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Edward Liddle's Biographies of Irish Cricketers
John Mahony Maxwell
  • Born 1863, Dublin
  • Died 20 February 1946 Roxboro, Baily, Co Dublin
  • Educated Ushaw College, Durham; Dublin University.
  • Occupation Solicitor
  • Debut 27 August 1883 v I Zingari at Phoenix CC
  • Cap Number 184
  • Style Right-hand bat, slow right round arm.
  • Teams Dublin University, Pembroke Phoenix, Co Meath.

John Maxwell, a good batsman and a useful bowler, was the oldest of four brothers, who between them played for Dublin University from 1882 to 1895. Apart from his immediate younger brother, James whose biography also appears on this site, John was followed into the University XI by Richard, from 1887 to 1892 and Patrick 1890 to 1895. Patrick, the only one of the brotherhood not to enter the legal profession, was also the only one not to live until old age.

Having become the family's sole first class cricketer, by playing in Dublin University's four matches at that level in his last season, he qualified as a doctor and emigrated to Australia, where he died in the gold town of Kalgoorlie in 1903.

All four were educated at Ushaw College near Durham. The College is now a seminary training for the Catholic priesthood - but it then had a school also. Here the curriculum was very much based on the Classics though Mathematics and Philosophy were not neglected. Cricket and Athletics featured on the sports side as did a cricket like game called cat. This is a most interesting factor for historians of cricket's origins. The College had been founded at Duoai in France in the 16th Century to avoid persecution, moving to England in 1808.

Cat is presumably the game also known as cat and dog, seen by some historians as one of the game's origins, while others claim that there were several such games in evidence in late medieval and Tudor times and that cricket was the one to survive. Either way it would seem that it accompanied the original students to France in the 1500s and then found its way back. The Maxwell brothers played it and thus had a link with the origins of cricket.

John entered Dublin University in January 1881, James following in October. John had a somewhat mixed cricket career and it would seem that, unlike several others of those days, he put his academic work very firmly first, so that he did not play for the 1st XI as often as he might have. He headed the batting averages in his first season, 1882, with 193 runs at 27.60, besides taking 14 wickets at 13.35. However he had to be content with 2nd XI Colours, a decision of the captain, future Irish wicket keeper JN Lombard which seems surprising at this distance. Colours came the following season, when with an average of over 30, unusual on the far from good wickets in College Park at that time, he was clearly the best batsman in the XI after Jack Hynes who was settling in to his decade dominating role. Lombard's decision was made look even stranger in 1884, when John played only two innings, averaged 9.00 but still gained his colours. Possibly the fact that James was now in the first of his two captaincy seasons had something to do with it!

That season John played for the University against the Gentlemen of Philadelphia, on the first match of their inaugural tour of these Islands. He was one of the successes of the match which ended in a draw with rain and time the enemy. Batting at 7, he made 12 in the first innings, falling to FE Brewster, for many years one of the leading all rounders in American cricket. The hosts totalled 181 with only Hynes and Dominic Cronin getting on terms with the bowling. However, mainly thanks to John 12 - 2 - 29 - 4, the Americans finished on the same score. John's haul included JB Thayer, one of Philadelphia's best known player, destined to become a railroad millionaire and to be remembered as the only first class cricketer to be lost in the "Titanic" disaster, and the captain Richard Newhall, leading member of one of the USA's best known cricket families. They both scored over 800 runs on the tour. In the hosts' second innings, John was dismissed by Howard McNutt, a fast bowler with a high action and alarming lift from the pitch. Time ran out with the tourists, needing 219 on 23 - 0.

His one match for Ireland had come against I Zingari in Phoenix Park in 1883 After two closely fought innings Ireland collapsed and the visitors won by 8 wickets. James, presumably chosen because of his batting form for the University, was at 9 in both innings. He was dismissed by CT Studd for 2 in his first knock, one of only two players not to reach double figures as Ireland totalled 255. Studd, probably the best all rounder of the time, had figures of 8-110. He was soon to give up first class cricket and immerse himself in missionary work. When I Zingari batted, John had the wicket of Gerald Portal.

Later knighted, Portal was to die of typhoid in 1894, having just returned from diplomatic work in Uganda. He was a sound middle order batsman and a fast left arm bowler, who could make the ball do awkward things off the pitch. John, however, was lbw to Studd's only rival as leading all rounder of the day, future England captain, and student of the art of bowling, AG Steel, who was rumoured to have refused to play in Test Matches in mid and late August, because, "I'm not going to miss the grouse season for any *** cricket match on Earth!". John was marginally less successful as a batsman in this innings than in the first.

Thereafter, though he also played for the University Past and Present XV v the United England XI in 1886, his big cricket was really over. On leaving University he turned out for Pembroke and Meath but his final match of consequence of which a score has been seen was for RM Gwynn's XI v I Zingari at the Vice Regal Ground in 1899. Again the match was closely fought on the first innings, Gwynn's XI gaining a two run lead, largely due to rotund but brilliant stroke-making opener Dan Comyn making a typically robust 96. However John was second top score with 20, being caught and bowled by spinner Eliot Bromley-Martin, who missed a Blue at Oxford but was to play in some of Worcestershire's early first class matches. In the second innings as the hosts collapsed - how they missed the services of the captain's elder brother Lucius - John managed 4 being bowled by Edward Dowson a slow left armer, who gained his Blue at Cambridge for four seasons, besides playing for Surrey and making several overseas tours.

John Mahony Maxwell devoted most of the rest of his life to his legal work as a solicitor, being at one time employed in this capacity by the Commission for Charitable Donations and Bequests in Dublin. He practiced from 15, Eden Quay in that City where he was in partnership with his son. He was still active shortly before his death.