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Biography
James Felix Meldon
  • Born 29 May 1839
  • Died 13 April 1915, Dublin
  • Educated Stonyhurst College, Lancashire
  • Occupation Lawyer
  • Debut 11 May 1865 v United South of England XI at Rathmines
  • Cap Number 80
  • Style Right-hand bat
  • Teams Phoenix, Roebuck, Co Galway

James Meldon was the second of seven sons of James and Bedelia Meldon, all of whom were good club cricketers and one other of whom, Austin, also played for Ireland. The second generation, James' nephews, produced eight further who played at senior level, with six representing Ireland.

James followed his elder brother John to Stonyhurst where both they and their immediately younger brother, Charles, played Stonyhurst Cricket, the College's own unique version of the game, which continued to be played there until the latter part of the 19th century. Stonyhurst had been founded in Flanders in 1593 for the education of sons of the English Catholic aristocracy driven out by the Tudors' discriminatory laws. The game, and its implements, must have closely represented how cricket was played in 16th century England. One of the bats has survived and may still be seen at Stonyhurst. The College fled to England in 1793 to avoid the effects of the French Revolution. A photograph of a "Stonyhurst Bat" may be seen in Rowland Bowen's Cricket: A History of its Growth And Development Throughout The World.

James' Irish cricket was played mainly for Phoenix, though he also played for the Roebuck, a club which he and his brothers had founded and of which Charles was Secretary. For Phoenix between 1867 and 1874 he batted 22 times scoring 222 runs at 15.85. His record for Roebuck has not been seen, Charles though a QC and an MP - he was for a while Chief Whip of the Irish Parliamentary Party, did not supply details to the compiler of the relevant Lawrence Handbook of Cricket in Ireland . The club, which Jack Meldon, leading light of the next generation, remembered as "a small ground with large teas" lasted for a decade. James and his brothers were also responsible for the foundation of Co Galway CC which played on their father's ground at Athenry; he also provided the ground for Roebuck at his Dublin residence.

James appeared once for Ireland, against the United South of England XI in May 1865. He batted at No 20, Ireland playing 22, in what was not only the first match played at Rathmines but also the first to be played by the USE XI. Though the visitors, batting first on a rain affected wicket, collapsed in their first innings, they would almost certainly have won, had not heavy rain eaten badly into the time available. Ireland gained a narrow first innings lead, but then saw the Travelling XI, total 171 in their second innings. James had made 3, being bowled by George Griffith, a spectacular hitter and a bowler who alternated between fast left arm, round arm, or slow lobs.

James Felix Meldon did not play for Ireland again. Entering the legal profession - as did several others in the family - he always retained his cricket interest serving on the Phoenix Committee for many years. He was unmarried and was the uncle, rather than the father as has been previously stated, of JM and WD Meldon, who were the sons of his elder brother John. His effects in England were stated in his will to be 2293.

Edward Liddle, December 2013

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