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Edward Liddle's Biographies of Irish Cricketers
Lord James Hubert Henry Butler
  • Born 29 August 1847
  • Died 17 April 1867 Islandbridge Barracks, Dublin
  • Educated Harrow School
  • Occupation Army Officer
  • Debut 13 September 1866 v I Zingari at Vice Regal Ground, Dublin
  • Cap Number 88
  • Style Right hand bat, slow underarm bowler
  • Teams Carlow, Kilkenny

Lord Hubert Butler was the third of the six children - and seconds of four sons - of John Butler, Second Marquis is of Ormonde and Frances Paget, the daughter of a well-known Napoleonic War general. The Butler family had come to Ireland with Henry II in 1169 and had been key supporters of the Crown ever since, having previously held the title of Duke of Ormonde.

Hubert was not the only cricketer in the family his elder brother the Second Marquis (John) and his next brother Arthur also playing but not to his level of skill. He was in the Harrow XI in 1865, though in the matches of which scores have been seen, he achieved only one worthwhile score. This was against the Quidnuncs who began by scoring 158. Harrow struggled in reply until Hubert joined all-rounder Jocelyn Amherst in a useful sixth wicket stand. Hubert finished with 30, Amherst who played a number of games for sides such as I Zingari until he joined the Colonial Service, made 61. Harrow totalled 247 but had insufficient time to dismiss their visitors again. Generally such middle order heroics were not needed as Harrow's openers usually made a sound start. They were HH Montgomery, who went on to play for Ireland, before becoming Bishop of Tasmania and having a son called Bernard who thought - wrongly - he knew a lot about cricket but did know a lot about soldiering, and AN "Monkey" Hornby, whose strange juggling of the England batting order at The Oval in 1882 led to a sensational Australian victory and the famous mock obituary for English cricket in "The Sporting Times" which ended, "The Body will be cremated and the Ashes taken to Australia."

Hubert, meanwhile, left Harrow at the end of the Summer Term of 1865 and is to be found playing cricket for both Carlow and Kilkenny. So is Amherst, who has no known Irish connection. It is likely that he and Hubert were friends and that he spent some of the summer at Kilkenny.

Much Hubert's best performance came for Kilkenny XXII against the touring IZ side in the following year, The visitors fielding 12 in this match. . For Kilkenny however, he excelled. He began by taking 9 of the 11 wickets, his elder brother capturing one of the others. It must be said that the visitors' batting was far from strong and the wicket poor. . However it was a notable performance by Hubert, the more so as he was not generally asked to turn his arm over at all. IZ were dismissed for 114 but the hosts also struggled being bowled out for 138. They owed their lead to Hubert who made 35 before being caught. However time ran out with IZ on 34/2.

It was, no doubt, his all-round performance at Kilkenny that gained him a place in the Irish team which now took on the Zingaros at the Vice Regal ground in a 12 a side match. The weather was poor and the wicket worse. The ground had not been used for some time, the Lord Lieutenant specially reopening it for the occasion. Batsmen had a torrid time, Ireland's scores of 105 and 121 being enough to bring them victory by 151 runs. The main agent of victory was JP Mahaffy, academic, raconteur and egotist, who took 9 wickets in the first innings with his slow lobs. In the second he took another 4, with army officer CC Oldfield taking 5. The visitors made 33 and 42.

Hubert had little part in the triumph. He was not asked to bowl. He was scarcely needed and, in any conditions, getting the ball off Mahaffy was almost as hard as getting him to stop talking. Hubert, in company with more than a few others, failed twice with the bat. In the first innings he was out hit wicket for 1 to the slow round arm of Robert Marsham, one of for Blue winning brothers, for 1 while in the second he was not quite so successful being yorked by paceman Archie Smith for 0.

Lord James Hubert Henry Butler was not to play for Ireland again. Indeed I have been unable to find that he ever played another match. Having received his commission, he was stationed at Island Bridge on the banks of the River Liffey when in April 1867; he died suddenly after the briefest of illnesses. The cause of his death was said to have been brain fever. Considering his age it would seem that this was most likely meningitis. He remains a tragic figure among Ireland's "One Cap Wonders."