Cricket in Cambridgeshire in the 18th Century

Passages in red are additions to information already published in “A Tradition Unshared”.

Here are the matches and events related to Cambridgeshire cricket in the 18th century that I know of. In some cases I have not given all the information on a particular match or event so please get in touch if there is something you want to know more about.

I would also be delighted to receive any additions or corrections.

In the main my sources are local newspapers.

1710The first clear reference to cricket in Cambridgeshire comes from records of a dispute between Richard Bentley, Master of Trinity College, Cambridge University (CU), and his fellows. Bentley wanted to allow undergraduates to leave dinner before fellows because they “might be impatient to run home to their studies, others to try a fair fall upon the grass, and others to make a match at Foot-Ball or Cricket”. The game may well have been played at the university for some years before 1710. A Country Vicar, “Cricket and the Church” in The Cricketer Spring Annual 1948, p22. 

1744 –First recorded match in Cambridgeshire, first recorded March match, first recorded Wisbech match:

“On Monday the 4th June next a Cricket Match will be play’d on March Common, in the Isle of Ely, between the Gentlemen of March and the Gentlemen of Wisbeach, Eleven of a Side, for five Pounds a Man, when it is expected there will be a very numerous Meeting of the best Fashion.” No record of match. Northampton Mercury 28th May 1744.

1743-46– Henry Venn is said to have “won a considerable reputation as a batsman” whilst he was “up at Cambridge[University]. Martineau, G D, “They Made Cricket”, p116.

1750– Regulations for students issued by Cambridge University:

“Every person in statu popullari who shall be found at any coffee house, tennis-court, cricket ground or other places of publick diversion and entertainment, betwixt the hours of nine and twelve in the morning, shall forfeit the sum of ten shillings for every offence.” Ipswich Journal.19th May 1750.

1751First recorded match at Newmarket:

Newmarket (half in Cambridgeshire at this time). Newmarket Heath, 11 gentlemen of Eton (Earl of Sandwich’s XI) v 11 gentlemen of England (Earl of March’s XI) for £1500

(raised from 1,000 gns).No professionals permitted. £20,000 were said to be depending on this match in bets. The Eton side played a practice match on 14th June.

Tues. 25th June. All England 93 and 101(98)Eton 53 and 104. Eton won by 37 runs. Also reported as unfinished and a win for England by 140 runs. The Eton victory seems the most complete version.

Thurs 27th June. All England 51 and 114, Eton 168 and 67. Eton won by 70 runs.

Sat. 29th June. All England 109 and 133, Eton 46 and 101. England won by 85 runs.  Cambridge Journal various issues, 1750.

Team members’ names published in various versions. Pond’s Porting Kalender; Cambridge Journal 11th May, June 8th p2, 22nd June, 6th July 1750. 

During these matches above 6,000 people watched a football match, and there was cock-fighting, smock-racing, wrestling and cudgelling. Derby Mercury Fri 7th July 1750.

Possible follow up matches at Newmarket and Woburn Abbey were mooted in the press, including one at Woburn for the following July.  Derby Mercury Fri 7th July/ 23rd Aug 1750.

A reminiscence of the Newmarket matches by Sir Edward Bunbury.  Bury & Norwich Post 20th Sept 1887.

1754 –First recorded Cambridge University match:

Gentlemen of Eton v Gentlemen of Cambridge University. Eton won.  Subsequent events suggest that this and the 1755 matches were actually internal university matches between ex-Eton students and the Rest. Public Advertiser 10th June 1755.

1755– 3rd/5th June. Gentlemen of Eton v Gentlemen of Cambridge University. Two matches. The University won both. Public Advertiser 10th June 1755.

1757 – First recorded Cambridge Town match:

18th July. Jesus Green, Cambridge. Cambridge v Saffron Walden. Saffron Walden won. Cambridge Journal 23rd July 1757.

1758– 26th June. Saffron Waldon. Saffron Waldon v Cambridge. Cambridge won. Cambridge Journal 1st July 1758.

5th July. Jesus Green Cambridge. Cambridge v Saffron Waldon. Cambridge won. Cambridge Journal 8th July 1758.

1760 – First recorded Royston match:

Before 12th August. Royston ( half in Cambridgeshire at this time). Royston v Cambridge.  Result unknown. General Evening Post Aug 12th – 14th & Aug 21st- 23rd 1760.

15th August. Cambridge.  Cambridge v Royston.  Match not played due to dispute between the teams. General Evening Post Aug 12-14th & Aug 21st – 23rd 1760.

1764– 31st July. Royston . Royston v Saffron Walden. Saffron Walden won. Cambridge Chronicle 4th Aug, 1764 p3.

6th October (possibly 13th). Saffron Walden. “Saffron Walden v Hertfordshire and Cambridgeshire”. Probably the return of the above Royston v Saffron Walden match. Saffron Walden won. “…for a considerable wager.” Gazetteer and New Daily Advertiser Oct 15th 1764.

1771 – A match at Bentley Green, Essex is advertised under the heading: “Essex & Cambridgeshire”, at least suggesting an attempt to tap into interest in the game in Cambridgeshire. Ipswich Journal Sat 6th July.

1774First recorded Chatteris match:

25th Aug. Chatteris Common. Chatteris v St Ives. Chatteris won. Advance notice of a return match “for a considerable sum”. Cambridge Chronicle 27th Aug 1774.

No record of return match.

1777 – 3rd Sept. March. March v Wisbech. Wisbech won. Cambridge Chronicle 13th Sept 1777 p2.

9th Sept. St Ives. St Ives v Cambridge. Cambridge won by 3 wkts.  Notice of return match.  Cambridge Chronicle 13th Sept 1777 p2.

1783– 17th Sept. Downham Market. Wisbech v Methwold. Wis 42 & 41; Meth 84; Methwold won by an innings and 1 run.

2nd match. Wisbech 45; Methwold 46(?) for 0 wkts; Methwold won by 10 wkts. Norfolk Chronicle 20th Sept 1783 p2.

1786 – 26th May. Cambridge Old Westminsters v Cambridge Old Etonians. Etonians 149 & 94; Westminsters 88 & 55 for 8 wkts. (source unclear)

23rd Aug. St Ives. St Ives v Cambridge. St Ives won by 20 notches. Cambridge Chronicle, 2nd Sept 1786 p3.

28th Aug. Haverhill. Haverhill v Cambridge. Cambridge won by 8 wkts.  Letters in the Chelmsford Chronicle reveal some conflict between the clubs in arrangements for the match. Chelmsford Chronicle Fri 1st Sept. 1786.

30th Aug. Cambridge. Cambridge v St Ives. Cam 137 & 135; St Ives 80 & 73 for 9 wkts; St Ives gave up the match. Cambridge Chronicle, 2nd Sept 1786 p3.

25th Nov. The list of players in four cricket matches in Hanover includes a Mr Townley, who could be part of the Fulbourn family. Caledonian Mercury Sat 25th November.

178817th May. Report that over the previous 30 years ex-Eton undergraduates at Cambridge University have always defeated the rest of the University. “Kings College alone were last year superior to the whole University, though they had many very excellent players to encounter on the opposite side.” The World, 22nd May 1788.

First recorded Newmarket town match:

29/30th Aug. Mildenhall (probably). Mildenhall and Worlington v Newmarket. M & W 80 & 41; N 44 & 77; match tied. “…the whole was conducted with gentility on both side. Many gentlemen and ladies were present, having a booth erected for that purpose.” Team members’ names published. Norwich & Bury Post 3rd Sept 1788 p2.

17/18th Sept. Newmarket Heath. Newmarket v Mildenhall and Worlington. Match abandoned due to rain. Norwich & Bury Post 24th Sept 1788 p2.

1790– Stowmarket v Newmarket. S 113 & 14 for 2 wkts; N 75 & 48. Stowmarket won by 8 wkts. Norwich & Bury Post 14th July 1790 p2.

1791First record of a Manea match.

21st June. Manea. Manea v Chatteris. Manea won by 7 wkts.

29th June. Chatteris. Chatteris v Manea. Manea won by 32 runs. Also contains a poem about these matches. “Scores and Biographies Vol 1” 

13th July. Moulton (near Spalding).  “Gentlemen of Moulton v Gentlemen of Wisbech.”  For 0ne hundred guineas.  “There will be an ordinary at the “Horse-and-Groom, in Moulton”. No record of the match. Stamford Mercury Fri 8th July 1791.

First record of a team called “Cambridgeshire”:

16th Sept. Newmarket. “Suffolk v Cambridgeshire”/Newmarket v Cambridge. S 176 in 2 innings; C 160 in 2 innings; Suffolk won by 16 notches. This match was advertised as Suffolk v Cambridgeshire, but was almost certainly a Newmarket v Cambridge match. The publication of an advance notice of the match for “20 guineas a side” implies at least a desire for recognition as an important match.  Bury & Norwich Post Wed 14th Sept/ Norwich & Bury Post 21st Sept 1791 p2.


First record of a match on Parker’s Piece:

16th July. Parker’s Piece, Cambridge. Cambridge v Newmarket, return match. No record of match.This was probably the return of the match billed as Suffolk v Cambridgehsire in September 1791.  Cambridge Chronicle 14th July 1792 p3.

14th Aug. “The Public are humbly informed, That there will be a MATCH of CRICKET played on CAMBRIDGE CRICKET-GROUND……..Between the Gentlemen of Cambridge, and Saffron Walden– The Wickets to be pitched by 10 o’clock.– A Good Ordinary will be provided, where all Gentlemen cricketers and others, will meet with a Hearty welcome from their most obedient servant, R.RAYMENT. Bird-Bolt Inn, Camb. 11th Aug. 1792.” Saffron Walden won by 7 wkts. Cambridge Chronicle 11th Aug 1792 p3.

21st Aug. Saffron Walden. Saffron Walden v Cambridge. Saffron Walden won by 20 notches. Cambridge Chronicle 18th Aug 1792 p3.

1793 – Date unknown. Royston. Royston v Saffron Walden. Royston won. Waghorn HT “The Dawn of Cricket” p124.

Date unknown. Walden common, Saffron Walden. Saffron Walden v Royston. S W 125 & 127; R 75 & 50. Saffron Walden won by 127 runs and challenged Royston to a deciding match. Waghorn, HT “The Dawn of Cricket” p124.

No record of deciding match being played.

14th Aug. Wisbech. Wisbech v Downham Market. Downham won by an innings and 6 notches. Cambridge Chronicle 21st Sept 1793 p3.

11th Sept. Downham Market. Downham Market v Wisbech. Downham won by an innings and 8 “notches”. Cambridge Chronicle 21st Sept 1793 p3.

1794 – 23rd July. Cambridge. Married v Bachelors. Bachelors won by 104 notches. Cambridge Intelligencer 26th July 1794 p3.

15th Sept. Peterborough race ground. For five and a half guineas a side.  Youths of Peterborough v youths of Wisbech. Peterborough won by 4 wkts.  Stamford Mercury Fri 19th Sept p3.

23rd Sept. Wisbech. Wisbech v Peterborough. Wisbech won by 7 wkts. Stamford Mercury Fri 26th Sept 1794 p3.

24th sept. St Ives. St Ives v Chatteris. S I 51 & 47; C 69 & 30 for 8 wkts. Chatteris won by 2 wkts. Cambridge Chronicle 27th Sept 1794 p3.

1st Oct. Chatteris. Chatteris v St Ives. C 37 & 43; S I’s 83. St Ives won by an innings. Cambridge Chronicle 4th Oct 1794 p3.

1795 – 22nd July. Cambridge. Morning Club v Evening Club. Evening Club won by an innings and 9 notches. Cambridge Chronicle Sat 25th July 1795.

29th July. Cambridge. Evening Club v Morning Club. Evening Club won by 22 notches. Cambridge Chronicle 1st Aug 1795 p3.

These two teams were probably tradesmen who found time to play cricket before (Morning Club) or after (Evening Club) work.

The two clubs wrote to the local paper, the Morning Club being accused of fielding three non-member ringers and the Evening Club of turning up late and causing the game to be finished in the dark. Cambridge Intelligencer 1st Aug 1795.

1796 – Application to build Downing College on Parker’s Piece. Unsuccessful. Cambridge Chronicle 24th Dec 1796 p3.

1797– 16th Sept. Near Worlington. Mildenhall & Worlington v Newmarket. M&W won by 7 wkts. Norwich & Bury Post 20th 1997 p2.

20/21st Sept. Newmarket. Newmarket v Mildenhall & Worlington. Newmarket won by 7 runs. Norwich & Bury Post 27th Sept p3.

27th Sept. Somersham. St Ives v Manea. M 64 & 56; S I 60 & 61 for 8 wkts. Cambridge Chronicle 23rd & 30th Sept 1797 p3.

1798– 18th Sept. Manea v St Ives. Manea won by 2 wkts. Cambridge Chronicle 22nd Sept 1798 p3.

2nd Oct. St Ives v Manea. St Ives won by 6 wkts. Cambridge Chronicle 6th Oct 1798 p3.