‘Mr W.Clarke, the celebrated slow bowler, is removing from Nottingham and will in future be found on Lord’s Ground.’
This seemingly bland statement was published in the Nottingham Review of March 20 1846. How many cricket lovers, reading that sentence, realised the seismic change which was to affect cricket throughout the British Isles? On the purely Nottingham front, in the next 11 seasons, Nottinghamshire played just 18 matches of importance. The reason was not only that Clarke, the controller of Nottingham cricket for the last 20 years had left the County, but that he, having failed to make any money from his laying out of the Trent Bridge Ground, decided on an unique experiment, which the proprietor of Lord’s thought completely stupid.
Clarke aimed to sign up a dozen of the best known cricketers in England and tour the British Isles in the manner of a travelling circus, playing matches against local opposition and hopefully attracting crowds to see, for the first time, in their own locality, the greatest sportsmen of the day. Clarke, having spent most of the 1846 summer in London at Lord’s, gathered his chosen men and, being cautious arranged for just three fixtures in large industrial towns - Sheffield, Manchester and Leeds.
The result was all he could have desired, despite the games being in September. The crowds and the money rolled in. In 1847 he arranged 10 such matches, beginning in mid-August and ending the first week of October. More crowds, more money. In 1848 there were 16 matches beginning in mid-June; the following year, 21 matches right through from May 3 to September 27. These were all three-day games and almost all against an opposition of 18 or 22 opponents, all of whom batted and fielded.
To be picked to represent your town against the most famous cricketers in England was the greatest ambition of most local players. At first Clarke employed in his new side only two or three Notts players, such as Joe Guy and George Parr, but by 1855, when a rival England side was also operating, his team often comprised seven or eight Nottingham men.
The effect of first Clarke’s move to London and then his new England side, was immediate. Nottinghamshire played no matches in 1846 and only one in 1847 - that being for the benefit of the old county cricketer, Tom Barker. In 1848, John Chapman, Clarke’s step-son, who ran the Trent Bridge Inn and Ground following Clarke’s departure, made a serious attempt to revive county matches at Trent Bridge, but lost money on the venture.
No other promoter gambled on further Trent Bridge County matches and the ground was the venue of no such games from 1849 to 1851. The sole revenue from the ground was, seemingly, the rent paid by the two or three local clubs who used it. There was no income from spectators. In 1851, Surrey - who had been resuscitated in 1845 - paid for the Notts team to play a match at The Oval. The success of that fixture led Charley Brown, the Notts wicketkeeper, to collect together subscribers for home and away matches with Surrey in 1852 - Notts won both fixtures by large margins.
In 1853 Notts began by playing and beating England at Lord’s and were for the first time acclaimed in the press as ‘County Champions’. The two major clubs who used Trent Bridge as their home ground - Nottm Commercial and Notts Amateurs - provided the personnel to form a loose County Cricket Club Committee, with brothers John and Charles Thornton and John Johnson as the main officers, and several other matches were arranged that summer.
In 1854 they ambitiously arranged home and away games with England, but both games were lost. In the match at Lord’s, William Clarke disputed an umpiring decision, walked off the field, appealed to the MCC Committee and got the umpire’s decision changed. The twin defeats appear to have dampened the enthusiasm of the Notts supporters. In 1855 and in 1856 Notts had just one home match, though in the latter summer it was played at Newark, rather than Trent Bridge.
Clarke died on August 25, 1856 – he had played his final Notts match in August 1855. This time it was his death that altered the cricket scene. From the following year, county cricket, in Nottinghamshire and throughout England was to rise again.
The details of the players who made their debuts for the County in this 11-year period, 1846 to 1856, are as follows:
Henry Clinton Attenburrow had an outstanding debut for Notts. Playing against England at Trent Bridge in 1847 he took 10 wickets - no analyses are available in either innings. He appeared in the press reports under the assumed name ‘K.Brown’, perhaps because it was not considered quite proper for a medical man on the staff of the Nottingham General Hospital to play in a professional cricket match.
Attenburrow was one of the original members of the Royal College of Surgeons, qualifying in 1829 and becoming a Fellow in 1843. He bowled under-arm in the style of Tom Warsop and appeared for Notts Amateurs at Trent Bridge. His only other important Notts game was v Sheffield in 1848, when he took a further five wickets. In the 1850s he retired to Jersey, dying on the island on September 25, 1881 aged 74. He had sued several people for debt while in Jersey in 1854 and this puts his move to Jersey as prior to that year.
John Bickley also made his Notts debut v England in 1847.and appeared in 14 Notts matches, the last being in 1860. Although he was born in Keyworth in 1819, he seems to have moved to Nottingham as a young man, making his cricketing name with the Rancliffe Club. An excellent fast round-arm bowler and sharp short-slip he played one season (1852) with Clarke’s England XI and from 1853 to 1858 was engaged by the Earl of Stamford at Enville Hall. Having a local reputation as a good sprint-runner, he challenged the great George Moore of Leicester, but failed to beat him. In 1857 he became landlord of the Sawyer’s Arms, Lister-Gate, Nottingham, dying there in November 1866 after being seriously ill for some two years.
Robert Crispin ‘Cris’ Tinley, who made his Notts debut v England in 1847, played in 54 Notts matches, his final major game being in 1869. The youngest of the three cricketing Tinley brothers he was only 16 on his first Notts appearance, being born in Southwell in October 1830. His potential was spotted by Abram Bass and Tinley was engaged by Bass to play for Burton-on-Trent. He was engaged by Bass until 1853 and this engagement limited his county appearances for that period.
A hard hitting batsman, but not a pure slogger, Tinley began as a fast bowler, but he switched to under-arm bowling in the style of William Clarke and was very successful especially in minor matches. Some of his performances were quite extraordinary. He took all 17 wickets in an innings for England against 18 of Hallam in 1860 and in 1862 took 30 wickets in the England match v 22 of Leeds. His long regular career with Clarke’s England side began in 1854 and finished in 1874.
Richard Daft tells the story of a serious accident which befell Tinley. A batsman hit the ball past Tinley, fielding at point. It was picked up by Daft who hurled it full force back to the wicket, but unfortunately the back of Tinley’s head intervened. Tinley spun round and fell senseless. It appeared that the blow had been fatal, but Daft ends his tale by saying ‘in a few days Tinley was himself again.’ For much of his career Tinley bowled in tandem with Jackson, the most deadly fast bowler of his day and one wonders how many of Tinley’s wickets were due to the relief batsmen felt after surviving a handful of Jackson’s express deliveries on the rough wickets of the 1860s.
Tinley travelled overseas with Parr’s team to Australia in 1863-64 and took more than 250 wickets in 33 innings at a cost of five runs each. Tinley always appeared much older than he really was and thus his agility in the field, usually at point, often surprised the spectators and the opposing batsmen. He had resided in Burton since he moved to the town in 1847 and latterly he kept the Royal Oak Inn, where he died, having been an invalid for some years, in December 1900.
William ‘Dusty’ Jackson played in just two Notts matches, both in 1848; he had however played for Notts 2nd X1 v Shefiield in two matches in 1843. He was christened in Basford on August 13, 1820 and played his early cricket for the Hyson Green Club. A fast straight bowler, he played for the England XI, but in 1853 began a long stint as the ground bowler at Christ Church, Oxford. He played for Northumberland in 1861 and was coach at Repton School in 1866. He died in Nottingham in December 1886.
John Johnson’s career on the cricket field is very difficult to evaluate, as his contemporary in Nottingham was Isaac Johnson, whose career runs parallel to John.
Christened in Nottingham on August 5, 1809, John Johnson played his first match on The Forest in 1822, as long-stop for his school. It would appear that he played twice in major matches for Nottingham, both in 1848 v Sheffield. A solicitor with a large practice in Nottingham, he was Hon Secretary to a number of local cricket clubs and in 1859 became Hon Secretary to the County Club. He remained in post for 10 years and was presented with a silver salver and cup by the players in recognition of his services.
His support for Nottinghamshire cricket was second to none. It was probably his hand that got the first pavilion built on the Trent Bridge ground and he seems to have been the instigator of the annual Notts Colts trial, where 22 hopeful youngsters played a two-day game against Notts 1st XI. Success by a colt in this match almost ensured at least a trial with the County side. He attended at his own expense all matches, both home and away. After retiring as Secretary, he was appointed a vice-president of the County Club. He died in Bassingfield, Holme Pierrepont in August 1877 and in his will left £500 as well as his cricket library to Richard Daft.
Frederick John Champion de Crespigny was a member of the County Club based at Southwell and appeared for that side from 1847 to 1851, when he was living there, after ordination. He was a curate at Emmanuel Church, Camberwell from 1850 to 1858 and Vicar of Hampton Wick from 1858 to his death in 1887. Some enquiries regarding his cricket led to him replying: ‘In byegone times I had the honour and pleasure of playing for the famous County of Notts.’
His single appearance was v Sussex at Trent Bridge in 1848. He was not educated at a Public School, but was at Magdalene College, Cambridge from 1840 to 1844 and played one or two games for the University, but not v Oxford. He was born at the house of his cousin, Sir W.Bowyer Smith, namely Hill Hall, in Essex in December 1822. Apart from cricket he was an accomplished tennis player and an adept skater as well.
William Ward Selby, like de Crespigny, made his sole appearance for Notts v Sussex at Trent Bridge in 1848. Baptised at Leenside, Nottingham in April 1823, he was the son of John Selby who was a notable local Nottingham cricketer in the 1820s and 1830s. William Selby played his early cricket for the Rancliffe Club, but was a professional in Cardiff in 1855 to 1857 and at Trinity College, Glenalmond in 1861. Latterly however he worked as a postman in Nottingham, though the 1891 census shows him to be a hosiery framework knitter. He died in Nottingham in January 1892 and is buried in the General Cemetery. His son John Selby was the England Test cricketer.
Alfred Clarke, the son of the founder of Trent Bridge, was born at the Bell Inn, Nottingham in February 1831. He made his Notts debut v Surrey at The Oval in 1851 and played in 24 Notts matches, the last being in 1863. His chief ability on the cricket field would appear to be as a fielder at long-leg. A press report comments: ‘He was, as regards batting, a useful rather than a brilliant luminary and but for his father’s fame and influence he might perchance, not have retained his place (in the county side) so long’.
He was the professional at Rossall School from 1856 to 1860 and went with Parr’s team to Australia in 1863-64, taking Mortlock’s place at the last moment. After returning from Australia he came into some money and set himself up as a maltster and publican in Ruddington. He died in that village in October 1878 and is buried in the churchyard, where his gravestone still stands (1991). William Caffyn commented, ‘Clarke like his father was a very intelligent man and made a most agreeable travelling companion.’
James ‘Jemmy’ Grundy was rather late in making his Nottinghamshire debut, having been born in New Radford in 1824 and therefore being 27 when he appeared against Surrey at The Oval in 1851. He had originally been a professional with the Sherwood Forest Club as far back as 1842, but from 1844 to 1850 his name disappears from Nottingham Club cricket - for four seasons he was engaged at Holkham by Earl of Leicester.
In 1851 Grundy began a long stint as a ground bowler at Lord’s and was immediately successful in major matches for MCC. He took no less than 135 wickets in major games that year. Lillywhite’s Guide credits Grundy with 107 at an average of eight runs each. Lillywhite goes on to say that Grundy has a very fair and fast delivery with a ‘cutting’ and ‘twisting’ ball’. He took seven wickets in his first county game. He preferred to bowl against the wind, claimed that it ‘steadied him’.
Grundy was a late starter in county cricket, but in the next 16 seasons he missed only one major Notts match. Grundy also played 19 times in the annual Gentlemen v Players match, again commencing in 1851. Although he also appeared for Clarke’s England XI, in 1852 he was the major Notts figure to sign up for the United All England XI, formed that summer by John Wisden in opposition to Clarke. Grundy remained with the United XI until its demise in 1867.
William Caffyn gives a detailed description of Grundy as a cricketer: ‘He was one of the best plucked men I ever saw on a cricket field, and could generally rise to the occasion, either to keep runs down or to obtain them, when necessity required. His bowling may be described as fast medium, with a little break back. He bowled very straight, and could drop the ball on a cheeseplate if so minded.
‘Indeed this was the class of bowler to which he belonged. He bowled at the wicket, always endeavouring to beat the batsman himself, and not bowling for catches; so it may easily be imaged how successful he was when anything peculiar in the ground helped him…As a batsman he had excellent defence and being always very cool and collected, could often keep his wicket up till further orders, when required to do so.’
The last of his 52 matches for Notts came in 1873, but so far as MCC were concerned he was a major umpire in the seasons 1869 to 1871.
Having started out as a lacehand, Grundy set up a grocery business in Nottingham and then in 1863 became landlord of the William the Fourth Inn, Carrington. He moved to the Midland Hotel in Carrington in 1866 and during his tenancy the Notts CCC AGM was held at that hotel. Grundy died of gout in November 1873 at his hotel. His daughter married the Notts cricketer Charles Clifton, and three of his sons were useful players - James junior was engaged at Lord’s in 1869, Joshua played for Notts Colts in 1870 and John appeared for Warwickshire in 1886 and 1887.
Michael John Ellison played one match for his native county, against Surrey at The Oval in 1852. He was born in Worksop in 1817, but his selection for Notts was purely an emergency. He had been in London appearing for the Gentlemen of the North v Gentlemen of the South at Lord’s, when William Selby, who had been picked to appear for Notts at The Oval, was taken ill, and Ellison was drafted into the county side. He had in fact already played for Yorkshire in 1849, since he resided in Sheffield at least from 1836.
Ellison was employed by the Duke of Norfolk, Ellison’s father being the Duke’s factor, to oversee his considerable land-holdings in Sheffield and its immediate surroundings and in this position he was the prime mover in the creation of the Bramall Lane Cricket Ground. Ellison formed a Committee from the cricket clubs playing in Sheffield and raised money to launch the new ground under the umbrella of Sheffield United C.C. The first game was played there in 1855.
In 1866 Ellison was elected as President of Yorkshire CCC, whose headquarters were effectively at Bramall Lane. He remained Yorkshire President until his death in 1898. It is rather ironic that as President he keenly supported the Yorkshire policy of playing only Yorkshire-born cricketers - a policy he adopted from the Notts Committee policy of the day.
Charles Brampton, a tall spare-built fellow, rather knock-kneed, was born in Hyson Green in 1828 and is described as a framework printer and stockiner, but perhaps ‘printer’ should read ‘knitter’? His Notts debut was v England at Lord’s in 1854 and he played in 36 County games, the last being in 1867. A very reliable batsman, he normally opened the innings. Brampton could also bowl fast round-arm and was a sharp fielder at slip.
He was originally engaged for three seasons at Stourbridge, 1852-54, then the next four at Enville Hall, with Lord Stamford. In 1859 to 1861 he was at Lord’s, but in 1862 was engaged as coach at Marlborough College, playing some matches for Wiltshire under a residential qualification. Brampton set up a thriving cricketing business in Marlborough and was elected to the Town Council. In a minor game in Devizes in 1882, he captured six wickets in seven balls. He died in Marlborough in 1895.
Thomas Davis was born in Nottingham in November 1827, but usually resided in Sneinton where he was employed as a copper-plate printer initially, but then worked for a relative as a tinner and brazier. A hard-hitting batsman, he was an amazingly enthusiastic fielder, being adept at gathering the ball and returning with a single action to the keeper. It is said that when he missed a catch, he asked to receive corporal punishment and was not satisfied until he had had several hearty applications with a bat.
His first Notts game was against England at Lord’s and in all he appeared in 12 County matches, the last being in 1865. Apart from his batting and fielding he could also bowl medium pace round arm, but had a very peculiar action, his arm being hidden behind his back until the last possible moment. From 1850 to 1869 he had regular professional engagement, but did not remain in any post very long until in 1865 he went to Dublin, being there five seasons. His most illustrious innings was that of 72 v Surrey at Trent Bridge in 1860, when a collection realised the then enormous sum of £25.
In his later years Davis was employed by the Town Corporation as superintendent of the Forest Recreation Ground. He was known by the nickname ‘Oily’, but its origin is obscure Davis died in Nottingham in May 1898.
John Hatfield’s only match for Nottinghamshire was against Surrey at Godalming in 1854. He played for the Players v Gentlemen at Trent Bridge in the same year, but almost all his cricket was for Southwell. A useful batsman, he was christened in Southwell on March 2, 1831 and was employed as an auctioneer’s clerk.
His father was also John Hatfield and it is difficult to separate the permance of the two in local matches, a problem not helped by the fact that his brother was Joseph. He died in Barnby Gate, Newark on May 14, 1880.
Edward Louis Bateman was educated at Marlborough and University College, Oxford. He played in the University Match at Lord’s in 1854 and 1855, but only once for Notts, v England at Trent Bridge in 1855. Although born in Mickleover, Derby, he moved to West Leake at the age of two when his father was appointed vicar of that parish. Bateman was a useful batsman, though nervous at the start of an innings, but his ability as a fielder meant that he was preferred to others who might be better batsmen.
He resided in London for much of his life, being assistant secretary to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners and was on the MCC Committee from 1880 and auditor to MCC from 1904 to his death in 1909. His country residence was Rowditch Lodge, Derby.
Robert Gibson also made his debut v England at Trent Bridge in 1855, as one of three outings he had with the County, the last being in 1858. A very good medium pace bowler, he was born in Radford in March 1821 and was thus 34 at the time of his first appearance - his brother, John, having made his Notts debut in 1837!
Most of his cricket was for the Hyson Green Club but in 1854 he seems to have been appointed professional to Notts Amateurs CC, hence his county match the following year. He was employed in the family business as a cord-wainer and died of heart disease in Duke St, Old Radford in September 1875. Prior to his death he was noted for his card-playing and conversational powers.
John Jackson is the first cricketer, perhaps, to earn the sobriquet ‘Demon Bowler’. His life reads like a Victorian melodrama and it is difficult to draw a line between the fact and the fiction. What all his contemporaries agree is that Jackson was the greatest fast bowler of his time. Arthur Haygarth, who witnessed cricket at Lord’s for 60 years, commented of Jackson, ‘He was one of the straightest, fastest and best bowlers that has ever appeared and though his speed was so great, he delivered easily to himself, all weathers suiting him.’
William Caffyn, the contemporary Surrey batsman, noted, ‘I have been often asked whether I considered he or Tarrant to have been the better bowler, and can say without hesitation that Jackson was far superior to the Cambridge man (Tarrant), fine bowler though the latter unquestionably was. Jackson was straighter and could keep a better length than Tarrant and was equally as fast.’
Jackson’s reputation was such that he was the subject of the first cricket cartoon to appear in the magazine ‘Punch’. His ability was discovered by William Clarke, when Jackson played for local town sides against Clarke’s England XI. Bearing in mind that the England XI comprised the best batsmen in the country at that date, Jackson took no less than 40 wickets in just five matches against Clarke’s side and was then engaged by Clarke - this began both his career with the England XI and with Nottinghamshire - debut v England at Trent Bridge in August 1855.
It is tempting to set down Jackson’s match by match record with the County – it spanned 33 matches, ending in 1866, but at least his feat v Kent at Cranbrook must be recorded. Kent were all out for 58, with Jackson returning an analysis of 29.3-18-23-7. Notts were dismissed for 280 of which Jackson made exactly 100. Kent batted a second time, with Jackson returning figures of, 34-20-20-6. He and Grundy bowled unchanged through both innings.
It has been stated that Jackson was sometimes rather a spiteful bowler and would often bowl at batsmen who he disliked and who, he knew, were, on rough ground, afraid of him - probably however this was a mere canard. However Caffyn suggests that Jackson was not above firing beamers at the batsmen’s heads and goes on to say that most batsmen when faced by him, were relieved to be able to return to the pavilion without having suffered a broken bone. On one occasion Caffyn returned after facing Jackson and rolling up his sleeve revealed his arm a mass of bruises.
Aside from Notts and England matches, Jackson played in 13 matches for Players v Gentlemen taking 69 wickets in the series at an average of 11.98. He went with Parr’s Team to America in 1859 and to Australia in 1863-64, being very successful on both tours.
The reason for Jackson’s rather abrupt county career end is somewhat confusing. Richard Daft states that Jackson was a rough-and-tumble sort of fellow who often got into scrapes of some kind or other and was by his nature a trial to George Parr, who captained him both for Notts and England.
During the Notts v Yorkshire match of 1866 Jackson ruptured a blood vessel and was seriously injured as a result. This proved to be Jackson’s final county game, but in 1867 he returned to play in most England matches. Jackson himself suggested that he was dropped as soon as convenient from the county side because he was not born in the county. It may be more likely that Parr was fed up with bailing Jackson out from one mishap to another and the unexpected arrival of two more docile opening bowlers - Wootton and Jemmy Shaw - gave Parr the chance of ridding himself of Jackson.
That was Jackson the cricketer. Jackson the man was born in Bungay in May 1833, but when a week old he and his mother moved the the Rufford estate of Lord Savile south of Ollerton in Nottinghamshire. Rumour had it that Jackson was the son of a lord and a gipsy. As a child he ran wild - he was illiterate all his life - and even in 1866 he signed his son’s birth certificate with a X.
As a youth he played cricket at Southwell, Newark and Retford, walking the miles to each town and bowling stones at any suitable object that he passed on his way. He is described as a tall, powerfully built, hirsute fellow, rather round-shouldered with a fist like a leg of mutton. He usually wore a pot-hat, either black or white, with a silk handkerchief round his neck. He refused to be paid in banknotes, accepting only sovereigns and the occasion is described when, while batting, his pocket burst and the grass was covered in coins, but no one dared help Jackson pick them up.
He was canny enough to make sure that he was paid what he was worth, but probably through drink or gambling lost his money almost as soon as he acquired it. After leaving both County and England cricket he went first to Burnley in 1869 and 1870, to Dingle CC in 1871, 72 and 73, with Lord Massareene in 1874, George Roper of Richmond in 1875 and 1876, at Cambridge University and Norfolk in 1877 and then Birkenhead Grammar School.
He also stood as umpire in some major matches. His benefit in 1874 realised some £300 in all. He lived in Retford for many years, but moved to Liverpool and in the winter worked as a warehouseman. Unlike so many cricket professionals he had never followed a trade outside cricket and he fell on very hard times.
The following undated letter to the Notts CCC Secretary illustrates the point: ‘Sir, can you send me 15 pounds as I want to sell milk and to buy a hand cart and there wants a………. To begin with it as been very slack this Winter but I hop it will soon be better I have plenty of kinds in the shop that is lying ded. You can send Post Office Order to be maid payable at Park Place. Let me hear from you.
I remain yours respectfully John Jackson
P.S. Have you got all the money in the Bank.’
Whether the P.S. refers to money Nottinghamshire held from his benefit fund is not known, especially as the letter is undated.
In 1900, a press reporter, researching the lives of famous cricketers, discovered Jackson living in abject poverty in the Liverpool Workhouse - he had apparently been rejected by both his family and his friends. The reporter managed to raise some funds to help Jackson, but he died in the workhouse after a fall in November 1901. A sad end to a great, if foolish, cricketer.