“The Cricketing Enys”

Francis Gilbert Enys 1836-1906

The following notes are mainly taken from the Cornish newspapers, and form part of my research notes for the study of Cornish cricket in the 19th century.  The Enys Archive (CRO/EN) gives little or no reference to Francis Gilbert’s) cricket interest.

Francis Gilbert Enys (from now on referred to as FG) was born in 1836 the eldest son of John Samuel, and Catherine (daughter of Davies Gilbert).  He was educated at Harrow entering in September 1849.  While there he resided at The Grove boarding house, which he represented at cricket; however he was not good enough to play for the school 1st eleven.  He left in the summer of 1854 and went up to Trinity College, Cambridge, but obtained no degree.

It is probable that he began his extensive cricket career in Cornwall playing for Boconnoc in 1854, which from the newspaper records available he played for on 29 occasions up to 1870.  Boconnoc was the leading ‘gentry’ club in Cornwall, and indeed vied with the best teams in Devon.
1855: scored 1 and 6 opening the batting v. Teignbridge, and is listed as one of the 220 who  attended the Grand Ball at the Boconnoc Club on 21st August.  He was attended by a Miss Enys, possibly Jane or Mary Anne his sisters.  This event was one of the great social occasions on the Cornwall calendar, a must seen at event for the young gentry.

1856: scored 14 v. North Devon, and 14 and 0 v. Teignbridge.

1857: FG played for Tredrea Club, newly formed at the home of MH Williams, the Director of Perran Foundry, and nearer to his home. He played for Tredrea against Boconnoc, and batting at No. 5 did not trouble the notchers (scorers)!  Later in the season he played for Tredrea against Redruth, The West Briton, 31st July noting; ‘In the second innings Messers Cardew and Enys first took their position at the wickets, the former soon succumbed to one of Bevan’s shooters with only one from two.  Mr Enys soon followed with the score on seven.’
1857: Mr C Enys, and Mr F Enys were present at The Boconnoc Ball held on 5th August.

1858: probably a high spot in FG’s career;  selected to play for a Cornwall XX11 against the touring All England X1.  This match reported by The Royal Cornwall Gazette, 3rd September was played over two days at Plint’s Barn, Truro.  ‘Enys- b. Jackson 3, and c. and b. Parr 2’
It was nothing to be ashamed of to be dismissed by Jackson, he was the premier fast bowler in the country at the time; known as the ‘terror’.  The style of bowling was round arm, (not dissimilar to Lasith Malinga, the current Sri Lankan fast bowler).  The mode of bowling that the Cornishmen were mostly used to was underarm!  Cornwall only scored 58, and 65 in their second innings, the outfield was often of uncut grass so the ball would not have travelled far.  It was the same for the ‘professionals’ who were dismissed for 50 in the first innings, not being able to handle the fast underhand of the cricketing reverends- Kirwan, and Boscawen.  In the second innings All England made cricket look easy in scoring 70 for the loss of only three wickets.

1858: FG was again invited to play for Cornwall, this time for a Penzance Invitation XX11 against another professional touring team- The United All- England X1.  FG opened the batting in both innings and made 5 and 0.
1859: a busy year for FG.  He opened the batting for Boconnoc against Plymouth scoring 19 and 34.
In July playing for Tredrea against Truro, The Royal Cornwall Gazette 5th July wrote ‘Then Tredrea commenced their innings sending Messrs Enys and Trevena to the wicket the former scored seven and was bowled by Mr Mitchell.’

He scored 12 v. Teignbridge, noted in The Royal Cornwall Gazette 26th August, ‘Mr Enys batted steadily scoring 12 runs’
At the end of the season he was one of the six Cornishmen selected to play for a combined XX11 of Devon and Cornwall against the touring United All- England X1.  In a high scoring match due to the improved outfield at Mount Wise, the Garrison Club, FG scored only 1, and 1.  The scores of the XX11 were 207, and 155, and the match was drawn.  At this time the average score in a Cornish club match was usually about 60, with a double score for an individual batsman being a reasonable effort. As we move into the next decade team scores improve, due to better wickets, and outfields, and more skillful technique of the batsmen.

1860: FG scored 0 and 2 v. Plymouth, and 7 &8 in the return match at Boconnoc.  That year The Gentlemen of Devon played the Gentlemen of Cornwall.  FG opened the batting scoring 4 and 6.  The West Briton, 17th August sarcastically wrote, ‘Mr Budd (the leading Devon batsman) was unfortunately run out by a lucky throw from Mr Enys’.  Two years later Devon challenged Cornwall again, with The Devonians amassing a total of 311, Cornwall were bowled out for 37 with FG scoring only one run.

1863: FG scored 30 opening with Mr Charles Buller later of Middlesex CC, playing for Boconnoc against Mr Robartes X1.  In July FG played for Tredrea and Penzance and his second innings score of 35 was his highest to date.

1866: This was the year that Truro CC opened their new ground at Lambessow, with FG a regular in the team. He was chosen as captain, and led the way with his career best of 83 against Mr Christoe’s X1  The Royal Cornwall Gazette described Truro as a ‘promising club’.  In a match against Boconnoc FG top scored with 54, and with 29 not out scored the winning runs as Truro closed with 65 for 6.  Later in the season he was 49 not out in a score of 301 for Boconnoc against Plymouth Garrison.

1867: The Royal Cornwall Gazette, 11th July reported on the match between Truro and Plymouth Garrison.  FG scored 12 and 34, ‘Messrs Enys, Foster and A Carlyon showed some fine play’.  Later in the season he played for Boconnoc against The Christ Church Cardinals (including some Oxford University players), scoring 7 and 8.

1869: The Royal Cornwall Gazette, 6th May, reported upon the Truro CC AGM, ‘Mr F Gilbert Enys in the Chair’.  He was elected as captain, and it was noted there were 70 subscribing members.  By 1873 the club was fading in its fortunes.
1870: It appears this was the last appearance of FG for Boconnoc, in a match against Oxford Cornish.  It would not be long before the gentry club at Boconnoc ceased to exist in its grand form.

1871: Possibly FG’s last season for Truro. The Royal Cornwall Gazette 22 July reported a rather unusual dismissal for FG against CW Robinson’s X1.  It would appear that the match was hindered by rain though play continued; against FG Enys it reads, ‘would not bat’ !
In 1876 FG became Sheriff of Cornwall.  He did not forget his cricketing interests; donating to St Agnes in the forming of a club there.
On the 12th November 1894, an inaugural meeting was held at The Talbot Arms, Lostwithiel with the intention to form a Cornwall County Cricket Club.   A letter of support was recorded in the minutes from FG Enys, but noted he would not subscribe to the club.  Three years later with the County club up and running, in the Minutes of the 1897 AGM, FG is listed as donating one guinea, and listed as a member.
FG was killed by in a gas explosion on 13th July 1906. The Royal Cornwall Gazette, 19th July reported, ‘Sad Death of Mr FG Enys’.  The explosion happened at a private hotel at St James, London where FG was staying.  ‘Mr John Davies Enys, of Enys identified the deceased as his brother, and Mr Reginald Glanville, land agent of Truro said he had seen Mr Enys in London several times the last occasion being the 6th July.  He was then in excellent health.  While at Lord’s Cricket ground he heard of his accident…..

He had died of his injuries, burns from the explosion caused by a chandelier pulled down to lit the lamp, and gas had escaped.
JD Enys mentioned above was a year younger than FG, and with Charles the youngest brother travelled extensively in New Zealand.  There is an unconfirmed reference that JD was a member of Selwyn CC in Canterbury NZ, but I have no record of JD as a cricketer.

I am grateful to Mrs Rita Boswell, The Archivist at Harrow School for sending me details of FG at Harrow.

Ian Clarke



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