- Born 3 November 1853 Clones, Co Monaghan
- Died 28 December 1930 44 Fitzwilliam Square, Dublin
- Educated Foyle College, Londonderry; Dublin University
- Occupation Barrister later Judge
- Debut 8 August 1895 v Surrey at The Oval
- Cap Number 228
- Style Batting hand unknown, slow round arm bowler.
- Teams Dublin University, Phoenix.
Harry Jackson was a well known all round sportsman, being a valued oarsman, in addition to winning Cricket and Rugby caps for Ireland. As a cricketer, he was principally a slow round armer, often, as was the fashion of the times, opening the attack with a bowler of greater pace. He was also a useful but by no means outstanding batsman His cricket career was, however, somewhat of a curious one. Only a regular in the Dublin University XI for one year - 1876 - when he was awarded his colours for, it must be presumed, taking 15 wickets at 12. 40 as he averaged only 5.15 with the bat, he nevertheless played in the University's major matches between 1875 and 1880, twice representing the XVIII against WG Grace's United South of England XI, and also playing against Billy Murdoch's Australians in 1880.
He then disappeared from major cricket until 1894, when he was again to be found in the ranks of the University Past and Present against a touring side. The opposition on this occasion, against whom he did not particularly distinguish himself, were the cash strapped South Africans. This was followed by his four Irish appearances between 1895 and 1896.
His first match for the University XVIII against major opposition had come in May 1875, when he opened the bowling with Alexander Hamilton against the United South Of England XI led by WG Grace, who was then at the height of his powers and had changed the shape of cricket by beginning the dominance of the bat. WG made 112 in the first innings of the match before Harry had him caught at the wicket by Tom Casey. Harry's wickets also included that of Henry Charlwood, destined to score 36 in the first ever Test Match, sharing in England's first 50 partnership. For good measure, Harry maintained his Test connections by catching James Lillywhite, USE Secretary later to become England's first captain. Another interesting personality in the visitors' XI, apart from WG's brother Fred, was his opening partner and first cousin, WR Gilbert.
Gilbert was a good player, who was perpetually short of money. He tried to solve his problem by turning professional in 1886, and, when that failed turned to theft. Caught in the act in the dressing room, he was packed off to Canada by the Graces, where he continued to play cricket, scoring hundreds for Halifax and Montreal. In this match he made 75, putting on almost 200 with his cousin. Harry, unfortunately, made a pair, being caught off WG in the second innings but, with another wicket in the USE second knock as the visitors won by 8 wicket, had far from disgraced himself in his first outing in "Big Cricket."
The USE were back again the following season, the only one in which Harry was a regular member of the XI. On this occasion, the hosts did much better. Batting first, they passed 300, with the elegant David Trotter deeply impressing Grace with a brilliant 109. Batting at 10 in the XVIII, Harry was dismissed by Richard Fillery, a useful medium pace roundarmer, for 4. He had two wickets in the match, both those of interesting characters. In the second innings he caught and bowled Gilbert, having in the first removed wicket keeper, Ted Pooley. Ted should have kept wicket for England in the first of all Tests the following March, but had been detained on the New Zealand leg of the tour for a possible betting scam. Rightly described in a recent biography as "His Own Worst Enemy", Ted was eventually to die in the Lambeth workhouse aged 69.
In 1880, when the Australians paid there first visit to College Park, Harry, called to the Bar three years earlier, was playing for Phoenix, without spectacular success, but was, nevertheless, asked to play for the Past and Present side against the tourists. The University did very well, dismissing the visitors for 170. The Australians were surprised by the speed of Horace Hamilton, fast round arm, with whom Harry opened the attack. However he bowled effectively himself, taking 4-46, bowling the captain, the great batsman WL Murdoch for 0. All out for 98, the hosts dismissed the "Colonials" cheaply again, and, despite losing early wickets to the pace of Fred Spofforth saved the match with Casey 17* and Harry 19* playing out time. It was to be his highest score in important matches.
He was not to appear in such a contest again for 14 years but, when most followers of the game had forgotten him, and when his appearances for Phoenix were somewhat limited by his legal work, he turned out for a University Past and Present Xi against the visiting South Africans, a weak side, so short of money that the tour had to be rescued by South African business interests in London during their time in Ireland. However they were too much for their hosts in College Park, mainly because of the pace bowling of the 1893 University captain Clem Johnson,, whose biography maybe found on this site, who had emigrated for health reasons, but was sufficiently recovered to make the tour. Harry contributed 0 and 8* with the bat and took 2-24, one of whom was Johnson. It was hardly an epic comeback.
However the following summer saw him selected for "JM Meldon's Gentlemen of Ireland XI" to tour England. This was a fairly strong side and it is somewhat difficult to see what Harry was doing in it. Perhaps his occupation helped. The side was awash with lawyers, including Meldon, a solicitor, and his Barrister brother William, who had even less right to a place than Harry.
Harry's debut came in the first match v Surrey at The Oval, though it was, in reality, a county Second XI, the first team were playing a championship match. Harry succeeded in getting out twice to VFS Crawford, one of the few county men of first class standard, though batting was his strong point. Harry did at least reach double figures in each innings 15 and 10. Wicketless in the first innings, he took 3-22 in the second including Crawford who was to score over 11000 first class runs before becoming a tea planter in what was then Ceylon. Harry had little further chance on the tour to show his worth. The match with WH Laverton's XI at Westbury in Wiltshire was almost completely wiped out by rain, and, the finale at Lord's was almost farcical, so weak was the opposition. Ireland, though only scoring 191, of which Lucius Gwynn made a typically commanding 80, won by an innings. Harry, who had contributed 9 with the bat, did not get a bowl. The old firm of Tom Ross and Bill Harrington, with some help from Gwynn despatched the opposition with great celerity.
Harry's last appearance for Ireland came against a stronger MCC side at Rathmines the following summer. Again his chances were limited. Relegated to 11 in the order, he made 4, being bowled by round armer George Hearne who took 686 first class wickets and was the brother of England and South Africa Test cricketer Frank whose biography will also be found on this site, as he played in one match for Ireland, as a late replacement, in 1883. George himself had one, unsuccessful, Test Match v South Africa in 1891/92. In the MCC match, Harry also failed to take a wicket, but was allowed only five overs. He was, unsurprisingly, never to play for Ireland again. His last major match, of which a score has been seen, was for RM Gwynn's XI v I Zingari at the Vice Regal Ground in 1899. Perhaps fittingly, this rather strange and disjointed representative career ended with a pair as he fell in each innings to slow left armer and Cambridge Blue, Edward Dowson. As a rugby footballer, he belongs among Ireland's "one cap wonders." He played in the front row v England in 1877 a - perhaps appropriately -The Oval, but was one of those dropped after a 16 - 0 defeat.
If his Cricket and Rugby careers let him disappointed, he never showed it, proudly recording his international status in his Who's Who entry. Where he was most certainly successful was in his legal work. A Queen's / King's Counsel in the early years of the century, practising in both Dublin and Monaghan, he became a judge under the Cosgrave Government in the Irish Free State, and was always a highly respected jurist.
Edward Liddle, February 2009