William Benthall

MR. WILLIAM HENRY BENTHALL, one of the best-known amateur batsmen in England fifty years ago, died at St. Leonard's on January 4th, in the seventy-second year of his age. Scores and biographies (v.-42) says of him:-- Height, 5ft. 7½ ins., and weight about 10 stone. Bats in an exceedingly pretty style, cutting beautifully to the off, and has made some capital scores in the best matches. In the field he is generally point, where he is extremely effective. As a slow bowler he was also occasionally successful, but his wickets were rather costly. He was born in Little Dean's Yard, Westminster, on July 3rd, 1837, and was educated at Westminster (where his father was a master), Marlborough, and Cambridge. He was only eight years of age when he left Westminster, as he was considered too young to stay after his father had retired, and it was at Marlborough that he learnt the game from Jimmy Dean, of Sussex, who was engaged to coach the boys. In 1855 and 1856 he represented Marlborough in the first two matches ever played with Rugby, and, although he made 61 runs in his four innings, he was on the losing side on both occasions. Proceeding to Cambridge he failed to secure his Blue as a Freshman owing to a damaged hand, but he played against Oxford from 1858 to 1860 and in two of the three years had the pleasure of being on the winning side. When Cambridge won by 28 runs in 1859 he played a sound and valuable second innings of 39, and in the three matches in which he appeared against Oxford he averaged 19 runs an innings. In 1858 he represented his University in the doubles at racquets, but he and his Partner, J. M. Moorsom, were beaten 3-0 by W. Hart Dyke and J. P. F. Gundry. Between 1859 and 1863 he assisted the Gentlemen in seven matches against the Players, making 215 runs in fourteen innings, his highest score being 45 in the match at the Oval in 1860. In county cricket he appeared for Devonshire, Buckinghamshire, and Middlesex, and in 1868 took part in the tie-match between the last named and Surrey at the Oval. After leaving Cambridge Mr. Benthall, owing to his duties at the India Office, where he at various times held important private secretaryships, including those to Lord Dufferin and the Duke of Argyll, found few opportunities of playing in great matches, though his name will occasionally be found in some of the matches played on Mr. John Walker's ground at Southgate. Had he been able to appear regularly he would no doubt have become famous, but, in addition to having many demands upon his time, he was handicapped by poor health. In 1874 he retired from the India Office on a pension. Since 1876 he had lived at St. Leonard's, and for many years was a familiar figure at the Hastings Festival.

© John Wisden & Co