Cambridgeshire Sides 1857- 71

I have not continued the match by match summaries beyond 1848 simply because of the sheer number of matches involved.

Instead this is an article on a period in which Cambridgeshire cricket has come to be regarded as having been 1st class, stretching between two matches against Surrey – the first on the 18th and 19th of May 1857 at Fenner’s ground, Cambridge, and the last on the 22nd to 24th of June 1871 at the Kennington Oval. Much happened in between.


The first three  county matches of this period, against Surrey in 1857/58, appear to be distinct from later ones – basically a Cambridge University side plus a few of that club’s professionals.  The Cambridge Independent Press (CIP) called the May 1857 home side both “Cambridge” and “The University of Cambridge”.  Surrey, having initially advertised their opponents as the University, appear to have taken the initiative to change the name to “Cambridgeshire”.  Perhaps they saw the professionals’ names: Alfred “Ducky” Diver, a veteran all-rounder, just two years away from representing All England on the first tour to the U S and Canada; Fred Bell, another all-rounder, already a stalwart of the United All England Eleven and thus known to cricket watchers around the country; Charles Arnold, coming to the end of his professional fast bowling career but a veteran coach at Clubs such as Beverley and East Hants as well as the hero of the 1846 Cambridge defeat of the Gentlemen of England; and Fred Reynolds, destined to be the professional, long-time groundsman and chronicler of the Lancashire County Club at Old Trafford.  These were no makeweights.  If they were going to be beaten, perhaps Surrey wanted it to be seen as a dignified defeat to some of the best cricketers in the country, rather than to a bunch of students whom they would later be playing as 11 of Surrey v 16 undergraduates of Cambridge.  Nevertheless, whilst, Marshall, Perkins and possibly Hammond, of the university members of the side, could be said to have legitimate claims to play for Cambridgeshire through birth and residence, Makinson, Wingfield, Johnson and Fuller were clearly students from elsewhere in the country and calling this side Cambridgeshire was definitely stretching the truth.  The Chronicle report correctly called them “seven excellent bats of the University Club”.

Surrey needn’t have worried.  Before the first match the local press thought both teams to be “excellent” but Surrey to be “on the probable side of victory”, and so it turned out as they won this match by 56 runs (Surrey 165 & 68; Cambs 112 & 65), the return in June by 36 runs (Surrey 109 & 81; Cambs 74 & 80) and a third match, at the Oval a year later, by 13 runs (Surrey 107 & 180; Cambs 144 & 130).  Not easy victories maybe, but this particular model of Cambridgeshire – Cambridge University and ground – did not appear again.  Although I do not see this as the start of Cambridgeshire’s purple patch because this was not strictly a county side, I do think these matches illustrate the strength of the county’s professionals and thus the county’s potential.

As well as the defeat to Surrey, 1858 saw the foundation of a Cambridge County Club, which proceeded to play mainly against Cambridgeshire villages such as Ashley and Horseheath.  Unlike the Cambridge Town and County Club of the 1840s and the recent Cambridgeshire sides that played Surrey, this was a genuine “county” club in geographical representation, but it was essentially a gentlemen’s club, with sides only occasionally including professionals, taking its lead from a sequence of Cambridgeshire gentlemen’s teams that had played University teams roughly once a year throughout the 50s.  Indeed, during its existence this club would field the occasional “Gentlemen of Cambridgeshire” side against similar sides from Essex, Norfolk and Huntingdonshire.  The club President was H J Adeane of Babraham, and the first secretary was FP Fenner, veteran player as well as secretary for various local clubs and founder of Fenner’s cricket ground.  Henry Perkins of Thriplow, Cambridge Blue and probably captain in the recent matches against Surrey as well as century maker for Royston, was also a significant presence and he promised one “grand” match per season.  This development did not satisfy everybody.  Letters in the Cambridge press made it clear that some, at least, wanted to see a side representative of the county in terms of talent, which to them meant mostly professional and mostly from Cambridge town. It is not clear whether or not the Gentlemen of Cambridgeshire side (with Bell, Buttress and Reynolds) that lost to the University by 6 wickets in early May was fielded by the the new club (Cambs Gents 117 & 113; CU 142 and 88 for 4 wkts). The added professionals dominated the Gents’ efforts.  The season’s grand match was an unfinished all amateur affair against the Gentlemen of Essex (Essex 149 & 71 for 6; Cambs 87). Henry Perkins had a good match, making 22 and taking eight wickets with his slow underhand lobs.`


The “representative” county side debate came to a head in 1859 when a match intended to return top-class cricket to Parker’s Piece was made between 22 Amateurs of Cambridge (chosen from the Cambridge Victoria, Hope and Amateurs Clubs) and the All England Eleven.  Fred Bell (6 wkts) was easily the most experienced member of the home side, possibly included alongside James Grundy (26 1st innings) of Notts, as a given professional bowler.  The cream of the Cambridge professionals, in the shape of Bob Carpenter (42 not out 2nd innings) , Thomas Hayward, Alfred Diver and Fred Reynolds (19 wkts), were actually playing for the All England side.  Whilst the presence of the England club provided good entertainment, the match was hampered by rain.  The teams did not appear ill matched until the eleven’s second innings in which Anderson ( not out 21) and Carpenter (not out 42) hit out to good effect, thus overcoming the wet outfield and seeing their team home by 8 wickets (Cambridge 94 & 69; All England 86 & 78 for 2 wkts). There was, inevitably, considerable argument in the press as to the point of fielding a side that did not do justice to the Cambridgeshire born talent scattered around the country.

The talent of Cambridge’s professionals had also been demonstrated earlier in the season when the Gentlemen of Cambridgeshire with Thomas Hayward and Fred Reynolds had  beaten the University by an innings and 169 runs (CU 147 & 55; Cambs 371), Thomas Hayward making the “enormous” score of 220.


In response to the arguments of the previous season, 1860 saw the formation of a new Cambridge Town Club, with Fenner yet again the secretary, perhaps illustrating the townspeople’s equation of the County’s best with the town’s players, but in December of that year Henry Perkins, Fenner’s replacement as secretary of the County Club, publicly declared his club’s intention to play Surrey twice during the next season despite having played very few matches this season.  Significantly, Perkins was already stating the difficulty of financing such a venture, recommending that, if they were to balance the books, the teams would need to contain no more than 7 professionals and rely either on subscriptions if playing on Parker’s Piece or on the gate money that could be taken at Fenner’s .


So at last, in 1861, there was representative county side put out by a constitutionally created County Club.  The matches with Surrey went ahead with the second option of Fenner’s ground used for the opening fixture.  The announced teams reflected the County Club’s amateur origins, the four gentlemen being listed before the professionals.  Nevertheless this was a strong side, as was Surrey’s.  The first match, at the end of May was drawn and only played on the first and second days due to players’ other engagements on the third.  Surrey made 252 (Caffyn 103) and 74 for 1, while Cambridgeshire made 325.    Thomas Hayward (112)  and Carpenter (57) put on 112 together, J H Marshall (47 not out), John Perkins (33) and Fred Bell (31) each making substantial contributions in support.  The Prince of Wales was present on both days. One month later the return, in which three centuries (Caesar (111) for Surrey, Carpenter (100) and Hayward (108) for Cambridgeshire) and 976 runs were scored, was won by Cambridgeshire by 2 wickets (Surrey 228 & 259; Cambs 329 & 169 for 8 wkts). Bell and Hayward showed their all round credentials by taking 9  and  6  wickets respectively.  If you count these matches as the start of the “1st class” Cambridgeshire sides then it was certainly a good one.

In between these two matches was a third, but not one arranged by the County Club.  After an uneventful first year, the new Cambridge Town Club, through their secretary F P Fenner, negotiated a match with Kent.  There is a fuller account of this match on “What’s in a Name?”. Suffice to say here that, due to a misunderstanding on the part of Kent’s officials, Kent realised too late that they had agreed to play the Town rather than County.  Scores and Biographies sympathised with Kent and subsequently it has always been considered an inter-county match, although it is quite clear from contemporary press coverage that this was a Cambridge Town Club team, albeit a very fine one pretty well indistinguishable  from the county side in membership.  Fenner had previous form in challenging Kent on behalf of a non-county side (1849 & 1855 on behalf of proposed Town and Gown sides) and, in Cambridge at least, the prospect of seeing a reformed Town Club with its best players on their cherished Parker’s Piece seems to have been more important to many than having any sense of County pride. Kent lost by 72 runs and Cambridge refused a return match in response to Kent’s complaints (Cam Town/Cambs 130 & 187; Kent 153 & 92).

The fourth Cambridgeshire match of this season, at the end of July, was another oddity, against Yorkshire and Stockton-on Tees.  The proposed team for the match had included Henry Perkins and his brother John, which perhaps implies County Club involvement but no announcement had been made to that effect and the match was not listed amongst the club’s fixtures at the end of the season.  The eventual side was an all professional/all Cambridge affair, albeit one player short as Fred Bell failed to appear.  The key to the match’s origins may be in the title and venue – Stockton on Tees. Various Cambridge players, including Thomas Hayward and Charles Arnold, had been engaged by the Stockton Club in the 1850s and maybe this connection together with the fact that the majority of All England Eleven matches, involving  several Cambridge players, were now played mostly in the north of England, helped secure this match independently of the County Club. Towards the end of the season John Jackson, a well connected bookie, stud farmer and trainer, who would be involved in several betting promotions involving Cambridgeshire players, helped, alongside the president of the Stockton club, Dr William Richardson, to set up a heavily staked and bet-upon single wicket match between Carpenter and Hayward and 3 Stockton players.  It seems plausible that Jackson and Richardson may have also had a hand in setting up this eleven-a-side match. Richardson had previous in this regard when helping to organise a match in 1858 between Yorkshire with Durham against Notts, which, as it happened, included Cambridgeshire’s Thomas Hayward representing Durham.  Yorkshire and Stockton were too good, however, winning by 96 runs and skittling Cambridgeshire’s ten men out for 30 in the first innings (Yorks with Stockton 99 & 122; Cambs 30 & 95).

Thus, by the end of 1861, Cambridgeshire’s “first-class” county sides had already been the result of four different models of organisation, not counting the two gentlemen only matches with Essex.  In July, at Chelmsford, Cambridgeshire won by 48 runs, (Cambs Gents 117 & 114; Essex Gents 95 & 88) T H Hoblyn making 34 in the visitors’ first innings and Henry Perkins taking 13 wickets .  In the August return Cambridgeshire won again, this time by 8 wickets ( Essex Gents 56 & 88; Cambs Gents 105 & 40 for 2 wkts).  E N Woodham top scored in both Cambridgeshire innings (29 & 17 not out) as well as taking 6 wickets. On this occasion Essex included their professional, 38 year old Charles Arnold of Cambridge, still going strong and predictably taking early wickets.  The County Gents had also played the University back in May, losing by an innings and 144 runs.  On this occasion the two professionals, Thomas Hayward and Buttress had not made sufficient difference.

An interesting postscript to the season was a match played in September in Bishop Auckland in County Durham, by a Cambridgeshire side similar to that which had earlier played Yorkshire and Stockton with Muncey and Charles Arnold replacing Masterton and King.  The Cambridgeshire side lost to 22 of Bishop Auckland by eight wickets. ( Cambs 69 an 61; Bishop Auckland 94 & 37 for 13 wickets).  This match was thought by Haygarth to be the only known example of a “crack” county playing a side of 22 players.  I have not checked that.  Just five days after the end of this match,  Carpenter and Thomas Hayward played their single wicket match at Sheffield, so perhaps this was a warm-up. Maybe it was the fulfillment of a promise made back in July  at Stockton, fitting in nicely with a trip to Sheffield to support the two Cambridge stars.


In 1862 the County Club appears to have financed five matches against Notts(2), Kent and Surrey(2) and four all amateur matches with Norfolk and Huntingdonshire (2 each), providing an atypical consistency to the season.  In a relatively low scoring match at Fenner’s in early June, Nottinghamshire, batting second, took a four run lead on the first innings (100 to 96), John Jackson (2 wkts) and Wooton (6 wkts) bowling “extremely well” and Richard Daft and Jackson top scoring with 32 and 28 respectively. They then kept Cambridgeshire down to 148 despite 66 from Thomas Hayward, which Bell’s Life described as “a perfect masterpiece”, and finished on 145 for 7, Daft again top scoring (40) and securing a 3 wkt win in the two days play allowed by a rained off first day (Cambs 96 & 148; Notts 100 & 145 for 7).

The county faired better against Kent at New Brompton and Surrey at Fenner’s.  Described by the Cambridge Chronicle as “important”, and, in contrast to the previous season, an inter-county match, the game with Kent was easily won by nine wickets, (Kent 73 & 51; Cambs 118 & 8 for 1) Carpenter being praised for carrying his bat for 61.  “What an extraordinary batsman Carpenter is!” purred the Chronicle,”Within the last fortnight he has made three not-out innings of 67, 63 and 61 respectively. He has already made about 500 runs this season, and, according to the prevalent mode of computing innings averages at present 50 runs per innings.”

In an otherwise competitive home match with Surrey the visitors were undone by a first inning of only 88, George “Tear’em” Tarrant taking eight for 45.   Cambridgeshire’s 309 was a solid performance, with Carpenter once again top scoring, with 80. Surrey’s  second innings 294 was led by 95 from Mortlock, but the home team lost only four wickets in a successful chase (Surrey 88 & 294; Cambs 309 & 74 for 4).

The return with Nottinghamshire was greeted in the Notts Guardian thus: “There cannot be any doubt, looking at the performances of these two great cricketing counties, that they are the first throughout the country to play.”  Fred Bell was again absent, having competing commitments at Eton School.  It is not clear why he was not replaced, leaving Cambridgeshire, for the second year running, to field only ten men in a match. Unfortunately Cambridgeshire did not live up to the promotion, losing by an innings and 39(Notts 231; Cambs 45 & 147).  R C Tinley took fifteen wickets for Notts.  Tarrant bowled a string of maidens but only took four wickets.  The county were unable to repeat their earlier defeat of Surrey, losing the return by an innings and 60 runs.  Only Hayward with a second innings 84 offered any resistance to Surrey’s 277.  So a mixed season for the full county side.

The same was true for the gentlemen. At Norwich, the Norfolk Gentlemen won by an innings and 331 runs(Norfolk 442; Cambs 53 & 58).  Norfolk’s 442 was a solid all round effort, led by H W Salter’s 113. The Cambridgeshire innings of  53 and 58 were not. They also lost to the Gents of Huntingdonshire,  at H J Adean’s home in Babraham, by 56 runs on the first innings(Hunts 183; Cambs 117 & 24 f0r 4), Cambridgeshire being 24 for 4 in the second innings when stumps were drawn to allow the opposition time to catch the train.

In the home return with Norfolk, Cambridgeshire’s batsmen showed “brilliant hitting” and “gave us the idea that the Cantabs wished to return the compliment they received at Norwich in July”, which they accomplished by a 5 wicket margin (Norfolk 106 and 91; Cambs 152 and 47 for 5).  Norfolk’s Salter, however, again stole the limelight, taking twelve wickets on this occasion. Revenge was also taken in the return against Huntingdonshire, who made 52 & 90 against Cambridgeshire’s 187 – victory by an innings and 45.  T H Hoblyn took 8 second innings wickets and a hat-trick with his last three balls for Hunts. Henry Perkins had also taken eight in Cambridgeshire’s first innings.  W P Prest starred with the bat with 74.

So 1862 had seen an extensive fixture list by that time’s standards all financed by the County Club at the cost of  £286 2s 4d and at a loss of around £70.  The Sporting Gazette of the 13th December somewhat oddly claimed “Cricket in Cambridgeshire, it is well known, has been on the wane for some years” but added “and has mainly been supported by the money and efforts of a few gentlemen, lovers of the game, in that county. These gentlemen, however, have not felt disposed to take any further responsibility in the making of matches upon themselves for the next season”.


As a result the following year saw the adoption of a fifth model of match finance,  Kent paying £40 towards Cambridgeshire’s costs for a match at Mote Park at the beginning of June.  Henry Perkins found the remaining £10 from his own pocket.  “So anxious”, said the Cambridge Chronicle(C Ch), “are Surrey and Kent to vie with Cambridgeshire, that they are willing to pay our expenses for matches at the Oval and in Kent.” It would seem, then, that the County club were not intending to continue into this year but were persuaded by Kent’s offer.

Although Henry Perkin’s later described playing Kent as rash for financial reasons, his brother John would no doubt have been happy with scoring 67 in the first innings. Kent, however rallied from a first innings deficit  of 86 (206 to 120), following on with 176 before Bennett took 7 wickets in the dismissal of Cambridgeshire for only 74 – Kent winning by 16 runs.  The Kentish Chronicle was understandably triumphal in its praise.

A proposed match with Surrey was described as “abandoned” and replaced with a match between Surrey and 14 of Hampshire.  A report on that match suggested “want of funds on the part of Cambridge and other circumstances” as the cause of abandonment.  Letters to Bell’s Life suggest the beginnings of a rift between North and South, Thomas Hayward, Carpenter and Tarrant refusing to play Surrey and they in turn being seen as trouble makers in negotiations for the first tour to Australia.   The County Club does not appear to have been officially dissolved but it did not put out any further county teams till 1866.

Towards the end of July an all professional side did play an MCC and Ground side at Lord’s, but repeated the feat against Kent of losing a match having forced the opposition to follow on. Cambridgeshire made 195 and 57; MCC 89 and 207 – defeat by 14 runs.  Carpenter and Hayward made 60 and 44 respectively in the first innings and Tarrant took eleven wickets and Hayward eight.  At this point there may have been a division between the players and gentlemen in the Cambridgeshire camp, but somehow matches such as this one were arranged, adding to the retrospective appearance of a coherent County Club.


For now, the County Club was out of the picture as far as County matches were concerned.  The first match, with Yorkshire, was organised to celebrate the return from Australia and New Zealand of Carpenter, Hayward and Tarrant, who had been part of the second England tour down under over the winter, Carpenter having scored the first English century in Australia.  Money for this and the return was raised by public subscription, in large part through the appeals of Police Inspector William Robinson, a staunch supporter of Cambridgeshire cricket and self-appointed guardian of the Cambridge professionals. The strength of Cambridge Town rather than County identity is reflected in his plea  to acknowledge “the services they [Carpenter, Hayward & Tarrant] have rendered the town in upholding its name for cricket”. Thus the involvement of Robinson places these matches as a combination of the  professional led and town based model of county side.  John Perkin’s public support of this venture by proposing a match with Yorkshire and playing in the home match rather undermines the idea of a gentlemen/players split, although there was some report of debate as to whether or not the three professionals had gone abroad “for the benefit and advantage of themselves”.  Formal subscriptions still fell £20 short of expenses but a letter to the Independent Press appealed for help, which may well have been forthcoming. .

Cambridgeshire won the home match, played on Parker’s Piece in front of “several thousand” spectators, by three wickets (Yorks 114 and 152; Cambs 144 and 125 for 3), Tarrant (9) and T Hayward (8) sharing most of the wickets and John Smith (31), Thomas Hayward (39), Carpenter (44 retired hurt) and Fred Pryor (64) leading with the bat, although the Leeds Times blamed Yorkshire’s poor fielding for their defeat.  Thewliss (26), Anderson (42) and Greenwood (59)scored the main runs for Yorkshire. This was a closely contested County match, but very much a Cambridge Town affair, followed by a formal presentation to the three England players.  Cambridgeshire also won the return in Sheffield, by 55 runs (Cambs 172 &119; Yorks 94 & 143).  The young Pryor (55) again impressed, winning himself a sovereign.  Tarrant did the same plus a new bat for an all round performance of ten wickets and a second innings 57.

In between these two matches Cambridgeshire met Nottinghamshire at Lord’s, in place of a planned North v South match which was a victim of the North/ South dispute.  In a match said to feature “the most conspicuous players of the day” Cambridgeshire were again successful in a close match, winning by 18 runs, (Cambs 122 and 113; Notts 59 and 158). Thomas and Dan Hayward top scored for the winners with 40 and 37 and Tarrant (10), bowling “with great determination”, Reynolds (7) and Thomas Hayward (3) shared the wickets.


Towards the beginning of this year William Robinson wrote to the local papers calling for a renewal of the County Club based on co-operation between the town, county and university.  In the same letter he put himself firmly behind the northern professionals in their conflict with Surrey.  A renewed Club would take another year to materialise but in the meantime the professionals used their links with the north to keep the run of county matches going. After a convincing win against the university by an innings and 120 runs (Cambs 361; University 98 and 143), Carpenter (77), Pryor (69) and John Perkins (58) heading a solid team performance with the bat and Tarrant taking 11 wickets, this season repeated the pattern of the previous one, with two matches  against Yorkshire, at Bradford and Ashton-under-Lyne, and one against Nottinghamshire at Manchester.  The Yorkshire matches, and possibly the Notts match, which was arranged by the Manchester Club, were, in effect, rebel matches and accordingly avoided County Club headquarters.  Bell’s Life recognised this and haughtily disapproved:

    “County matches, to be bona fide and interesting, should be played on county grounds, and under the sanction and management of a properly constituted committee, otherwise they are likely to degenerate into the same objectionable category as matches “against odds”, or, in other words, they will become “gate-money exhibitions”…the match between Cambridgeshire and Yorkshire…comes under this head, as it formed no part of the 1865 programme…”

Such an attitude underestimated Cambridgeshire’s financial difficulties as well as the continuing appetite for such “exhibitions”, often more popular in the north of the country than the south.  It is also possible that ambitious clubs within a county, such as Bradford, might have wanted to stage a big match in order to gain recognition for themselves. Perhaps unwritten, but underlying Bell’s Life extolling of proper procedures, is an accurate estimate of the natural tendency for the professionals to work together and thus mount a threat to the emerging empire of gentlemen amateur cricket administrators.  On the one hand these matches may underline a conflict between the County Club and the professionals while on the other it may display the latter’s enterprise in taking advantage of the Yorkshire rebel’s position and, in the absence of county club finance, secure three matches against major opposition.

Late May’s match at Bradford saw Cambridgeshire beat Yorkshire, who were forced to follow on, by 3 wickets (Cambs 199 & 90 for 7; Yorks 114 & 174).  John Smith came to the fore with a first innings 73 and Tarrant took 12 wickets. The match at Old Trafford against Notts in August, however, produced an easy victory  for the midlands county, with Cambridgeshire this time following on and suffering defeat by an innings and 86 runs (Notts 236; Cambs 86 & 64).  A depleted Yorkshire side were nearly defeated in September, the match being left unfinished with Yorkshire having one wicket left and trailing by 95 runs (Cambs 233 & 138; Yorks 185 & 91 for 9)  The pros had again successfully kept the county side going but with mixed success on the field.


A general meeting of the County Club publicly rebuffed the idea that the County Club no longer existed and stated a wish to proceed with it on a more comprehensive basis, involving both the town and university. A strong impression was given of the County Club being “at loggerheads”, with the president pleading for Town/County and University cooperation, as well as announcing £85 of club debts. but nevertheless an appeal for subscriptions was set up and an extensive fixture list compiled.   An interesting reflection on  amateur/professional or possibly Town/County differences came from an account of Robert Carpenter rather than the county secretary having been approached directly by Yorkshire and Nottinghamshire with a view to arranging matches. The obvious omission amongst opponents was Surrey, whom, it was said, the players would not engage with. Henry Perkins was to later lament the loss of regular fixtures with Surrey as it was the most lucrative match in terms of gate money.  Whilst the strength of the county team was agreed upon there was some anxiety that new players were not coming through.

Seven matches were played by the full county side, one each with Yorkshire, MCC, and the university, with home and away matches against Middlesex and Nottinghamshire.  The Yorkshire match, played at Bradford, produced an easy win for the visitors (Cambs 224; Yorks 72 & 85).  Thomas Hayward’s 78 and Carpenter’s 97 not out made up the bulk of Cambridgeshire’s 224 (167 for the third wicket – in the words of the Chronicle “the leather busting became hot”).  Tarrant (13 wkts), and Reynolds (6 wkts) (then bowled Yorkshire out twice for 72 and 85.

One week later the team was playing at Lord’s against MCC.  In contrast to the Yorkshire match where eight of the team were professionals, this team had just six, perhaps reinforcing the opinion voiced at the general meeting of the need to bring through younger players.  The result went against them, their 127 and 88, in each case owing much to the efforts of John Smith, (44 not out and 30) being overhauled by the MCC’s 143 and 73 for 8. Reynolds was missing from the lineup and T Hayward ((9 wkts), a fine bowler in his own right, shared the wickets with Tarrant (9 wkts), the two of them being largely responsible for the close result.

Cambridgeshire went down again at Fenner’s, against the University, despite Tarrant making 108.  The county side had a distinctly unfamiliar look to it – no Thomas Hayward or Carpenter and newcomers such as Tarrant’s brother Edward, Harry Few, a seventeen year old from Willingham, and 39 year old Walter Watts, Fenner’s groundsman.  Few acquitted himself well with seven wickets, but the batting was thin. Cambridgeshire 136 and 212; University 126 and 223 for 5, a large successful fourth innings score for its time.

A busy May came to an end with a home defeat to Nottinghamshire (Cambs 138 and 164; Notts 270 and 34 for 2).  Charles Warren (73) , John Smith (50) and Carpenter (43 not out) made runs, but Tarrant’s  seven first innings wickets came in exchange for 114 runs.  A season of mixed fortune continued with an away win against Middlesex by an innings and 48 runs (Cambs 212; Mid 99 and 64).   George Tarrant took twelve wickets and made 64.  The return with Notts was unfinished with Cambridgeshire on top (Cambs 217 and 179;Notts 195 and 99 for 5) Hayward (73), Carpenter (57 and 33 not out), Warren (72) and the veteran Diver (36) made runs, with Tarrant (7) this time sharing the wickets with Watts (9).   Two home defeats in a row were no doubt particularly unwelcome in the light of repeated appeals for subscriptions.

The last match, at home to Middlesex, was lost by an innings ( Cambs 82 and 162;Mid 248) but was remembered more for Tarrant’s refusal to continue playing when Charles Newman was substituted for the injured Carpenter.  His reasons must be left to guesswork. Inevitably his behaviour was severely criticised and he subsequently apologised.  Haygarth actually wrote that Tarrant “shamefully refused to go in” against his nameon the scorecard.  A season that had started so promisingly ended in disappointment and controversy, a subsequent trial match probably proving a relief from the tensions of keeping the County Club afloat.  In August of this year Billy Buttress, a Cambridge player probably best known at the time for his bowling for 22s against the touring England elevens, died of tuberculosis, and, though he had played relatively few matches for his county, his death was a sign that this team could not last without replacements of the same standard.

A postscript to this year is that at some point in the season, according to R s Holmes in his History of Yorkshire Cricket”, “Yorkshire agreed to play 15 of Surrey; Nottinghamshire 15 of Middlesex; and Cambridgeshire 15 of Sussex. Each match to carry £1,000 a side, the winner in each case to present £200 to the Cricketers’ Fund. The challenge fell to the ground, and we cannot regret its fate.”


The County Club AGM at the start of this year was dominated by George Tarrant’s apology for his behaviour in the previous season but also disclosed a deficit of £26 19s 3d, which could have been covered by unpaid subscriptions to the value of £36.10s so perhaps things did not seem so bad.  There was also hope for the future with Odams and Mole appearing in the annual county colts match at Lord’s.  Nevertheless a statement at the annual dinner that “There was no county where a club ought to stand in a better position, and ought to be more prosperous than this”, does seem to have been somewhat optimistic. As if to emphasise that the dinner was followed shortly by a newspaper advert appealing for subs to be paid.

At the end of May the Club took on its first match of the season, against Norfolk, in a match billed as being between the “gentlemen” of the two counties.  The side thus lacked all the usual big names but was still strong enough to win by 93 runs (Cambs 195 and 108; Norfolk 128 and 82).

A week or so later a much fuller county side played the university at Fenner’s, but lost by eight wickets (Cambs 112 and 187; University 233 and 67 for two).  The two Haywards (Thom 55 not out and 20; Dan 58 not out)and Carpenter (31 and 45) made runs but S G Lyttleton’s 114 for the university was more than the the whole of the county’s first innings and the deficit proved too much.

The addition of Tarrant against Nottinghamshire again at Fenner’s did nothing to help the result, Cambridgeshire losing by 120 runs (Cambs 79 and 97; Notts 114 and and 182). Dan Hayward top scored for the home side with just 33.  The Chronicle describe the middle and lower order  as “helpless as babes”.

Fortunes changed with the Gentlemen imposing another defeat on Norfolk Gents ( Cambs 192 and 99 for 6; Norfolk 58 and 231) followed by  a successful return at Nottingham ( Cambs 200 and 9 for one;Notts 61 and 147.)  Watts (12) and Tarrant (7) took the Nottinghamshire wickets, whilst Carpenter (46) and Hayward (52) made 98 between them.

Although an advance notice predicted all professional sides, the eventual match against Yorkshire, against whom Cambridgeshire were so far unbeaten, at Wisbech included several Cambridgeshire amateurs and produced a close game delayed by rain and interrupted by a protracted disagreement over Dan Hayward’s first innings run out (Cambs 86  and 74; Yorks 70 and 91 for 9).  Thomas Hayward (27) and Tarrant (29) made scores in the high 20s,  with Tarrant also taking  thirteen wickets, but even in a low scoring match these efforts were not enough.  Haygarth stated that this was a rearranged match after Cambridgeshire professionals objected to Yorkshire having played Surrey at Sheffield in late June , but since the advance notice for the Wisbech match was published in early May,  the course of events is at the least unclear.  The town of Wisbech seems to have made the most of it, however, with large attendances and an accompanying concert. “Never before was there such a display of cricket in our Town”.  Nevertheless he “guarantors” reputedly made a loss.

The return match at Dewsbury produced another low scoring match, won by Yorkshire by 4 wickets(Cambs 68 and 105; Yorks 63 and 111 for 6).  Tarrant was again in the wickets(10), receiving a rug for his efforts, and Thomas Hayward made a second innings 44 not out, earning a silver cigar case.  As with Wisbech it is likely that the Dewsbury Club were keen to stage this match for their own promotion and made much of the event.  Mention of a cancelled third match in Cambridge adds to the confusion surrounding these fixtures and does suggest that arrangements for these two games had been changed.  It is possible that a somewhat hastily arranged match between 22 of the Cambridge Town and County against 11 of the Town in late September was staged to give the Cambridge spectators a chance to see the County players in action this season. Both the Independent Press report and a subsequent letter give a strong impression of professional/amateur mistrust being a part of Cambridgeshire cricket at this point.  Life was certainly not easy for the pros, Fred Bell going through insolvency proceedingsthis year.


In a year that saw the first Australian cricket team to tour England this was the last year of the Cambridge County Club’s promotion of County cricket.

The AGM announced a loss from the previous year of £52.10s and £25 subscription arrears, whilst planning just one home and home inter-county match for the coming season.  Two benefit matches were announced for Hayward and Carpenter, one between the All and United All England elevens and a local match between the County and University.

A report on the CU fresher’s match early in the season found itself getting nostalgic about the days of Cambridge Town and County Club, suggesting a feeling of anticlimax for Cambridge cricket lovers.

The county’s first match, against the University went unfinished ( CU 319; Cambs 233 and 226 for 8).  A T Scott (76 and 75) made two 70s with support from Thomas Hayward 934 and 42), Carpenter (20 and 39 not out) and Tarrant (42 and 28). The crowd was described as “large and aristocratic”, but the lack of a county wicket keeper was noted.

Scott continued his good form with 40 and 90 for Gents of Cambridgeshire v Gents of Norfolk at Fenner’s.  The match was drawn with Cambridgeshire 174 ahead in the second innings (Cambs 78 and 196 for 7; Norfolk 100.

In their third home match in a row Cambridgeshire lost to Kent by 83 runs. William Cornwell, a stalwart of college servants’ cricket, took his place behind the stumps.  Smith (21), Hayward (46 and 33) and Pryor (29 and 37) carried the batting, and T Hayward (4), G Smith (8)and Tarrant (7) the bowling (Kent 101 and 300; Cambs 144 and 174).

In the return, on an apparently poor wicket at Gravesend, Cambridgeshire secured revenge, winning by 3 wickets.  They replied to Kent’s 113 and 108 with 188 and 35 for 7.  Hayward and Carpenter’s 84 and 39 respectively probably made the difference. Cambridgeshire were somewhat optimistically called “second to none” in the CIP report  and George Tarrant and John Smith were selected for England tour of US, but an appeal was still made for financial support.


Despite the optimism after the previous season’s victory over Kent, this season began with continued arguments between the cricketers of England’s north and south and a despondent County Club AGM leading within weeks to the dissolution of the Club.  Whilst only a small loss had been made the previous year subs were expected to fall off considerably and, without the likelihood of a lucrative match with Surrey it was felt impractical to continue.

Salt was duly rubbed in the wound when a match presumably negotiated by the club’s professionals against Yorkshire at Hunslet was ignominiously lost by an innings and 263 runs (Yorks 352; Cambs 40 and 46), Iddison making 112  and Emmett taking 16 wickets for the victors.  George Tarrant was absent from this match due to being ill with pleurisy, which he died of the following year.


Rumours of the retirement of Hayward and Carpenter were dispelled briefly when they took part in the final match in this period for Cambridgeshire, against Surrey.  Although Cambridgeshire had to follow on, the two veterans dominated the second innings (Carpenter 87 not out; Hayward 40) to draw the match ( Surrey 186 and 44 for 1; Cambs 85 and 202).


The obvious question about Cambridgeshire’s time in “first-class” cricket is “why did it stop?” E V Lucas wanted to know why the tide turned. Part of the answer is clear from the above – there was not much of a  tide.  The standard of play and the respect with which Cambridgeshire was held in cricket circles may have been high, but both seem to have been achieved despite financial insecurity, inconsistent or even absent administration, amateur/professional conflict and a declining supply of new talent.

The reasons, then, are various and are found by looking at both the events of that period and their historical context.

University, county and town

The main roots of cricket in Cambridgeshire were threefold.

The first definite reference to the game being played in the county, albeit informally, referred to Cambridge University students enjoying the game in 1710. What little evidence there is suggests that the game continued to be played within the university and it is easy to imagine interest in the game spreading into the town and county from that example.

The second area of development was in the county town of Cambridge, where the game was firmly established by the beginning of the nineteenth century, and where it flourished the most within Cambridgeshire.

As the eighteenth century proceeded, cricket appeared sporadically but increasingly around the county in its small towns and villages such as Wisbech, Chatteris, Newmarket, Royston and Manea.  Whilst Cambridge cricket might have had some influence on those teams it seems more likely that the game was developing more or less independently in different parts of the county.

Cambridgeshire of this period had a relatively small population, largely in the south of the county. Due in part to enclosure and other changes in agriculture by the early 19th century, the south Cambridgeshire population had congregated in the county town where the university and its supportive trades provided employment. Cambridgeshire did not, however, experience much in the way of industrialisation, so although there was an urban environment in Cambridge, ripe for developing a strong interest in cricket, possibly after the manner of the game’s growth in Sheffield, there was not the necessary combination of population expansion and new middle-class wealth to make that happen, despite reasonably good road and rail  connections (from 1845).

Cambridge town and university

Instead Cambridge town cricket seems to have developed alongside that of the university with some cross-influence both ways – some conflict and some co-operation. They shared the common ground of Parker’s Piece for two lengthy periods and  several university players turned out for the Cambridge Town and Cambridge Town and County Clubs of the 1830s and 40s. Co-operation was not necessarily on an equal basis however as four joint Town and Gown teams around 1840 are heavily weighted towards university players and look more like University and Ground (professionals) sides than genuinely joint teams.  There was a constant undercurrent of town/gown separation, conflict and competition. The latter affected cricket most when the university moved to private grounds. Both moves in 1821 and 1848 appear to have coincided with, and possibly led to, the collapse of the current town club, due possibly to the competition for financial support. It would seem that on both occasions what middle-class wealth there was followed the university to their new grounds, leaving the town cricketers to pick up the pieces of what had in both cases been highly successful clubs.

These events can also be seen as examples of a tendency for the university to operate in separation from the town. Throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries the university was developing into an important player in English cricket and society. Although it continued to support county cricket at times, from around 1850 it increasingly established itself as a completely different entity from both town and county, both of which subsequently, and for well over a hundred years, were doomed to operate in its shadow.

For a while, however, this separation meant that the town’s cricket culture retained a pre-modern in style, with the gambling, stake money, commercial trappings, professionals, and community identity which that entailed. A workforce made up of college servants and independent tradesmen, both with relatively flexible leisure time was ideal for the development of semi-professional cricket of this kind. In addition it was largely removed from the upsurge of muscular Christianity and the developing amateur-led model of cricket’s administration, which was emerging through the public schools into the universities.  Thus, through a period of more than a hundred years, the game grew in numbers and skill involved from generation to generation.  The Cambridge Cricket Club of the early 19th century was one of the most esteemed clubs in the eastern part of the country.  The pub clubs of the 1830s developed into teams capable of taking on the like of Islington Albion of London and Swaffham of Norfolk.  The Cambridge Town and County Club of the 1840s was rated one of the best provincial clubs in the whole Country.

F P Fenner

From the 1830s to the 50s Cambridge also had the county’s nearest example of an inspirational leader in Francis Fenner. A player for Cambridge Castle, Town, and Town and County Clubs, Fenner was an effective captain, a bullish club secretary and energetic campaigner for top-class cricket in the town and county. As a typical member of the Cambridge lower middle-class he was also a shrewd businessman and it is this quality that undermined his leadership at a crucial time for Cambridge and Cambridgeshire cricket. With the Town and County Club well established as a top provincial club Fenner, in the winter of 1847, developed and became manager of the University Club’s private ground. Contemporary reports make it quite clear that this move completely took the wind out of Cambridge Town  cricket’s sails, presumably as its financial support evaporated, Fenner’s leadership was not replaced, and most of the town’s top players looked further afield for opportunities. Thus the expected progression from the Town and County Club to a fully fledged County Club was stalled for at least a decade.

The Cambridge professionals

The concentration of cricket in Cambridge and its separation from direct amateur influence help explain the development in the town of an unusually large number of top-class professional cricketers from generation to generation. After the collapse of the Cambridge Town and County Cricket Club in 1848, however, several semi- professionals moved away from the county to take up engagements with other clubs, including the two professional touring sides of that time, the All, and United All, England Elevens (AEE & UAEE). These cricket caravans shared the Cambridge players’ approach to the game and helped to hone their skills so that come 1857 they were a county side in waiting. One tantalising thought is that if a town/university/ county model of collaboration had been adopted back in 1848 maybe the later problems of financing and administering the County Club might have been avoided.  On the other hand, what now looks like early signs of collaboration in the 1840’s may well have been pragmatism on both sides, with the basic class structure that divided the two sides of Cambridge, never really disappearing.

Five of the Cambridge pros – Alfred Diver, Robert Carpenter, Thomas Hayward, George Tarrant and John Smith – went on to represent England on tours abroad and several others such as Fred Bell, Billy Buttress and Fred Reynolds held influential professional posts and played for the AEE and UAEE. As a result of this strength of talent from Cambridge, the county sides were often highly dependent on the players of just this one town which had financial and probably political repercussions.


As the competition for financial support within Cambridge illustrates, there had always been a relative lack of wealthy nobility or gentry in Cambridgeshire to offer patronage to cricket. Although, during the 1850s, there was evidence of gentlemen cricketers beginning to organise themselves and from 1858-63 and 1866-69 that formalised into the Cambridge County Club, there was never big money behind these ventures. It fell on a few individuals like Henry Perkins, a Cambridge blue and Norfolk circuit lawyer, and Henry Adeane, local MP, to bail the club out of debt, something they were not placed to do for long. Throughout the 1857-71 period cost was a restrictive factor limiting the number of professionals selected, the number of matches played, and twice, in 1862 and 1868, causing the county club to fold. Other matches were funded by the Cambridge Town Club, the opposition, public subscription, and possibly one-off benefactors such as John Jackson,  a Yorkshire bookmaker and stud farmer who appears to have taken an interest in Cambridge cricketers of the 1850s-60s.

Lack of county identity

The concentration of cricket in Cambridge and the identification of the county with gentlemen amateurs need to be seen in the context of Cambridgeshire being a somewhat divided county between the sparsely populated north fenland and the agricultural south around Cambridge. There seems to have been little in the way of county identity. In the 1810s and -20s the Cambridge Cricket Club had played several teams from neighbouring counties but never with Chatteris, March or Wisbech who were playing in the north of the county. Although the Cambridge Town Club added “County” to its name in 1844, this seems largely to have been a ploy to attract more support and better opposition rather than a reflection of any united will to represent Cambridgeshire. When, in 1861, the Cambridge Town Club challenged, played and defeated Kent, the latter objected to playing a town club. It seems to me, however, that to the people of Cambridge the idea of a team of their town professionals taking on a county on the town’s Parker’s Piece was much more logical and exciting than a county side run by county gentlemen playing at Fenner’s.

Cambridgeshire by name

Partly because the County Club only survived a few years at a time (1858-63 and 1866-68), it was not solely responsible for teams that are now, though not always at the time, regarded as Cambridgeshire sides during this period. A look at the sides involved reveals a mixture of teams representing the county.

The first three matches in 1857/58, against Surrey, started out officially as a Cambridge University side bolstered with Cambridge professionals such as Alfred Diver, Fred Bell and Charles Arnold. Although all three came to be known as Cambridgeshire matches their origin was clearly that of the first match, a natural arrangement at the time, given,  by then, the long tradition of local cricketers’ employment at the University for the early part of each season.

Alongside the County Club’s matches against Surrey in 1861, one match against Kent, already referred to, was actually played by the Cambridge Town Club and another, against Yorkshire and Durham (Stockton-on-Tees), was possibly promoted by John Jackson and Dr William Richardson, two northern England cricket enthusiasts and gamblers. Future matches with Yorkshire also appear to have been arranged independently of the County Club, two in 1864 being financed by public subscription in tribute to Hayward, Carpenter and Tarrant on their return from Australia and others possibly being arranged between the Cambridgeshire and Yorkshire professionals. Other clubs that appear to have helped finance matches with Cambridgeshire were Surrey, Kent and the MCC.

The inevitable decline

Thus we have a picture of a highly talented and successful county side that was poorly financed, lopsided towards the professionals of one town, poorly identified with as a county and inconsistently administered. In addition, for much of this period the Cambridge professionals allied themselves with the northern counties professionals in the North-south split which dominated English cricket for a while. Reports of AGMs suggest this may have produced instability within the County club at least.

As the money ran out, the professionals became old or ill, and the ad hoc match arrangements became increasingly out of step with other better supported and run counties with influential amateurs to the fore, Cambridgeshire county cricket finally ran out of steam in 1871. The final match, versus Surrey, hardly got a mention in the Cambridge press. In the next few years several matches against touring England Elevens were held in an attempt to keep the spirit alive, but even these petered out, with Cambridgeshire having to wait till the 1890s for a new County Club, which competed at Minor Counties level. Over a period of just 25 years the county had gone from possessing one of England’s strongest provincial clubs, through a period of competing successfully as a county club, to being one of the game’s forgotten outposts as the frontiers changed and organised first-class county cricket became a reality in 1873.

It is important to remember that, although contemporary reports make it clear that Cambridgeshire were regarded as a top side, the matches they played between 1857 and 1871 were only called “first-class”, and in one case “Cambridgeshire”, in retrospect. It is evident that Cambridgeshire had a first-class side in terms of playing strength, but perhaps it never had first-class circumstances in which to survive for long.