- Born 25 October 1868, Woolwich, London
- Died 5 February 1954, Marino, Cobh, Co Cork
- Educated Sherborne School, Dorset
- Occupation Singer and Actor then Colonial Official
- Debut 22 July 1892 v I Zingari at Vice Regal Ground, Phoenix Park
- Cap Number 217
- Style Right-hand bat
- Teams MCC, Na Shuler, I Zingari, Phoenix and Bickley Park, London
Pascoe Stuart, a sound upper order batsman, tall and thin, with a long reach and a strong defence, had a varied and interesting career both on and off the cricket field. He added the French to his surname in 1917, following the death of his brother, who had done likewise in 1911, to inherit the estate of their uncle Thomas French. At the age of 15, he had been the youngest in the Sherborne XI of 1884 averaging 56. Leaving school Stuart embarked on a stage career singing soprano solos at the oratorios which were a feature at Crystal Palace in the 1880s and acting with Sir Charles Wyndham in the famous production "David Garrick." He also found time in s to play for both Cork County and Na Shuler in their annual matches at The Mardyke, though without conspicuous success.
He did, however, impress enough to gain selection, for Ireland, as substitute for David Trotter, v I Zingari at the Vice Regal Ground in 1892. The wicket was difficult and the tree lined ground also caused problems. However it was not as troublesome as the IZ scores suggest. They were routed in a single day by the batting and bowling of future South African Test Cricketer CL Johnson. Stuart contributed 0 at fourth wicket down, falling to the pace bowling of former Cambridge Blue, JA Turner. An extra match was played the following day. This time IZ won by 5 wickets, Stuart managing 1, before Turner claimed him again. He did not play for Ireland again for 11 years, though he did play for Surrey Club and Ground against Jack Meldon's Irish side at The Oval in 1895. Batting at 3, he ran himself out for 1 in the first innings, then fell to the wiles of Bill Harrington for 13 in the second.
The long gap in his appearances can partly be explained by a career move. Abandoning the stage, he was, briefly Secretary to the Governor of the Windward Islands, and then from 1896 to 1902, was ADC to the Governor of Queensland. The location of these two appointments provided opportunities for more cricket, but he did not play in any major matches of which scores have been seen. Service leaves did, however,allow time for English cricket, he was seen often in the colours of MCC and I Zingari.
In 1902, he returned to County Cork and became a much wanted regular in the Cork County side. He generally opened the innings, being seen in a long lasting partnership with Willie Harman, who played once for Ireland v South Africa in 1907. Sometimes, in the last years before the War, one of them dropped to number 3, to allow the former Dublin University and Ireland batsman, Wilfred Bourchier to open.
For the County in their annual match v Na Shuler, always a 2 day affair, which was often left drawn as both sides batting heavily outweighed their bowling, he made 369 runs at 41.00, including 2 fifties and one hundred. The latter score was achieved in 1913, as County following on 120 behind, reached 332-4. Stuart made exactly 100, well supported by Bourchier with an undefeated 85. The Shulers, in what was the last match between the sides until the visitors were briefly revived in 1936, included Bob Fowler, in one of his all too rare excursions into Irish Cricket. He took 9 wickets when the County collapsed for 70 in the first innings!
Stuart was also prominent in County's matches with Dublin University, often played twice yearly, usually, but not always, on a home and away basis. Here he scored 440 runs at 36.00, with a highest of 78*, made in 1914, just 5 days before the assassination in Sarajevo, changed the World, and the Ireland, that he and his generation knew. Interestingly in these matches, five of his first six innings, finished at 2 or below, the remaining eight were all double figure scores with only two failing to reach at least 38. Besides his 76*, he made three other fifties, with two (62 and 57) in the 1911 match in College Park, when a three figure second innings opening stand with Harman, was largely responsible for avoiding a heavy defeat, after the County bowling had been twice destroyed by the hitting of Dickie Lloyd. In 1911 and 1912, breaking the long lasting Colthurst monopoly, Stuart and Sir Timothy O'Brien were appointed joint captains of the County. Pascoe was to take charge when the baronet was elsewhere. The veteran Sir George Colthurst resumed the reins of office in 1913.
His Cork County form also enabled him to resurrect his Irish career. In 1903, WG brought his London County side to play Ireland at The Mardyke. There were several late withdrawals from the Irish team and, possibly because he was on the spot, Stuart came in as substitute. The make up of the XI suggests that he replaced NICC stalwart Oscar Andrews. This match ended in a draw, with Ireland chasing 140, finishing on 42-5. Facing a score of 237, Ireland reached a first innings 291, in no small way due to Stuart. Batting at 3, he made an "invaluable" three hour 55. He shared a the third wicket stand of 41 with Bob Lambert (37), then put on 94 with Frank Browning (64) for the fourth. His innings much impressed WG who asked both him and Lambert to play for London County.
The following summer, Cambridge University came to The Mardyke for the first of two matches with Ireland. The second was to be at Rathmines. For the Cork game, Ireland not only fielded a weakened side but then suffered late withdrawals. These included Sir Timothy O'Brien, which meant that Stuart became captain. Batting at 4 in the first innings he was bowled by FB Wilson, later to become father of tabloid pioneer, Peter Wilson, "The Man They Couldn't Gag" and grandfather of BBC racing commentator Julian Wilson, for 6, and then ran himself out for 21 in the second innings. Wilson described the match in some detail in his autobiography, "Sporting Pie." Cambridge won rather easily, then lost to a stronger side at Rathmines, where Stuart did not play.
He appeared as an opener against South Africa at The Mardyke two weeks later. This match ended in a famous Irish victory, thanks to some remarkable bowling by Tom Ross. Stuart did not have much part in the triumph. Reggie Schwarz, then primarily a medium pacer had him for 0 in the first innings and Gordon White, still to develop his dangerous googly, got him for 6 in the second. That match marked the end of his Irish career. He almost resumed it in the Scots match of 1910. The selectors had originally picked Oscar Andrews as captain for this College Park fixture. He was unavailable so they turned to Stuart. He too could not play, thus the selectors went for another veteran in Jack Meldon.
In May 1904, following the Doctor's invitation he played two matches for London County, thus making his first class debut. Against MCC at Lord's, he had only one chance as his side won by 7 wickets despite being shot out for 79. Batting at 7, Pascoe fell to the medium pace off spin of JT Hearne for 7, thus becoming one of that great performer's 3061 first class wickets. Against Surrey at The Oval, Stuart did rather better. Again at 7, he was bowled by the Yorkshire exile medium pacer Walter Lees for 14 in the first innings, but reached a well earned 50 in the second before falling to a the well tested combination of wicket keeper Strudwick and fastman Bill Lockwood. WG was much impressed by the knock and presented Stuart with a bat. "By the way," Stuart later told Pat Hone, "I paid for that bat." Lambert, incidentally, also made a half century when he turned out for London County. History did not relate if he was offered a bat, though Bob a blunter man than Stuart, might well have not agreed to the financial terms!
When War came Stuart was to be found as a Major in the Remounts, a division of the RASC responsible for procuring horses and mules for the Army. He was more involved in fighting Sir Timothy O'Brien, who was similarly involved, than the forces of the Kaiser, but, recalled Stuart, "As he loved rows, it meant nothing."
When the conflict ended Stuart - French, as he had now become, returned to live at Marino in Cobh. He still played cricket, though his appearances were increasingly spasmodic. He did, however, captain, the Munster interprovincial XI in 1931, when he was 62. He was married with two sons, the elder had a distinguished military career.
Pascoe William Grenfell Stuart-French's brief obituary appeared in Wisden 1955.
Edward Liddle, October 2007