Nottinghamshire cricket could, over the length of its history, compile a very useful squad of cricketing clerics, certain to include the Rev Richard Bethell Earle, who played one first team game and a number of times for other sides within the county.
Earle was born in the East Riding town of Driffield on 4 October 1827, son of the Rev John Earle, who ran a school at Watton Abbey, some miles north of Driffield. Recorded in the 1851 census as a theology student, Earle was ordained in 1852 at St Aidan's College, Birkenhead, by the Archbishop of Canterbury. He went to a curacy in Knockholt, Kent and in 1853 was appointed headmaster of Southwell Collegiate Grammar School. A year later, Earle became perpetual curate of Edingley, and in 1858 was he appointed vicar of Barnby in the Willows.
Whilst at the Grammar School, he played regularly for the Nottinghamshire County Club of Southwell and for the Southwell Town club, he also served as President of the latter club. He was, according to contemporary accounts, an ‘excellent batsman’ (but whether right or left handed is not recorded), a round-arm bowler and a good fielder. His best recorded innings was 105 for Southwell v Leicester in 1858; in 1859 against Grantham, when playing for Nottingham Amateurs, he took 12 wickets in the match.
Earle made his one First-Class appearance for Notts v Surrey in 1861 at Trent Bridge, when he scored 15 and 1 and took two catches; he did not bowl in that game. He also played four matches for Gentlemen of the North v Gentlemen of the South between 1858-1861; in the first of these he had his best First-Class bowling figures of 5-45.
The Rev Earle took part in the first match played by the Free Foresters XI (so named because all the original members were from the area around the Forest of Arden), representing their opponents, the Pilgrims of the Dee. This match was played in July 1856 and by the sort happy coincidence that cricket throws up, Earle’s last recorded match was also against the Free Foresters, for Midlands Counties Diamonds at Trent Bridge in 1862.
Rev Richard Bethell Earle died at the Rectory, Southwell, on 2 April 1884, having lived there since 1854.
Nottinghamshire First-Class Number: 92