1787 English cricket season

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1787 English cricket season

1787 was the 91st English cricket season since the earliest known important match was played and is widely seen as a watershed in the sport's history because it marked the transition from an essentially rural game into an urban and metropolitan one. The event that effected the transition was the foundation of Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) after the opening of Thomas Lord's first cricket ground in the parish of Marylebone, north of London. Lord was financed by the aristocratic members of the long-standing and multi-functional Noblemen's and Gentlemen's Club which was based at the Star and Garter on Pall Mall and had already founded the Jockey Club to pursue its racing interests. Its most recent cricket venture had been the White Conduit Club in Islington.

Due to dissatisfaction with conditions in Islington, the members sought a more private venue and Lord, a professional bowler with the club who had a business acumen, was asked to do the necessaries. Upon moving from White Conduit Fields to Marylebone, the gentlemen's club reconstituted itself as MCC and immediately took responsibility for the organisation, administration and development of the sport, including ownership of the Laws of Cricket.

It is no overstatement to say that the opening of Lord’s and the foundation of (or reorganisation of the gentlemen's club as) MCC in 1787 ended what H. T. Waghorn called The Dawn of Cricket. The small rural clubs like Chertsey, Dartford, Addington, Slindon and Hambledon were forced to stand aside as progress swept the game beyond their horizons. As the historical sources quoted below all agree, it is doubtful if cricket without Lord's and MCC could have expanded into a national sport, let alone a world sport.

Important matches[edit]

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

date match title venue source result
21 May (M) White Conduit Club v Middlesex Lord’s (Dorset Square) FL18 result unknown

As Mr Buckley says, this was "apparently the first match to be played on Thomas Lord’s new ground". It was pre-announced in the Morning Herald on Sat 19 May but not reported afterwards.

The historic announcement says: "A grand match will be played on Mon 21 May in the New Cricket Ground, the New Road, Mary-le-bone (sic), between eleven Noblemen of the White Conduit Club and eleven Gentlemen of the County of Middlesex with two men given, for 500 guineas a side. The wickets to be pitched at ten o’clock, and the match to be played out".

We can only speculate about the quality of the teams but it is safe to assume it was a important match, probably comparable with the MCC v Middlesex games that soon followed. It is a fair bet that one of the two given men was Thomas Lord himself.

15–16 May (Tu-W) Hornchurch v Moulsey Hurst ^ Langton Park, Hornchurch SB69 MH won by 6 wkts

Taken from "Scores and Biographies" volume 1, page 69. Hornchurch and Moulsey Hurst could claim to be representative of Essex and Surrey as counties but these games were definitely between the two town clubs, each with enough known players to make them first-class. The Essex team that played Middlesex two weeks later was very similar to the Hornchurch XI. It was not mentioned where this match was played, but it is presumed at Hornchurch, as the return in July took place at Moulsey Hurst.

31 May (Th) Middlesex v Essex Lord's (Dorset Square) SB70 Middlesex won by 93 runs

Taken from "Scores and Biographies" volume 1, page 70. This is the first recorded match played on the original Lord's Ground, which was on the site of Dorset Square. It also marks the first recorded appearance by the founder of Lord's. Thomas Lord was a change bowler at White Conduit Club and it was on their behalf that he acquired the Dorset Square site.

The result was a remarkable turnaround of the first innings situation: Middlesex 58 and 203; Essex 130 and 38.

Butcher, whose first name is unknown, was a regular Surrey bowler operating in this game as a given man. His haul of ten wickets is impressive in an age when only clean bowled dismissals were credited to the bowler.

The S&B scorecard included "P O Clark" in each Middlesex innings (Z Boult and Bedster). This surely means "put out" and indicates a stumping. There is another match some years earlier in which the scorer wrote "put out behind the Yold", meaning stumped by William Yalden who was nicknamed "the Yold".

5–6 June (Tu-W) White Conduit Club v Middlesex Lord’s (Dorset Square) WDC WCC won by 10 wkts

The detailed scorecard has not survived but the WCC team was Sir Peter Burrell, Mr John Peachey, Mr Dampier, Captain Charles Cumberland, Mr Gilbert East, Mr Thomas Assheton Smith I, Mr George Talbot, Mr Richard Newman, Mr R B Wyatt, Mr Edward Hussey and Mr C Drummond. White Conduit batting last needed 38 to win and apparently scored 39-0.

14–15 June (Th-F) White Conduit v Middlesex Lord's (Dorset Square) FL18 Middlesex won by 8 wkts

The source FL18 records: "On the first day each side played an innings and the Club had scored 21 for 3, Sir P Burrell being not out 7, when want of light stopped play at 8-30 pm. Boorman's bowling won the game. Mr Cumberland, second to none as a bowler and second to few as a fieldsman, was unable to play for the Club owing to an injured ankle."

20–22 June (W-F) White Conduit v All-England Lord's (Dorset Square) SB71 All-England won by 239 runs

All-England 247 (Aylward 94, Bullen 44; Harris 4w) and 197 (Beldham 63, Jack Small 42); WCC 112 and 93. S&B states: "In another account, James Aylward is stated to have been "P O" by Taylor. As before, this is presumed to mean stumped (put out). Thomas Taylor must have been an extremely versatile player if he could keep wicket in addition to his other skills".

2 July (W) West Sussex v East Sussex Amberley Hill FLPV West Sussex won by 101 runs

This was a minor match of amateur gentlemen residing between Chichester and Arundel (West Sussex) and between Arundel and Shoreham (East Sussex).

3–4 July (Th-F) Moulsey Hurst v Hornchurch ^ Moulsey Hurst SB73 MH won by 131 runs

^ Hornchurch and Moulsey Hurst could claim to be representative of Essex and Surrey as counties but these games were definitely between the two town clubs, each with enough recognised players to make them important. The Essex team that played Middlesex was very similar to the Hornchurch XI in the other games.

George Talbot, in his first innings, was stated to be "P H O", a term not explained. It may be a variation on "put out", which was a stumping; or "put himself out", which might mean "hit wicket".

5–6 July (Th-F) Essex v Middlesex Langton Park, Hornchurch FL18 Middlesex won by 9 wkts

The Chelmsford Chronicle on Fri 13 July reported the team totals only. Essex (Hornchurch in the report) scored 65 and 108; Middlesex replied with 124 and 50-1. We do not know any of the players’ names but we can assume the usuals were taking part and that it is an important match.

16 July (M) Earl of Winchilsea v Assheton Smith Perriam Down, Wiltshire SB74 Earl of Winchilsea's XI won by 79 runs

Perriam Down was near Ludgershall, Wiltshire.

16 July (M) Essex v Kent Swanscombe WDC Essex won by innings & 44 runs

No scorecard has survived but the report said that the result "so exasperated the gentlemen of Kent that they would not so much as drink with their competitors"! None of the players' names has been recorded.

30 July (M) MCC v White Conduit Club Lord's (Dorset Square) FL18 result unknown

A notice in The World on Fri 27 July states: "On Mon 30 July will be played (at Lord’s) a match between 11 gentlemen of the Mary-le-bone Club and 11 gentlemen of the Islington Club".

This is the first known match in which mention is made of "the Mary-le-bone Club". Unfortunately, no other details have been found but it was probably a similar contest to the one in June 1788 between the MCC and the WCC. It has immense historical importance but the poor quality of the WCC team in the 1788 match must suggest it has marginal status only.

2-3 Aug (Th-F) Essex v White Conduit Club Hornchurch WDC WCC won by "over 100 runs"

In this game, White Conduit combined with Moulsey Hurst Club in order to take on Hornchurch. The exact result is uncertain but it was by over 100 runs: WCC scored 89 and at least 162; Hornchurch 100 and not above 50. The only player mentioned in WDC is Winchilsea who scored between 20 and 30 but whether in one innings or in the whole match we do not know. The stake was 500 guineas.

The teams are in FL18 but no scorecard information. The WCC/MHC team was Earl of Winchilsea, Sir Peter Burrell, Mr G East, Mr George Talbot, Mr C Drummond, Mr G Boult, Mr Slater, Mr George Louch, William Bedster, Edward "Lumpy" Stevens and Davy (Surrey); Lumpy and Davy were professional bowlers. All of these players are recognised.

The Essex team was taken from a "squad" of 12 whose names were pre-announced: Mr R Newman, Mr R B Wyatt, Mr J Russell, Mr R Denn, Rev. Dupuis, Mr T Clark, Davidson, Graham, Harvey, Martin, ? Rimmington, Mr Wickham. The first 11 names in the Essex squad are all recognised players but the name of Mr Wickham, who with Martin is given as a bowler, does not appear elsewhere: except in Pride and Prejudice, of course!

WDC has two reports of the game, one apparently written on Thursday evening and the other after the match, but no scorecard. The reports in WDC state:

"On 2 Aug., the grand match of cricket, for 500 guineas, between the White Conduit and Moulsey-Hurst clubs and Hornchurch club, began playing at Hornchurch, the 1st innings were as follows: White Conduit and Moulsey-Hurst, 86 notches, and 3 byes, total 89; Hornchurch 92 notches, 8 byes: total 100. Bets were 2 to 1 on White Conduit and Moulsey-Hurst at the beginning, but very much altered in the evening in favour of the Hornchurch club".

"The above match was won hollow by the White Conduit and Moulsey-Hurst clubs. The White Conduit club, that is Lord Winchilsea and Co., went in first and got 89. The Hornchurch then got 100. On the 2nd innings, the Hornchurch did not get above 50, and the other side won by above 100 notches. Of these Lord Winchilsea got between 20 and 30. The other members of the club played in fine style".

It is assumed that, as in other games, the Hornchurch Club was representative of Essex as a county and this was an important match.

6-7 Aug (M-Tu) Leicester v Coventry Hinckley FL18 Leics won by 45 runs

Extensively described in FL18, p. 117-120. See also 22 Sept 1788. These are historically interesting not just because of the fascinating match reports but also because the clubs must have contained seeds of Leicestershire CCC and Warwickshire CCC.

7-10 Aug (Tu-F) Kent v Hampshire Coxheath SB76 Hampshire won by 2 wkts

Joey Ring in his second innings is stated to have been "put out" by Richard Purchase: i.e., stumped.

In another account the winning side is called "England"; but all playing are mentioned in John Nyren's book as being members of the Hambledon Club and so this team is properly a Hampshire XI.

14-16 Aug (Tu-Th) Kent v Hampshire Bishopsbourne Paddock SB76 Hampshire won by 266 runs

Hampshire 193 (T Walker 65, John Small 40; Clifford 5w) and 174 (Beldham 42); Kent 60 (Harris 4w) and 41 (Harris 3w)

28-31 Aug (Tu-F) Sir H Mann v Earl of Winchilsea Bishopsbourne Paddock SB77 Earl of Winchilsea's XI won by 29 runs

William Fennex caught 6 in the match including 5 in the second innings alone. He also took four wickets.

3-5 Sept (M-W) Hampshire v Kent Windmill Down SB78 Kent won by 65 runs

There were seven run outs of Hampshire batsmen

10-12 Sept (M-W) Sir H Mann v Earl of Winchilsea Lord's (Dorset Square) SB78 Mann's XI won by 94 runs

Mann 116 and 123; Winchilsea 84 (Lumpy 3w) and 61 (Lumpy 3w)

17-18 Sept (M-Tu) Melton Mowbray v Leicester Melton Mowbray FLPV MM won by innings & 16 runs

The scorecard has no bowling or fielding details. It is another interesting early Leicester match.

Single wicket[edit]

  • 2–4 August (Th–S) : Six of Kent v Six of Hambledon Club @ Lord's Old Ground. Kent won by 23 runs.

Other events[edit]

FL18 begins its 1787 notices with the following extract from the Morning Herald dated Wed 25 April:

  • The Members of the Cricket Club are desired to meet at the Star and Garter, Pall Mall, on Mon., 30 April. Dinner on table exactly at half past five o’clock. N.B. The favour of an answer is desired.

There can be little doubt that plans for matches to be played at a new ground in Marylebone were on the agenda.

The first mention of the follow on occurs in 1787. At that time it was the custom for a side behind on 1st innings to follow-on no matter what the deficit.

H S Altham's Dates in Cricket History records the first mention of a County Club in Oxfordshire. This is supported by an engraving held in the Bodleian Library.

First mentions[edit]

The general shift of the sport's focus from the rural counties to north London led to an unusually high number of new players, though many of them might have been active previously without being recorded. Among them were some famous names such as John Wells of Surrey and Thomas Lord of Middlesex.

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
296 James Aylward
295 John Small
287 William Beldham
269 Thomas Walker
179 John Wells
171 Thomas Taylor
166 George T Boult
142 William Brazier
138 Noah Mann
138 William Bullen
137 Harry Walker
131 Joey Ring
126 George Louch
123 Earl of Winchilsea
121 Robert Clifford
114 John Boorman
107 Richard Purchase
104 Jack Small
103 Francis Booker

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
29 David Harris
24 Butcher
22 John Boorman
22 Edward "Lumpy" Stevens
17 Thomas Taylor
16 Martin
15 William Bullen
15 Robert Clifford
11 Noah Mann
10 William Fennex

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 Harry Walker
11 Thomas Taylor
9 William Beldham
9 George Louch
8 Robert Clifford
7 William Bullen


  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.

Further 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]