1771 English cricket season: Wikis


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The 1771 English cricket season is notable for the infamous wide bat affair which resulted in a rule being established within the Laws of Cricket whereby the maximum width of the bat has ever since been four and a quarter inches.

Also of great historical significance is the Nottingham v Sheffield match in August which heralded the beginnings of first-class cricket in the North of England.




Date Match Title Venue Result
3 & 4 July (W-Th) Gents of Kent v Gents of Sussex [3] Tenterden Kent won

Reported in the Kent Weekly Post aka Canterbury Journal on Tues 2 July and again on Tues 16 July. This match was the first of a series of games this year between teams that were unquestionably "gentlemen only". The games were also titled Tenterden & Benenden versus Northiam & Peasmarsh, which is almost certainly an accurate indication of the scope and effectively confirms that they were minor contests between teams of local amateurs representing just a couple of parishes each.

8 July (M) Chertsey v Richmond, Hampton & Brentford [3] Laleham Burway result unknown
15 July (M) Richmond, Hampton & Brentford v Chertsey [3] Richmond Green result unknown

The Gazzetteer advertised both games on Mon 8 July but no post-match reports were found.

30 July (Tu) Gents of Kent v Gents of Sussex [3] Tenterden result unknown

Second in the series of gentlemen’s matches (see 3 July above). Two other matches were played possibly in August at Sevenoaks Vine and Laleham Burway, but there are no details and they may again be "gentlemen only" games.

5 & 6 August (M-Tu) Middlesex, Kent & Surrey v Coulsdon [3] Artillery Ground MK&S won by 45 runs

Reported in the St James Chronicle on Thurs 8 August.

5 August (M) Gents of Kent v Gents of Sussex [3] New Romney result unknown

Third in the series of gentlemen’s matches (see 3 & 30 July above).

12 & 13 August (M-Tu) All-England v Hambledon [4] Guildford Bason All-England won by 10 wkts

Hambledon scored 65 and 90; All-England took a sizeable first innings lead with 146 and needed only 10-0 to win the game convincingly.

The game was reported in the London Gazetteer on Fri 16 August.

20 August (Tu) Gents of Hampshire v Gents of Sussex [5] Broadhalfpenny Down Sussex won by 8 wkts

This match and the next one were played by amateur gentlemen. The teams are given and they are local reverends and the like only, although a few names like de Burgh, Ridge and Cotton can be associated with Hambledon. These are therefore minor matches.

23 August (F) Gents of Sussex v Gents of Hampshire [5] Valdo Corner, Goodwood Sussex won by innings & 74 runs

The source lists the team changes but they make no difference to the minor status of the match.

26 & 27 August (M-Tu) Nottingham v Sheffield [4] Forest Racecourse, Nottingham result unknown

The reports indicate that the game was not determined on account of a dispute having arisen by one of the Sheffield players being jostled. It seems the intention was for each team to play 3 innings each. The end details we have are that Sheffield was 60 ahead with Nottingham yet to bat. Sheffield scored 81, 62 and 105 for a total of 248, but we don’t know if 105 was an all out total or not. Nottingham had scored 76 and 112 for a total of 188 with another innings in hand.

The reports mentions a Sheffield batsman called Osguthorpe (sic) who "kept in batting for several hours together". But his name is not among the two lists of players given in S&B, one under 26 August 1771 and another under 1 June 1772 (see details under that date). The lists are evidently the same team but with slight differences for each match. As Osguthorpe is not included, they must be the Nottingham players only. The players are: Coleman (2 appearances), Turner (2), Loughman (2), Roe (2), Spurr (2), Stocks (2), Collishaw (2), Troop (2), Mew (2), Bamford (1), Gladwin (1), Huythwaite (1), Rawson (1).

This match is surprisingly the earliest known reference to cricket in Nottinghamshire. It is the first important inter-county match involving teams from either Notts or Yorkshire.

It is believed that the origin of Notts CCC lies in this same Nottingham club that apparently came into existence around 1770. The club seems to have undergone some form of reorganisation in 1835 when its team was first recognised as Nottinghamshire county, rather than Nottingham town. The present Nottinghamshire CCC was formally established in 1841.

The Sheffield club organised county level cricket in Yorkshire from the mid-1700s, its teams in important matches being representative of Yorkshire as a county until in 1863 it was the main participant in the official formation of Yorkshire CCC.

28 & 29 August (W-Th) Bourne v Middlesex & Surrey [6] Bishopsbourne Paddock M&S won by 1 run

Middlesex & Surrey (i.e., Duke of Dorset’s XI) scored 66 & 25; Bourne Club (Horace Mann’s XI) replied with 53 & 37. Apparently, Dorset’s XI was short of three batsmen in its second innings.

There is a report of this game in the Kent Weekly Post but in another connection. The game caused the postponement of a benefit occasion for a Mrs Dyer at the Canterbury Theatre, which had been scheduled for the same day. Presumably, the Duke of Dorset and his cronies wanted to attend both functions [3].

4 & 5 September (W-Th) Duke of Dorset’s XI v Horace Mann’s XI [3] Artillery Ground Dorset’s XI won by 1 wkt

Mann’s XI (Bourne Club) scored 65 & 82; Dorset’s XI replied with 58 & 90-9. Apparently, the last wicket pair needed 27 to win the game.

23 & 24 September (M-Tu) Chertsey v Hambledon [3] Laleham Burway Hambledon won by 1 run

Team totals (both innings combined) were Hambledon 218 and Chertsey 217. The match was for £50 a side and the articles decreed that it must be played out. It was concluded on the Tuesday evening.

Thomas "Daddy" White of Reigate (often confused with Shock White of Brentford) used his extra wide bat whilst playing for Chertsey in this game. The Hambledon players objected. A formal protest was written by Thomas Brett and signed by himself, Richard Nyren and John Small. It brought about a change in the Laws of Cricket, as confirmed in 1774, whereby the maximum width of the bat was set at four and one quarter inches.

For full details of this match and its famous incident, see: Monster Bat Incident 1771.

30 September & 1 October (M-Tu) Hambledon v Chertsey [7] Broadhalfpenny Down Hambledon won by 10 wkts

Chertsey scored 117 and 126. Hambledon replied with 230 and 14 for 0 to win convincingly.

Other events

There were two minor games at Cobham Tilt in which one of the teams was led by Charles Bennet, 4th Earl of Tankerville, a famous patron of Surrey teams in the 1770s and the employer of Edward "Lumpy" Stevens, who was a gardener at his Walton-on-Thames estate. Tankerville succeeded to his title on the death of his father on 27 October 1767. This seems to be the earliest mention of him in a cricketing connection [3].

On Sat 16 November, a general meeting "of the subscribers to the Broadhalfpenny Cricket Club will be held at the George Inn, at Hambledon, in order to appoint stewards and settle the plan for the ensuing year" [8].

First mentions


  1. ^ An unofficial seasonal title proclaimed by media or historians prior to December 1889 when the official County Championship was constituted
  2. ^ Champion counties from 1728
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j G B Buckley, Fresh Light on 18th Century Cricket, Cotterell, 1935
  4. ^ a b G B Buckley, Fresh Light on Pre-Victorian Cricket, Cotterell, 1937
  5. ^ a b Timothy J McCann, Sussex Cricket in the Eighteenth Century, Sussex Record Society, 2004
  6. ^ H T Waghorn, Cricket Scores, Notes, etc. (1730-1773), Blackwood, 1899
  7. ^ John Baker's Diary. Mr Baker was a Sussex lawyer who actively supported cricket and made a number of journeys on horseback to watch games. His diary has provided some vivid descriptions of cricket in his day and they are particularly interesting for giving us a contemporary spectator’s point of view.
  8. ^ H T Waghorn, The Dawn of Cricket, Electric Press, 1906

External sources

Further reading

  • H S Altham, A History of Cricket, Volume 1 (to 1914), George Allen & Unwin, 1962
  • Derek Birley, A Social History of English Cricket, Aurum, 1999
  • Rowland Bowen, Cricket: A History of its Growth and Development, Eyre & Spottiswoode, 1970
  • Ashley Mote, The Glory Days of Cricket, Robson, 1997
  • David Underdown, Start of Play, Allen Lane, 2000


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