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The original London Cricket Club was formed in 1722 and was one of the foremost clubs in English
cricket Cricket is a Bat-and-ball games, bat-and-ball game played between two teams of eleven players each on a cricket field, field at the centre of which is a cricket pitch, pitch with a wicket at each end, each comprising two Bail (cricket), bai ...

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over the next four decades, holding important match status. It is closely associated with the
Artillery Ground The Artillery Ground in Finsbury Finsbury is a district of Central London, forming the south-eastern part of the London Borough of Islington. It borders the City of London. The Manorialism, Manor of Finsbury is first recorded as ''Vinisbir ...
, where it played most of its home matches.


Early history of London cricket

The earliest definite mention of cricket being played anywhere is at
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Guildford
in the 16th century and there can be little doubt that the game had reached London by that time. Even so, there is no written reference to the game in London until 1680. G. B. Buckley, ''Fresh Light on 18th Century Cricket'', Cotterell, 1935. A publication called ''The Post Man'' reported from 21 June 1707 to 24 June 1707 that "two great matches at cricket (to be) plaid, between London and Croydon; the first at Croydon on Tuesday, July 1st, and the other to be plaid in Lamb's-Conduit-Fields, near Holborn, on the Tuesday following, being the 3rd of July". No match reports could be found so the results and scores are unknown (3 July in 1707 was a Thursday). H. T. Waghorn, ''The Dawn of Cricket'', Electric Press, 1906. The 1707 London team may have been just an occasional XI as the foundation date of London Cricket Club is unknown. But it was in existence by 1722 when it was referred to in a match against
Dartford Dartford is the principal town in the Borough of Dartford The Borough of Dartford is a Non-metropolitan district, local government district in the north-west of the county of Kent, England. Its council is based in the town of Dartford. It is ...
.


The Noblemen's and Gentlemen's Club

London Cricket Club was founded and organised by members of what is usually termed the ''Noblemen's and Gentlemen's Club'', which had its headquarters at the ''Star and Garter'' on Pall Mall in London. This gentlemen's club was multi-functional, though essentially of a social and sporting nature, but its purpose was to encourage and enable gambling. For example, its members also founded the
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and were usually involved with organising big
prizefighting Professional boxing, or prizefighting, is regulated, sanctioned boxing Boxing is a combat sport in which two people, usually wearing boxing glove, protective gloves and other protective equipment such as hand wraps and mouthguards, throw Punch ...
events. Cricket throughout the 18th century was funded by gambling interests and attracted huge stakes. Gambling has always had its unsavoury side and eventually the Artillery Ground became a place of ill-repute. The club members became uneasy about associating with a place that was widely known for licentious and, occasionally, riotous behaviour, even though it showcased cricket of the highest class. Cricket was severely impacted by the
Seven Years' War The Seven Years' War (1756–1763) is widely considered to be the first global conflict in history, and was a struggle for world supremacy between Kingdom of Great Britain, Great Britain and Kingdom of France, France. In Europe, the conflict ar ...
from 1756 to 1763 and the number of matches played greatly reduced. There are signs of the game returning to its rural roots during this period and evidently the aristocrats were happy with that development. Apart from four matches in the 1769 English cricket season, there are few mentions of London as a team in the aftermath of the Seven Years' War and many of the references suggest that these teams were in fact occasional "London XIs" rather than representing an organised London club. The Artillery Ground itself began to be used less and less after 1763. A match on 15 September 1778 is the last important one played there. Hambledon was already by then the predominant centre of English cricket and a lot of games were being played at other outlying venues such as
Laleham Burway Laleham Burway is a tract of water-meadow A water-meadow (also water meadow or watermeadow) is an area of grassland Grasslands are areas where the vegetation Vegetation is an assemblage of plant Plants are predominantly photosynthe ...
,
Bourne Paddock Bourne Paddock was a cricket ground at Bourne Park House, the seat of Sir Horatio Mann, at Bishopsbourne around south-east of Canterbury in the English county of Kent. It was a venue for first-class cricket matches from 1766 to 1790. The ground w ...
and
Sevenoaks Vine The Vine Cricket Ground, also known as Sevenoaks Vine, is one of the oldest cricket venues in England. It was given to the town of Sevenoaks in Kent in 1773 by John Frederick Sackville, 3rd Duke of Dorset (1745–1799) and owner of nearby Knole Hou ...
. London for the time being had been abandoned. It is reasonable to assume that the London Cricket Club was disbanded during the Seven Years' War. With its demise and the war situation, the "honourable gentlemen" retreated to the countryside and founded or at least augmented the
Hambledon Club The Hambledon Club was a social club that is famous for its organisation of 18th century cricket matches. By the late 1770s it was the foremost cricket club in England. Foundation The origin of the club, based near Hambledon, Hampshire, Hambledo ...
, which was the main centre of cricket from about 1765 for the next twenty years. In the early 1780s, the gentlemen decided to re-establish themselves in the vicinity of London and founded the
White Conduit Club The White Conduit Club (WCC) was a cricket club based on the northern fringes of London that existed between about 1782 until 1788. Although short-lived, it had considerable significance in the history of the game, as its members created Lord's Ol ...
in
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. But they were not happy about the environment of
White Conduit Fields White Conduit Fields in Islington was an early venue for cricket and several major matches are known to have been played there in the 18th century. It was the original home of the White Conduit Club, forerunner of Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC). L ...
and commissioned
Thomas Lord Thomas Lord (23 November 1755 – 13 January 1832) was an English professional cricket Cricket is a Bat-and-ball games, bat-and-ball game played between two teams of eleven players on a cricket field, field at the centre of which is a cr ...
to find a "more private venue". He opened
Lord's Old Ground Lord's Old Ground was a cricket Cricket is a Bat-and-ball games, bat-and-ball game played between two teams of eleven players on a cricket field, field at the centre of which is a cricket pitch, pitch with a wicket at each end, each comprisi ...
in 1787 in
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. The gentlemen moved their cricketing interests there and reinvented themselves as
Marylebone Cricket Club Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) is a cricket club founded in 1787 and based since 1814 at Lord's Cricket Ground Lord's Cricket Ground, commonly known as Lord's, is a cricket Cricket is a Bat-and-ball games, bat-and-ball game played betw ...
(MCC), which is thus a direct continuation of the old London Cricket Club.


Players

Very little is known of London's players during its heyday, from the 1720s to the 1760s. The following are the names that have been recorded by the season in which they are first mentioned in the sources. * 1726 – Perry (took part in the earliest known single wicket match) * 1731 – "the famous" Tim Coleman * 1732 – Christopher Jones (Artillery Ground keeper) * 1735 – Cook, Dunn, Ellis (London's "best bowler"), Marshall, Pool, Wakeland, Wheatley * 1739 – John Bowra,
Lord John Sackville Lord John Philip Sackville (22 June 1713 – 3 December 1765) was the second son of Lionel Sackville, 1st Duke of Dorset. He was a keen cricketer who was closely connected with the sport in Kent. He was Member of Parliament (MP) for Tamworth (U ...
* 1744 – Little Bennett, Tall Bennett, George Smith (Artillery Ground keeper), Butler, Hodder, Howlett, Norris * 1745 – William Anderson, Norton * 1747 – Thomas Jure * 1748 – George Carter, John Capon, Walker * 1753 –
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* 1755 – Clowder * 1759 – Gascoigne


Matches

In the 1720s, the London club seemed to share its time between
Kennington Common Kennington Common was a swathe of common land Common land is land owned by a person or collectively by a number of persons, over which other persons have certain common rights, such as to allow their livestock to graze upon it, to collect wo ...
and
White Conduit Fields White Conduit Fields in Islington was an early venue for cricket and several major matches are known to have been played there in the 18th century. It was the original home of the White Conduit Club, forerunner of Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC). L ...
but it increasingly began to use the Artillery Ground from 1730. The 1730s were the glory days of London Cricket Club and it completely dominated the cricket scene, especially given its royal and aristocratic patronage. One of the earliest good players mentioned is "the famous Tim Coleman" who was referred as such in 1731 when it was rare to see any player named in the newspapers. London's main opponents in the 1730s were
Croydon Croydon is a large town in South London, England that gives its name to the London Borough of Croydon. It is one of the largest commercial districts in Greater London, with an extensive shopping district and night-time economy. The entire town ...
and
Dartford Dartford is the principal town in the Borough of Dartford The Borough of Dartford is a Non-metropolitan district, local government district in the north-west of the county of Kent, England. Its council is based in the town of Dartford. It is ...
. They played matches against various other parish clubs and sometimes took on county sides, mainly
Kent Kent is a county A county is a geographical region of a country used for administrative or other purposesChambers Dictionary The ''Chambers Dictionary'' (''TCD'') was first published by William Chambers (publisher), William and Robert ...
,
Surrey Surrey () is a county A county is a geographical region of a country used for administrative or other purposesChambers Dictionary The ''Chambers Dictionary'' (''TCD'') was first published by William Chambers (publisher), William and R ...
and
Sussex Sussex (), from the Old English Old English (, ), or Anglo-Saxon, is the earliest recorded form of the English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, e ...
. There is sometimes confusion in the reports when London is identified with
Middlesex Middlesex (; abbreviation: Middx) is a Historic counties of England, historic county in South East England, southeast England. Its area is almost entirely within the wider urbanised area of London and mostly within the Ceremonial counties of En ...
and ''vice versa'' but, in general, London means the club and Middlesex was a team of players born in the county who were not necessarily of the London club. The club's best season may have been the 1732 season when it was unbeaten. As a report recounts after the final match: ''This is the thirteenth match the London gamesters have played this year and not lost one match''. As the 1730s progressed, London continued to be generally successful. From time to time, challengers appeared. Chertsey Cricket Club first made its mark in the 1736 English cricket season, 1736 season and London also had some tight contests against Chislehurst in the late 1730s. But the biggest challenge to London's dominance emerged in the 1741 English cricket season, 1741 season. This was Slindon Cricket Club, Slindon which starred the great all-rounder Richard Newland (cricketer), Richard Newland and was backed by the Charles Lennox, 2nd Duke of Richmond, Duke of Richmond. After Slindon beat Surrey "almost in one innings" at the end of that season, it was inevitable they would come to the Artillery Ground and play London. This happened in 1742 when two matches were played against a background of furious gambling with huge wagers being laid against Newland's expected performance. London prevailed, winning the first match "with great difficulty" and then, having been assisted by the weather, thrashing Slindon by 184 runs in the second. It was London's turn to be thrashed in 1743 when they played another of the "great little clubs": Addington Cricket Club who, on their first appearance at the Artillery Ground, easily won by an innings and 4 runs. Addington did have the great player Robert Colchin as a given man. In 1744, Slindon were back and in June they beat London by 55 runs in a match whose scores have been preserved by the earliest known cricket scorecard.West Sussex Records Office. Slindon beat London again in September and proceeded to issue their audacious challenge to play against any parish in England. London did not take up the challenge: only Addington and Bromley Cricket Club, Bromley felt able to respond. There was a noticeable increase in the popularity of single wicket contests in the late 1740s although the London club often arranged these at the Artillery Ground. In the eleven a side game, county matches or games involving "best elevens" were the norm and, as the 1750s began, London was really playing parish matches only unless it had several given men.


References


Further reading

* Harry Altham, ''A History of Cricket, Volume 1 (to 1914)'', George Allen & Unwin, 1962. * Derek Birley, ''A Social History of English Cricket'', Aurum, 1999. * Rowland Bowen, ''Cricket: A History of its Growth and Development'', Eyre & Spottiswoode, 1970. * David Underdown, ''Start of Play'', Allen Lane, 2000. {{Authority control Former senior cricket clubs English cricket teams in the 18th century Sports clubs established in the 1720s English club cricket teams Cricket teams in London 1722 establishments in England