- Born 16 December 1836 St James' Middlesex
- Died 16 March 1888 Kingston on Thames, Surrey
- Educated Brighton College, Sussex
- Occupation Army Officer
- Debut 11 May 1865 v United South of England XI at Rathmines
- Cap Number 87
- Style Right hand bat
- Teams Royal Artillery, East Hants CC, Vice Regal Lodge, Phoenix
William Walton, son of William Henry Walton and Louisa Hoskins, was a good opening or No 3 batsman, who, had he not followed a military career, would probably have been well able to hold his own in the first class cricket of his time. Commissioned into the Royal Artillery in 1856, he was, when available, a prominent member of their XI, his highest innings of which a score has been seen coming at Lord's in 1860 against the Household Brigade. Going in first he made 91 out of a total of 225, the match was left drawn, as was the case with many in those days, as declarations were not permitted. He could usually be relied upon for a double figure score for the RA or the East Hants Club over the next three seasons. It should be remembered that the wickets were usually rough and under prepared and that almost every side, including amateur teams such as I Zingari, generally contained at least one bowler of genuine pace.
We may also refer to a match for the RA against MCC at the former's Woolwich ground in 1864, William was possibly on leave as he appears to have been stationed in Ireland in that year. Be that as it may, he made useful scores of 25 and 30 against a strong attack in what turned out to be another drawn match. He shared in a big opening stand with Algernon Griffith in the first innings, Griffith having a limited though not unsuccessful career with MCC, Middlesex and various amateur sides.
William was certainly playing regularly in Ireland in 1834, not only for Phoenix, always a team favoured by the military, but also for the Vice Regal XI, making three appearances against Civil Service. The XI was strong in all three matches including the peripatetic JN Coddington, Chess Playing all rounder George Barry and another soldier and an excellent bowler in Christopher Oldfield. Passing double figures - with 13 and 18, the latter run out - in the first match, he reserved his best innings until the final game, a one day single innings match which ended in a draw, making 36, the top score in an innings of 122. It might be said that the Vice Regal side rather wasted their talents. True William batted at No 1, but so good a player as Coddington came in at 10.
The 1865 season saw his selection for the XXII Ireland against the United South of England XI. This was the first match between the two teams and also the first Ireland match played at Observatory Lane. There was much criticism of the selection of the Irish side which included no fewer than 17 new caps, 10 of whom were set to become "one cap wonders."
The Irish side somewhat disgraced themselves by arriving some two hours after the scheduled start but then dismissed their illustrious opponents, who had endured a rough sea crossing, for 59. William had met several of the professionals before playing for both East Hants and the RA against various of the Travelling XIs, but, coming in at No 3, he failed to take advantage of his prior knowledge, the great Edgar Willsher, a scourge of Irish among other batsmen in the decade, having him for 2. The USE made 171 in their second innings, but rain prevented Ireland from batting again, which was probably just as well.
His final match of which a score has been seen came in 1870 for the RA against MCC at Woolwich. William had the ill fortune to see a fine batting effort on his part, overshadowed by one for the visitors. Going in first against a strong MCC attack, he carried his bat for 60 out of an innings of 180. However MCC proceeded to bat out the remainder of the match, finishing on 457 all out with their No 1 the clergyman Arthur Winter, a former Cambridge Blue, making 184. A very stylish right-hander and good wicket keeper, he scored over 1000 runs in a very limited first class career, with a highest score of 121.
William, who never married, had a distinguished military career, which culminated in the Battle of Tel-El - Kebir in 1882 when a small force of British and Indian troops, commanded by Sir Garnet Wolsey, routed a much larger Egyptian one. William, now a Lieutenant-Colonel- commanded G Battery, B Brigade Royal Horse Artillery. Though the Battle was really won in a short time by the bayonets of the infantry, William's skilful command led to his being mentioned in despatches. He was later Colonel and appointed a Companion of the Bath. Coincidentally another former Irish cricketer also received a "mention" at Tel-El-Kebir, cavalry officer John Ker Fox, though whether the two men knew each other or - in less heated moments exchanged memories of Irish cricket, both after all played for the Vice Regal XI, I have been unable to ascertain.
William was unable to enjoy his Companionage for long. His promotion to Colonel came in January 1886 but the following year he retired as an Honorary Major General. Within 12 months he was dead.
William Morritt Barneby Walton was undoubtedly a talented batsman. Though he failed on his one appearance for Ireland, it is to be regretted that his military duties did not allow him to be seen more often in our cricket.
Edward Liddle, January 2014