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Biography
Thomas Browning Reeves
  • Born 19 May 1848 Athgarvan, Newbridge, Co Kildare
  • Died 5 February 1910 Athgarvan House, Newbridge, Co Kildare
  • Educated Mr Guillimand's School Dublin University
  • Occupation Land Agent; Justice of the Peace
  • Debut 22 June 1868 v All England XI at College Park
  • Cap Number 119
  • Style Right hand bat
  • Teams Dublin University, Phoenix, Co Meath, Gentlemen of the South of Ireland

Tom Reeves was the fourth son of the eight children of Joseph Robert Reeves and Georgina Jane Browning. The marriage connected the Reeves family to a number of other Anglo-Irish ascendancy families as Georgina was one of the 19 children of Jeffrey and Frances Browning. She was the aunt of Frank Browning, long serving Irish batsman/wicker keeper and captain, while one of her sisters married into the Hone family. We may note that Frances, who was only 15 at the time of the birth of her first child, was drowned in a "carriage accident" on the River Shannon, shortly after the birth of the nineteenth.

Tom entered Dublin University in 1866 and was four years in the XI from 1868, winning his colours each season. Though he was a highly regarded member of the XI, being noted for the style of his stroke play, his actual performances for the side were somewhat limited. He did hit a highest score of 70 in his first season, but his next best was 33 and he never averaged more than 14.80. His best match for a University side came for a Past and Present XXII against the famed All England XI in 1874. Opening the batting, he made 10 in the first innings of 142 before being bowled by Jemmy Shaw a left arm roundarmer of great ability, though he was also seen as the worst batsman in first class cricket at the time.

Then JB Story, one of the best bowlers produced by the University in those times, ran through the professionals, taking 7 wickets to give his side a 72 run lead. The visitors responded by bowling their hosts out again for 142, but Tom stood firm making an excellent 37, though he was eventually caught off Tom Hayward, uncle of Jack Hobbs' mentor and first opening partner, and one of the members of a remarkable family, three generations of which played first class cricket. The match ended in a draw with the University in a strong position.

Tom's cricketing time after University was mostly spent playing for Co Meath, though he also played for Phoenix and in matches such as that at Phoenix in 1871 when he was the leading batsman for the Gentlemen of the South of Ireland against their Northern counterparts. It must be said that several of the latter side had no geographical qualification to be representing it. The match ended in a draw with Tom's 26, not only preventing a complete rout in the South's first innings of 119, in reply to a total of 166, but being second top score in the match to Charles Filgate's 38 for the North.

Tom's three matches for Ireland all ended in failure, rather belying his reputation according to his obituary in The Irish Times which stated that there were "few if any better batsmen in his time." It should, however, be remembered that the first two of these were against the All England XI. Thus at College Park in June 1868, he opened the batting for Ireland's XXII, but was dismissed by Jemmy Shaw in each innings for 3 and 6. Ireland were lucky to escape with a draw, with Shaw taking 13-76 in the match. In Ireland's first innings only Tom Casey showed much idea of how to cope with him.

Ireland were again lucky to avoid defeat the following year, with Tom once more failing. Shaw had him in the first innings for 6 while in the second he was unceremoniously removed by the Yorkshire fast roundarmer George Freeman without scoring. His last appearance for Ireland came in 1874 against the somewhat gentler opposition of I Zingari. Ireland won this match by 15 runs, largely thanks to the bowling of Daniel Neill. Tom, however, did not contribute much to the victory. Opening again, he was bowled by Alexander McNeale, a stalwart of both I Zingari and Na Shuler often seen in Irish colours, for 4 in the first innings, while William Middleton, a well-known amateur cricketer in England, then on the Lord Lieutenant's staff in the Vice Regal Lodge, had him for 0 in the second.

Away from the cricket field Tom was, according to the same obituary notice, "a fine shot (and) a brilliant man at hounds." No doubt benefiting from the proximity of Athgarvan to The Curragh, he was also a well-known racing man, two of his horse, Rose of Richmond and Mary Walker, achieving considerable success ridden by his brother Willie as Tom "could not do the weight."

He married Elizabeth Medlicott in June 1883. They had three sons and two daughters. One of their sons, Jeffrey Browning Reeves, a Captain in the Indian Army was killed during the battle of the Somme.

Edward Liddle, December 2013

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