George Wyndham’s Dalwood Cricket Team
By Don Seton Wilkinson
This photograph shows George Wyndham with his cricket team in the 1860s.
The Maitland Mercury of 2 June 1863, reported a match between the Dalwood Eleven and Maitland United Eleven, won by Maitland, listing the Dalwood members as being:
John Newman, W.Wyndham, Graham, Chas.Wyndham, G.Wyndham, King, G.Kenniwell, R.Wyndham, A.Wyndham, S.Horne, and Lumley.
Does this photo show that team? Can you help answer that question? Maybe descendants of some of the team members still have this photo? We would love to hear from you to help us identify the team members with the patriarchal figure of George Wyndham..
George Wyndham, who purchased 2000 acres at Branxton in 1828 and renamed it Dalwood, enjoyed a reputation for employing anyone who enjoyed cricket. He taught all of his ten sons to play and anyone else wanting to play was encouraged, including convicts and Indigenous people. He used cricket as a means to build cohesion among his family and employees, and for social interaction with teams from other properties, before the foundation of District Cricket Clubs. He formed teams at Dalwood and at his Inverell property, Bukkulla. What is not so well known are his contributions to cricket before he came to Australia.
The earliest record of George Wyndham playing cricket is at Harrow, where he was a member of the First XI, principally as a bowler. His friend, Charles Oxenden, who transferred from Eton to Harrow in 1817, is on record as being the initiator of the 1818 Eton versus Harrow match. George played in that match at Lord’s Cricket Ground, which had only moved to its current site in 1814. It became an annual fixture and is the oldest regular match still played at Lord’s.
Wyndham and Oxenden both went up to Cambridge in 1819, where they founded the Cambridge University Cricket Club in 1820 and played in the First XI in 1820 and 1821. As Oxenden captained the team, the credit for founding the club is often attributed to him. Given their continuing friendship from school, and that they both played in the initial match for Cambridge, it is reasonable to argue that Wyndham’s support for Oxenden entitles him to some recognition as a co-founder.
The Marylebone Cricket Club formed in 1787, the Cambridge Cricket Club in 1820, the Oxford University Cricket Club in 1827, and the first County Cricket Club, Sussex, as late as 1839. Cambridge was the first University in the world to have a Cricket Club and Wyndham played a role in its formation. While First Class Cricket was not officially recognized until 1894, the Cricket Archive recognizes the pre 1894 matches played by Cambridge, Oxford, Marylebone and the County Clubs as First Class matches.
It is a possibility that George Wyndham may be the first person to have played First Class Cricket before his arrival in Australia in 1827. That is a question cricket historians have yet to answer.
When the first cricket match was played in the Hunter Valley is unknown. The genesis was most likely informal social games played on early rural properties, followed by matches between teams from neighbouring properties, after which village and town based clubs developed. The 1850s photo of Joseph Docker’s team at Thornthwaite, near Scone is another example of a property based team.
No evidence has been found to indicate George playing for a team after his arrival. No doubt he was too busy developing Dalwood and his other properties. His five younger sons (Alexander, Guy, Charles, Reginald and Wadham) became prominent players from the 1850s, playing for Dalwood, Branxton, Bukkulla, Singleton, Albion and Maitland teams. Another son, John, was the patron of the Albion Cricket Club from 1872 till 1886.
Local Treasures: Time Travel Dalwood Style