Nottinghamshire Cricketers nPart 4

Featured News | 18th December 2007

by Peter Wynne-Thomas

The first half of the decade of the 1840s saw an average of 25 ‘first-class’ matches played each summer of which ten were staged at Lord’s. Through William Clarke’s endeavours Nottinghamshire were considered one of the great cricketing counties of England, but as only Sussex and Kent were worthy opponents, how could Clarke make money from his creation – Trent Bridge Cricket Ground?

There were never going to be more than three or four ‘crowd-drawing’ matches in a season. His first move was the creation of Notts Amateurs C.C. using the Trent Bridge Ground as their home – the Amateur Club employed a professional as a general factotum who bowled to members when practicing and looked after the ground, as well as acting as umpire.

In 1840 a Gentlemen v Players match was instituted, where the best cricketers in the County divided into the two paid and unpaid groupings – the Gentlemen were assisted by one or two professional bowlers and this contest was played at Trent Bridge twice each summer.

In 1842 a second similar match was inaugurated County v Town, again normally twice a season. In the same year the Nottingham v Sheffield match was revived, but the Nottingham side was effectively Nottingham 2nd XI and the attendances were described as ‘poor’.

In theory there was a Notts County Cricket Club, formed in 1841, to help Clarke, but its sole purpose was to raise finance for the very occasional away inter-county match and help with arrangements when Kent or Sussex came to Nottingham. In 1843 Clarke managed to arrange home and away fixtures with Hampshire, but that county was terribly feeble and hardly an attraction for the Nottingham public – the fixture was not tried again.

Five matches were played by Notts in 1843 – four wins and one loss. No matches in 1844. Three matches in 1845 – two wins and a loss. The defeat in 1843 was v MCC at Lord’s and the 1845 v Kent at Canterbury. Sixteen players made their Notts debuts in these games; there were eight amateurs and eight professionals.

Jonas Bettison Warwick made his first appearance for Notts v Hampshire at Trent Bridge in 1843. Born in Woodborough in 1803, he trained in the medical profession at St Thomas’s Hospital in London being made a M.R.C.S. in 1828 and ran a practice in Southwell. His first recorded match was in Southwell in 1831.

In about 1844 he was the moving force behind the creation of Nottinghamshire County Club, based at Southwell -–in effect it was the Nottinghamshire Gentlemen C.C. – for a decade the Club was highly successful. A good batsman and wicketkeeper, he was described by the Rev W.K.R.Bedord in the following terms: ‘He was indeed a fine and finished exponent of the best form then in vogue and, but for the calls on his time involved by his being a country surgeon in a large ptractice, he would have been known to a far larger circle of cricketers’.

Warwick played only five times for Notts the last being in 1848. He died at his home in Southwell in 1873 after a serious illness that lasted eight years.

The Rev Henry Maltby also made his Notts debut v Hants at Trent Bridge. He played just three times for the county all matches being in 1843. The following comment about him appeared in the press in 1873: ‘Mr H.Maltby, who has been dead many years, lived at Edwalton. He was a feeble bat and poor bowler, and rumour has it that he was indebted to a douceur to Old Clarke for his appearances for the County.’ The total extent of his cricket career in Nottingham spanned 1840 to 1847.

The identity of this cricketer is not entirely certain. Two possibilities are Henry Joseph Maltby born Huntingdonshire in 1814 and died in Durham in 1863. He was the rector of Eglingham, Co Durham in 1843. This fact seems to rule him out, but in a court case in 1860 he is described as being of Eglingham and formerly of Nottingham.

The other candidate was educated at Repton in 1833-35, then Cambridge and ordained at Lincoln in 1841. He married in Nottingham to Eliza Adeline Surplice in 1842 and died in 1869 leaving only £20. Whether anyone investigating the Maltby family tree has solved this riddle, we would be delighted to hear from them.

George McKenzie Kettle is the third debutant of the home Hants game. He is not as complicated as Maltby. He was born in Overseal in 1810 and was mainly connected with the Burton-on-Trent Club, his name first appearing for that town in 1831. He wasn’t among those advertised to play against Hampshire, but took the place of Abram Bass, another Burton cricketer.

Kettle was a very useful player, a member of M.C.C. and earlier in 1843 represented Midland Counties v M.C.C. at Lord’s. He died at Dallicotte House a large residence outside Bridgnorth in Shropshire in 1887, being described on his death certificate, under ‘Occupation’ simply as a gentleman.

Abram (or Abraham) Bass made his debut in the return match at Southampton – like Kettle it proved his only Notts game. A member of the great brewing family he was born in Burton in 1804 and was a solicitor by profession. In the 1840s he played regularly in the Genltmen v Players games at Trent Bridge, but most of his cricket was for Burton.

He is described as a staunch supporter of cricket and his house had a room with one wall mirrored - in–the manner of a ballet school – so that he could practice his batting and check his stance. He employed R.C.Tinley as a professional. Due to his keenness the North opposed M.C.C. at Burton on more than one occasion.

An incident occurred which if true is bizarre when Bass was batting for the North at Lord’s. The ball was thrown in by a fielder, hit Bass’s top hat, which was knocked to the ground, and was then lost. The missile was found lodged between the lining and the crown of the hat. Bass died in Burton in 1882. His death certificate shows him as ‘Abram’, but a note later alters this to ‘Abraham’.

Henry James Porter also made his single Notts appearance at Southampton in 1843. Born in Nottingham in 1810, it would appear that he played in local cricket from 1831 to 1854, but in the press Porter is rarely given an initial, though on the occasion when he is, ‘H’ is the only one shewn. Porter was mainly connected with the Hyson Green Club, which played on the Forest. He died in Sheffield in 1878, being a publican in that town.

Charles ‘Charley’ Brown (pictured left) was not only the most important of the 1843 debutants, but the most fanatical of Nottinghamshire cricketers. His dyer and cleaner’s business off the Market Place was the haunt of the cricket fraternity for some twenty years.

Sutton’s book on Notts cricket commented ‘All that Brown requires is a less restless temperament, and there would be no eleven from which he should be omitted.’ As it was he was Notts regular wicketkeeper from 1843 to 1861, though he came rather late into the County side, being born in 1815. He played in notable cricket cricket in Nottingham from 1833, mainly for the Rancliffe Arms Club.

He was chosen for England v Kent in all matches, but never for Players v Gentlemen. One of his peculiarities was the ability to bowl the ball accurately from behind his back. This is described in the press: ‘He is a right hand bowler bowling from his left side, i.e. placing his right arm across his back and then delivering the ball.’

With regard to his wicketkeeping, another commentator noted, ‘Brown was considered a trifle too sharp behind the sticks.’ If the ball shaved the stumps, Brown would dislodge a bail and claim the batsman ‘bowled’.

The stories of his pitched battles against the opposition during the general elections are perhaps overstated, but opposing mobs would hurl stones at each other. Brown’s accuracy apparently proved deadly as one rhymester noted:
‘ When
A chunk of old red sand-stone took him in the abdomen,
And he smiled a kind of sickly smile and curled up on the floor, And subsequent proceedings interested him no more.’

Brown was the keen supporter of Sir Robert Clifton, another cricket nut. It was Brown who for several years in the early 1850s acted as Secretary to the County Club, obtaining subscriptions – one typical long list still hangs in the Trent Bridge Pavilion. When a benefit match was organised for him in 1855 10,000 spectators were reported to have attended.

He commissioned Anderson to produce on of his portraits showing Brown as a wicketkeeper – prints of this are exceedingly rare. Brown died in 1875 at his residence in Farmer’s Yard, off the Market Place. One of Nottinghamshire’s greatest cricket characters.

HartoppEdward Samuel Edwards Hartopp (pictured right) played once for the County v MCC at Lord’s. A member of M.C.C. and indeed a Committee member from 1860 to his death, he was asked to play due to the accident which occurred to Tom Barker – he jumped out of a cab whilst being conveyed across London – the horse having bolted. Barker’s leg was broken and he was taken unconscious to Marylebone Infirmary. Notts were therefore reduced to ten men.

Born in 1820, Hartopp resided at Clipsham Hall near Oakham. Educated at Eton and Cambridge, he was awarded a blue to 1841 and 1842. Hartopp was a brilliant long-stop but a very defensive batsman. He died at Pickenham Hall, Swaffham in 1894.

John Buttery also made his Notts debut v M.C.C. at Lord’s. Born in 1815, he was a lacemaker and resided in Hockley, Nottingham. A medium pace bowler he belonged, like Brown, to the Rancliffe Arms Club, and played in only four major matches for the County, the last being in 1848.

Perhaps the main reason for his rare appearances was that from 1847 to 1852 he was a pro with Manchester and then until death engaged at Oxford. He was considered ideal as a practice bowler, not only because of his accuracy but also his ability to bowl almost for hours on end.

He was also considered an excellent umpire. In 1873 he caught a severe cold and never recovered, dying in December that year at his home.

Henry Flear, another Rancliffe Arms product, played in local cricket from 1835 to 1846. A good batsman, he played once for Notts – v Sussex at Trent Bridge – when he was preferred to George Jarvis.

A foundry moulder by trade he resided in George St, Sneinton and died of ‘softening of the brain’ in the General Hospital in 1852 aged 35 – searches have failed to find his baptism date.

John Gilbert made a remarkable debut for Notts v Sussex. One of the Sussex players noted ‘Gilbert played the bowling as easily as shelling peas and quite astonished both the Sussex players and his own side. Sussex were at their wit’s end before Box finally stumped Gilbert off Lillywhite’s bowling for 91.’ This innings remained the highest ever for Notts for 16 years.

He was selected in two more major Notts games but did nothing.

Born in Mansfield in 1816 he was a silk framework knitter in his native town and most of his cricket was played in Mansfield, where he died in 1887.

Chappell Batchelor, baptised in Southwell in July 1822, was a member of the Notts County Club based at Southwell. He was a more than average batsman and in 1847 hit 93 for the County Club v Rugby.

He played in three genuine Notts matches, the first being v Kent at Canterbury in 1845 and the final v Surrey at The Oval in 1858, when Notts had four regulars absent. He was an organist by professional in Southwell, but died in Derby in 1884.

Samuel Dakin resided in Derby in the 1840s and was chosen to play for Notts v Kent at Canterbury in 1845 – the reporter noted that ‘for some reason Kent did not object to Dakin’s inclusion in the Notts side.’

Dakin had played in one or two County v Town games at Trent Bridge, but had no birth (born Siley, Leics) or residential qualification for Notts. He was later picked for the Notts side in the same season when Kent came to Trent Bridge, but then did not appear in the final eleven.

Dakin had played in the last recorded game of the old Leicester Club, playing against Nottingham in 1829. He was engaged as a pro by South Derbyshire C.C. from 1838 to 1841, then by Kingscote, Glos 1842 to 1845 and from 1847 to 1855 by M.C.C. at Lord’s.

He moved to Cambridge about 1850 and died there in 1876. He was on the Umpires’ List from 1865 to his death. He was a fast scoring batsman and useful bowler.

The Rev Richard Seddon also played for Notts in the 1845 Canterbury game, like Dakin, without any qualification. It seems that both Dakin and Seddon appeared for the County because they had represented the North v M.C.C. immediately prior to the Kent game and William Clarke simply retained the same side, which surely ought to have been ‘North’, rather than ‘Notts’.

Born in Leicester in 1825, Seddon was educated at Bridgnorth G.S. and Cambridge, being in the University side in 1846 and 1847. He died in Bournemouth in 1884.

George ParrGeorge Parr (pictured left) was for some seasons either side of 1860 the greatest batsman in the world, succeeding Fuller Pilch and being succeeded by W.G.Grace. He is the only Nottinghamshire-born cricketer who can truly justify such an honour. Parr was the first cricketer to hit a century in a county match for Nottinghamshire, a feat he achieved v Surrey in 1859.

Sutton in 1853 wrote: ‘Parr is undoubtedly the first batsman in the country, and for brilliancy and precision of striking has never been surpassed. He occupies now the same commanding position that Fuller Pilch did, some ten or fifteen years since; with this difference that Pilch, though a powerful and most dexterous batter, never possessed the grace and finish displayed by Parr, who excels greatly in ‘leg hits’….so unerring is his aim, he gives the bowler as little chance with a leg-hit as with any other, and punishes both ball, bowlers and lyers-out, with an ease perfectly marvellous'

Born in Radcliffe on Trent in 1826, his career with Notts ran from 1845 to 1870. He captained the County after the death of Clarke, until his own retirement. He also managed the All England Eleven for the same period.

In 1859 he led the first England overseas – to North America and, having declined leadership of the first England team to Australia, due to poor financial terms, did lead the second side in 1863-64. In effect he ruled professional cricket in England for more than a decade and at various times fell out with the authorities in London, both at Lord’s and The Oval.

Richard Daft, Parr’s successor as Notts captain stated ‘a more honest and straightforward cricketer never took hold of a bat’. It has to be said that not everyone held that opinion. After he retired from county cricket, Parr retired back to Radcliffe and rarely even visited Trent Bridge. He died in the village in 1891 and is buried there together with a branch of the old elm tree at Trent Bridge, over which he was reputed to so often hit the ball.

The Rev Philip Williams was at New College, Oxford when he played two Notts matches, both v Kent in 1845. At Winchester he was in the school eleven for three seasons 1840 to 1842 and then for four seasons in the Oxford side v Cambridge. From Oxford, Williams went to Lincoln’s Inn, where he qualified as a barrister, but seemingly did not practice, since in the 1850s he was a curate in Gedling and from 1860 to 1892 rector of Rewe in Devon. He died in 1899. In Nottinghamshire he played for the County Club at Southwell, His batting and bowling styles are unknown.

Frank Tinley, ‘a dark-complexioned little fellow’, made his debut v Kent at Trent Bridge and played until 1856. Born Frances Eastwood Tinley in Southwell in 1819, he was one of three brothers to represent Notts. He was for long periods the pro to the Southwell Club, but spent two season with Newport on the Isle of Wight and one with a club in Rotherham. He was often used as a given player for XXIIs opposed to the AEE and in the 1860s was frequently found as an umpire in major matches. A tallow chandler by trade, he later was landlord of the Hearty Good Fellow in Southwell. Tinley died in Birmingham in 1889.

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