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 the 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.


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.


1743-46– Henry Venn is said to have “won a considerable reputation as a batsman” whilst he was “up at Cambridge[University].


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.”


1751– Newmarket Heath (at that time in Cambridgeshire). 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 given 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.

Team members’ names published in various versions.


During these matches above 6,000 people watched a football match, and there was cock-fighting, smock-racing, wrestling and cudgelling.

Possible follow up matches at Newmarket and Woburn Abbey were mooted in the press, including one at Woburn for the following July.


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.


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


1757 – First recorded Cambridge Town match:

18th July. Jesus Green, Cambridge. Cambridge v Saffron Walden. Saffron Walden won.


1758– 26th June. Saffron Waldon. Saffron Waldon v Cambridge. Cambridge won.

5th July. Jesus Green Cambridge. Cambridge v Saffron Waldon. Cambridge won.


1764First record of Royston cricket:


31st July. Royston ( half in Cambridgeshire at this time). Royston v Saffron Walden. Saffron Walden won.


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.”


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.


1774First record of Chatteris cricket:

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

No record of return match.


1777 – 3rd Sept. March. March v Wisbech. Wisbech won.

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


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.


1786 – 26th May. Cambridge Old Westminsters v Cambridge Old Etonians. Etonians 149 & 94; Westminsters 88 & 55 for 8 wkts. (Ian Maun, “From Commons to Lord’s” Vol 1 (Roger Heavens 2009).


23rd Aug. St Ives. St Ives v Cambridge. St Ives won by 20 notches.


28th Aug. Haverhill. Haverhill v Cambridge. Cambridge won by 8 wkts.


30th Aug. Cambridge. Cambridge v St Ives. Cam 137 & 135; St Ives 80 & 73 for 9 wkts; St Ives gave up the match.


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


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.”


First record of a 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.

17/18th Sept. Newmarket Heath. Newmarket v Mildenhall and Worlington. Match abandoned due to rain.


1790– Stowmarket v Newmarket. S 113 & 14 for 2 wkts; N 75 & 48. Stowmarket won by 8 wkts.


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.  “Scores and Biographies Vol 1” contains a poem about these matches.



First record of a team called “Cambridgeshire”:

16th Sept. Newmarket. Suffolk v Cambridgeshire. S 176 in 2 innings; C 160 in 2 innings; Suffolk won by 16 notches. Not, I imagine, an inter-county match but possibly a match between people from either side of the Cambridgeshire/Suffolk border in Newmarket.


1792 – Unknown date. Newmarket. Newmarket v Cambridge. Result unknown.


First record of a match on Parker’s Piece:


16th July. Parker’s Piece, Cambridge. Cambridge v Newmarket. No record of match.

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.

21st Aug. Saffron Walden. Saffron Walden v Cambridge. Saffron Walden won by 20 notches.


1793 – Date unknown. Royston. Royston v Saffron Walden. Royston won.

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.

No record of deciding match being played.

14th Aug. Wisbech. Wisbech v Downham Market. Downham won by an innings and 6 notches.

11th Sept. Dowhham Market. Downham Market v Wisbech. Downham won by an innings and 8 “notches”.


1794 – 23rd July. Cambridge. Married v Bachelors. Bachelors won by 104 notches.

23rd Sept. Wisbech. Wisbech v Peterborough. Wisbech won by 37 wkts.

24th sept. St Ives. St Ives v Chatteris. S I 51 & 47; C 69 & 30 for 8 wkts. Chatteris won by 2 wkts.

1st Oct. Chatteris. Chatteris v St Ives. C 37 & 43; S I’s 83. St Ives won by an innings.


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

29th July. Cambridge. Evening Club v Morning Club. Evening Club won by 22 notches.


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.


1796 – Application to build Downing College on Parker’s Piece.

1797– 16th Sept. Near Worlington. Mildenhall & Worlington v Newmarket. M&W won by 7 wkts.

20/21st Sept. Newmarket. Newmarket v Mildenhall & Worlington. Newmarket won by 7 runs.

27th Sept. Somersham. St Ives v Manea. M 64 & 56; S I 60 & 61 for 8 wkts.


1798– 18th Sept. Manea v St Ives. Manea won by 2 wkts.

2nd Oct. St Ives v Manea. St Ives won by 6 wkts.


Unknown year – Unknown date. “…in the days of Lord Frederick Beauclerk eleven of the County of Hertford defeated 22 picked men from the counties of Cambridge and Bedford on Biggleswade Common.”