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Biography
Henry David Purdon
  • Born 15 February 1849 Ardrums, Co Meath
  • Died 24 August 1890 Dublin
  • Educated Ennis College Royal College of Surgeons of Ireland
  • Occupation Doctor
  • Debut 22 June 1868 v All England XI at College Park, Dublin
  • Cap Number 118
  • Style Right-hand bat
  • Teams Summerhill, Leinster, Navan

David Purdon came from a cricketing background. His mother was Maria Trotter which made Henry the nephew of Dr David Trotter, whose son, also David, was destined to become the leading Irish batsman of his generation, as well as becoming Henry's brother-in-law. David, senior, had his own ground at Summerhill in Co Meath, its proximity to Henry's family home, and the close relationships between the two families, suggesting that, as well as at school, he must have learned much of his cricket there. He was later to become a stalwart of the club as well as playing many times for the nearby Navan side, besides assisting the Leinster club in Dublin.

Educated at Ennis College in Co Clare, a long defunct institution which did however produce many fine sportsmen - the Kempster brothers being amongst its best known cricketers, - David received his medical qualification from the Royal College of Surgeons of Ireland in 1870 and, thereafter was not seen much in major cricket.

His two appearances for Ireland came during his time at RCSI. In June 1868 he was one of the XXII of Ireland that entertained the mighty All England XI in College Park. The Professionals won by 9 wickets, having begun the match by disposing of their hosts for 84. JC Shaw and Crispin Tinley proved too much for most of the home batsmen with only three making double figures, Tom Casey topscoring with 24. David, coming in at the fall of the first wicket, evaded the clutches of Shaw and Tinley but fell to the terrifying pace of George "Tear Em" Tarrant without "troubling the scorers." The visitors gained a lead of exactly 100 before dismissing Ireland again for 161. In company with several of his team- mates, David did rather better this time, reaching 8 before falling to the remarkable Tinley who could bowl fast round arm or slow lobs with equal facility. All England went on to a 9 wickets victory.

The following year the two sided met at Rathmines in a match which Ireland, again playing as XXII, at one time looked to be on level terms but eventually were lucky to save. It must be said that David had little to do with this improvement, such as it was. In the first innings, during which Ireland, 140 all out gained a lead of 4, he came in at no 14, but had his stumps shattered by Tarrant for 2. In the second, Ireland needed 128 to win, but were lucky to emerge with a draw on 41-14, David, the last wicket to fall, was bowled by Tarrant's fellow paceman Freeman of Yorkshire for 8, which thus remained his highest score in international cricket.

He established a rural medical practice, living at Arranmore, Kinnegad, Co Westmeath. The county was, at the time a place of considerable cricket activity as the researches of Tom Hunt in his <>i>Sport and Society in Victorian Ireland have shown. However this did not extend to Kinnegad which was destined to become a centre of GAA activity in the county.

Henry David Purdon's career in major cricket was a minor and unimportant one. His medical work in Westmeath brought him a deservedly high reputation.

Edward Liddle, July 2014; updated October 2014

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