Lord Frederick Beauclerk : biography
Lord Frederick Beauclerk (8 May 1773, London – 22 April 1850, Westminster) was an outstanding but controversial English first-class cricketer for 35 years from 1791 to 1825. On his retirement, he served as president of Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) in 1826.
Beauclerk was the fourth son of the 5th Duke of St Albans and became a clergyman. He was Vicar of St. Michael's Church at St Albans and a Doctor of Divinity.
Family and personal life
Beauclerk was the fourth son and fifth child of the 5th Duke of St Albans, and thus descended from Charles II and Nell Gwyn.Altham, p.54. He attended Cambridge University, where his cricket career began (see above).
Like other younger sons of the nobility, Beauclerk became a clergyman and, from 1828, was Vicar of St Michael's Church in St Albans. However, he "never allowed his clerical duties to interfere materially with the claims of cricket" and "his sermons were legendary for their dullness".. Retrieved on 25 May 2010.
He married Charlotte Dillon, daughter of Charles Dillon, 12th Viscount Dillon, on 3 July 1813.. Retrieved on 26 July 2009. They had four children:
- Caroline Henrietta Frederica Beauclerk (1815-1878)
- Charles William Beauclerk (1816-1863)
- Captain Aubrey Frederick James Beauclerk (1817-1853)
- Henrietta Mary Beauclerk (1818-1887)
His sons, Charles and Aubrey, also played cricket as did his nephew, William Aubrey de Vere Beauclerk, 9th Duke of St Albans.. Retrieved on 26 July 2009.
Beauclerk lived mostly at Winchfield House, Winchfield, Hampshire. He also had a London residence at 68 Grosvenor Street, Westminster, where he died aged 76 on 22 April 1850. He was buried in Winchfield at St Mary's Church. His wife erected a tablet inside the church which refers to "his many virtues".Haygarth, p.113.
Beauclerk was one of the most controversial figures in cricket history.Mallett, p.52. His approach to the game was well summarised in a verse written by a contemporary: My Lord he comes next, and will make you all stareWith his little tricks, a long way from fair. Much that is hagiography exists about cricketers but "an unqualified eulogy of Beauclerk has never been seen and that is significant". Although he was a cleric and ostensibly against gambling, he estimated that he made up to £600 a year from playing cricket, which at the time was funded mostly by gambling. But Beauclerk as a vicar was "completely devoid of Christian charity". In this vein, Rowland Bowen likened him to Talleyrand as "a cleric without, it would seem, the faintest interest in being a clergyman or any kind of Christian".Bowen, p.81.
Beauclerk has been described as "an unmitigated scoundrel". Among the quotations about him is one that he was a "foul-mouthed, dishonest man who was one of the most hated figures in society ... he bought and sold matches as though they were lots at an auction". Another described him as "cruel, unforgiving, cantankerous and bitter".
In an early example of gamesmanship, he is said to have occasionally suspended an expensive gold watch from the middle stump whilst batting, the inference being that his batting was sound enough, or the bowling bad enough, for it to remain unscathed.Nell Gwynn: Mistress to a King, p.378. Sadly, there is no record of how many watches he lost in this fashion.
When he died in 1850, his unpopularity was such that The Times did not give him an obituary.
Style and technique
Beauclerk was one of the best single wicket players of his time. His batting style was "rather scientific, in the more orthodox manner of the professionals", while his under-arm bowling was very slow, but extremely accurate and he could get the ball to rise abruptly off a length.. Retrieved on 26 July 2009.
Although his batting style was described as scientific, Beauclerk was also impulsive as "he sometimes lost his wicket by trying to cut straight balls". He was a hard-hitting batsman with fine strokeplay, "especially to the off". He improved his batsmanship by modelling himself on William Beldham, but he lacked the latter's natural flair.Birley, p.51.
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