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Edward Liddle's Biographies of Irish Cricketers
Archibald Frederick Penny
  • Born 28 January 1867, Dublin
  • Died September 1933, Newton Abbot, Devon
  • Educated Dublin University
  • Occupation "Captain Royal Fusiliers" (1911 Census Entry)
  • Debut 8 August 1888 v Scotland at Rathmines
  • Cap Number 198
  • Style Right hand batsman; slow right arm off break
  • Teams Leinster; Dublin University

Archie Penny. a tall - indeed at 6 feet 2 very tall for his time - slow right arm bowler and stone walling tailender who sometimes erupted into violent slogging, had a brief but very successful time in Irish cricket before leaving for England, where he had a- at least partial - military career. He later appears to have returned to Ireland but did not take part in any further major cricket as far as it has been possible to ascertain. He came from a cricketing background.

His father James Samuel Penny was a key member of the Civil Service club in Dublin in its early years and also appeared for XXII of Dublin against Charles Lawrence's United Ireland XI on more than one occasion. Archie's two uncles were also Civil Service players of some repute but the best known cricketer in the family, apart from Archie himself, was his elder brother John, a slow bowler and hard hitting lower order bat, who made his name for Leinster and Ireland before emigrating to Australia.

Archie's Irish matches began with two appearances in 1888, these and the remainder of international career, which resumed in 1892 are considered below. Meanwhile having entered Dublin University in the winter of 1891, at the somewhat late age of 24, he was three years in the XI from 1892 before abandoning his belated academic career without having taken a degree. During these three seasons he took 131 wickets at 12.80, his best year being his first when he had 62 scalps at 10.70. He was undoubtedly helped by the strength of the team which included Jack Meldon, in the first year, the elder two Gwynn brothers, Dan Comyn and Clem Johnson as well, again in the first season only, as Frank Browning. It was small wonder that they were the strongest club side Ireland and gave a good account of themselves in their three day matches.

After taking 3-56 against Cambridge University in 1892, a match specially arranged as cricket's contribution to the Dublin University tercentenary, he shone during their great season of 1893 when they were unbeaten and inflicted defeats on Leicestershire, Warwickshire and Oxford University. On tour, they beat Leicestershire by 136 runs in the first game; Archie opening the attack had 9-124 in the match. He made little impact in the sensational win over Warwickshire at Edgbaston, but moving to Leyton had 3-56 in a rain affected draw with Essex.

Leicestershire and Essex were still a year or two away from first class status, but they were strong enough to prove Archie's worth. Back in Ireland the team faced a full strength Oxford side in College Park. A famous victory was recorded, Archie taking four wickets in each innings to return match figures of 8-80. Further, forsaking his normal dead bat defence, he hit a lusty 28 to help propel the hosts to a valuable 84 run first innings lead. His last appearance in a match of this nature came in 1894 against Gloucestershire. Gloucestershire meant WG who was not happy. He complained about the wicket - too much grass - and the umpiring. The latter complaint possibly had some merit. He was adjudged lbw to Archie for 44 when most observers though he the ball had struck his hip on its way down the leg side. Archie, who finished with 7-105 also, had the wicket of the Australian paceman JJ Ferris. The match finished inside two days with the county winning by 9 wickets. A further one day game was arranged, making the Doctor work for the fee he had demanded. This time the hosts had the better of a draw which saw Grace make only 16, again out to Archie.

Archie's 1888 Irish debut was a historic game, the first ever fixture between Ireland and Scotland. Played at Rathmines it resulted in a resounding win for Ireland in which Archie played a major part. He came into the side as a substitute for Henry Bruen, son of Sir Henry the MP who had played for Ireland in 1858 and himself an excellent slow bowler. Scotland batted first and had reached 30 without loss before Archie, first change, removed the Welsh born opener AW Evans for 5. Thereafter he and the talented Australian all rounder John Fitzgerald ran through the visitors bowling them out for 65, Archie finishing with the noteworthy figures of 27 - 17 - 22 - 6. When the Scots batted again he opened the bowling and had taken two quick wickets before his captain JW Hynes brought himself on instead. The move worked but had surely deprived Archie of 10 in the match on debut. He retained his place in the team for the Zingari match at the end of the season.

He had three wickets in the match, including that of ME Crawley a member of a family that spanned three generations and produced eight first class cricketers, but his major contribution was with the bat, even though he was dismissed without scoring in the first innings. At 10 in the second he hit a crucial 34 forsaking his normal methods. First he and the opening bowler Army officer Herbert Woodgate added 48 hitting the bowling to all parts of the ground, then when Woodgate was out Archie continued to lay about him, completely collaring the bowling. He finished with 34, having put the match beyond the visitors' reach.

Despite these performances Archie disappeared from the Irish side, until the IZ match of 1892, owing his selection in this match to his University performance outlined above. He played a notable part in an Irish victory by an innings and 71 runs. IZ batted first and were put out for 70 with Archie, at first change, having the figures of 8 - 2 - 15 - 4, sharing the wickets with future South African opening bowler Clem Johnson (5-23). Then, having conceded a deficit of 133, IZ crumbled again with Archie having 4-24 and classic slow left armer bud Hamilton a "5 for". Archie's haul showed a preference for dismissing rugby internationals, the Scotsman JG Walker, captain of IZ, falling to him in both innings and England international GF Vernon in the first. Both were; of course, fine cricketers also, Oxford blues and regular Middlesex players, Vernon also having one Test cap, gained on Ivor Bligh's tour of Australia in 1882/83, when the famous Ashes urn made its entry into cricket history.

Archie was, thus, an automatic score for Jack Meldon's side on its North American tour in the autumn. In all matches, including those played against the odds and not now seen as official cap matches, he took - according to the report in the 1892 "Lillywhite" 28 wickets at 11.50 - second only to Hamilton who had 49 - and scored 154 runs at 19.20. This put him an unlikely third in the batting averages and was greatly aided by six not outs. Bowling well in the odds matches, for example taking 7 wickets in the first innings in a win against XV of Baltimore and Lowell, he reserved his best performances for the wins against All New York, at Staten Island CC and the first of the three Philadelphia matches.

Against All New York he had 4-52 and 5-93 as he and Hamilton proved too much for their hosts, despite a first innings 91 from the English professional George Tyres and 58 in the second by JH Lambkin, formerly of Cork County. Against Philadelphia at Manheim, Ireland returned a surprising 127 runs victory, having been 77-6 against the bowling of HP "Parson" Baily, a medium pacer, and JB "Bart" King. The great Bart had not then developed his lethal swing, but delivered the ball at great speed. Archie, at 8, decided to lay about him from the start.

Helped by terrible American fielding - at a conservative estimate he was missed five times - he took the Irish score to 175, finishing undefeated on 59. Eventually, thanks to stalwart second innings batting by opener MW Gavin (90) and - missed four times - Jack Meldon (81), Ireland were able to set their hosts 291 to win. Archie and Hamilton were responsible for the epic victory. In the words of the authorative "History of Philadelphia Cricket", "Their two slow bowlers Hamilton... and Penny, slow right arm with a big off break, were on top of our batsmen from the start." Archie had three wickets, a haul he repeated in the second innings of the next match, which, however, the Philadelphians won by 23 runs. He did little in the third game which was drawn.

The following summer was his last for Ireland and he again showed his class. His match figures of 6-31 helped Ireland record a victory over I Zingari while he also bowled well on the short tour of England, taking 17 wickets, including two "5 fors". In the draw against United Services - the forerunner of the Combined Services side - at Portsmouth, he had a first innings 5-72 causing a minor collapse, the wicket was, however too good for Ireland to force a win. At the Oval, against a weak Surrey Club and Ground XI, he had figures of 15 - 3 - 38 - 6, but again, though he took a further two in the second innings, the match was left drawn, though this time rain was the culprit.

Apart for his match for the University against Gloucestershire he was not seen in major cricket the following season and may well have left the country. He briefly reappeared in 1896 turning out for RM Gwynn's XI v I Zingari at Phoenix CC. IZ won with some ease but with four first innings wickets, Archie clearly had lost none of his touch.

In the Irish Census 1911, he describes himself as Captain in the Royal Fusiliers. However the Army Lists for the decade before show him as a captain the territorial Middlesex Fusiliers and suggest that he does not appear at all in the 1911 list or thereafter. What is certain is that he was a "musketeer instructor" and took part in the Boer War being involved in "Operations in the Orange River Colony." He was awarded the Queen's Medal and two clasps. " He married Isma Kearns in Birr in 1920. They lived In Cork for a while before moving to England partly because of the Troubles. Life was not easy for them and no will has been found for him. They had a son and it to his son, Archie's grandson David, that I am indebted for this family information.

Archibald Frederick Penny is featured in Siggins and Fitzgerald's "Ireland's 100 Cricket Greats."