- Born 29 Jume 1850
- Died 25 December 1925 Little Island Cork
- Educated Harrow School, Oxford University
- Occupation Army Officer then ADC to Lord Lieutenant of Ireland
- Debut 25 September 1879 v Philadelphia at Nicetown, Philadelphia
- Cap Number 171
- Style Left-hand bat
- Teams Phoenix, Cork County, Na Shuler, I Zingari
George St John Colthurst was a member of a long established Anglo - Irish family who claimed direct descent from William the Conqueror. He also had a cricketing heritage. His father George Conway Colthurst, 5th Baronet, was a founder of both the Cork City Club and its famous successor Cork County, establishing a three generation tradition of being Captain and President of the latter. George St John was to hold both these posts, with a short break in each, for more than 40 years.
A useful cricketer, he entertained I Zingari and Na Shuler touring sides, umpiring matches in which he did not play. Liberal MP for Kinsale 1863-74, his marriage to Louisa Jeffreys, brought him the ownership of Blarney Castle, which her family had been granted, it having been taken from the MacCarthy Lords of Muskerry, in the confiscations following the Williamite Wars. George St John became a playing member of the County in 1878 and, when available, was ever present in the XI, normally at the top of the order, until shortly after the First World War. His scores were useful rather than outstanding, though a handful of good ones stand out. For example in 1898, captaining the County v Na Shuler, for whom he had also appeared against the club, he hit 55* and 19, besides taking a wicket in one of his rare bowling spells. These were crucial contributions in a two wicket win.
He was a great personality and stories about him abound. Some appear to owe their origin to their tellers having kissed the stone in Sir George's home rather than consulted score books, but one which has a reliable provenance -in this version - may be related. In 1903, London County captained and managed by WG Grace played Ireland at The Mardyke. This was Grace's last match in Ireland and, having been out first ball in Dublin the previous week, he was keen to do well. Opening the batting he was caught off Bob Lambert for 1 in the first over. He refused to leave. Serious confrontation loomed as Sir Timothy O'Brien, an old adversary of WG, was leading Ireland. Sir George, as President of the host club, came on the field, told the Old Man to behave himself, and escorted him to the pavilion.
The 6th Baronet's short representative career began with four matches for I Zingari v Ireland 1875 to 1878. His top order position suggests that his batting was highly regarded, but he did little to advance the IZ cause, apart from a crucial second innings top score 47 in 1876 as the Zingaros won by 2 runs despite Frank Kempster scoring the maiden Irish hundred. Otherwise he managed 36 runs in 7 innings.
His Irish appearances were limited to Nat Hone's autumn American tour of 1879, where his main highlight was to be challenged by a Mr MacCarthy who claimed to be the rightful Lord Of Blarney Castle. In the two cap matches v Philadelphia George's form deserted him. His highest score in 3 innings was 12 as the famous Newhall brothers, legendary heroes of North American cricket, were too much for him and many of his team mates.
George did have more luck in the odds matches. Here the opposition was very weak so these are not seen as cap matches and do not appear on this site. In the matches of which a scorecard has been seen he scored 105 runs at 21.00 with a highest of 32 v XVI of Whitby, top score in an exciting draw. He also top scored with 19 v XVIII of New York. He was the only player in the match to reach double figures. Ireland, bowled out for 58, still won by an innings and 3 runs, the pace of Horace Hamilton being too much for the Americans. He played no more for Ireland but remained prominent in Cork cricket for many years. His elder son George, a better cricketer, captained Ireland, besides being President of both the County and the ICU; his biography appears on this site. The younger son Richard was also President of the County, while his two sons were also good cricketers.
Away from cricket George St John tried unsuccessfully to enter Parliament in 1879. Deserting his father's party he stood as a Conservative for Cork City. He also gained a considerable reputation as an improving landlord, an advance on his grandfather who had starved peasants arrested for stealing carrots out of the ground during the Famine. He also had ideas ahead of his time about the education of women. His death on Christmas Day 1879 deprived not only cricket of a considerable figure.
Edward Liddle, September 2007, updated March 2017