- Born 16 October 1849, Lissrenny, near Adare, Co Louth
- Died 1 September 1930, Northwood, Middlesex
- Educated Cheltenham College
- Occupation Barrister
- Debut 23 August 1868 v I Zingari at Vice Regal Ground, Phoenix Park
- Cap Number 121
- Style Right-hand bat
- Teams Co Louth, MCC, Gloucestershire, I Zingari, Na Shuler
Charles Filgate was the youngest and best of six cricket playing brothers, two others of whom, Walter, the eldest, and Leopold, the fourth, also gained Irish caps, though the former only did so in odds matches. The family had been in Louth for almost two centuries, an ancestor being an officer in Cromwell's army, they also claimed descent from England's Plantaganet Kings. The older brothers had founded the Louth County Club and the family was to keep it going for many years. Charles was a forcing upper order batsman, with according to "Scores and Biographies" a "strong defence and fine hitting powers." He was also a brilliant field, often at long leg or cover point.
He first made his name at Cheltenham College, where he benefited from the coaching of the cousins James Lillywhite senior and junior, the latter was to become the first England Test Match captain. Filgate's contemporaries in the Cheltenham XI, where he was a regular for 4 years from 1865, included George Strachan, a slow right arm bowler, who played for three counties, captaining one of them, Surrey, for most of the 1870s and the remarkable Henry Rennny - Taylour, who was to become army officer At one time ADC to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, he sometimes played for Kent and scored 331* in a minor match in 1880. Renny-Taylour also played Rugby and Football for Scotland, besides appearing in the first four FA Cup Finals.
Charles was not lost in such company. He passed the 1000 run mark in each of his last two school seasons, his best being 1868, when he made 1027 runs at 54. That summer he also made 158 for Louth against Navan. The year after leaving Cheltenham, he became a member of MCC and was to play much cricket for the Club. His Irish debut came in 1868. He played three times for his country, though the second, the I Zingari match of 1869, does not appear in his statistics on this site as it involved more than 11 players a side. Batting at 3, on debut, his brother Leopold having opened, he was out for 10 caught by RAH Mitchell, who ran cricket at Eton, off the fast left armer John Horner who took 6/37. Despite this, Ireland made IZ follow on, but brilliant batting by the scandal prone Army man, Captain CF Buller meant that there was no chance of a win. Filgate's second match, against the same opponents a year later, was more personally successful. It was decided at the last minute to make this a 12 a side game. Out for 5 in the first innings to the underarm opening bowler Osbert Mordaunt, who had 6-44, Charles top scored in the second innings with "an excellent" 39, which enabled Ireland to set a target of 172. The match finished with the visitors well short and the last pair together. A dropped catch helped their survival, but Charles had shown his brilliance in the field, running out AH Smith - Barry with a direct hit, after fielding an overthrow. Smith - Barry was one of three Zingaros who had also played for Ireland.
Charles' final match was the one sided MCC fixture of 1871. Meant to help the development of professional cricket in Ireland it was poorly attended, the Prince of Wales, whose presence in Dublin provided too many counter attractions, arrived just in time to see Ireland go down to a heavy defeat. Filgate, whose first class experience should have proved invaluable, fell for 11 and 3, as Ireland succumbed to FH Farrands and the great Alfred Shaw for the paltry totals of 58 and 24.
Charles made his first class debut for MCC v Surrey at Lord's in 1869. In a low scoring first innings he made 13 at 9, being out to the slow underarm of George Griffith. Only WG (51) made a score but MCC won by 10 wickets with Charles, promoted, 3* at the end. He was never able to play more than six first class matches in a season, but in 1870, had an experience denied to most that have played many more. Opening with WG for MCC v Yorkshire at Lord's, he had made 3 when the very fast roundarmer, George Freeman, knocked all three of his stumps out of the ground.
Filgate had another notable match in that year, when he top scored in the Gloucestershire second innings v Surrey at Clifton. His 48*, easily outscoring the Grace triumvirate, was a crucial contribution, enabling the hosts to win by 51 runs. In 1873, against the same opponents, he again held the County batting together to secure victory. Batting at 3 in the second innings, he made 58* after the brothers had failed. In their defence it should be said that EM and WG had put together an opening stand of 156 in the first innings, Charles following with a useful 23. His highest first class score came at Hove in 1876. Bating soundly against a varied attack, he was 90* at close on the first day. Unfortunately, he had not settled when the wily James Lillywhite Jnr, dismissed him. Did the former coach know a chink in his once star pupil's armour? Charles was 2* when rain intervened in the second innings. His last first class match, also at Hove, came the following season. Low in the order, he made 5 and 14. In all first class matches he scored 563 runs at 15.63. in the days of underprepared, uncovered wickets, when only WG and his brothers faced the professional bowlers with confidence, these were by no means as poor figures as they sound.
Away from cricket, Charles Roden Filgate was a successful barrister. He married, rather late in life, Clare Cooper of Coventry. They had one son and one daughter. At the time of his death, he had been an MCC member for 61 years, and was still attending matches at Lord's in 1929. His obituary is in Wisen 1931 and his biography is in Scores and Biographies Volume 10.
Edward Liddle, October 2007