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Edward Liddle's Biographies of Irish Cricketers
John Bryson Hampton
  • Born Q4 1897, Belfast
  • Died Q1, 1977, Worthing, West Sussex
  • Educated Masonic Boys' School, Dublin
  • Occupation Unknown
  • Debut 9 August 1926 v MCC at Ormeau, Belfast
  • Cap Number 345
  • Style Right hand bat; right arm fast medium
  • Teams Ulster CC

Jack Hampton was a good opening bowler and useful lower order batsman who was one of the prominent members of the Ulster Club's attack during the 1920s. He was the son, and younger of two children of William and Ruth Hampton of Ormeau Road, Belfast, William being a stockbroker. However the 1911 Census finds no mention of his parents while Jack is a pupil at Masonic Boys' School in Dublin, an institution which provided education for the orphaned sons of Freemasons. Founded in 1867, the School closed one hundred years later, having always been a good cricket nursery. Among Jack's schoolmates there were future Irish internationals Joseph Coskerry, two years older, and Robert Bowers, an exact contemporary. At a later time Masonic was to encourage the development of classic left armer Scott Huey.

When normal cricket resumed after the First World War, Jack became a key member of the Ulster CC at its Ballynafeigh ground, being a member of the side which, in the penultimate year of the Club's existence, won the NCU Challenge Cup, though he did not play a prominent part in this match.

He had, however, produced some good figures in Cup matches in previous seasons. Thus he rescued Ulster after they had been bowled out for a lowish 126 by Lisburn, only reaching this total thanks to good batting by Harold and Finlay Jackson. Jack then led the attack with 4-9 to dismiss the Wallace Park side for a mere 85. However in the second round Ulster were narrowly defeated by North Down. It was the Comber side who put them out of the competition again the following season, winning by 48 runs. This was despite a fine spell of bowling from Jack which brought him 5-68 as North Down posted 168.

The following year saw a second round victory over Lisburn in which Jack played a leading role as an all rounder. Batting first Ulster made 168-9 with Jack, undefeated on 22, ensuring that the tail wagged sufficiently to set a worthwhile target. In fact just about half the amount of runs would have sufficed as he took 5-47 to see Lisburn bowled out for 83. Only Army officer Nelson Russell met him with any confidence. Again, however, the Ballynafeigh side was unable to progress, losing the semi final to Waringstown.

In the first round of the 1923 Cup Ulster outplayed Cliftonville with Jack again prominent. Ulster totalled a distinctly useful 242-5 with Harold Jackson making 102, then Jack ripped through the Cliftonville batting, taking 6-38 as the opposition folded for 80. A semi final defeat at the hands of eventual Cup winners Downpatrick however, ended Ulster's run. The following season saw Jack's best figures in a cup match when Queen's Island were defeated in the second round by 90 runs, being dismissed for 73 with Jack taking 6-23. The shipyard club's topscorer being E Blackburn with 23. In previous years he had often featured in the Ulster attack with Jack. Ulster again fell at the semi final stage to Waringstown though Jack with 3-37 did his best to avoid defeat.

Clearly one of the best bowlers in NCU cricket, he was selected for Ulster (Province) against the West Indian tourists at Ormeau in 1923. This was the Windies' first visit to Ireland though they had visited England twice previously. Not yet a Test side, they had some useful players - particularly in the pace bowling department - and had just soundly beaten a strong Dublin University team. The Ulster - or more correctly NCU XI as no North Westerners were included - had ten former, current, or future Irish internationals in its ranks and gave an excellent account of itself.

Batting first West Indies were dismissed for 158 with Jack, coming on first change after the new ball had been shared by Willie Pollock and Wallace Sproule, took 2-43, having opening bat Percy Tarilton lbw and clean bowling all rounder Joe Small. Tarilton had, four years previously made the then record West Indies first class score of 304* while Small, one of the batting successes of the tour, was later to play in three Tests. Ulster were dismissed for 131 with Jack, at 10, lbw to fastman George John for 5. He had two second wickets, again trapping Tarilton leg before and having future West Indies captain Maurius Fernandes, who had a high reputation but did not live up to it on the tour, caught behind by Jack Dearden. Jack Hampton also again contributed to Small's dismissal, catching him off Holywood off spinner Charlie Anderson. Needing 178, Ulster ran into some hostile pace bowling but finished on 142-8, Jack being undefeated on 0.

When MCC came to Ireland in 1926, two almost completely different sides were selected to face them. That chosen for the two day match at Ormeau, was clearly picked with the local gate in mind though it was captained by the Co Cork aristocrat Sir George Colthurst. It was not helped by seven withdrawals, but Jack, one of six new caps, was an original choice. Opening the bowling when MCC batted first he had the wickets of the first three in the order. Openers Reginald Swalwell, a 53 year old Yorkshireman, who had played for Worcestershire at first class level as well as for his native county's 2nd XI and Daniel Grose, an Army officer who was later to be POW of the Japanese, were both bowled for 8, while the No 3, Hubert De Burgh, top scorer with 50, fell in the same way. De Burgh, who had played for Ireland against Oxford University earlier in the season, was a naval officer whose home was in Naas, Co Kildare. Jack finished with figures of 18-2-64-3 also catching Christopher Foster, son of HK Foster long serving Worcestershire captain, off Jack Fleming. There was never going to be enough time to finish the match, particularly as rain intervened. Jack, who made 6* in his only innings, went wicketless second time around, but was again hostile and impressive.

John Bryson Hampton was not asked to play for Ireland again. There were often problems of availability for northern players at his time but his form for the Ulster club and on his two major representative appearances suggests that this was a mistake.

The Ulster Club had to dissolve after the 1931 season because of ground problems. Many of its prominent cricketers were welcomed into other clubs. However I have been unable to trace if Jack played any further cricket after this year. It will be seen that much information about him is still lacking. We would be most grateful to receive any details which might provide - or lead to providing - it.