The history of county cricket in Middlesex begins in 1863, when it was started at a
meeting over which the Hon. Robert Grimston presided, and at which Messrs. J. and
V. E. Walker were present. It may be
briefly stated that for many years the county
club only existed through the munificence of
the Walker family, who must be inseparably
connected with its history. For a long time
the county team suffered from lack of an
abiding place. A start was made in Islington
in 1863, with R. Thoms as umpire and
George Hearne as ground-man, but in 1865
Norris the landlord raised the rent by £50,
and in 1869, after further trouble with him,
a move was made to Lillie Bridge. There
the turf proved bad, and the club was on the
verge of dissolution, continuance being carried
by one vote at a meeting of thirteen mem
bers. Matters somewhat improved in 1871,
but no good professionals were engaged. In
1872 another migration was made, this time
to Prince's. When the builder invaded that
pretty ground, the hospitality of Lord's was
accepted, despite the opposition of Mr. I. D.
Walker, Mr. P. M. Thornton observing in
words that sound strange having regard to
modern developments: 'it has yet to be
proved that genuine county cricket will
attract at Lord's.'
In 1864 Middlesex played their first match
against Bucks at Newport Pagnell. The
result was a draw. Pooley appeared for
Middlesex, and Captain Frederick made the
top score. The lobs of Mr. V. E. Walker,
dismissing nine for 62 and five for 41, gave
the county a victory by an innings over
Sussex. The earliest centuries were against
M.C.C. with Grundy and Wootton bowling,
Tom Hearne scoring 125 and Mr. T. Case
116 towards a total of 411. In the return
with Bucks, Middlesex, after being 218 behind, scored 463, and won by 138 runs.
Against Lancashire, with a tie on first innings in 1865, Mr. V. E. Walker claimed all
ten wickets in an innings for 104, a feat not
again performed for Middlesex until Burton's
similar achievement in 1888 against Surrey.
The season of 1866 was successful, for Middlesex beat Surrey (scoring over 400 each time),
and Lancashire twice, drawing and beating
Notts, losing and winning to Cambridge
University. In 1867 Middlesex played
England, but lost by an innings and 25
runs, Mr. A. Lubbock obtaining 125 and
Dr. W. G. Grace 75. There was a tie
with Surrey in 1868, for Caesar's benefit.
After this for several years the programme
was very restricted. Howitt in 1869 had
the excellent analysis of six wickets for 4
runs at the Oval, and T. Hearne six for 12
in the return with Surrey. At Lord's against
M.C.C. in 1871, Mr. W. H. Hadow scored
217. In 1874, bowling against Notts, he
claimed four for 9 and eight for 35, while
in consecutive matches with Notts and Yorkshire in 1875 he captured twenty-three for
227. A sub-committee was that year formed
to choose teams-'very difficult owing to the
great batting strength.' Among the batsmen
may be cited besides the Walkers, Messrs.
J. W. Dale, C. E. Green, A. W. T.
Daniel, C. F. Buller, C. J. Ottaway, W. H.
Hadow, J. J. Sewell, C. I. Thornton, T.
Case, and B. B. Cooper. The attack at that
period could only be varied between the three
Walkers, Messrs. E. Rutter, R. Henderson,
C. J. Brune, C. K. Francis, and A. H. Stratford. Middlesex has constantly found its
side vary enormously owing to the lack of
professionals. As a matter of fact Burton,
West, and Mignon were the only bowlers born
in the county, T. and J. T. Hearne coming
from Bucks, Howitt and Clarke from Notts,
Rawlin from Yorkshire, Trott, Phillips, Roche,
and Tarrant from Australia. Among others
the following amateurs played by qualification:
the Hon. Edward and Alfred Lyttelton (born
in Worcestershire), Lord George Scott, G.
Macgregor and J. G. Walker (Scotland),
R. N. and J. Douglas, C. M. Wells and
H. B. Chinnery (Surrey), M. E. Pavri (India),
Dr. G. Thornton (Yorkshire), C. E. Cobb,
C. Robson, F. T. Welman, A. H. Heath,
G. W. Hillyard, S. C. Newton, T. S. Pearson, H. Ross, G. Strachan, P. F. Warner,
and A. P. Lucas.
In 1876 when Surrey had lost seven men
with 100 still needed, Barratt hit splendidly,
but when tie was called and the last man in
he was easily caught. Mr. I. D. Walker
hit Ulyett to square leg out of the Bramall
Lane ground in Sheffield. In 1878 the Hon.
Edward Lyttelton's 113 for Middlesex was
the first century scored against the Australians,
and some judges declare this innings was
never surpassed except by Mr. G. L. Jessop
at the Oval in the last test match of 1902.
He was the best bat of the year. Middlesex,
it may be mentioned, has on occasion been
assisted by notably fine wicket-keepers, to
wit, Messrs. Bisset Halliwell, M. Turner
(who dismissed nine opponents at Nottingham in 1875), the Hon. Alfred Lyttelton,
H. Philipson, F. T. Welman, G. Macgregor, the finest amateur in this department,
W. P. Robertson, E. H. Bray, W. S. Bird,
and M. W. Payne. The following Middlesex cricketers have appeared in test matches
in England: the Hon. Alfred Lyttelton,
Sir T. C. O'Brien, Mr. C. T. Studd, Mr.
B. J. T. Bosanquet, Mr. P. F. Warner, and
J. T. Hearne. The following have gone on
tour to Australia in addition to these six:
Messrs. A. P. Lucas, A. J. Webbe, C. F. H.
Leslie, G. B. Studd, G. F. Vernon, A. E.
Stoddart, H. Philipson, and Rawlin.
The bowling of Mr. A. F. J. Ford, who
captured thirty-eight for 417, was a pleasing
feature of 1879, when in a wet season 476
runs were amassed at Clifton. Mr. C. T.
Studd had a capital analysis at the Oval in
1880, four for 6 and three for 24, while
Mr. A. F. J. Ford captured six for 42 and
seven for 40. During and after 1881 Burton
played regularly. He was a steady slow
bowler who did an enormous amount of
work, being mainly supported by the erratic but
effective fast deliveries of Mr. J. Robertson.
Among the features of 1882 was a grand 141
by Mr. C. F. H. Leslie at Nottingham, well
supported by Mr. I. D. Walker with 79.
The latter batsman, with Mr. A. J. Webbe,
put up 130 for first wicket after Surrey had
been dismissed for 117. Against Gloucestershire Mr. A. F. J. Ford effected seven catches
at short slip. A year later at Clifton Mr.
I. D. Walker and the Hon. Alfred Lyttelton
added 324 for the second wicket, the latter
having the remarkable average of 68. Sir T. C.
O'Brien's courageous batting formed the one
noteworthy feature of 1884, and in the seven
matches in which the Hon. Alfred Lyttelton
could not play, the wicket-keeping was put
'in commission.' Disasters in 1885 followed
the retirement of Messrs. I. D. Walker, C. T.
Studd, and P. J. T. Henery, whilst Messrs.
T. S. Pearson, G. E. Vernon, G. B. Studd,
A. W. Ridley, and the Hon. Alfred Lyttelton
were only seldom available. However, Mr.
A. E. Stoddart was at last enlisted from
the Hampstead Club, and Mr. S. W. Scott
played a notable 135 not out against Gloucestershire. Mr. J. G. Walker in 1886 lent
valuable aid, but it was not until 1887 that
revival could be noted. Mr. A. J. Webbe
showed most remarkable form, averaging 51
for 820 aggregate, playing a great innings
of 243 not out in the match against Yorkshire just after his 192 not out against Kent
in the Canterbury week. Wet wickets
checked the scoring in 1888, Sir T. C.
O'Brien, who averaged 53, alone rising
superior to the difficulties. Burton had the
remarkable analysis of 12.50 for ninety-two
wickets, taking all ten for 59 in the first
innings of Surrey at the Oval, and three for
19 in the unfinished second effort.
Sir T. C. O'Brien's scoring against Yorkshire in 1889 will never be forgotten. In
the first innings 112 were added in less than
an hour, Sir Timothy making 92 with Mr.
G. F. Vernon, who scored 86. Set to get 280
in three hours and a half Sir T. C. O'Brien,
hitting fearlessly, obtained 100 not out, and
he and the same colleague made the runs
with ten minutes to spare, 151 being added
in ninety minutes. Mr. E. A. Nepean
showed admirable form with both bat and
ball, and Mr. Stoddart played fine cricket.
After brilliant victories over Notts, Lancashire, and Gloucester, persistent mediocrity
beset the Middlesex cricket of 1890, but an
immense advance was to be noticed in 1891
when third place in the championship list
was obtained, This great improvement was
mainly due to that great and willing bowler
J. T. Hearne, whose patience and good length
were always remarkable. At Old Trafford
he claimed ten Lancashire wickets for 83.
Rawlin also played great cricket. In batting
Sir T. C. O'Brien continued to show consistent prowess, while Mr. A. E. Stoddart
played a magnificent innings of 215 against
The advent of the great wicket-keeper
Mr. Gregor Macgregor was a source of
material strength in 1892, in which year
J. T. Hearne for the second time took
100 wickets in county matches, the only
Middlesex bowler who had yet done so.
Mr. S. W. Scott displayed an enormous advance in batting, his 244 against Gloucestershire at Lord's being remarkable for an
amateur aged 39. Mr. A. E. Stoddart again
occupied second place in the averages. In 1893
the county again rose to third position, owing
mainly to the fine form of Mr. Stoddart, who
scored 1,178 in twenty-five innings, and had
the highest county average of the year. In
the Notts match at Lord's he took a double
century, 195 not out and 124. With Sir
T. C. O'Brien he put on 228 in two hours
and a half for the first wicket against Surrey.
Mr. F. G. J. Ford hit finely, but Hearne
and Rawlin found no support with the ball.
A similar position was obtained in 1894; but
the cricket, apart from the work of the two
bowlers, was not up to the standard of the
previous summer. This observation equally
applies to 1895, although Sir T. C. O'Brien
made 202 at Brighton, adding 338 in three
hours and a quarter with Mr. R. S. Lucas,
who scored 185. Mr. C. M. Wells in August
offered some bowling relief, and Mr. J.
Douglas strengthened the batting at the same
Far better was the form in 1896, when Sir
T. C. O'Brien and Mr. A. E. Stoddart time
after time played cricket as valuable as it was
brilliant, while J. T. Hearne bowled like a
hero. His taking of twelve Surrey wickets
for 90 was a capital performance. In 1897
the form was less certain, though Mr. F. G. J.
Ford gave some extraordinary displays, and
Mr. Stoddart, as well as Mr. J. Douglas,
when available, was well worth watching.
Mr. P. F. Warner, who had long been trying
for a place on the side, at last won it, and
became at Lord's a singularly useful and
Middlesex had only obtained two successes
up to the close of July in 1898, but of the
eight matches played in August seven were
won and one was drawn, with the result that
the county finished a good second to Yorkshire. Hearne, now assisted by Albert Trott,
bowled brilliantly, and the Colonial exceeded
expectation. Mr. Stoddart averaged 52, his
biggest score being 157 on the Aylestone
ground. Mr. F. G. J. Ford, in August,
obtained no less than 603 runs, while magnificent assistance with the bat and in the
field that month came from the brothers
Douglas and Mr. C. M. Wells. So well was
the standard maintained next summer that the
Middlesex side almost won the championship, eleven victories being set against three
defeats. Mr. Stoddart and Sir T. C. O'Brien
both dropped out, but in August the usual
triumvirate of schoolmasters reappeared and
Mr. C. M. Wells averaged 81, his great score
being 244 against Notts. Mr. Warner batted
better than ever before, and Trott not only
took 146 wickets for 15, but scored 164
against Yorkshire. It was the victory by an
innings and two runs over that team which
formed the proudest achievement of Middlesex.
Mr. F. G. J. Ford played three great centuries,
and Mr. Macgregor as a bat, as wicketkeeper, and as captain was a complete success.
There was a big drop in 1901, though Mr.
Stoddart came back for Hearne's benefit and
scored a masterly 221 against Somerset. Mr.
Bosanquet's play for his double hundred
against Leicestershire was electrifying, but
Mr. Warner bore the brunt of the batting
and Trott of the bowling. Although Middlesex finished second in 1901 there was little
brilliancy in the display apart from the fine
scoring of Mr. P. F. Warner, though Mr.
Bosanquet established himself as Mr. F. G. J.
Ford's successor. Disasters came so fast in
1902 that eleventh place only was obtained.
Apart from an innings of 180 by Mr. J.
Douglas at Leyton, and a creditable victory
over Notts, in which Mr. Bosanquet gave
his earliest swerve demonstration, there was
little to praise.
All-round efficiency accounted for the unexpected fact that Middlesex actually took
champion honours in 1903, the only reverse
being a tremendous defeat by a margin of 230
at the hands of Yorkshire at Leeds. Messrs.
Warner, Beldam, Bosanquet, Moon, and
the Douglases formed a formidable batting
nucleus. The bowling on paper did not look
remarkable, but it was effective. On 14
September the county played a favourable
draw with the Rest of England, represented
by Lord Hawke and K. S. Ranjitsinhji, with
Hayward, Hayes, Tyldesley, Arnold, Hirst,
Braund, John Gunn, Rhodes, and Strudwick.
In August 1904 the Middlesex side was
as good as ever, but previously with unrepresentative elevens they gave only a poor
exhibition. The bright feature was the work
of Mr. B. J. T. Bosanquet. Against Kent,
after making 80, he captured five for 23, and
in the Yorkshire match he took ten for 248,
making 141, with Mr. R. E. More adding
128 inside fifty minutes. In each match
with Somerset, Mr. G. W. Beldam
played a sound century, while Mr. Warner
contributed 163 at Nottingham and 106 at
the Oval. J. T. Hearne bowled quite in his
old style. A lamentable decline was shown
in 1905, and blunders in the field prevented
the victories of the county from amounting to
more than four as against seven defeats.
Very occasional success by Mr. Bosanquet
alone assisted J. T. Hearne in the attack,
while that steady batsman Tarrant enjoyed
moderate success. Mr. Bosanquet achieved a
double century against Sussex, following it up
with eight for 53, but the general form was
lifeless. The pertinacious imperturbable skill
of Tarrant in every department was the mainstay of the county in the next few years, and
in 1907 he proved the best all-round professional in England. Mr. Macgregor kept
wicket as finely as ever until he resigned the
captaincy to Mr. P. F. Warner.