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Biography
William Bolton
  • Born 1846 Dublin
  • Died Unknown
  • Educated Mr Colles School, Dublin Dublin University
  • Occupation Doctor
  • Debut 11 May 1865 v United South of England XI at Rathmines
  • Cap Number 43
  • Style Hand unknown
  • Teams Dublin University; Medics XI

NB: This player has previously been incorrectly identified as William Gordon Bolton (1821-1868) who played for Harrow School and Phoenix. However not only would he have rather old to have been at University in the 1860's but also the only William Bolton to have been at Dublin University (Trinity College) at the time is the man whose known details follow. As will be seen he remains somewhat of a mystery and we would be very grateful for any further details concerning him.

William Bolton, son of Reverend Lyndon William Bolton, entered University in October 1862, aged 16, as a medical student. He gained his BA in 1866 and his medical qualification MB in 1869. From 1863 to 1867 he was a regular member of successive University XIs which, including such fine players as William Hone, snr and Tom Casey, were amongst he strongest in Ireland with the 2nd XI not far behind them in strength. For example it was usually the Seconds who were despatched to Belfast to play NICC.

Having proved himself a useful batsman in good company, William was one of the XXII of Ireland selected to play the United South of England XI at Rathmines on 11 12 and 13 May 1865. He was one of no fewer than 17 new caps. There was much criticism of the selection which, it was felt should not have been left to the entrepreneur John Lawrence and a small committee of advisers. This match, which was severely curtailed by rain was a history making one. It was the first to be played on the Observatory lane ground and was also the first match played by the USE, which had been formed the previous autumn by Edgar Willsher and John Lillywhite following a dispute between southern and northern players in the All England XI. They were a formidable side with Willsher, left arm fast and the pioneer of over arm as distinct from round-arm - bowling, in his prime. Described as fast, though not as quick as the famed John "Foghorn" Jackson, he bowled with a slinging action, his arm, when permitted by a change in the Laws, just above the shoulder.

Put in, after a rough sea crossing, the visitors were dismissed for 59. They found the slow and low wicket foreign to their game and may have been showing impatience as the match had a delayed start, the majority of the Irish side not turning up until more than two hours after the scheduled time.

William held one catch, taking a lofted drive from James Lillywhite off the bowling of the professional Pat Smith. The XXII fared little better being dismissed for 89, with Willsher, famed for his accuracy as well as his speed, returning the figures of 51-34-34-8, it should be remembered that the 4 ball over was then in vogue. Amongst his victims was William, haplessly bowled for a duck, coming in at No 15. Further rain, which prevented the presence of The Prince of Wales, and more poor time keeping by the hosts, condemned the match to a draw, the USE making 171 in their second innings, which would probably have been enough to bring them victory. William again showed to good advantage catching Tom Hearne at long on for 38, easily the highest score of the match. Tom was, of course, a member one of the most well-known cricket families, among his nephew Frank, played Test cricket for both England and South Africa as well as once appearing for Ireland.

As mentioned above the Irish side had included 17 debutants, for 12 of whom, including William, it was also a finale!

William played little cricket after leaving university and, strangely it has proved impossible to find any further trace of him. He is not recorded in any medical directory which has been seen, nor have any details of his personal life been found.

Edward Liddle, October 2014

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