“A man of fine physique and fond of athletic pursuits representing Notts. in the cricket field both at home and at Brighton, at the Oval and at Lords”, so ran the obituary for Edwin Patchitt in the Nottingham Evening Post of 7 February 1888.
It was, though, not his physique or his cricketing prowess – he played in just four county matches between 1840 and 1843 – but his long and considerable service to his home town that prompted the fulsome tribute in the Post, which went on to say: “A man of keen perception and brilliant parts, the late Mr Patchitt was greatly esteemed for his knowledge of County Council law and the criminal statutes and he was frequently a witness before special Commissions at Westminster”
Born in Nottingham and christened on 1 February 1808, the son of a barge coal-dealer, he was educated at Bluecoat School. Patchitt joined an established solicitor’s business as office boy and through that company’s work for the town authorities gained knowledge and experience that enabled him to take on many important roles.
He was sufficiently wealthy to build a large mansion, called Forest House, with 30 acres (known locally as ‘Patchitt’s Park’) on land adjacent to The Forest. The house was converted into a Children's Hospital in 1901 and is now a private school.
He was also a Justice of the Peace for Nottingham and rode with troops to read the Riot Act to the rioters protesting about the rejection of the Reform Bill in 1831. Patchitt fell among the burning ruins and had it not been for the actions of a constable might have been killed.
In 1852 he was elected councillor for the St Mary’s Ward of the Town Council, and in 1858 was elected Mayor of Nottingham, serving two terms. Patchitt was one of the leading campaigners for the Enclosure Act that, eventually, gave security to much of Nottingham’s public and open spaces and lead moves to improve the town’s road network. In 1865, he planted an 'Inclosure Oak' on The Forest in Nottingham to commemorate the 20th Anniversary of the Act; the tree that Patchitt planted was grown from an acorn collected from Windsor Great Park in 1851. The tree still stands and is marked with a plaque and is the finishing point for an annual Inclosure Walk that marks the passing of the original Act.
Patchitt was also registrar of Nottingham County Court for than forty years and one of the founders of the Robin Hood Regiment of Volunteers.
Somehow among all this, he also found time to play cricket. He was in the New Forest club XI v Bingham in 1836 where he started to earn a reputation as a feared bowler in local cricket, ‘The Bowling of Patchitt being different to anything they had ever played against, told terrifically’, said a match report. He was similarly praised when appearing for Clarke’s XVI v the Rancliffe Arms but things went awry when he was called into the Nottinghamshire first team.
In his first county game, against Sussex at Brighton in June 1840, he was no-balled because his arm was raised too high – overarm bowling not being sanctioned at that time – though contemporary comment said ‘that gentleman’s style of bowling and mode of delivery is the same this season…and has always been allowed before’. The call did not prevent him playing in the return game at Trent Bridge but he did not play again in First-Class cricket until 1843 when he again appeared in home and away fixtures, in this season v Hampshire.
Whether it was his suspect bowling or the pressures of his public duties that brought his cricket to a halt is not clear but Patchitt does not appear again in local records. His one other match of note was a two-day game in September 1840 played after a local supporter and worthy, Captain W Hogge, claimed that better players in the county had been overlooked in the selection of the Nottinghamshire team for county matches. An XI chosen by the Captain played a strong Nottinghamshire team to test his allegation – and the county side triumphed by an innings and 86 runs, which rather vindicated the Notts’ selectors. An unusual feature of the Notts innings was that Patchitt and his opening partner Butler Parr were both run out without scoring!
In his First-Class matches he scored 22 runs with a meagre top score of 9 and an average of 3.66. He took one catch and, presumably as a result of the no-ball call, has no recorded bowling figures.
Edwin Patchitt died at the Queen's Hotel in Hastings on 6 February 1888 and on 11 February he was buried in Church Cemetery, Nottingham, which he had helped to design and for which he managed the construction.
Nottinghamshire First-Class Number: 41