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Edward Liddle's Biographies of Irish Cricketers
George Booth
  • Born 26 February 1832
  • Died 28 December 1892 Bective, Co Meath
  • Educated Rugby School; Cambridge University
  • Occupation Justice of the Peace High Sherriff for Co Wicklow
  • Debut 28 September 1859 v I Zingari at Phoenix CC
  • Cap Number 38
  • Style Right hand bat; slow underarm - hand unknown
  • Teams Phoenix, Cambridge University, MCC, Vice Regal XI, Co Wicklow, Carlow, Old Cambridge Men

George Booth was a sound upper order batsman who often opened the innings and bowling, an underarmer who sometimes took vital wickets. He came from a prosperous Co Wicklow family, though his father also had property interests in London, owning a mansion in Hyde Park Square. George was sent to school at Rugby, arriving there some twenty years after a certain William Webb Ellis, also a useful cricketer, had given the School's name to another game! George was thus at the school at the time of the famous 1843 match between Rugby and the MCC, fictionalised in "Tom Brown's Schooldays." It is tempting to visualise young George seated under the trees watching Tom, Arthur "Slogger Jack" (or rather their real life counterparts) do battle with "The Marylebone Men", but, if Thomas Hughes is to be believed, the match was played the day after the end of term and all but the XI and those who wished to stay for the match, had gone home. George, unless he was bound for Hyde Park Square, would surely have been en route for Holyhead.

At any rate, having made the XI by 1845, he played in the match himself for two years, it having been transferred from The Close at Rugby School to Lord's. In the first year he was run out for 1 opening the batting but took five MCC wickets in drawn match. That result was repeated the following year, when he was bowled by the professional Henry Royston, a slow round armer for 8 and 6, but took one wicket. He was at Cambridge by 1848 and appears to have been on the fringes of the University XI, though he did not play against Oxford. He did appear twice against Harrow School, for a Cambridge side which included four blues on each occasion. However he met with little success. That almost completed his English matches of which scores have been seen, though as late as 1861 he turned out for MCC against his old school, but did little. One other game may be noted more for two of its participants than the cricket. In 1857 he was in the Old Cambridge Men XI which lost to the University. He contributed 15 in the second innings, one of the better scores. Among his teammates were two who had little or no qualification to be there, John Wisden, and his friend and business partner - later biter commercial rival - John Lillywhite. Though they bowled as effectively as ever they were unable to affect the result.

Back in Ireland, George was seen in a variety of matches, playing for Charles Lawrence's United Ireland XI and the Vice Regal XI as well as for Phoenix and a number of country sides. His two best matches of which a score has been seen were for the United XI in 1857 and for Vice Regal in 1862.

In the former year he opened the batting for a strong XI against XXII of the Curragh Camp. He made 34 at No 1 having a productive third wicket stand with Hugh Despard (45). Lawrence and his fellow bowlers were too much for the military so that George did not bowl again. On the latter occasion, by which time he had already played for Ireland, he was in the Vice Regal XXII v I Zingari on the Vice Regal ground. Opening he topscored with 32, most of the rest of his side making little of the pace of the Lord Lieutenant's ADC, Henry Awkright, a serial destroyer of Irish batting for IZ at this time. George himself was out to the slower bowling of round armer Edward Tredcroft. However in the second innings, as the hosts stumbled to an innings defeat, he could not escape Awkright, being bowled for 0.

His one match for Ireland had come against IZ at Phoenix in 1859, the first of the twenty seven matches between the sides. Ireland went down by an innings. George at No 1, making 10 and 6 falling to the Fiennes brothers CB, in his first knock and WF in his second. The 10 was one of only a handful of double figure scores managed by Ireland in the match, which was dominated by bowlers, with Ireland's master under armer Arthur Samuels, taking 9 wickets in the IZ innings.

George was prominent in public service both as a JP and as Wicklow's High Sherriff. He married Georgina Susanna Arabel Barton, a member of another prominent Wicklow family. They had two sons, both of whom, educated at Harrow, had prominent military careers. Georgina's sister, Anna, married Robert Childers, yet another Wicklow landowner. George was thus the uncle of Erskine Childers, author of "Riddle of the Sands", whose political life took him from being a moderate Home Ruler, and Clerk to the House Of Commons, through the Howth Gun Running in which he sailed his yacht "Asgard", with a consignment of ancient German rifles paid for by his friend the Oxford Blue and Ireland left armer George Berkeley, into Howth harbour, to opposition to the Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1921 and ultimate execution by the Free State government. It is highly unlikely that establishment pillar George Booth, had he lived, would have approved his nephew's final actions.

I am much indebted to Rusty Maclean of Rugby School for valuable information, quickly provided.