A HISTORICALLY SIGNIFICANT ARCHIVE OF THE ABORIGINAL CRICKET TOUR OF ENGLAND 1868 AND CHARLES LAWRENCE 1828-1917, A FOUNDING FATHER OF AUSTRALIAN AND INTERNATIONAL CRICKET
When the aboriginal cricketers played at Lord's on 13 June 1868, they were the first Australians to do so, a decade before white Australians played there and 14 years before the birth of the 'Ashes'. Those who came to see these Australian tourists were watching some of the last of the original inhabitants of Victoria. This was the first and only occasion when tribal Aborigines played cricket in England.
It was only 33 years since Batman's treaty with the Aborigines of the Western District of Victoria, on 6 June 1835. White settlers moved into the Western District shortly after, in the 1840's, with disastrous results for the indigenous population. Aborigines, with their traditional attitudes to the land and hunting for food were often seen as a nuisance. Some were shot or poisoned. An estimated tenth of the native population were murdered by whites. From about 11,500 in 1834, their numbers were reduced to about 800 by 1886. By 1850 traditional life had broken down, most drifting to the white settlements and pastoral stations. With many white workers joining the gold rush, the aborigines became convenient and cheap replacement labour.
Cricket was played on the stations and settlements. With the Aborigines of Western Victoria this centred around Edenhope station and Lake Wallace. It was here that Tom Wills began playing with and coaching the local aboriginal teams. His own family property, at Ararat, was not far. He himself had narrowly escaped death when his father, other members of his family and station workers were killed in Northern Queensland in the biggest massacre of whites by aborigines, in 1861. The charismatic Wills however, always remained close to the Aborigines and took the team on two tours, in 1866 and 1867, of major towns and cities in Victoria and New South Wales. On the second of these, in Sydney, Charles Lawrence became involved with the team.
Lawrence, born in the London suburb of Hoxton, came to Australia with the first touring England cricket side, led by H.H.Stephenson, in 1862. He has the unique distinction of playing in the first England team to tour Australia and in the first Australian team to tour England. A professional cricketer at 17, Lawrence had played cricket in England, Scotland and Ireland. In 1851 he played professionally for Dublin's Phoenix Club. He remained in Ireland for 10 years, forming a professional United All-Ireland XI. In 1854 Tom Wills went to Ireland and was selected by Lawrence to play in his All-Ireland XI. At the end of this first English tour of Australia, Lawrence was induced to remain behind by the recently formed Albert Club in Sydney, as coach at their Redfern ground, becoming Australia's first professional coach.
From the moment Lawrence arrived in Australia he had the idea of making a fortune from training Aborigines at cricket and combining this with displays of their traditional skills with boomerangs, spears, fighting clubs, parrying shields. At Lake Wallace he encouraged this and made supplies of the weapons. All the Aborigines in the team were of full Aboriginal descent, most were born before pastoral occupation began. All but two were from the Southern Wimmera, mostly affiliated with the Madimadi or Wutjubalak language, or dialect, groupings. Despite an outcry against their exploitation from various Victorian authorities, including R. Brough Smythe, Secretary of the Central Board for the Protection of the Aborigines, the team sailed for England from Sydney on 8 February, arriving in England after a voyage of 3 months. In England they were based at Town Malling, in Kent.
The original scorebook, in Lawrence's hand, meticulously records every one of the 47 games played, documenting the team's gruelling itinerary. The small tour party was reduced to 11 fit players during the tour. King Cole died of pneumonia on 24 June. Two others, Sundown and Jim Crow returned home in August. Between their first match at the Oval on 25 May 1868 and their last engagement on the same ground on 15-17 October, the Aborigines were in the field 99 days out of a possible 126 (Sunday exluded). Following the cricket there would be the traditional displays of Aboriginal skills and athletics. The 47 matches were played in 40 centres, across 15 counties. Lawrence himself writes in the present scorebook 'The heat this season in England was tremendous and forty seven matches was no joke even for blacks. On their return to Australia they were engaged in several contests before they finally separated for their homes'. The team returned almost exacty one year later, arriving in Sydney on 4 February 1869. They played a final game in Melbourne before dispersing for their homes. Most faded into dysfunctional lives, obscurity, illness and premature death. Of those who returned, seven spent time on reserves; Sundown, Charley Dumas, Tiger and Twopenny are not accounted for in reserve records. Only Johnny Mullage remained free of reserve life.
Mullagh was the first Aboriginal to excel at cricket and was the leading player on the tour. He played in 45 of the 47 tour matches, scored the most runs, bowled the most overs (1,877) and took the most wickets. His performance overshadowed that of Lawrence. Always sensitive to racial discrimination, Mullagh emerges as a man of quiet dignity. In 1879 he played in his only first-class appearance, representing Victoria against Lord Harris's All-England XI. He continued playing cricket intermittentlty for many years until the 1890 cricket season, a respected member of the Harrow club in Victoria. He normally lived alone on the Edgar family's Pine Hill property, a rabbiter accompanied by a few dogs. He died alone, James Edgar discovering his body at his bush camp on 14 August 1891. He was buried with his favourite bat and a set of stumps. A monument was erected to his memory and Harrow Oval is named after him.
Lawrence inevitably became close to his team and it is not surprising that his archive contains a (unrecorded) carte-de-visite portrait of Johnny Mullagh. When King Cole died in London the team were playing at Hastings, Kent. The only mourner at his funeral in London's Victoria Park cemetery was Lawrence. Recently, almost one and a half centuries later, the junior Aboriginal team, captained by Barry Firebrace and coached by Ashley Mallett on their tour of England in 2001, returned to the grave site where the team performed traditional rites.
Lawrence moved to Melbourne around 1891 and for eight seasons was coach to junior members of the Melbourne Cricket Club, playing his last game when he was 70. He died in 1917, aged 88. Now, a modern freeway bypasses Harrow and the Mullagh memorial and the Centenary Test celebrations barely acknowledged this first tour. However, in 1991, on the centenary of his death, 60 mourners gathered at Mullagh's monument. There were no Aborigines present
The archive comprises:
Charles Lawrence's original autograph scorebook of the 1868 tour, in pencil, 96 pages (lacks a page at the front detailing Surrey's first innings, first few pages browned and with some tape repairs), original cloth, 4to, 24.5 x 18.5 cm
The scorebook is the earliest known record kept by Lawrence.
He meticulously records names of both teams for all innings, scores, results, umpires' names, and other details for every match, (v. Richmond)'Sir William Dawson, Governor of New South Wales in 1856 was present and requested an introduction to the Aboriginals and expressed himself pleased to see them and asked to be allowed to make them a present of 10/- each. I need not say how delighted they were. Sir William no doubt was a lover of the Game for I heard in Sydney that he was the first that granted permission the use of the Domain for Cricket and there all practice and all important matches were played', (v. Hastings)'Mr. Norton was Captain of the Blacks instead of Lawrence who had not recovered from his broken finger received in the match at Lord's Cricket Ground'[Lawrence was also attending King Cole's funeral], (v. Sheffield)'Twopenny made a drive (no overthrow) for nine', (v. Bootle)'The Blacks winning by 154 runs. Afterwards the usual athletic sports by the Blacks. Mullagh was throwing the boomerang when, the wind taken it among the crowd, it struck and severely injured a gentleman on the head'.
The scorebook also contains the record of the first match played by the United All Ireland Eleven 'Secretary, Charles Lawrence', Twenty two of Dublin v. United Ireland Eleven played on the Phoenix Park, Dublin, 11-13 August 1866, and 'United Ireland XI v. 22 North of Ireland played at Belfast July 31st, August 1st 1860'
Cricket watch fob, gilt metal, to the design of a cricket ball, surmounted by a bat, 3 stumps and a single stump, pendant ring, the hinged ball opening to reveal a manuscript presentation inscription 'Peter C. Curtis to Charles Lawrence, Sydney, NSW, 1868'
Carte-de-visite albumen print group portrait of the Aboriginal team with Lawrence and William Shepherd, by Andrews of Swansea and Carmarthen. The team played Swansea on July 6 and 7, Lawrence records in his scorebook 'The Blacks winning in one innings and 33 runs'. Lawrence scored 31 runs, Mullagh 25, Cuzens 50, Red Cap 37. Only one other (later, circa 1930) copy is known of this image. Part of the Clarrie Grimmett collection, sold in these rooms, lot 262, 13 May 1998.
Carte-de-visite albumen print bowling stance portrait of Charles Lawrence captioned in the image 'Lawrence, Captain', verso with trade details of P.Dawson, Photographer, Hamilton & Warrnambool'. Lawrence's clothes and the studio background are identical to those in the composite tour team photograph by the same photographer taken at Warrnambool in October 1867. This unrecorded photograph was probably taken on the same day.
Johnny Mullagh, unrecorded carte-de-visite albumen print formal studio portrait of the dapper Mullagh seated, hat resting on a table, by Messrs Chandler & Lomer, 419 George Street, Sydney, probably taken on the Sydney tour of 1867.
Carte-de-visite albumen print group portrait probably of the All-Ireland United cricket team, possibly at Phoenix Park, Dublin. Printed label on verso 'Published by John Lawrence, 39 Grafton Street, Dublin', circa 1858. Lawrence is standing at the back, second from left.
The Lawrence family in Melbourne, 6 photographs including 2 of Charles Lawrence in later years, one of his batting stance.
Charles Lawrence's marriage certificate, recording his marriage to Emmaretta Frances Denison at Newcastle on 6 July 1871, signed by Lawrence.
Charles Lawrence's autograph will signed 24 November 1876 leaving his estate to his wife Emmaretta, one page, folio.
Denison family tree, 2 pp manuscript (split at folds), traced back to Joseph Denison born 1805 and recording Emmaretta Denison's birth in 1842, the family arrived in Sydney on 14 November 1848.
Frank Laver: An Australian Cricketer on tour ... experiences of two trips [1899, 1905] with records of matches and views on English cricket, numerous plates, original green cloth gilt (worn, slightly flecked), 8v0, London 1905.
Frank Laver's presentation copy to Charles Lawrence inscribed at the front
Charles Lawrence, school exercise book, converted into a scrap album, containing numerous newspaper cuttings, mainly from the Argus 1894-1896, mainly relating to cricket in Victoria
Cricket: A weekly record of the game, vol. II [only] Feb. 16th to Dec. 27th, 1883, wood-engraved portraits, original green cloth gilt (worn), 4to, London 1883, Lawrence's stamp 'C.W.Lawrence' at the front and on title-page