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Edward Liddle's Biographies of Irish Cricketers
Archibald Brabazon Sparrow Acheson (Fourth Earl Of Gosford)
  • Born 19 August 1841 Worlingham Hall, nr Beccles, Suffolk
  • Died 11 April 1922 Paddington, London
  • Educated Harrow School
  • Occupation Royal Household Officer
  • Debut 20 May 1867 MCC at Lord's
  • Cap Number 95
  • Style Right-hand bat, right-arm round medium pace
  • Teams Phoenix, I Zingari, MCC, Na Shuler

Archibald Acheson was a member of a land owning family which had settled in Co Armagh in the early 17th Century. The family was responsible for building the town of Markethill and for developing their estate much of which survives today as Gosford Forest Park. The unique neo Norman Gosford Castle is the third house to have stood there, the 1641 rebellion and fire having destroyed its predecessors. Archibald was noted by "Scores and Biographies" as "a good average batsman, fair middle-paced round arm bowler and an excellent field, generally at cover point." However he did little in major cricket.

After appearing for Harrow v Eton with moderate success in 1861, he played his one and only first class match for MCC v Cambridge University in 1864, the year in which he was not only elected a member of the "Premier Club," but succeeded to the Earldom. Against Cambridge, batting low in the order he scored 2 and4*, thus doing little to stave off a heavy innings defeat. He took one wicket, dismissing VK Armitage who was also playing his sole first class match. The University side included HM Hyndman, moderate cricketer but friend and follower of Marx and Engels, who, late in life regretted his failures on the cricket field more than his failure to establish the "dictatorship of the proletariat" in Britain.

In 1866 Acheson played in a 12-a-side match for I Zingari v Ireland in Phoenix Park. Ireland won by 141 runs thanks mostly to some remarkable bowling by the eccentric cleric and academic JP Mahaffy, who fondly imagined himself friend of the crowned heads of Europe. Acheson, who needed no such imagination, batted at 3, falling to Mahaffy for 5 in the first knock and top scoring with 9 in the second! He also took a wicket. He a made several appearances for I Zingari on their Irish tours, again without conspicuous success. His one appearance for Ireland was some what farcical. This was v MCC at Lord's in 1867. Winning the toss, Ireland reached 10 for 0 before rain set in, no further play being possible.

Off the field Acheson was for many years a close friend of Edward VII, particularly when that monarch was Prince of Wales. Acheson held a plethora of royal sinecures including Lord of the Bedchamber to the Prince of Wales. When "Bettie" had finally attained the throne, he played a leading role in the coronation, before becoming Vice Chamberlain to Queen Alexandra. This friendship came at a price for it forced Acheson to pursue an extravagant lifestyle, disastrous for a family always short of money. The Castle had been built with money from the Second Earl's marriage to the heiress of Robert Sparrow of Worlingham and in 1884 Acheson had to sell the books of its famous library to pay racing debts. Shortly before his death, the Castle having already been abandoned apart from shooting parties and Christmas, he was forced to sell its entire contents.

Subsequently it has lived an endangered existence, being variously a POW camp in the early 1940s, an army base in the 1970s, an unsuccessful night club in the 1980s, and is now planned to become luxury flats. Acheson's younger brother EAB Acheson played for Ireland v MCC in 1868 and his great nephews GS and GAT Foljambe played for Nottinghamshire and MCC respectively. His brief biography is in Scores and Biographies Vol 6 and his obituary is in Wisden 1923.