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Biography
Frederick John Fane
  • Born 30 January 1840 Wormsley Oxfordshire
  • Died 4 June 1923 Brentwood, Essex
  • Occupation Army Officer
  • Debut 11 May 1865 v United South of England XI at Rathmines
  • Cap Number 76
  • Style Right hand batsman
  • Teams Chatham Garrison, Knickerbockers, Gentlemen of Essex, The Cricket Company, Phoenix, Essex, NICC, Na Shuler, Curragh Garrison, Armagh

Frederick Fane was a sound upper order batsman who was, when his military duties allowed, much in demand for various sides in both England and Ireland. The son of an Anglican clergyman, Frederick Scrope Fane, a member of the family of the Earls of Westmorland, he was the younger brother of Edward Fane who was three years in the Eton College XI and also played a large amount of good club cricket.

Frederick was commissioned into the Gloucestershire Regiment at the age of 19 at which age he made his first appearance at Lord's for the Chatham Garrison against MCC, but made little impact. The hosts, incidentally, included Irish international Fred Ponsonby, co-founder of both I Zingari and Na Shuler, and two of the famous Walker brothers of Southgate. Three years later, opening the batting for the Gentlemen of Essex against the Gentlemen of Surrey, Frederick carried his bat for 53 through an innings of 121, despite some effective bowling from Cambridge Blue Edward Hartnell.

Shortly afterwards, by now married to Anna Louise Abbott, he was posted to Ireland, where he was to spend some time on and off over the next eight years. Though this was the era of the Fenian uprising and some serious riots in Belfast, some of which events he may well have been involved in attempting to quell, Frederick seems to have found plenty of time for cricket.

His most important match was for XXII of Ireland against the United South of England XI at Rathmines in May 1865, the first Irish match played at Observatory Lane. The match ended in a draw with Ireland, having bowled their visitors out for 59 finding themselves bowled out for 86 by Edgar Willsher and James Lillywhite, jnr, later England's first Test captain. Frederick was caught by legendary wicket keeper Tom Lockyer off Lillywhite for 0. USE made 171 in their second innings and there was no time for an Irish reply.

Later that summer Frederick played for Phoenix against a strong IZ side who won a rather one sided encounter by 9 wickets. The hosts were also at some strength with, including Frederick, nine who had appeared for Ireland. However they found the pace of William Parnell rather testing in both innings. Frederick did well in the first. Coming in at No 3, he presented a resolute defence, finishing undefeated on 25. However he failed in his second innings, being bowled for 1 by Parnell.

In 1866, he was a member of the Na Shuler side which took on NICC in a historic match, the first ever played on the Ormeau ground. Opening the batting for The Shulers, after they had won the toss, he soon lost his partner, another Irish international George Booth, who was out in the first over. However Frederick was then joined by JN Coddington in a stand which took the score to 87, before Fane was out for 32, bowled by key all-rounder Charles Stelfox who had arrived after the start of the match. Stelfox dominated much of the rest of the proceedings. North were forced to follow on but his bowling almost won the game for the hosts, the Shulers squeezing home by 3 wickets.

In 1872, apparently stationed in the north of the country, Frederick turned out for both Armagh and NICC. In the former year, playing for NICC, he was one of the few batsmen to make a showing against a strong IZ side. Coming in at No 3, after IZ had scored 185, he made 14* as the hosts crumbled for 61. He was again undefeated on that score in the second innings as North, with time running out, held on to draw the match om 39-6. The following summer, which he began by playing for Armagh, he also apperared for NICC against the Cathederal City on The Mall, scoring a fine 74 out of a total of 226. The hosts in a two-day match, just hung on for a draw with totals of 29 and 75-9. Back in The Curragh the following summer, he again played a lone hand against the Zingaros, making 24* and 33, both top scores, as his team-mates struggled against the round arm pace of Oxford Blue William Law.

1872 was an important year in his and Anna's life seeing the birth, at the Curragh Camp, of their first and only child Frederick Luther Fane, destined as a right hand batsman to captain both Essex and England and become the second of only three Irish born players to score a Test century, the others being Tom Horan of Australia and Eoin Morgan.

Back in England in the later 1870s he played several - non first class -matches for Essex, including one against Hertfordshire, where he was bowled for 0 in each innings by the splendidly named Valentine Adolphus Titchmarsh, a corpulent fast round armer, who later became a well-known umpire, but eventually died from locomotor ataxia.

The last match Frederick played in, of which a score has been seen, was for Essex against MCC at Chelmsford in 1877. He made 20 in the second innings, ending his career by being caught off master bowler Alfred Shaw.

Frederick John Fane retired from the Army as a Colonel. When he died at his home in Essex able to leave the then fairly large sum of 14560 to his son.

Edward Liddle, June 2013

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