March. March G S v Eleven Young Men of Chatteris. March G S 85 & 63; Chatteris 28 & 56 (Cambridge Chronicle 11 July 1863 p 8.”
There may be an indication of the school having some sort of a reputation already in this item from the same year:
“In reference to a challenge…..to the March Cricket Club, from the second eleven of Wisbech, we beg to say that it is not the practice of our club to accept challenges from second elevens; but if you think it worth while to come over to March, the members of March Grammar School Cricket Club will be quite ready at any time to oblige you…”
John Phythian asked me to share the following concerning cricket at March Grammar School:
’An interesting cricket match has been arranged’
|Cambridgeshire Times 4 July 1919.
GRAMMAR SCHOOL MEMORIAL – An interesting cricket match has been arranged to take place on Tuesday next at 11 o’clock on the Grammar School field between teams representing the newly formed Grammar School Old Boys Association (Captained by W Nurse) and the present masters and boys of the School. Free Admission will be given to the field, but a collection will be taken during the interval, the proceeds of which will be devoted to the proposed Old Boys’ war memorial. The Secretary informs us that £100 has already been subscribed for this purpose, but it is hoped that amount will eventually be doubled.
|Report from the school magazine the Mercian Summer 1919:
The match was played on a day when one might have been thinking of football rather than cricket. During the morning it was doubtful whether the rain would hold off throughout the day, but it was decided to play the game. The match began with the Old Boys batting. They looked a pretty burly team, but thanks to excellent, steady bowling of A Newton and A Butcher and the smart fielding of our team, their wickets came down one after another, and they finished their innings with a score of 28. Then the School team began their innings, but had to face some very unexpected bowling by W Johnson. Nevertheless, the team as a whole acquitted itself very well, and stood up manfully against the bowling. On the 2nd innings the Old Boys made 87 and the School 52. It is to be hoped that these matches between the Present and Old Boys will take place each year and form a link between the present and bygone days. RS
Report of the cricket match from the Cambridgeshire Times 11 July 1919:
|On Tuesday a match was played on the Grammar School field between the Old Boys and Present Boys of the Grammar School. During the first innings the Old Boys’ team batted first and the last wicket fell when the score was 28. This reflects very credibly on the bowling of the present boys. The School then went in and made a total of 16 against very severe bowling by W. Johnson. In the second innings of the Old Boys, a score of 87 was made, 30 runs of which were contributed by E.H. Gee. The School made 52 in their second innings. The fielding and bowling throughout were very consistent and the batting good considering the poor light during the whole day. A very friendly spirit was noticeable all through the game, which it is to hoped will be the beginning of a series of games between the Past and Present Boys of March Grammar School. First innings scores:
|E H Gee c Young b Butcher 2
||Mr W H Claypoole b W Johnson 0
|E Johnson b Newton 1
||M C G Wilson b W Johnson 1
|I Web b Newton 1
||Mr H C Hooper b W Johnson 0
|R Golden b Newton 0
||H Butcher b W Johnson 0
|W Johnson b Newton 7
||K Kemp b W Johnson 1
|W Nurse b Newton 12
||A Newton run out 5
|B Aveling b Newton 1
||E Young b R Golden 0
|E Phillips c Mr Wilson b Newton 0
||B Shaw c T Cave b W Johnson 0
|T Cave c Kemp b Butcher 2
||G Newton c E Johnson b R Golden 0
|A Burton not out 0
||H Rains c and b W Nurse
|R Jelly (substitute) b Butcher 1
||A Fox not out 2
Spike Hughes, author of “The Art of Coarse Cricket” and other comic takes on sport, turns out to have played for Cambridgeshire in a friendly match against Huntingdonshire in June 1926 at the delightfully named Turnip Piece, Huntingdon. Patrick “Spike” Hughes batted at number 10 and scored a duck – but Cambridgeshire won. A little bit out of my usual era this, but it is always fun to find new connections. Thanks to Matthew Wright for opening this one up
Two villages – Waresley, historically just over the border into Huntingdonshire, and Longstanton – appear to share starting to play the game formally relatively late compared with neighbouring villages. Waresley does not seem to have had a club until 1873 at the latest, compared with nearby Bourne (1st match 1826), Longstowe (1826), Caxton (1833) Abbotsley(1845) and Eltisley(1853) which started considerably earlier. Similarly Longstanton’s earliest match seems to be in 1880, compared with Swavesey (1844), Willingham (1850) and Over (1844). Does anyone know why this might be?
Henry “Baffy Cornwell
Henry Cornwell was one of the stars in the Cambridge Town and County Club of the 1840s. William Glover described him as one of the few batsmen who could cart the bowling of William Clarke and he seems to have been generally regarded as a charming rascal, prone to time wasting and chat that was likely to wind up the calmest of opposition. Then I came across a court report in which “the notorious ‘Baffy’ Cornwell” was both charged with theft and identified as the well known cricketer. On further investigation I found that the reason for his notoriety was his “other job” as a bully for the local Tory party, charged with getting up mobs for local hustings and possibly a go-between in in the much investigated bribery of voters. He seems to have had several court appearances and soon after the 1853 Cambridge commission into corruption left with his wife Phoebe to live in London. The contrast between his cricket and political persona is striking. His portrait, second from the left standing in the picture at the top of this page shows him as a striking presence, no doubt in both his roles as cricketer and political persuader.
Cambridgeshire v Suffolk
I have recently found an advance notice of a 1791 match between Suffolk and Cambridgeshire at Newmarket. Not only did this confirm the match but it also challenged my previous assumption that this was an informal pick-up match. It may indeed be possible that this was a more official inter-county fixture than I first thought. If so this moves the date of the first known Cambridgeshire match back at least twenty and probably more like forty years if you discount the 1813 Cambridgeshire v Kent match which was possibly a local single wicket match.
A brief and no doubt incomplete history of cricket on ice in Cambridge 1847-71
Usually reported as a novelty but possibly taken quite seriously by players, cricket played on ice was a frequently reported event in the mid-1800s. In Cambridgeshire it tended to take place on the fens, where there was plenty of shallow water to freeze over in winter, alongside hastily organised skating races often of a high quality. Being a natural event, however, plans were often thwarted by a sudden change in the weather. This was the case with the first match I know of when, in 1847 a mixed team of Cambridge University and Cambridge Town and County Clubs were set to play “eleven residents of the fens led by Francis Bavin of Wimblington on “Whittlesea-wash” but the weather refused to play ball and the event was duly cancelled.
The first successfully played match that I know was actually played occurred not on the fens but on “Emmanuel water” at Cambridge’s Emmanuel College in December 1854. A five-a-side match between the Questionists and All Comers was won by the latter with just two wickets down. Two months later an eleven-a-side match between Ashley’s Mr Dobito’s XI and Ely’s Mr Hill’s XI was played at the dock near Ely station, with scores of 109 & 54 for Dobito and 47 & 88 for 3 wkts for Hill. In the same month two further matches were played – at Chippenham Park between Chippenham and Newmarket and at March. Of the latter the Cambridge press said a hasty, but most agreeable match on ice was held at Ballast Pits near March between March and Wisbech. Serious accidents were anticipated, but none occurred. Two tents were erected and about 2,000 watched the match. Wisbech made 76 while, with the help of Rhodes’ 100 not out, March scored an impressive 194.
In 1861 a match on ice was thought probable between Ely and Ashley, but I have not found a report. Six years later, however, during several days of skating at Mere Fen, Over, near Swavesey, a 7-a-side match between teams led by Cambridgeshire’s F Prior and J Masterson ended in a 9 run win for Prior and team. A second match upped the ante with 11 of Cambridge taking on 22 of Swavesey and district. The match was played on thawing ice and merited a lengthy report in the Cambridge Chronicle: “…considerable amusement was afforded to the crowd of spectators by several of the skaters falling down, and so getting a somewhat unpleasant wetting.” Nevertheless the eleven, which included such Cambridgeshire stars as John Smith, Fred Pryor, Dan Hayward, George Tarrant, Robert Carpenter and Thom Hayward, made 128 against the 22’s 92. In January 1870 a similar match was cancelled due to warmer weather setting in, although a month later 11 of All England scored 230 against the Swavesey 16’s 125 on “the magnificent piece of ice, of the extent of about 80 acres, in Mere Fen, which had been flooded by the kindness of Mr George Long, farmer.” All players, as was presumably the case in the above matches, wore pattens, the stumps had to be fixed in two blocks of wood, and “some allowance had to be allowed the defenders of the wickets, as it was impossible to mark the ground out in the orthodox fashion.” Stapleford’s C Baker made 77.
In the last match I know of, in the winter of 1870/71, Colonel Moore and Captain Brown led 5-strong sides in a match on the Reaches at Isleham, no score known..
|Cambridge or Cambridgeshire – What a difference a word makes
Does it matter what a cricket club or team is called? When looking at Cambridgeshire’s cricket history it most certainly does.
Cricket history books are almost unanimous in talking about the successful Cambridgeshire County Cricket Club throughout the 1860’s, when a look at contemporary sources suggests that matches now regarded as involving “Cambridgeshire” were variously organised by the County Club, Cambridge Town Club, individuals, public subscription and even the opposing clubs. These are important factors in understanding the state of Cambridgeshire cricket of this period.
Similarly a look through Arthur Haygarth’s “Scores and Biographies” gives the impression that the dominant team in Cambridge and Cambridgeshire cricket in the first half of the 19th century was the
Cambridge Town Club. My own research in local newspapers, however, suggests that, apart from the years 1837-43, there was rarely a club of that name in existence. In its place were many other clubs each with their own unique story.
The real wonder of the works of such pioneers as Haygarth, Waghorne and Buckley is how few errors they made given the enormity of the research and recording tasks they took on. Nevertheless they did make mistakes and it is a sobering lesson for any cricket historian when an hypothesis based on one of these revered chroniclers’ reports turns out to be erroneous. The real lesson, of course, is to follow the spirit not the letter of those works. That spirit involved many patient hours of sifting through original sources such as scorebooks and newspaper reports.
The significance of this discrepancy between received wisdom and contemporary evidence is that what looks like the smooth progress of a stable club was nothing of the sort. Cambridge and Cambridgeshire cricket went through many stages with different clubs emerging and being significant in their own ways — Cambridge Cricket Club of the 18th and early 19th centuries, various pub clubs such as the Cambridge Castle Club, Cambridgeshire sides in 1832/34, the Cambridge Town Club, the Cambridge Town and County Club, amateur County teams of the 1850’s, the County Club of the 1860s and county sides organised by other bodies — An understanding of these stages is crucial not only to an understanding of cricket in Cambridge and the county but also to why Cambridgeshire cricket in the 1860’s was turbulent and insecure with a talented team of players but little else as solid to back it up.
What is inaccurate to say, however, is that one cannot tell Cambridge from Cambridgeshire teams of this period, a claim which is made both in respected publications and websites such as Wikipedia. The most confusing team in this context was the Cambridge Town and County Club, due to its having “County” in its title. A while ago now I had reason to re-examine the issue of whether or not the Cambridge Town and County Club (CT&CC) of the 1840’s was the first Cambridgeshire county club. Some historians such as Rowland Bowen have regarded it as an early form of the County Club. I have always contended, based on my interpretation of contemporary newspapers, that the CT&CC was a souped up version of the Cambridge Town Club, which it replaced in 1844. Having looked again at the newspapers I would say that the new club was an enhanced version of the existing Cambridge Town Club — an attempt to attract support county wide as well as a better class of opponent. The former was not especially successful. The standard of opponent increased considerably from 1845, but whether this was due to the club’s status or to improved transport as the railway arrived in the town that year is a matter of surmise. Although attempts were made to arrange matches with Surrey and Sussex, for example, they never came to fruition and the only sides with any county club pretensions that were played were clubs in a similar position to Cambridge such as Swaffham/West Norfolk/Norfolk and Bury St Edmunds/Suffolk. There was the occasional local reference to the CT&CC as a “county” club, but most references used “the town” or the official title. This suggests a certain amount of confusion at the time. Retrospective references over the next few years referred to it mostly as the “Town Club”.
At most it may be fair to see the CT&CC as “a” county club but not “the” county club that emerged later in the late 1850s nor the current county club which dates from the 1890s. I think the most accurate way to see the CT&CC is as a proto-county club – a town club with higher ambitions that were never realised. I would love to hear other opinions.
If you go to “research so far” you will find a list of the teams I know of that have been retrospectively called Cambridge Town Club. Some details of the Cambridgeshire teams are given in “current research”and “1st Cambs sides”. I would be interested in hearing other views on this subject.
Two new Cambridge University matches
Two finds that I have not seen recorded elsewhere:
“IPSWICH….Tuesday last a cricket match was played between the University of Cambridge and the Town, when the latter was beat by 60 notches.” Ipswich Journal, Saturday May 30, 1801.
“CRICKET–The Grand Cricket Match between the gentlemen of the University of Cambridge, and the St. John’s Wood Club, was decided yesterday in Lord’s Ground, Marylebone, in favour of Cambridge.
ST. JOHN’S WOOD CAMBRIDGE
1st Innings……….122 1st Innings…….242
Cambridge beat by 11 runs in one innings. Bets even at starting; at the end of first innings of St. John’s Wood, 5 to 4 in favour of St. John’s Wood.” Morning Post (London), Thursday, July 21, 1814 & Cambridge Chronicle, Friday July 22, 1814.
Apart from four matches in 1854/55 reported as between Cambridge University and Eton, which were most probably internal University matches between former Eton scholars and the rest of the University, these two reports predate the previously known earliest Cambridge University match in 1817.
The 1801 match was presumably between the University and Ipswich Town as it was reported under Ipswich news and I have found no reference to suggest that Cambridge Town might have been involved. Why Ipswich? How official a match was this? etc.
The 1814 match, despite the loss of Lord’s records in the 1825 fire, is surprisingly unknown, as it was clearly reported in the contemporary press. Again you want to know how the match came about and how official a University side this was.
Both reports beg the question of how isolated such matches were and whether there were other similar matches played but now lost in the past.
Not so new writing
Some time ago I put together a series of articles which I hope will build into an overview of Cambridgeshire’s cricket history up to 1890, telling the story through key events. I have put them on this site on the “new writing” page, in draft form, so if anyone wants to comment on them in any way please do. I confess I have not added to these for a while and some may be slightly out of date in the light of subsequent research.
So far the articles are:
“1613 – A special piece of Cambridge” on the origins of Parker’s Piece.
“1710 – ‘To make a match at foot-ball or cricket’ ” on the first contemporary reference to cricket in Cambridgeshire.
“1744 – A very numerous meeting of the best fashion” on the first reported match in the county.
“1751 – High times at Newmarket – All England v Eton” on an untypical but impressive grand match.
“1754-55 – CU v Eton” on the first reported University matches.
“1757 – Cambridge Town cricket begins its journey” on the town’s first match.
“1764 – Royston joins the fray” on Royston’s first match.
“1771 – For the attention of Cambridgeshire cricketers” on an Ipswich Journal match notice.
“1791 – The Chatteris lads to Manea came” on a match recorded in a poem.
“1791 – You take Suffolk I’ll take Cambridge” on the first reference to a “Cambridgeshire” side.
“1795 – Cricket morning and evening” on a Cambridge local club match.
“1801 – The CU comes out” on possibly the earliest CU away match.
“1801 – Wisbech in a flurry” on some high profile Wisbech matches.
“1806 – Public negotiations” on letters to negotiate terms of matches involving Cambridge,
“1815 – ‘This Olympic game’ ” on Cambridge v Biggleswade.
“1815 – The regular game of single wicket” on a run of single wicket matches.
“1816 – A most sumptuous dinner” on the success of Cambridge Cricket Club.
“1816 – Clodhoppers in the Fens” on Fenland cricket.
“1817 – The university comes to town” on the first Town v Gown match.
“1818/19 – Newmarket ups the stakes” on Holt v Newmarket and Cambridge.
“1821 – The CU conforms to type” on the CU’s private ground.
“1825 – Cricketing artisans” on Cambridge Fountain Club.
“1827 March v Cambridge Hoop – The north will rise” on March CC.
“1827 – The varsity match” on the first Oxford v Cambridge match.
“1830 – Fenner disappears to the Fens” on Fenner’s move to Chatteris.
“1830 – The Union goes to London” on Cambridge Union Club v Islington Albion.
“1831 – Cricket on a new level” on Cambridge cricket going up a gear.
“1832/4 – Cambridgeshire unites” on early Cambridgeshire sides.
“1837 – Cambridge Town Club – it’s official” on the formation of the Cambridge Town Club.
“1838 – Town and gown or master and servant” on joint university/town sides.
“1842 – Jobs for the lads” on engagements of early Cambridge professionals.
“1844 – Make way for the Cambridge Town and County Club” on the early years of the CT&CC.
“1846 – Avoiding the hubub” on Lords Darnley’s and Burleigh’s new ground.
“1846 – Cambridge against England” on CT&CC’s defeat of England Gents.
“1847 – Two of a kind?” – on Nicholas Felix’s picture of CU and CT&CC.
“1847 – Hard times in old Cambridge” – on professionals’ hardships.
“1848 – Fenner’s ground opens” on the opening of CU’s new private ground.
“1848 – The county gents set the mould” on ’50s amateur county sides
1864 belt buckle
This lovely belt buckle is dated 1864, which is a great date for Cambridgeshire cricket – arguably at the peak of its powers. It was found in Barton near Cambridge and so may well have Cambridgeshire connections.
Has anybody seen a design like this before? Please let me know if you have as I would love to know more about it.
George Tarrant – a private life
An intriguing aspect of Tarrant’s life that I am gradually becoming aware of is that he appears to have lived a double life of sorts – as George Tarrant for cricketing purposes and as George Wood in his family life. Whilst I knew that his death was registered in 1870 in the name of George Frederick Wood I have only just discovered that his marriage in 1860 was registered in the same way. In the 1861 census he described himself as George Wood, despite having been called George Tarrant in 1851 when living with his father and mother. His widow appears to have called herself Martha Tarrant in 1871 and Martha Tarrant Wood in 1881. Despite Richard Daft’s commonly quoted assertion, George does not seem to appear in official records as George Tarrant Wood.
George Tarrant or Wood?
Not only cricket but also….
Thanks to the British Newspaper Archive online I have been able to expand my newspaper search to papers from outside of Cambridgeshire and have found some interesting stuff.
Perhaps the most fun is a report of a letter written about the 1751 Eton v All England matches in Newmarket:
“During the great cricket Matches, there were above 6000 People to see a great Match at Foot Ball, and that for the Diversion of the Populace, there was Cocking, Smock-racing, Camping or Foot-ball, Wrestling and Cudgelling.”
Some cricket match!!
The mystery of George Harvey – cricketer
Some time ago I was contacted by a great grandson of George Harvey, one of the professional cricketers recorded in the 1861 census as living in Cambridge (see “Cricket ghetto shock” below). Born around 1835, Harvey continued to describe himself as a cricketer in subsequent censuses, changing to cricket umpire in 1891. Two pictures included on the gallery page show him in this latter capacity for the Pembroke College 1st XI. Other than that, however I can only find three clear references to his playing cricket in Cambridge, once in 1856 and twice in 1860. For a professional cricketer in the 1860’s this seems odd, unless he spent most of his time in the nets at Pembroke College or else was engaged somewhere else in the country. Does anyone have any knowledge of him?
Daniel Hayward – insolvent petitioner
In December 1847, nearly a hundred years after the Eton v All England matches, the Northampton Mercury published a list of insolvent petitioners. Fourth on the list was:
“Daniel Hayward, Cambridge, instructor of cricket.”
By the mid-19th century the professional touring elevens such as the All and the United All England Elevens, public schools, universities and an ever-increasing number of cricket clubs were providing some sort of income for professional cricketers.
This sobering item, however, shows that not all professional cricketers were able to ride that particular gravy train. Daniel Hayward was probably born just a few years too early.
For a likeness of Daniel Hayward, made at about the same time as he was petitioning for insolvency, see the picture at the top of this page. Dan Hayward is the first of the third standing group looking left to right. Hayward was not to be the last Cambridge cricketer to have such problems. Israel Haggis ended up in debtors prison and some years later Frederick Bell appeared in the bankrupcy court not long before he died, leaving his family in poverty. Players and their relatives in financial trouble during the 1860s like Bell were sometimes the subject of public subscriptions, often begun by Cambridge policeman and cricket fan Bill Robinson.
This picture has been variously identified as depicting a Cambridge Town v University match in 1846 or a University Club Smokers v Non-smokers match of the same year. There is a reference in Charles Box’s “Theory and Practice of Cricket” (1868), to a picture fitting the second option hanging in the University Ground club-house. That would at least confirm such a picture’s existence and the details of this painting, with the puffs of smoke, do match such a description. See the “gallery” page for a comparison of this with similar pictures. See Gallery Two for a comparison with two other pictures of cricket on Parker’s Piece.
Six Mile Bottom and Grantchester
Requests for information on the above two cricket clubs have led me to several interesting finds.
Whilst at least one match was played by Six Mile Bottom – against Balsham in 1849 – in the first half of the 19th century, the former was barely populated and better used as a venue for gambling, being in easy reach of Newmarket but a little off the beaten track if the authorities were to be avoided. It was used for bare knuckle fighting and even for betting on a leap-frog contest. It was not until the 1870’s that the game of cricket was again reported in the area.
Grantchester played three matches as early as 1843/44 but appear not to have been reported again until 1849 when the formation of “a very spirited and well arranged Cricket Club” was reported. Again matches ceased to be reported after only a few years, the next local newspaper reports being in 1863.
I have William Cornwell’s great,great,great granddaughter to thank for spurring me to find out more about this five times Cambridgeshire wicket-keeper/batsman. Look on the “William Cornwell” page to find a profile of his cricket career.
Women in Cambridgeshire cricket
I would still love to hear from anyone who has memories or stories of women in and around Cambridgeshire cricket. The sport itself was even more dominated by men 150 years ago than today and that’s saying something. Nevertheless not far below the surface of 19th century cricket history is the role played by women, particularly as wives.
In the 1861 census, for example, alongside the twenty or so young men describing themselves as professional cricketers was Eliza Hayward, the widow of Daniel of Mitcham, Surrey, Chatteris, England, the Players and Cambridge Town and County Club. Eliza described herself as a “gardener’s widow”, no mention of cricket. Is this incidental or does it speak volumes about the insecurity of a professional cricketer’s wife and family?
Similarly Sarah Buttress, the wife of Billy, who has garnered much fascination through his drink problems as much as for his innovative leg-breaks, took in laundry, probably not so much to supplement her husband’s earnings as to provide a reliable source of income in itself.
When Chief Constable William Robinson wrote to local newspapers asking for help for professional cricketers on hard times, such as Buttress, George Tarrant and Fred Bell it was their wives and families that he was making his main consideration.
Sarah, wife of Israel Haggis, was reported to have physically fought for his possessions after his death, again pointing up the vulnerability of cricketers’ wives. She survived the epidemic and appeared in the 1861 census taking in lodgers one of whom was described as a cricketer.
These examples may or may not be typical, but they are notable.
Cricket Ghetto Shock!
a (very) rough sketch map of Cambridge highlighting St Andrew the Less parish
In checking the census of 1861 for confirmation of Billy Buttress’s address in Eden St in Cambridge I found, to my delight, no less than 21 men living in the same parish of St Andrew the Less who gave their profession as “cricketer”. This may be explained partly by the nearby presence of the University cricket ground, Fenner’s, as the University club certainly employed local players during it’s short season, although probably not in those numbers. Only a handful were the known professionals from the County side.
Was this an expression of these, mostly young, men’s aspirations or simply an attempt to impress? If the latter then it does not seem to have impressed everyone as in the same parish Elizabeth Hayward, mother of Daniel and Thomas and grandmother of T W, described herself as a “gardener’s widow” making no allusion to her late husband’s pedigree as a cricketer.
Amongst those claiming professional connection with the game were known names like Walter Watts, groundsman at Fenner’s, Samuel Dakin, formerly of Leicestershire, at 57 years of age describing himself as a manufacturer of leg-guards, and Charles Arnold, hero of the Cambridge v Gentlemen of England match in 1846. Somewhat younger were a 16 year old Edward O’Hara, lodging with Israel Haggis’s widow Sarah, and Charles Barker, taker of 6 wickets in the last Town v Gown match in 1861.
Horseheath and Shudy Camps
Thanks to Horseheath village archivist Stuart Miller, I am now aware that the Shudy Camps and Horseheath Cricket Club was formed in 1850. A year later it seems to have been reformed as the Horseheath Cricket Club. The club survived with considerable success throughout most of the 1850’s playing the likes of Balsham and Linton locally, Saffron Walden and Haverhill from across the county border, and the Cambridge Britannia and Hope Clubs. By the end of the 1850’s the Horseheath Club seems to have folded with most of its players appearing for Linton, Abbington or Carlton. It was to emerge again later.
One of the less talked about Cambridgeshire players, despite his being a mainstay opening bowler for the county from 1857-1867, is Frederick Reginald Reynolds. That may be because he has a prior claim to fame in being a player, ground manager and historian at Lancashire’s Old Trafford ground from 1860 to 1908. A recent glance at the introduction to a welcome 2000 reprint of Reynold’s “Lancashire County Cricket” has made me want to restore his place in Cambridgeshire cricket history. Watch this space! Any information would be very welcome. Thanks to Keith Hayhurst’s Pictorial History of Lancashire County Cricket Club you will find this picture of Reynolds on the “gallery” page.
Sir St Vincent Cotton
The nearest C19th Cambridgeshire cricket had to noble patronage was Sir St Vincent Cotton of Madingley Hall just north of Cambridge. He was also a player, president of the Cambridge town and County Club, inveterate gambler and coach driver. A recent article in the Cricket statistician (“Felix Ladbroke and Cricket on Epsom Downs” by Ralph M Hudson) referred to Cotton as a “great” cricketer. Unfortunately this appears to be an exaggeration as would seeing him as a great benefactor, since, by the time he was president of the Cambridge Town and County Club, he was bordering hard times financially. See “Research so far” for details.
Fuller Pilch of Norfolk,
Kent and Cambs!
Fuller Pilch is best known for his appearances for Kent and in various so called “great matches” of the mid 19th century. Perhaps less well known are his connections with Cambridgeshire. See the “Research so far” and
“1st Cambs sides” pages for details.
John Smith – a Likeness
Thanks to Giles Phillips for the team pictures of the 1868 England tour of US and Canada (see Gallery). These contain the first likenesses of John Smith I have seen as well as another representation of George Tarrant. Newspapers of the time announced a painting of John Smith on his own but I have yet to hear of its continued existence.
For the record I am still keen to see likenesses of Israel Haggis, Dan Hayward Jnr, William Buttress, FC Pryor and Thomas Snow, as well as the many Cambridgeshire players from outside Cambridge during the period 1700-1890. Anyone wishing to try their hand at imaginative drawing might like to draw an impression of one of the above. That would be great.
Felix or Boning?
For me, the most intriguing find in Gerald Brodribb’s “The Art of Nicholas Felix” is the author’s assertion that Felix included a self-portrait in his group portrait of the Cambridge Town and University teams. When I first saw the picture in question (see top of this page) I also thought that the player on the right-hand edge of the centre group was indeed the artist as this portrait looked so similar to that of Felix in his All England Eleven picture.
Subsequently, however, I received a copy of a caption for the Cambridge picture which identified the portrait as being of John Boning of the Cambridge Town and County side.
It would certainly have been odd had Boning been excluded from this picture as he was a mainstay of the club throughout its existence. On the other hand I would have expected the author of more than one book on Felix to recognise his subject. Can anyone help?
Then and Now
With the help of my friend Michael in 2009 I took photographs of places associated with 18th & 19th century cricket in Cambridge. Below right is an attempt to recreate the view shown in 1854. Cricket is still played on the same area of Parker’s Piece, especially at weekends, although the activity shown in the distance in our photograph is kids from the local Parkside School in their break time. For more comparisons see the “gallery two” page.
1854 Parker’s Piece, Cambridge 2009