Frederick Morley, 'Speedy Fred', was born in Sutton-in-Ashfield on December 16 1850.
His first appearance in the Colts XXII v Nottinghamshire XI came in 1869 and he made a second appearance in 1870, when he was engaged with Bolton, in which season he made a single appearance with the All England Eleven (AEE) v Sheffield Shrewsbury CC.
He remained with Bolton in 1871 and took part in the match between the AEE and the rival United England XI in July, taking 4 of the 10 wickets to fall and scored 14* and 0. This match signalled his First-Class debut.
He obviously made a favourable impression on William Oscroft, for 1872 found Morley installed as a permanent member of the AEE and this led naturally to his inclusion in the opening match of Nottinghamshire’s season – against Yorkshire at Trent Bridge.
Having made his debut for Nottinghamshire, Morley appeared in all their fixtures for 1872 and, completing the season with the most wickets in county matches for Nottinghamshire, he was regarded as the most promising young bowler in the county. The following summer found him being described as ‘not far removed from the best fast bowler in England’ and in 1875 ‘Morley’s feats stamp him as the best fast bowler (in England)’. Many contemporary critics continued to hold this opinion of him until his retirement and death.
His best season for Nottinghamshire was in 1878, but in 1880 he took 97 wickets at 10.34 runs apiece which led to him being selected to play in the match that later became known as the first Test match to take place in England, taking 8 for 146, including five wickets in the first innings. In 1879 his 89 wickets cost only 9.84 runs each, the only other year during which he took over 75 wickets for the County was 1882 with 76 at an average of 12.43 runs each.
Morley headed the county bowling averages in 1877, 1878 and 1879, in the former year; however, he was not outstandingly successful, his position being solely due to Alfred Shaw’s illness.
In 1882-83 Morley accompanied the Hon. Ivo Bligh’s team to Australia, but the outward journey proved to be a disaster for Morley. The team on board the SS Peshawur were 350 miles out from Colombo when the ship came into collision with another, the Glen Roy. Knocked over by the impact of the two vessels, Morley was badly hurt, but the exact nature for his injury was not correctly ascertained until some weeks later in Australia, when it was found that he had fractured rib.
On September 28 1884, Morley died of congestion and dropsy at his home in Sutton-in-Ashfield, in which town he is buried. Frederic Morley (he was registered without the final k) was always ready and eager to do his best and was most civil and unassuming fellow. On May 25 1885, a match – North v South – was played at Lord’s for the benefit of his widow and children, ‘a good sum being realised.’