|Born||Q1 1845 St Pancras, London|
|Died||15 January 1913, Armagh|
|Educated||Portarlington School Dublin University|
|Occupation||Church of Ireland Clergyman; Headmaster Armagh Royal School|
|Debut||22 June 1868 v All England XI at College Park|
|Style||Batting - unkown hand, slow round arm bowler|
|Teams||Dublin University; Armagh|
William Morgan was a good all round cricketer whose batting appears to have developed at the expense of his bowling, the latter having been his stronger suit at University. Having played the game at the now long defunct Portarlington School, an institution where, some 10 years after his time there a boy called Edward Carson was a pupil, William entered Dublin University in July 1863 and was awarded his 2nd XI colours the following summer. For the next four years, while he gained considerable academic distinction in the University, he was a regular member of the 1st XI, winning his colours every season. |
This was the decade in which the University's cricket developed so that few of the other Irish clubs could match them. Well known English players such as Yorkshireman Luke Greenwood were engaged as coaches and some excellent results achieved. Primarily seen as a bowler, William's best year with the bat was 1867 when he aggregated 241 runs at 13.70 with a highest score of 50. As a bowler, having taken 14 wickets at 10.50 in that summer, he finished second in the averages the following season with 38 wickets at 11.20, figures which saw him finish second in the averages. He also showed the talents for administration which served him well in later life. He was a member of the Club's committee in 1865, Treasurer in 1866, Secretary in 1867, before serving again on the Committee in his last year.
1868 also saw his first appearance for Ireland, XXII against the All England XI in College Park in a 3 day match beginning on 22 June. The visitors won by 9 wickets with William unable to do much to stop them. In the first innings, batting at No 19, he was, at least, undefeated for 3, as JC Shaw, a fast left arm roundarmer, and the slow underarmer Crispin Tinley, ran through the hosts' batting. In the second innings Ireland collapsed again, with Shaw trapping William LBW for 1. Oddly considering his form with the ball that season, William's bowling was not used in the match.
William, whose career away from cricket had advanced considerably, was again in the Ireland XXII for the corresponding match the following summer at Rathmines. Put in the visitors were dismissed for 136, with William contributing by catching well known all-rounder William Oscroft off George Barry, thus helping to remove one of the AE XI's dangermen. Ireland gained a four runs lead, though William, batting at No 20, did little to contribute to the total, being bowled by Yorkshire fast roundarmer George Freeman for 1. Eventually, the hosts needed 127 to win, but were lucky to save the match, finishing on 41-14, William not batting. As in the previous year William did not get the chance to show his bowling talents.
He graduated from the University with a BA in 1868, later adding an MA and eleven years later a Doctorate in Law, which suggests a restless intelligence. More importantly, he had, on graduation, been appointed Headmaster of Armagh Royal School, being, incidentally, the last clergyman to hold the position, all his predecessors having also been ordained since the School's foundation in 1608. Three years younger than Thomas Arnold had been when appointed at Rugby School, William was able to find plenty of time for cricket both for Armagh and for the Royal School Club, in which several members of staff joined their pupils.
For Armagh, he was often seen at his best against NICC. Thus in August 1870, in a two day match at The Mall, he made 24, second top score to 45 from John Fox, who was to play for Ireland and Gloucestershire, in an Armagh first innings of 172. He then took 3 wickets as North gained a 22 runs lead. Unfortunately he was bowled for a duck by Charles Stelfox in the second innings, one of the reasons why the visitors went on to win by 3 wickets. The following year, when he made 57 in a two day game against the Newry Garrison and averaged 33.40 for the season, easily heading the averages, he was again in good form against the Ormeau side with scores of 38 and 37 and 6 wickets in the match, which was, however, lost by 4 wickets. That summer he also headed the School Club's batting averages at 17.10, which says more about the quality of the wickets than anything else, three bowlers having averages of under 8. Though his appearances grew fewer as the decade continued, he remained closely involved with the Club, being a Committee member for many years.
He retired as Headmaster in 1890, becoming instead keeper of the Anglican Cathedral's Library and also served as Chaplain to two Archbishops. He was married three times, losing two wives from early deaths, but had the pleasure of seeing one of his sons, JW Morgan, in the Armagh side in the third ever NCU Challenge Cup Final v NICC in1889, a match in which one feels William would have liked to have played himself. The younger Morgan did not disgrace the family name, scoring 11 and 19 at No 4, but the all-round skills of North's Fred Cummings were too much for the men from The Mall, who lost by 8 wickets William Moore James Morgan was 68 years old when he died at his home in 4 Abbey Street, Armagh. Cricketer, Headmaster and Scholar, he must indeed have been a remarkable man.
I am indebted to Brian Weir's "Armagh Cricket Club 150 Not Out" for information about WMJ Morgan's playing career with Armagh CC.
Edward Liddle, June 2013