CricketEurope Irish Cricket History logo
Edward Liddle's Biographies of Irish Cricketers
Henry Dawson
  • Born
  • Educated
  • Occupation
  • Debut 25 July 1871 v MCC at College Park, Dublin
  • Cap Number 142
  • Style Left hand bat; left arm medium pace
  • Teams Cork City; Cork County

Henry Dawson was a good medium pace bowler of whose personal life almost nothing is known. An early member of the Cork County Club, though not, it would appear among its founders, he distinguished himself in some of its early matches against visiting I Zingari sides, even though the hosts, playing as a XXII were normally heavily outclassed. Thus at The Mardyke in early September 1875, he had four wickets in the IZ first innings of 116, including those of joint top scorer WC Higgins, an Old Etonian, who played a handful of first class matches MCC - without it must be said conspicuous success - and Viscount Lewisham, again a very moderate first class cricketer, who, however, as the Earl of Dartmouth was to be President of Kent, the MCC and - for 40 years, his native Staffordshire.

Henry failed to take a wicket in the second innings of this match and was dismissed for 3 and 2 by the slow lobs of IZ stalwart and Irish international AJ McNeile, IZ winning by 179 runs. The following year, when the visitors were victorious by an innings and 109, Henry was again the hosts' best bowler, returning another four wicket haul, his victims this time including all rounder Walter Forbes who had just left Eton whom he captained to victories over arch rivals Harrow and Winchester and, in the same year, was reported to have thrown a cricket ball 132 yards, 10 yards better than his the previous year. He also threw the hammer 78 feet.

Henry had made his debut in the MCC match of 1871 College Park, when he shared the attack with fellow Cork left armer Orpen Beamish. In a match supposed to last three days and to help the development of professional cricket in Ireland, the hosts were embarrassingly outclassed losing in a little over one day, the MCC professional attack of Alfred Shaw, a bowler of great accuracy who was to take 2026 first class wickets in a long career, as well as bowling the first ball in Test Cricket, and Frank Farrands, who was later to become a highly respected umpire. Though they totalled only 170, MCC won by an innings, Henry taking 1-30, the wicket of Nottinghamshire professional Charles Clifton, son-in-law of the famous "Jemmy" Grundy. Henry contributed 3 and 7 with the bat, falling to a stumping off Shaw in the first innings and being bowled by Farrands in the second.

Henry's second and final appearance for Ireland was against IZ at the Vice Regal Ground thirteen years later. He did slightly better than on his debut, but Ireland were again outclassed, losing the match by 10 wickets. Failing with the bat in both innings, Henry returned Ireland's best bowling figures taking 3-31, dismissing Cambridge Blue Herbert Allsopp and Courtney Boyle an Oxford Blue, later to be knighted as senior civil servant.

As stated above Henry's private life remains a mystery and it has proved impossible to discover any definite details about him, despite some extensive research. Colm Murphy in his history of Cork County "Long Shadows by De Banks" notes that Henry is believed to have been lost in the Titanic disaster. However a search of two different versions of passenger and crew lists has revealed that the only Dawson on the ship (if the fictitious character played by Leonardo Di Caprio in the James Cameron epic is ignored!) was a Dublin born stoker, who was much younger than Henry would have been at the time. It is, of course possible, that he might have changed his name, or that the passenger lists are wrong, but I think that this is unlikely. Any further information on Henry Dawson would be most gratefully received.