Hugh Bromley-Davenport and the first First-Class hat-trick in West Indies


Hugh Bromley-Davenport, born August 18, 1870, was the first man to perform a hat-trick in First-Class cricket in the West Indies. Pradip Dhole sketches the life and career of the left-arm fast bowler who shares the longest surnames among Test cricketers with Laxman Sivaramakrishnan.

A run-up through time

The story of the Davenport family takes us back in time till the first half of the 13th century, when a Roger de Davenport, Lord of Davenport, was known to have held the hereditary office of Master Serjeant of the Peace for Macclesfield, Cheshire, England in the 1250s. The Davenports has initially been residents of their seat at Woodford, but had later moved to Capesthorne Hall, Macclesfield, the property still being in the possession of the family. Several generations later, there was to be a man of the Cloth in the family known as the Rev Walter Davenport, MA from Oxford University, who was to assume the additional surname of Bromley by a Royal License dated 10 Sep/1822, the family from then on going by the hyphenated moniker of Bromley-Davenport.

Among the progeny of the Rev Walter Bromley-Davenport mentioned above was one William, born on 20 Aug/1821. This William turned out to be a model citizen, becoming a Justice of the Peace and a Member of Parliament from North Warwick besides being a Lieutenant Colonel and later, the Commanding Officer, of the Staffordshire Yeomanry.

It is reported by Neil Coley in his book Lichfield Pubs that it was in June/1884 that trouble had broken out in central Lichfield when an inebriated group of men belonging to the Staffordshire Yeomanry had stormed into the Garrick Theatre during a performance of Gilbert and Sullivan’s Princess Ida with the intention of visiting the actresses’ dressing rooms. When they had been prevented from doing so, fighting had broken out, the disturbance soon spilling out onto the street, with locals joining in the fray.

Word of the civil unrest had soon reached the ears of Colonel William Bromley-Davenport, Commanding Officer of the Staffordshire Yeomanry. In his haste to reach the trouble spot as quickly as possible, the 63-year old conscientious officer had passed away en route of a sudden cardiac arrest on 6 June/1884. The Colonel had earlier married Augusta Elizabeth, daughter of Walter Frederick Campbell, on 6 July/1858. Among the children of the couple had been four sons, the fourth, subsequently christened Hugh Richard, being born on 18 Aug/1870 at ancestral seat of Capesthorne Hall, Siddington, Cheshire.

 The Cambridge cricketer

The young scion of the old and well-respected Cheshire family was been sent to Eton College, and his cricket profile shows that he was as an active member of the first XI from June/1886 to July/1889, and was captain of the First XI in his last 2 years. A well-built lad, he gradually developed into a right-hand batsman and left-arm fast bowler. Even before he wore the mantle of the captaincy of his school team, he came to be recognised as the best Public School bowler of the 1887 season. In his 12 matches for Eton, Bromley-Davenport captured 39 wickets at 18.60, 21 of his victims being bowled and 16 caught.

Following the logical trend, the next step in the education of Bromley-Davenport was accomplished at Trinity Hall of Cambridge University, where he was admitted following his Matriculation from Eton in the Easter term of 1890. He acquired a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1893, and his Blues in cricket for the years 1892 and 1893.

Hugh Bromley-Davenport made his first-class debut playing for Cambridge University against CI Thornton’s XI at Fenner’s Ground from 12 May/1892, as one of 2 debutants in the game, both for Cambridge, the other being the right-hand batsman and slow left-arm orthodox bowler James Douglas. It was a fairly strong ‘varsity team, led by the Honourable Stanley Jackson, and having in the ranks a handful of players, including the underarm bowler Digby Jephson, who were to later enjoy fruitful careers in first-class cricket.

The opposition was strengthened by the presence of the likes of the Lancashire and Yorkshire slow left-arm orthodox bowler Johnny Briggs, in addition to skipper Arthur Webbe, the right-arm fast bowler from Middlesex, and the Australian Test cricketers Billy Murdoch, JJ Ferris and Sammy Woods.

The visitors batted first and scored 215 all out, with good hands from opener Herbie Hewett (46) and Murdoch (67*). For the undergrads, skipper Jackson took 4/44 and Bromley-Davenport had 1/53. The Cambridge 1st innings produced a total of 117 all out, Jackson contributing 53 runs. JJ Ferris had a haul of 5/25. The total was not good enough and Cambridge were invited to follow on the second day.

When the 1st wicket produced a stand of 115 between openers Robert Douglas (69) and Norman Cooper (45), the undergrads may have begun to feel a little more confidence creeping into their batting. A good all-round batting display, in which there were only 2 scores in single figures, led to a total of 368 all out at stumps on the second day. Skipper Jackson (67) scored his second fifty of the game, and Bromley-Davenport, batting at # 9, produced a robust 46*.

Requiring 271 runs for a victory on the last day of the game, the visitors were dismissed for 173, with debutants Bromley-Davenport (4/22 from his 14.2 overs) and James Douglas (3/66 from his 26 overs) both excelling with the ball to facilitate a 97-run victory for Cambridge University.

In all, Bromley-Davenport played 17 matches for Cambridge University, scoring 286 runs with a highest of the 46* from his debut game, at an average of 16.82. He took 48 wickets at 20.37, with best figures of 4/18 against the MCC at Fenner’s Ground in May/1892. Of his 48 victims, 10 were bowled and 35 caught. He played 2 matches against the traditional rivals Oxford University, one in 1892 and the other in 1893, earning his Blues for the years.

Off to West Indies

It was a Dr Richard Benjamin Anderson, FRCS, a well-known Doctor, planter, and merchant, who had been residing at Tobago for the last 23 years, who had first mooted the idea of a team of English amateur cricketers touring the cricket-playing territories of the West Indies during the winter of 1894/95. With the active assistance and encouragement of such benefactors as Lord Hawke, Lord Stamford, and Mr. Neville Lubbock, the idea was soon translated into reality when a 13-member squad was chosen under the leadership of the Middlesex right-hand batsman Robert Slade Lucas. The standard of the assembled players was thought to be of a fairly good second-class cricket team, with only 2 players, skipper Slade Lucas and Bromley-Davenport having played first-class cricket in England in the recent past.

The team was scheduled to play 16 matches on the tour in all, though only 8 of the games would be accorded first-class status. Departing from Southampton on the RMS Medway, of the Royal Mail Steam Packet Company, plying to the West Indies and South America, on 16 Jan/1895, the team reached Barbados on 28 Jan/1895. The first match of the tour, against Barbados, began the very next day.

Bromley-Davenport played in all 8 of the first-class games, scoring 212 runs at 19.27, with a highest of 91 in the second game against Barbados. He captured the most wickets for Slade Lucas’ XI on the tour, 57 first-class wickets at 10.01, with best figures of 7/17 (his best first-class bowling figures) in the first game against Demerara, when he also had 1st innings figures of 6/22 in the game. Let us examine this particular match in a little more detail.

Saturday, the 16th of March/1895 dawned bright and clear and Bourda, Georgetown, wore a festive air as the home skipper Russell Garnett and Slade Lucas went out for the toss for the scheduled 2-day game. The home team won the toss and chose to bat first. The 1st innings was all over in 37.1 (5-ball) overs, the total reaching a very inadequate 73 all out. One man, however, emerged from the debacle with his honour intact and with his head held high.

Opener Majoribanks Keppel North, making his first-class debut, carried his bat gallantly for 32 runs in the melee of batsmen coming in and going out in a rush. This was the second instance of a batsman carrying his bat in any first-class match in the West Indies, the precedent having been set by Frederick Bonham Smith, skipper of the Barbados team playing against Demerara at Bridgetown in a 2-day game in Feb/1865.

Smith had scored 50* in a 2nd innings total of 124 all out. This was the first match of first-class stature ever played in the West Indies, and all 22 players were making their first-class respective debuts in the game. FB Smith distinguished himself further by also capturing 10 wickets in the match. His younger brother, Augustus, apart from opening the batting with him in both innings, also captured 8 wickets in the game.

North’s 32* was the lowest for anyone carrying his bat in a first-class match played in the West Indies at the time, and the unwanted record was to remain in force for 84 years until Tobago opener Clint Gabriel Yorke carried the record even lower with 23* in a 1st innings total of 73 all out (amazing similarity!) against North Trinidad at Port of Spain in Jan/1979.

Returning to the account of the match between Slade Lucas’ XI and Demerara, the visitors used only 2 bowlers who bowled through the innings, round-arm slow bowler Fred Bush, who captured 4/43 from his 19 overs, and Hugh Bromley-Davenport, the left-arm fast bowler, who had figures of 6/22 from his 18.1 overs. The first day’s play ended with the visitors on 94/4. On the second day, Lucas’ XI were dismissed for 119.

When the home team batted a second time, their performance amounted to a miserable 46 all out in 22.3 overs, Bush and Bromley-Davenport again bowling unchanged through the innings. Bush had 3/27 from his 11.3 overs whilst Bromley-Davenport’s figures were 7/17 (his career-best first-class bowling figures) from his 11 overs. Bromley-Davenport’s 2nd innings figures included a hat-trick, with the 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th wickets all falling at the total of 42.

This hat-trick by Bromley-Davenport was the first ever achieved in the history of first-class cricket in the West Indies.

Almost 2 years later, in a match between Barbados and Arthur Priestley’s team of visiting English amateur cricketers played at Kensington Oval, Bridgetown, from 21 Jan/1897, a 27-year old English school-teacher affiliated to the famous Harrison College of Bridgetown, and a furiously fast right-arm bowler of his day, named Arthur Somers-Cocks (another hyphenated name!), playing under the banner of Barbados, would become the first player representing any West Indian team to register a first-class hat-trick.

 Back to the Blighty … and the Veld

Back in England after the Caribbean tour in the summer of 1895, Hugh Bromley-Davenport took up a career in business, becoming a member of the London Stock Exchange, and later becoming a Stockbroker at Pyrford, Surrey, in 1911. Busy with building up a professional career at this time, he was not able to play cricket very regularly in the 1895 season, only turning out occasionally for the Gentlemen of England and the I Zingari.

Meanwhile, stirring events were taking place in South Africa. James Douglas Logan, a Scottish immigrant in the land of the veldt, and a millionaire with an enormous empire in real estate and other enterprises, was making a name for himself as one of the founding fathers of South African cricket. A man of far-reaching influence in high places, and one known to be close to the legendary Cecil Rhodes, James Douglas Logan was being spoken of respectfully in South Africa as the “Laird of Matjiesfontein.”

During one of his “home” visits in 1894, Logan sought the assistance of George Lohmann, the Surrey legend and his frequent house guest in South Africa, to arrange a meeting with Lord Hawke, an institution in himself as far as English cricket went. Logan offered financial and logistic assistance if His Lordship could arrange for an English team to tour South Africa in the 1895/96 English winter. Logan’s persuasive tongue resulted in the arrangement of the 13th English Test playing tour, and the 3rd Test playing tour to South Africa between November/1895 and March/1896.

The touring party of 14 selected players included 3 professional cricketers in fast bowler George Lohmann, slow bowler Edwin Tyler, and opening batsman Tom Hayward. Travelling by sea, the tourists assembled at Cape Town by the last week of December/1895. The tourists were immediately affected by the famous “Jameson Raid” of the Transvaal Republic orchestrated by Dr LS Jameson over the New Year and were held up at Cape Town by about 10 days. Ultimately, the English tourists played 18 matches in all on the tour, including 3 Tests, and one other first-class game.

The Irish fire-brand, and skipper of the England team, Sir Tim O’Brien, and skipper-wicketkeeper Ernest Halliwell of the home team went out for the toss on the Thursday, 13 Feb/1896 at St. George’s Park, Port Elizabeth for the scheduled 3-day Test match, the first of a 3-Test series. There were 15 Test debutants that day, 8 for England, and 7 for the home team. One of the visiting debutants was Hugh Bromley-Davenport, in the exalted company of the likes of Lord Hawke himself, Tom Hayward, CB Fry, and Ledger Hill, and three others. The number 93 was to be retrospectively attributed to Bromley-Davenport’s first England cap.

Although winning the toss, the home skipper decided to put England in to bat, and 21 wickets fell on the first day. The England 1st innings ended at 185 all out with Hayward and Fry scoring 30 and 43 respectively. Bromley-Davenport, surprisingly batting ahead of Lord Hawke, contributed 26 runs. For the home team, slow left-arm orthodox bowler James “Bonnor” Middleton, one of the home team debutants, captured 5/64, while Joseph Willoughby, making both his Test as well as first-class debut in the game, took 2/54. The England innings lasted 70.4 (5-ball) overs.

The South African 1st innings was a very brief affair, and was completed in 30.4 overs with a score-line reading 93 all out. There were only 3 men in double figures: openers Thomas Routledge (22), and Frank Hearne of Kent and the MCC, and having already played 2 Test matches for England against South Africa in 1889, top scoring in the innings with 23. The other man was skipper-wicketkeeper Halliwell (13) from lower down the order. The main wicket-taker for England was George Lohmann, bowling through the innings, and taking 7/38. Opening the bowling with Lohmann, Bromley-Davenport had figures of 2/46. The first day’s play ended when England wicketkeeper Harry Butt, opening the batting, was dismissed for a duck before any runs had been scored by the visiting team.

The Friday of the Test happened to be Valentine’s Day, always associated with varying aspects of romantic love from the time of the great English poet Geoffrey Chaucer of the 14th century. There was very little love lost between the combatants of the Test match, however, as the events of the day were to prove. The England 2nd innings realised 226 runs in 80.4 overs, with only one batsman, Australian Sam Woods (53) scoring a fifty. Middleton (4/66) was again the chief wicket-taker for the home team, supported by all-rounder Jimmy Sinclair (3/68), and by Willoughby (2/68).

That left the home team a matter of 319 runs, the highest total for the match, to win the Test. Alas, the 2nd innings of the home team lasted only 18.4 overs during which only 30 runs were scored for the loss of their 10 wickets. South Africa were to reproduce their all-time lowest Test total of 30 all out in their 1st innings against England in the 1st Test at Birmingham in June/1924. The only one in double figures was the military man Robert Poore (10), making his debut in the match. The fall of wickets column read like this: 1-4 (Routledge), 2-11 (Hearne), 3-11 (Sinclair), 4-18 (Fichardt), 5-18 (Poore), 6-28 (Halliwell), 7-29 (Hime), 8-30 (Cook), 9-30 (Middleton), 10-30 (Willoughby, 18.4 overs).

Bowling an extraordinary and unchanged spell, George Lohmann had figures of 9.4-5-7-8, his best Test figures till date. Lohman’s figures included a hat-trick in the 2nd innings with the wickets of Cook, Middleton, and Willoughby, the last 3 wickets falling at the total of 30. This was the 4th hat-trick in Test history and the 3rd Test hat-trick by an England bowler. Bromley-Davenport and Hayward picked up 1 wicket apiece as the scheduled 3-day match ended on the second day, with England winning the Test by 288 runs.

Lohmann was to improve upon his own record in the 2nd Test played at Old Wanderers, Johannesburg, from 2 March/1896. England won the Test very convincingly by an innings and 197 runs after Tom Hayward (122) scored his maiden century, Fry (64) and Hill (65) propped up the middle order, and Bromley-Davenport executed the coup de grace with an innings of 84 from # 9 (his highest Test score) to take the 1st innings total to 482 all out, spread over the best of 2 days.

Lohmann then achieved bowling figures of 14.2-6-28-9 as South Africa were dismissed for 151 in their 1st innings. This was the first instance in Test history of any bowler capturing 9 wickets in an innings, Lohmann also capturing his 100th Test wicket, in this, his 16th Test match collecting 3 more wickets when South Africa followed on.

In all, Hugh Bromley-Davenport played 4 Test matches for England, all in South Africa, 3 against South Africa on the 1895/96 series, and one against South Africa as part of the second tour of Lord Hawke’s XI for the 1898/99 series. He scored 128 Test runs at 21.33 with a highest of 84, as mentioned above. Bromley-Davenport’s 4 Test wickets came at 24.25.

Joined by 16 letters

Surprisingly, Bromley-Davenport made his Championship debut rather late in his career, while representing Middlesex against Yorkshire at Lord’s from 21 May/1896. It was not a very memorable debut for him, with scores of 6 and 0 and no wickets in a match that Yorkshire won by 10 wickets. In his 3 years with Middlesex, Bromley-Davenport played 28 matches for his county, scoring 212 runs at 18.94, with a highest of 69*, and 5 fifties. He took 15 wickets for Middlesex at 40.20 without any five-wicket hauls.

In a first-class career spanning 7 years, from 1892 to 1899, Hugh Bromley-Davenport played 76 matches, scoring 1801 runs at 18.37, with a highest of 91 for Lucas’ XI against Barbados at Bridgetown in Feb/1895. He had 11 fifties and held 48 catches. His bag of 187 first-class wickets came at 17.92, with best figures of 7/17, as noted above.

Almost 29 years old when he played his last first-class match, for Arthur Webbe’s XI against his old alma mater, Cambridge University, at his old haunt of Fenner’s Ground, from 11 May/1899, Bromley-Davenport scored 2 and 34, but took no wickets, as the undergraduates won the game by an innings and 62 runs.

On a personal front, Bromley-Davenport’s business interests in the City were taking up more and more of his time at this stage of his life. He was almost 36 years old and living at 2, Gerard Road, SW 13, when he married Muriel Coomber, CBE and JP, the youngest daughter of John Head, on 26 April/1906, the ceremony being solemnised at St. Peter’s, Pimlico. They had 2 children, Joan, born on 24 Feb/1907, and Richard Anthony, born on 2 June/1910. In later years, Muriel, a well-known social worker in her own right, was to serve as Honorary Secretary of the Invalid Comforts Fund for Prisoners in 1918, and as Honorary Manager, British Red Cross Prisoners of War Department Invalids Comforts Section, in 1944.

When World War I broke out in 1914, Bromley-Davenport was 44 years old. He nevertheless volunteered his services for the War effort and was accepted as a Lieutenant in the Special List at the Physical and Bayonet Training facility for army men being readied for combat duty. He also served with the Royal Engineers and was mentioned in dispatches. He was awarded an OBE in 1919 in recognition of his war services.

Hugh Richard Bromley-Davenport passed away on 23 May/1954, at his South Kensington residence in Middlesex, aged about 84 years.

Not many cricket enthusiasts of the present generation will have heard of the man of a bygone era with the old English double-barrelled surname. However, with the modern craze for trivia, his name does crop up now and then in cricket quizzes in a rather quaint context.

A sudden question like: “Which two Test cricketers share the longest surname in history?” is very likely to test the mettle of even the most knowledgeable trivia specialist. To learn that the two cricketers concerned had made their respective Test debuts 87 years apart may make the issue even more confusing. Well, not to tax the memory of the gentle reader any further, the pair bound by the strange quirk of nomenclature are Hugh Bromley-Davenport of England and Laxman Sivaramakrishnan of India, both with 16 letters in their surnames.