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Edward Liddle's Biographies of Irish Cricketers
The Hon William Lygon Pakenham (Later Fourth Earl of Longford)
  • Born 31 January 1819, Pakenham Hall, Castlepollard, Westmeath
  • Died 19 April 1887, Westminster
  • Educated Winchester College, Hampshire, Oxford University
  • Occupation Army Officer (General) then Politician
  • Debut 17 May 1858 v MCC at Lord's
  • Cap Number 31
  • Style Right hand bat
  • Teams Gentlemen, MCC, Phoenix

William Pakenham was an enthusiastic cricketer, but was much better known for his military and public service than for any deeds on the cricket field. A member of the XI at Winchester, he was one of three of the 1836 side to represent the Gentlemen v Players at Lord's that year. This was a somewhat unusual match. The Gentlemen won a most unlikely result for that time. They did, however, field 22 men, including the great Alfred Mynn, top scorer in the match, who was a sort of Georgian Botham or Flintoff. He also took 8 wickets in the match. Another of the Winchester contingent, AF Lowth, a left armer took 9 wickets.

Pakenham, batting at 19 contributed a pair. Lowth and Darnell, the other schoolboy to play, both went on to gain blues at Oxford but Pakenham never played first class cricket again. At least his pair was achieved against two of the leading bowlers of the day, T Barker, a fast underarmer, who had him caught by the great batsman Fuller Pilch, and John Cobbet a slow right arm bowler. A final oddity of the match was that, though the total aggregate for both teams was only 387, there were no fewer than 96 extras! Pakenham's only other match of importance was his one and only Irish appearance v MCC at Lord's in 1858. The composition of the Irish side suggests that residence in London may not have been a disadvantage to gain selection! This was another low scoring match with Ireland managing only 120 but winning by an innings as Charles Lawrence and Rev Joseph McCormick were unplayable on, as was common at Lord's at the time, a very bad wicket. Pakenham, at 11 was clean bowled by Oxford Blue AF Payne for a duck. Thus ended a far from glorious career in major cricket.

His Army service was more distinguished. Though retiring as a General, he was better known as Colonel of the 5th Northumberland Fusiliers. During the Crimean War and Indian Mutiny, he was Adjutant General to the Forces. This may cast some doubts on his overall military record as shortage of supplies and equipment are known to have been one of the major problems British troops faced in the former conflict. Be that as it may, Pakenham then entered politics sitting in the House of Lords, on the Conservative benches, with rather more distinction than he had played at the other Lord's. Using his English peerage of Baron Silchester, as the Act of Union had deprived the Longfords of their seat at Westminster, he served as under Secretary for War in both the Earl of Derby's and Disraeli's administrations.

His family continued to gain military, political and, more recently, literary distinctions. His grandson, the 7th Earl who was famous for his work for the dispossessed, served briefly, in Harold Wilson's first government, having been given a life peerage as Lord Pakenham, besides being the official biographer of Eamon De Valera and, towards the end of his life, an unlikely supporter of the release of notorious "Moors Murderer" Myra Hyndley. His (WL Pakenham's) great grand daughter is the novelist and historical biographer Antonia Fraser.