Pycroft, James (DNB00)

PYCROFT, JAMES (1813–1895), author, second son of Thomas Pycroft of Pickwick, Wiltshire, barrister-at-law, and brother of Sir Thomas Pycroft [q. v.], was born at Geyers House, Wiltshire, in 1813. He matriculated from Trinity College, Oxford, on 25 May 1831, and graduated B.A. in 1836. He was an enthusiastic cricketer, and claimed to have, jointly with Bishop Ryle, instituted the annual Oxford and Cambridge cricket match in 1836 (Oxford Memoirs, ii. 84–210). In the same year he became a student of Lincoln's Inn, but in 1840 abandoned the study of the law, and was ordained in the church of England. At the same time he became second master of the collegiate school at Leicester. He was curate of Chardstock, Dorset, in 1845, and from 1845 to 1856 perpetual curate of St. Mary Magdalen, Barnstaple. He declined further clerical duty, and took up his residence at Bathwick, Bath. Here he devoted his time to literature, and his leisure to cricket, becoming a member of the Lansdown Club. He never obtained much repute as a player, but he was a great authority on the history, rules, and management of the game. He died of influenza at Brighton on 10 March 1895. He had married, on 8 July 1843, Ann, widow of F. P. Alleyn.

In 1859 he published ‘Twenty Years in the Church: an Autobiography.’ This work, which ran to a fourth edition in 1861, is a religious novel, which was supposed, without much reason, to be a narrative of the writer's own career; a second part, entitled ‘Elkerton Rectory,’ appeared in 1860, and was reprinted in 1862. His ‘Oxford Memoirs: a Retrospect after Fifty Years,’ 1886, 2 vols., contains graphic descriptions of the state of the university in his time.

Other books by him are:

  1. ‘Principles of Scientific Batting,’ 1835.
  2. ‘On School Education, designed to assist Parents in choosing and co-operating with Instructors for their Sons,’ Oxford, 1843.
  3. ‘Greek Grammar Practice,’ 1844.
  4. ‘Latin Grammar Practice,’ 1844.
  5. ‘A Course of English Reading, adapted to every taste and capacity, with Anecdotes of Men of Genius,’ 1844; 4th edit. 1861.
  6. ‘The Collegian's Guide, or Recollections of College Days. Setting forth the Advantages and Temptations of a University Education. By the Rev. * * * * * * * * * *, M.A., —— College, Oxford,’ 1845; 2nd edit. 1858.
  7. ‘Four Lectures on the Advantages of a Classical Education as an Auxiliary to a Commercial Education,’ 1847.
  8. The Cricket Field, or the History and the Science of Cricket,’ 1851; 9th edit. 1887.
  9. ‘Ways and Words of Men of Letters,’ 1861.
  10. ‘Agony Point; or the Groans of Gentility,’ 1861, 2 vols.
  11. ‘The Cricket Tutor,’ 1862; a treatise exclusively practical.
  12. ‘Dragons' Teeth: a Novel,’ 1863, 2 vols.
  13. ‘Cricketana,’ 1865.

He also edited Valpy's ‘Virgil Improved,’ 1846; W. Enfield's ‘The Speaker,’ 1851; and to Beeton's ‘Cricket Book,’ by F. Wood, 1866, he contributed ‘A Match I was in.’

[Church of England Photographic Portrait Gallery, 1860, pt. xlvii. with portrait; Times, 13 March 1895, p. 10; Wisden's Cricketers' Almanack, 1892, pp. xlix, 1.]

G. C. B.