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Edward Liddle's Biographies of Irish Cricketers
William John Kempson
  • Born 23 March 1835, Newcastle upon Tyne
  • Died 21 November 1877, Folkestone Kent
  • Educated Rugby School, Cambridge University
  • Occupation Army Officer
  • Debut 26 August 1857 v Gentlemen of England at Rotunda Gardens, Dublin
  • Cap Number 19
  • Style Right-hand bat
  • Teams Cambridge University, Gentlemen of England

William Kempson was an upper order batsman of sound method but limited success, who gained his blue at Cambridge in 1855, when the University Match was the only first class fixture that Cambridge played. He made his highest score (45) in first class cricket in the first innings. He made four appearances for the Gentlemen of England between 1855 and 1858, without success. His other batting achievement was to score 46 for the University, early in 1855 v The Gentlemen of Cambridgeshire, a team which honoured geographical qualification more in the breach than the observance. This was a low scoring match and he was easily the top scorer.

On graduating he was commissioned in the 99th Regiment and seems to have been stationed in County Cork In 1856, he played for XXII of Cork against Charles Lawrence's United Ireland XI, being dismissed for low scores by fellow Cambridge Blue Joseph McCormick in each innings. It appears that the connection that he had with Ireland was purely a military one. His debut match for Ireland - in eleven-a-side matches - was at Rotunda Gardens, Dublin in 1857 against the Gentlemen of England. Batting at 8, he was dismissed for 8 and 6, falling to CB Fiennes in both innings of a drawn match. He had, however played for XVIII of Ireland against the United England XI at Phoenix Park in September 1856. This match is not included in the player statistics as it involved more than 11 players a side. Kempson batted at 4, but was dismissed for 11 and 2. Historically, the most interesting feature of his innings was that both were terminated by John Wisden, then six years away from founding his Almanack. A number of Kempson's teammates shared his fate!

Kempson was not seen in Irish cricket after 1857, or in English after the following year, at least at a high level. Promoted to Major, he took part in the China War of 1860, one of a series fought for highly inglorious motives! He was involved in heavy fighting both at the capture of the Taku Forts and the surrender of Beijing.