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Biography
William Hood Walrond (Later Sir WH Walrond 2nd Baronet and later First Baron Waleran.)
  • Born 28 February 1849 Bradfield, Cullington, Devon
  • Died 17 May 1925 Grosvenor Hotel, Victoria, Middlesex
  • Educated Eton College, Magdalene College, Cambridge
  • Occupation Army Officer; Politician
  • Debut 17 June 1869 v All England XI at Rathmines
  • Cap Number 131
  • Style Right-hand bat. Slow round arm bowler. Occasional wicket keeper
  • Teams Gentlemen of Devon, Devon, Quidnuncs, MCC, I Zingari, Military of Ireland, Curragh Camp, Household Brigade, Lords and Commons.

William Walrond, a tall man with light brown hair and the trademark moustache of the Victorian gentry, was a useful all round cricketer. A batsman, generally to be found in the lower middle order, he was also a slow round armer of some ability and a competent wicket keeper. Further he achieved one cricket distinction which no other player is likely to share, being the only British Conservative Party Chief Whip to have played cricket for Ireland!

One of the two sons and three daughters Sir John Walrond MP, First Baronet and The Hon Frances Caroline Hood, he was educated, as such a pedigree might suggest at Eton, where he was two seasons in the XI, though he did not meet with great success. In the 1866 match against arch rivals Harrow, he was dismissed in the first innings by fast round armer Frank Cobden, still seen as one of the best bowlers ever to play for his school. In the 1870 University Match, Cobden achieved an astonishing feat in what proved to be the game's last over. Needing 179 to win, Oxford were 176-7 as Cobden ran in to bowl the second ball of his 4 ball over. He proceeded to do the hat trick to leave Cambridge victorious by 2 runs. Among other players in the Harrow side in the 1866 match were future Irish internationals JG Ponsonby and HH Montgomery, later to become Bishop of Tasmania and to have a son who, while a keen cricketer, was rather better at winning battles than cricket matches. The following season saw William make 27 in the second innings, the star Etonian then being CI Thornton, destined to become a mighty hitter and President of the Scarborough Festival for many years. On one occasion, at the Marine Road Ground in the Yorkshire seaside town, Thornton hit a ball into the nearby Trafalgar Square. "Tell me Mr Thornton, " an admirer whose knowledge of both cricket and Yorkshire town maps was slight, "were you playing at Lord's or The Oval?"

William went up to Cambridge. after leaving Eton, but, though he played in the Freshmen's Trial, without success, he did not remain long at University. Instead he was commissioned in the Grenadier Guards though this did not prevent him playing a summer of cricket in 1868, mostly for the Gentlemen of Devon though he also made his solitary first class appearance for MCC against Surrey, scoring 13 in each innings, being undefeated in the second. Against Norfolk in July, he helped MCC to a 243 runs victory, scoring a second innings 45, sharing in a crucial stand with Walter Money, mainly a slow left armer who had dismissed William both in the Eton v Harrow match of 1866 and in the Freshmen's Match at Fenners. It must have been a relief to have been on the same side. He also made useful scores for the Gentlemen of Devon against their Hampshire and Dorset counterparts. In the former match, which was narrowly lost he also made three stumpings, while in the second, played on the attractive Torquay ground, he made 40 and 34*, opening in the second innings as his side achieved a 7 wickets win.

The following year, 1869, saw William receive a military posting to Ireland, where though he played twice for the national side, his performances, in matches of which scores have been seen, were undistinguished. In June he played for XXII of Ireland against the All England XI and had the distinction of dismissing the fearsome George "Tear 'Em" Tarrant, thanks to a fine catch by Jack Kempster. When Ireland batted, he came in at 5 to make 13 before being dismissed by slow" lobster" Crispin Tinley who always took wickets against Ireland, offering some support to Pat Casey who made a valiant 42. Ireland, with a score of 140 managed a 9 runs lead and eventually held out for a draw, though, William fell for 0 to Yorkshire paceman George Freeman in the second innings. Later in the season, he was out of his depth when the United South of England XI defeated Ireland at Observatory Lane, James Southerton disposing him for 4 and 1. He also failed against the visitors for the Military in a match at the Curragh. At the end of the season, came the annual (almost) I Zingari tour. Playing against them for the Curragh, William was dismissed by fast bowler John Horner for 2. However IZ invited him to play in the12 a side match against Ireland at the Vice Regal Ground. The match ended in a draw with Horner bowling impressively for the tourists. However William made little impact against his former team-mates, falling for 6 and 1.

1870 saw him back in England where the rest of his cricket was played, apart from two visits to Ireland with MCC in 1871 - a disappointing match over well inside two days with a visitors' victory - and IZ in 1884. In neither encounter did he distinguish himself. His best score in an Ireland related match came at Lord's in 1870 for MCC against Na Shuler when he made a first innings 44 before being bowled by EAB Acheson. He failed in the second innings, the Shulers going on to win by 6 wickets.

For the next decade and a half William's cricket was much in demand, mostly for MCC and Gentlemen of Devon. His military duties must have been untaxing and also his work as an MP from 1880, the latter post ending his career as a regular officer though he became a Lieutenant Colonel in a volunteer regiment. He hit several fifties in these matches, with his highest traceable score being 59 in an 1874 match for Devon against the quaintly named Will O' The Wisp XI. AS he sometimes played in the same MCC side as a useful all-rounder named A Conan Doyle, it is perhaps worth noting that in this match his scorecard entries read b Baskerville 11 c Watson b Baskerville 59.

His best bowling feat was to take 7 wickets against Westminster School in 1870, unfortunately a full analysis is not available.

In 1895 he became Conservative Chief Whip in Lord Salisbury's government having been an MP for 12 years. In 1902 with Arthur Balfour, a keen cricket follower, Prime Minister, William became Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, a post he held until electoral defeat in 1906. He was then created first Baron Waleran of Uffcolme. He appears to have given up serious cricket after he became Chief Whip, his last match of note having been for the Opposition against the Government in 1893, when the Government XI included the future Home Secretary and Governor - General of South Africa Herbert Gladstone, son of the then Prime Minister. The Opposition, who won by an innings, had several well-known cricketers, including Henry, later Lord Forster, an Oxford Blue who was Governor-General of Australia during the 1920s. However William's own contribution to the victory was unimpressive.

He married Elizabeth Katherine Pitman in 1871, their son, also William, succeeded his father as MP for Tiverton but was killed in the First World War. Elizabeth died in 1911 but in 1913, Waleran married a widow Frances Grant, who died in 1951. On Waleran's death in 1925, when he left only just over 6000 in his will, the title passed to his grandson, but became extinct in 1966, the second baron, having no male heirs.

A brief obituary of William Hood Walrond, First Baron Waleran of Uffcolme in the County of Devon appeared in Wisden 1926.

Edward Liddle, July 2013

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