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Edward Liddle's Biographies of Irish Cricketers
John Galbraith
  • Born 1829 Co Longford
  • Died 27 October 1915 Chew Magna, Somerset
  • Educated Mr Orr's School, Dublin University
  • Occupation Clergyman
  • Debut 3 September 1860 v All England XI at Palmerston Estate
  • Cap Number 45
  • Style Hand unknown
  • Teams Dublin University, Gentlemen of Dublin, United Ireland XI, Ashton Under Lyme, Cheshire, Stockport, Gentlemen of Cheshire, Gentlemen of Lancashire

John Galbraith was a sound batsman, usually in the upper order, who proved himself well able to hold his own in good class club cricket in England, though his performances in major matches in Ireland did not always promise such success. His exact date of birth has not been found, but he was about 23 when he entered Dublin University in 1853, details of his earlier life would be most welcome. He had a long undergraduateship, receiving his BA in 1861 and playing, though not regularly for the University 1st XI between 1859 and 1861.

His first experience of "big cricket" of which a score has been seen, came at Phoenix CC in July 1860 when he was one of XXII of Ireland who took on Charles Lawrence's United Ireland XI. The XXII were heavily outgunned with the bowling of Lawrence and the underarmer Arthur Samuels proving too much for most batsmen. John was no exception, falling to the professional for 4 in the first innings and to the "Lobster" for 3 in the second.

Nevertheless he was a member of the Irish side, playing as a XXII which hosted the mighty All England XI at the Leinster Ground at Palmerston in September of the same year. Ireland were swept aside as the two great bowlers Edgar Willsher and Crispin Tinley destroyed the batting in both innings. Falling twice to Tinley, John contributed 0 and 2 to the mayhem, but he was not alone in having a double failure. Though they dismissed the professionals for 141, Ireland could only muster totals of 70 and 83, with a first innings 21 from Army officer EA Berger the highest individual score. Nor did John, or Ireland, fare much better in a drawn encounter with the same opposition at Coburg Gardens the following May. Batting first the hosts were put out for 46 with Willsher (9/20) being joined in the destruction by the terrifyingly fast John "Foghorn" Jackson who took 11-21. It was he who disposed of John, batting at No 17, by bowling him for 3. Facing a deficit of 59 when they batted again, Ireland did rather better, reaching 97, but John suffered the worst of dismissals, run out for 0.

His best score in other major matches in Dublin came in the Gentlemen of Dublin v Players of Dublin match which had taken place three weeks before the Coburg game. The Players, composed mostly of soldiers from the Garrison, led by Lawrence, were defeated though their captain with 49 made the top score of the match. He was closely followed by John who, having been out for a duck in the first innings made a fine 45 in the second.

On leaving University John, ordained as an Anglican clergyman, became Curate of St Mary's in Stockport, then very much a Cheshire town, rather than part of Manchester's sprawling metropolis. Here he continued to play cricket, doing so under his own name. This was somewhat unusual for a clergyman at this time as such activities were not considered seemly for " a man of the cloth." Several talented players, such as the mystery bowler Joseph Byrne abandoned the game when settled into parish work, and others, such as the better known Joseph McCormick often turned out under an assumed name. Not so John who played good class cricket for Ashton-under Lyme, Cheshire and the Gentlemen of Cheshire for seven seasons, before a move to Somerset, predated by a spell as a prison chaplain in Salford, ended his playing career.

The first match he played in of which a score has been seen must have seemed like a case of deja vu, as he found himself opening the batting for Ashton against his old adversaries, the All England XI. Perhaps more used now to the professionals wiles he made 23 before Tinley bowled him. Alas "normal service" was resumed in the second innings, Willsher dismissing him for 0!

He played a number of matches for Cheshire - not in any inter county competition - and for the Gentlemen of Cheshire, meeting with moderate success. His best match came for the County XI against Liverpool in 1865 when, opening the batting, he made 50 out of a first innings score of 100 in a drawn match. Merseyside bowling may well have been to his liking as he hit 34 in the corresponding match the following year. The Cheshire side included several well known players including the Hornby brothers. Edward and Cecil were frequent participants while their younger brother Albert (AN) also played on occasions. Better known as "Monkey" he was an excellent batsman who captained Lancashire and England besides being an ambidextrous bowler, who also played rugby for England and football for Blackburn Rovers. He is, however, probably best remembered for leading England in the Oval Test of 1882, when his eccentric second innings batting order contributed towards a sensational Australian victory and the history making mock obituary for English Cricket in the Sporting Times.

Another history maker among John's team-mates was the opening batsman and Oxford blue William Armitstead. They played together against Liverpool in 1867, John again making 34 while William topscored with an elegant 122. His claim to fame, however, arose from a match for Free Foresters against Manchester. In typically gloomy Mancunian weather he claimed that he was unable to see the ball against the umpire's dark clothing. He insisted that the umpire should wear a white garment so that he could pick up the flight of the ball.

The penultimate match of which there is a record of John having played in came in August 1868 for the Gentlemen of Cheshire against their Shropshire counterparts. By now batting further down the order John came in when his side, needing 164 to win, had lost early wickets cheaply. he made a stubborn, undefeated 25 to save the game. His final appearance brought him 10 and 2 for Cheshire against another Liverpool side, Western. Moving to become Vicar of Chew Magna, Somerset, John had a tragically short lived marriage, his wife dying before her time and leaving him with a stepson, born in 1866 and a son Richard who was four years old by the time of the 1881 census. John lived into his mid 80s, leaving the then not inconsiderable sum of 7800 in his will.

NB: This cricketer was previously incorrectly identifies as Professor Joseph Galbraith of Dublin University. While the Professor was also a cricketer and helped to encourage the development of all sport within the University, there is no doubt that the player described above is the man whose varied career in cricket is well worth recording.