1781 English cricket season

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1781 English cricket season

1781 was the 85th English cricket season since the earliest known important match was played. Broadhalfpenny Down was abandoned in favour of Windmill Down and the earliest known mention of cricket in Lancashire has been found.

Important matches[edit]

The following matches are classified as important:[note 1]

date match title venue source result
6–9 June (W-S) Hampshire v All-England Stoke Down SB47 Hampshire won by 8 wkts

All-England 101 (J Aylward 25; W Lamborn 7w, N Mann 3w) & 232 (J Aylward 73, R Clifford 48, B Rimmington 31; N Mann 4w, R Nyren 2w); Hampshire 206 (T Sueter 66, John Small 47; E Stevens 2w) & 128-2 (N Mann 73, W Bedster 49)

ACS call this Hampshire v Kent but S&B calls it Hampshire v All-England with a note that most of the All-England players were Kent men. However, as S&B called 30 July game Hampshire v Kent with Bedster, it seems the intention on 6 June was to field an All-England team (it included Lumpy and Yalden of Surrey and there is some doubt about the origin of the three Rimmingtons who may have been from Essex rather than Kent).

20–21 June (W-Th) Duke of Dorset v Sir H Mann Sevenoaks Vine SB47 Dorset's XI won by 10 wkts

Sir Horace Mann’s XI 136 (R Clifford 32, J Miller 29; E Stevens 2w, W Bedster 2w) & 84 (Mr R Hosmer 37*); Duke of Dorset’s XI 158 (T Pattenden 50*, T Sueter 34; R Clifford 4w, W Lamborn 3w) & 63-0 (N Mann 37*, W Bullen 26*)

2–3 July (M-Tu) Odiham v Maidenhead Odiham WDC Odiham won by 31 runs

Odiham scored 135 & 95; Maidenhead replied with 118 & 81.

18–20 July (W-F) Kent v Hampshire Bishopsbourne Paddock SB48 Kent won by 150 runs

Kent 181 (J Miller 29, J Aylward 29, R Clifford 26; W Lamborn 3w, R Nyren 2w) & 186 (R Clifford 57, J Aylward 25; J Freemantle 2w); Hampshire 59 (E Stevens 2w, R Clifford 2w) & 158 (G Leer 53, R A Veck 26; E Stevens 4w)

23 July (M) Maidenhead v Odiham Maidenhead WDC Odiham won by 10 wkts

Maidenhead scored 60 & 49; Odiham 73 and 37-0.

30 Jul - 1 Aug (M-W) Hampshire v Kent Broadhalfpenny Down SB49 Kent won by 38 runs

Kent 218 (R Clifford 66, J Miller 45, W Bowra 29; R Nyren 4w, R Purchase 3w, W Lamborn 2w) & 188 (W Bullen 54, W Bowra 42*, J Aylward 28); Hampshire 185 (N Mann 49, T Taylor 34, R A Veck 26; W Bullen 6w) & 183 (R A Veck 44, N Mann 41*, John Small 34, T Taylor 23; R Clifford 2w)

An outstanding all-round performance by William Bullen. Richard Purchase’s name had not appeared in a match since 1774.

The end of an era. This match marked the end of Broadhalfpenny Down as a big match venue. The Hambledon Club began using Windmill Down next year.

2 August (Th) Leicester v Melton Mowbray Barrowcliffe Meadow, Leicester FL18 Melton Mowbray won by 16 runs

Reported in the Leicester Journal on Sat 4 August.

8–11 August (W-S) Duke of Dorset v Sir H Mann Bishopsbourne Paddock SB49 Dorset's XI won by 106 runs

Duke of Dorset’s XI 170 (T Sueter 58, T Pattenden 26*; R Clifford 3w, W Lamborn 2w) & 184 (T Sueter 56, W Bullen 36; W Lamborn 3w, R Clifford 3w); Sir Horace Mann’s XI 147 (J Aylward 36, J Miller 31, R Clifford 24; E Stevens 4w) & 101 (J Aylward 44, John Small 28; E Stevens 4w)

A very impressive performance by Tom Sueter scoring two fifties in the game, which would be like scoring two centuries in a match now. Lumpy with at least 8 wickets also played his part.

27–28 August (M-Tu) Kent v Hampshire Bishopsbourne Paddock SB50 Hampshire won by 8 runs

Hampshire 60 (R Clifford 3w) & 106 (R Purchase 24; R Clifford 2w, W Bowra 2w); Kent 88 (J Aylward 32; W Lamborn 4w, R Nyren 2w) & 70 (R Nyren 3w, W Lamborn 2w)

27–28 August (M-Tu) Maidenhead v Bucks venue unknown WDC Maidenhead won by 124 runs

No other details are known, including the venue.

17–18 September (M-Tu) Leicester v Nottingham Loughborough FL18 incomplete due to dispute

Reported in the Leicester Journal on Sat 22 September. Nottingham scored 50 & 73; Leicester had scored 73 & 9-2 when the game ended prematurely because of a dispute about wide deliveries. The repercussions dragged on and the dispute remained unresolved a year later (see 1782).

24 September (M) Oxfordshire v Berkshire Benson Common, Oxfordshire FL18 result unknown

Advertised in the Reading Mercury on Mon 17 September.

Single wicket[edit]

  • Date unconfirmed : Five of England v Five of Hambledon Club @ Moulsey Hurst. Hambledon won by 78 runs.

Other events[edit]

A match on Brinnington Moor in August is the earliest known reference about cricket being played in Lancashire. Reported in the Manchester Journal on Sat 1 September (see FLPV).

The End of Broadhalfpenny Down[edit]

As Ashley More says in his splendid account of Broadhalfpenny Down’s long and chequered history, it is not where cricket started. The mythology has arisen from the place’s nickname as "the cradle of cricket". The cradle was rocked by a group of children in the Weald long, long ago in the days before Longshanks, and perhaps even the Conqueror, troubled the world.

We first hear of Broadhalfpenny Down in 1756 because a poor dog got lost there when Hambledon was playing a big match, almost certainly against Dartford. It continued to be the Hambledon Club’s chosen venue until 1781 when the members decided it was too remote and that Windmill Down, which is adjacent to Hambledon village, was more suitable.

Broadhalfpenny Down is actually two miles from Hambledon, which is a fair way when most people are on foot and the rest on horseback. And it is uphill. But it did have a good pub opposite. Oddly enough, Windmill Down did not.

The end was inevitable but it took the Duke of Dorset to say it. He commented that the Down was "a bleak place to play cricket" and indeed he was probably already hankering for a return to London as the game’s centre. Others agreed with him, whether they gave his views consideration or not. As a result, the club decided to take action and thought they had staved off the inevitable by the move to Windmill Down. But they had only postponed it for London beckoned and it only needed a suitable metropolitan venue to end the Hambledon adventure.

And that is what happened.

First mentions[edit]


Clubs and teams[edit]



Leading batsmen[edit]

Note that many scorecards in the 18th century are unknown or have missing details and so it is impossible to provide a complete analysis of batting performances: e.g., the missing not outs prevent computation of batting averages. The "runs scored" are in fact the runs known.

runs player
319 James Aylward
305 Robert Clifford
298 Noah Mann
281 Tom Sueter
195 Joseph Miller
193 William Bullen
181 John Small
162 William Bowra
136 Richard Aubrey Veck
122 George Leer
119 William Bedster
81 Thomas Pattenden

Leading bowlers[edit]

Note that the wickets credited to an 18th-century bowler were only those where he bowled the batsman out. The bowler was not credited with the wickets of batsmen who were caught out, even if it was "caught and bowled". In addition, the runs conceded by each bowler were not recorded so no analyses or averages can be computed.

wkts player
27 Lamborn
20 Robert Clifford
20 Edward "Lumpy" Stevens
15 Richard Nyren
12 William Bullen
8 Noah Mann

Leading fielders[edit]

Note that many scorecards in the 18th century are unknown or have missing details and so the totals are of the known catches and stumpings only. Stumpings were not always recorded as such and sometimes the name of the wicket-keeper was not given. Generally, a catch was given the same status as "bowled" with credit being awarded to the fielder only and not the bowler. There is never a record of "caught and bowled"the bowler would be credited with the catch, not with the wicket.

ct/st player
11 Tom Sueter
10 Robert Clifford
8 William Bullen
7 William Yalden
6 James Aylward
6 Edward "Lumpy" Stevens
5 William Bowra
5 Richard Aubrey Veck


  1. ^ First-class cricket was officially defined in May 1894 by a meeting at Lord's of Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) and the county clubs which were then competing in the County Championship. The ruling was effective from the beginning of the 1895 season. Pre-1895 matches of the same standard have no official definition of status because the ruling is not retrospective and the important matches designation, as applied to a given match, is based on the views of one or more substantial historical sources. For further information, see First-class cricket, Forms of cricket and History of cricket.



  • Ashley-Cooper, F. S. (1924). Hambledon Cricket Chronicle 1772–1796. Jenkins. 
  • Buckley, G. B. (1935). Fresh Light on 18th Century Cricket. Cotterell. 
  • Haygarth, Arthur (1862). Scores & Biographies, Volume 1 (1744–1826). Lillywhite. 
  • Mote, Ashley (1997). The Glory Days of Cricket. Robson. 
  • Nyren, John (1998). Ashley Mote, ed. The Cricketers of my Time. Robson. 
  • Waghorn, H. T. (1906). The Dawn of Cricket. Electric Press. 
  • Wilson, Martin (2005). An Index to Waghorn. Bodyline. 

Additional reading[edit]

  • ACS (1981). A Guide to Important Cricket Matches Played in the British Isles 1709 – 1863. Nottingham: ACS. 
  • Altham, H. S. (1962). A History of Cricket, Volume 1 (to 1914). George Allen & Unwin. 
  • Birley, Derek (1999). A Social History of English Cricket. Aurum. 
  • Bowen, Rowland (1970). Cricket: A History of its Growth and Development. Eyre & Spottiswoode. 
  • Buckley, G. B. (1937). Fresh Light on pre-Victorian Cricket. Cotterell. 
  • McCann, Tim (2004). Sussex Cricket in the Eighteenth Century. Sussex Record Society. 
  • Major, John (2007). More Than A Game. HarperCollins. 
  • Underdown, David (2000). Start of Play. Allen Lane. 

External links[edit]