Parr, George (DNB00)

PARR, GEORGE (1826–1891), cricketer, born at Radcliffe-on-Trent, Nottinghamshire, on 22 May 1826, was the son of a gentleman farmer whose ancestors had farmed their own land for more than two hundred years. He came of a cricketing family, the most celebrated player in which, except himself, was his brother Samuel. He first appeared at Lord's in 1845, and became famous originally by his performances for Clarke's touring eleven, which he joined in 1847, and to the captaincy of which he succeeded in 1857. In these matches, played against odds, he made 100 against Leicester, 118 against Sussex, 101 against Cornwall, 99 against Huddersfield, 96 against Yorkshire, and 90 against Louth, besides many other excellent scores. He first played for the players against the gentlemen in 1846, the match in which Clarke, the slow bowler, a much older man, also first appeared for the players. He continued to represent the players, though not regularly, till 1865, in which year he played for them for the last time, and scored 13 and 60. This was the match in which Dr. W. G. Grace first appeared for the gentlemen. Parr's best scores in these matches, in which he was almost always successful, were 77, 73, 60, and 46 not out. Parr represented his county from 1846 till 1870. Among many good performances for Nottinghamshire, the best was probably an innings of 130 played, without a chance, against the powerful Surrey eleven in 1859. In this year he took a team to Canada, and played five matches against twenty-twos, winning them all.

From 1859 to 1862 he coached the Harrow eleven. In 1858 he had a benefit at Lord's. In 1863 Parr captained a team of twelve through Australia. Out of sixteen matches, ten were won and six unfinished. His best score in these was 60 at Ballarat, but he was ill part of the time. In 1857 he had succeeded to the captaincy of the All England eleven. In the annual matches against the rival eleven, called the ‘United,’ from 1857 to 1868, he greatly distinguished himself. His last appearance at Lord's was in 1870, in North v. South, on which occasion he played a brilliant innings of 41. His last match for the county was in the same year, and he resigned his captaincy of the All England eleven at the same time. His last match of all was at Trent Bridge in 1871, when he scored 32 not out and 53 for Nottinghamshire, against fourteen gentlemen of the county.

For about twelve years Parr, who succeeded to the championship long held by Fuller Pilch [q. v.], was undoubtedly the finest batsman in England. He combined a very strong defence with great hitting powers all round the wicket. He was especially famous for his leg hitting, in which he was probably superior to any player living or dead. He also drove in fine style, though not quite so powerfully as his predecessor, and his forward and late cutting was superb. In his early days he fielded long leg and middle wicket, and was able to throw over one hundred yards. Latterly he usually stood slip. His height was five feet nine inches, and his weight about twelve stone twelve pounds.

After his retirement he lived at Radcliffe-on-Trent, occupying himself chiefly with shooting and farming. He seems to have lost almost all interest in cricket. He died, unmarried, in the village of his birth, after a long and painful illness, on 23 June 1891. Mr. Richard Daft, who visited him shortly before his death, writes: ‘In one of the pleasantest houses in the pleasant village of Radcliffe there lived a short time ago a feeble and decrepit old man, his hair white, his form attenuated by sickness, a shadow of his former self. Such was in his latter days the wreck of the once mighty “Lion of the North,” for years the mainstay of his county and of the Players of England, the captain of the famous All England Eleven, and the finest batsman in the world.’

[Lillywhite's Scores and Biographies; Daft's Kings of Cricket; Times, 24 June 1891.]

J. W. A.