Kent came up to Nottingham for the first time in on 26, 27 and 28 August 1841 – it was the only Notts match of the year, Notts lost by 22 runs. Fuller Pilch, the most famous batsman of the day, scored 48 in Kent’s first innings of 130, William Clarke took five wickets. Notts replied with 124 with Butler Parr top scoring with 36, Alfred Mynn was leading bowler with six wickets. Kent scored 79 in their second innings, Tom Barker with six wickets for the hosts. Notts, needing 86 to win, were shot out for 63 with Mynn taking a further five wickets and William Hillyer four wickets. Four players made their Notts debut in this game, of which the most interesting was Thomas Nixon, a spare-built man, aged 27. An accurate spin bowler, he had an inventive mind and constructed the ‘balista’, an automatic bowling machine based on the crossbow and fired from shoulder height. He patented the idea in 1862. Earlier, in 1853, he introduced cane-handled bats and at various times new styles of pads using cane, cork and rubber. Nixon was a most useful bowler, but his batting and fielding was weak. He appeared for Notts until 1854, after which he moved to Oxford where he ran a public house with cricket ground and racquet court attached. In 1861 he moved to Chelford and ran the Cheshire County Ground in that town.

A second debutant in this Kent match was George Butler of Mansfield. Unlike Nixon he was a good batsman and fielder, usually at long-slip. In 1851 he became the professional at Trent Bridge for Nottingham Commercial CC, one of the major club sides in the county, and in that capacity he looked after the Trent Bridge wicket in his later years, as well as acting as an umpire in many matches. The Rev William Musters made the first of seven appearances for Notts in the 1841 game, he being the Rector of West Bridgford. He had played for Oxford against Cambridge in the 1829 University match. His family lived at Colwick Hall and were the freehold owners of much land in the district, including the Trent Bridge Inn and ground.  Joseph Need was the other debutant in the game. He was a lace maker, who made his second and last appearance for Notts 14 years later. A good wicket-keeper, he was unable to compete with the expertise of Charley Brown, hence his short career at the top level.

On 9 April 1841 the following notice appeared in the Nottingham Journal:

We understand the coming season at Nottingham promises to be of the most brilliant description… A few days ago, a meeting of gentlemen who support this first of our English games was held at the George the Fourth Inn when it was unanimously agreed to establish a county club and resolutions were passed inviting the gentry of the county to become members. T.B.Charlton, Esq., of Chilwell Hall kindly accepted the office of Hon. Secretary.

This is the first mention of a Nottinghamshire County Cricket Club and the present Club dates its foundation from this meeting, though the continuity between 1841 and the formation of an elected Committee to run the Club in 1859-60 is at times tenuous. No documents relating to the Club for the 1840s or 1850s appear to have survived. A check among the Charlton family papers revealed no cricket references. The nomenclature of teams representing Nottinghamshire through the 1840s adds to the confusion. Sutton’s ‘Nottingham Cricket Matches’ published in 1853 almost invariably gives the team as ‘Nottingham’ the only two expectations being in 1843 when the side is shown as ‘Nottingham Trent Bridge Club’ in one match v MCC at Lord’s and the 1853 match at Lord’s v All England, when the team is entitled (for the only time in the entire book) ‘Nottinghamshire’. When Richards published his ‘Fifty Years of Notts Cricket’ in 1890, he styled all local teams ‘Notts’, even when playing Sheffield.

The available evidence indicates that Nottinghamshire County Cricket Club from 1841 was based at Trent Bridge, was run initially by an Honorary Secretary and by the early 1850s by Secretary and Treasurer and mainly operated to help with the cost of sending a Notts team to away matches and playing occasional games at Trent Bridge, not necessarily inter-county ones. It would also seem probable that William Clarke had a great deal to say on selection of teams and fixtures.

October 2020