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Edward Liddle's Biographies of Irish Cricketers
Henry Peel Hewitt
  • Born 28 March 1845 Co Cork
  • Died 1 June 1902 White House, Walton - on - the Hill, Surrey
  • Educated St Columba's College
  • Occupation Civil Servant : Clerk in Paymaster General's Department
  • Debut 6 June 1868 v MCC at Lord's
  • Cap Number 103
  • Style Right hand bat.
  • Teams Cork City Club, Cork County, Incogniti

Henry Hewitt came from a well known Cork family, which had strong connections with cricket in the city. Henry's cousin, Thomas, was one of the founders of the Cork County Club, for whom Henry made occasional appearances when on leave from his Civil Service post In London. He had developed his skills of the game at St Columba's, where he was a near, though not exact contemporary of several members of the Hone family. The first score which definitely survives of a match in which he played at The Mardyke was for XVI of the Cork Club- forerunner of the County - against Na Shuler in August 1870, two years after he made his solitary appearance for Ireland.

He was already one of the PMG's junior clerks by this time, so must have been on holiday. Though Tom Hewitt and RG Exham, brother of the Irish roundarmer Arthur Exham, combined well to dismiss the Shulers for 128 and 71, the hosts collapsed twice for 78 and 101. Henry, batting at 7, was run out for 0 in the first innings and stumped for 1 in the second. The wicket keeper was MP AH Smith-Barry, who had gained his solitary Irish cap in the same match as Henry, while the bowler was William Maitland. Also a future MP, Maitland was in the Oxford XI for four years, being a slow left armer who had the ability to confound the batsman with "Gatting balls." He also won blues for athletics and rackets.

Henry played against the Shulers again the following August, when his cousin Tom raised a XIV against them. Henry failed again being caught and bowled for 2 by John Roberts, a Co Cork educated Meath landowner, who played several unsuccessful matches for Ireland and was to outlive most of his contemporaries. Henry did not bat again in the match, which the hosts won by six wickets. It is possible that he was also involved in an earlier match when XVIII of Cork County took on I Zingari at The Mardyke in September 1866. The scorecard shows H Peel batting at 3 for Cork. This may very well have been Henry playing under an assumed name, perhaps he should have been back in London. If this was the case, he risked disciplinary action to no effect. In the first innings, he was bowled by Robert Marsham, a slow left arm roundarmer for 2. Marsham was an Oxford Blue, a distinction also gained by his two brothers and two nephews. In the second H Peel was run out for the same score. Another run out in a tight situation may well confirm the identity of the batsman.

He had, however, obviously established a reputation for himself in club cricket in the south of England. Only one score of such a match has been seen, but the fact that it was for Incogniti, and that he was played as a batsman, speaks volumes for his standard of play. The "Incogs" had been founded in 1862 but were already a well established wandering side, with a high reputation. In later years, a wide range of well known cricketers were to turn out for them, including, for example, BJT Bosanquet, Douglas Jardine and Arthur Conan Doyle, a highly capable player in his own right.

Regrettably, Henry failed in the match v The Gentlemen of Sussex in July 1870. Batting at No 4, he made 2 and 4 being clean bowled in each innings. He was not the only Incog to fail in a bowlers' match, which they lost by 28 runs. They only managed four double figure scores in their two innings.

Henry's one match for Ireland had been v MCC at Lord's in June 1868. Possibly the fact that he was resident in London may have had something to do with his selection, it certainly seems to have accounted for several of the others in the side. He was one of seven debutants, only one of whom, Austin Meldon, ever played for Ireland again. Ireland won by 75 runs, largely due to the bowling of another "one cap wonder" WS Hunt. Hunt, also a well known Cork cricketer was prominent in Irish cricket for years and turned down several invitations to play again. Batting at 10, though there was no 11 as Viscount Massereene - though credited with a cap for the match - does not seem to have turned up - Henry was bowled by the MCC's professional slow roundarmer Tom Nixon of Nottinghamshire for 0 in the first innings but was undefeated on 5 in the second. Henry Peel Hewitt never played for Ireland again.

He did, however, rise within the PMG's Department, being a senior clerk at the time of his unexpected death. He was survived by his wife Rona, to whom he left the then not inconsiderable sum of 1398 in his will.