William Coape Oates was the son of William Henry Coape Oates, who was an important figure in the early development of Nottinghamshire County Cricket Club. WHC Oates served as a committee member from 1872-1878, Vice-President in 1879, elected President in 1880 and acted as a Trustee to the Club from 1881-1895; for the last ten years of his life he was also Hon Secretary until his death in 1895.
The father’s residence is given as Langford Hall, Newark, but William junior was born at Besthorpe Hall, on 7 July 1862.
He was educated at Harrow and played several games for the School in 1879 and 1880 before joining the Royal Military Academy (RMA) Sandhurst. Whilst in the Army, William Coape Oates produced the one outstanding performance of his cricketing life; at The Curragh ground in July 1895, whilst playing for 1st Royal Fusiliers v Army Service Corps, he scored 313no and added 623 for the second wicket with F Fitzgerald. The runs were scored at a rate of 131 per hour – the match being described as ‘a farce’.
He did not reach those heights again but in 1882 and 1883 scored centuries for the Gentlemen of Nottinghamshire v Gentlemen of Lincolnshire and in the first of those years also made 131 for the RMA against the Royal Military College.
Oates represented Nottinghamshire Colts in 1880 and made his debut for Notts v the Colts the following year, opening the batting and making 27, the second highest score. His First-Class debut was against Surrey at The Oval in July 1881 when he also opened and scored 19 and 39; he played three more First-Class games for Notts and one for the MCC (v Dublin University) in 1895. His First-Class record reads eight innings, 124 runs, average 15.50 and his score of 39 on debut remained his best.
Other cricket was played in military matches or in a variety of representative sides. He joined the Munster Fusiliers, served in the Burmese War 1885-7 (medal and 2 clasps) and in the Boer War (medal and 2 clasps) where he was severely wounded. He retired as Captain in 1902 and was JP for Nottinghamshire. Recalled to service during the First World War, he retired as Lieutenant-Colonel, DSO.
As well as serving as Hon Secretary to the county club, William’s father WHC Oates had two games for the Gentlemen of Nottinghamshire; a brother, Francis Hamer Oates, played in the Harrow XI and for the MCC and William’s own son, John Sherbrooke Coape Oates also played for Harrow.
Col William Coape Oates died, aged 79, on 20 February 1942 in Lincoln.
Nottinghamshire First-Class Number: 175