The Sole Society, a Family History Society researching Sole, Saul, Sewell, Solley and similar names

Well Hit!  Sir

By John Saul

This article was originally published in the December 2005 edition of Soul Search, the journal of The Sole Society


I enjoyed reading Tony Storey’s account in Soul Search, August 2005, of footballers with names of interest to our Society.  Now I am the fortunate owner, mainly by inheritance from my father, of a complete run of Wisden Cricketers Almanac from 1943 to 2005, plus a couple of editions from the 1920s, as well as a collection of around 100 cricket books; so I realised that if any member of the Sole Society could compile a complementary article on cricketers at this time of Ashes triumph, it was me!


I then learned that Tony had already found another source of information, Who’s Who of Cricketers, published by Hamlyn, and I am grateful to him for allowing me to use the information he obtained from this source.


I have unearthed just enough cricketers to form a Sole Society team, plus a 12th man and a scorer (if we permit the name Saulez).  Their impact on the world of cricket over the past 175 years has, I am sorry to tell you, not been impressive:  no one of the calibre of Andrew Flintoff and no participation in past Ashes series.  Indeed, it is most disappointing to have to reveal that only one Sewell, Saul, Sole or Solley has ever played Test Cricket.  David Sewell played in one Test, for New Zealand against Zimbabwe in Bulawayo in 1997.   He was a left arm seam bowler from Otago; in his only Test he batted at number 11, scored 1 not out in his only innings, and took 0 for 81 and 0 for 9 in the two Zimbabwe innings.  He was not picked again.


In order of birth date, the other members of our cricket team are:


Thomas Sewell, b.5 May 1806 at Mitcham, Surrey.  He was a middle-order batsman and under-arm bowler. He played 2 matches for Middlesex in 1830, 9 matches for Surrey between 1839 and 1849, and 2 matches for Kent in 1852.  He died at Riverhead, Kent on 1 Nov 1888.


Thomas Sewell Jnr, b.15 Mar 1830 at Mitcham.  He was a lower-order batsman and a fast bowler.  He played 20 matches for Kent (1856-66) and 109 matches for Surrey (1859-68), and played in Australia in 1861/2.  In 158 first-class matches he scored 2542 runs with a best score of 62, held 73 catches and took more than 300 wickets including a career best of 8 for 45. He died at St John’s, Sevenoaks, Kent on 13 Jun 1871.


John Joseph Sewell, b.10 Feb 1844 at Cirencester.  A Marlborough schoolboy, he played 12 first-class matches as an opening batsman for Middlesex from 1863 to 1867, and also played for Wiltshire and Norfolk. He scored 419 runs in his 18 first-class innings, his best score being 166. He emigrated to South Africa after the 1867 season and died at Pietermaritzburg, Natal on 8 Jun 1897.


Robert Page Sewell, b.3 Sep 1866 at Maldon.  An attacking middle-order batsman, he played 2 matches for Kent in 1884. He then played for Essex from 1885 to 1891, before they were a first-class county, and then toured the West Indies in 1894/5. He died at Surbiton, Surrey on 7 Feb 1901.


Edward Humphrey Dalrymple Sewell, b.30 Sep 1872 at Lingsugur, India, was the son of a Colonel and grandson of a Major-General in the Indian Army.  We know more about EHD Sewell than any of the other men described here, not the least because he was the author of a dozen books on cricket, of which I have 4, including a rambling memoir, An Outdoor Wallah, written ca 1944.  In this he provides very little information about his family background, as he prefers to concentrate on his cricketing prowess, his friendships with Maharajahs, and his successes in reducing the tiger population.  He was sent to England for his education, entering Bedford School in January 1886, where he became captain of both cricket and rugby, and played cricket for Bedfordshire in 1891, while still at school.  He ‘narrowly’ (his words) failed to pass the entrance examination to Sandhurst, and returned to India as a civil servant, working for the Salt Department.    He found plenty of time for shooting and cricket, and played for an ‘All India’ team in 1892/3. 


For a man who was totally imbued with the Public School ethos, it is surprising that he returned with his family to England in 1900 in response to an invitation to join Essex as a professional cricketer, for £2/week.  In those days you could only play as a professional for a county you had not been born in by fulfilling a 2-year residence qualification, so he did not start playing for Essex until 1902.  He met with some success, both for Essex and for London County, the club founded and captained by W.G.Grace.  He was a big hitter, once driving a ball 140 yards.  He played 55 matches as a professional for Essex (1902-04), his best season being 1904 when he scored 1080 runs. 


Before the start of the 1905 season he accepted an offer to become Sports Editor of the Evening Standard and St James Gazette;  however he left after 6 months to become a freelance journalist, claiming to dislike working indoors – after all, he was an ‘outdoor wallah’.  In 1908 he returned to professional cricket, becoming coach to the Surrey County Club for 3 summers.  Later he played as an amateur for Buckinghamshire (1912-14) and was honorary secretary.  His final first-class match was for the M.C.C. in 1922.  In his 87 first-class matches he scored 3430 runs, his best score being 181.  He also played rugby football for Blackheath and Harlequins.


He wrote for various newspapers on both sports.  He went to India in 1933-34 to cover the MCC tour, and to renew his acquaintance with tigers, and he also covered the MCC tour in Australia 1936-37.  In later life he attended every match of importance at Lords, where he had a regular seat in the Long Room and was often the centre of discussion about the game he loved.  In his last years he wrote books with such titles as From a Window at Lords, Well Hit Sir!, Who’s Won the toss? and Overthrows, all of them displaying highly opinionated views on cricket, rugby and life in general.  He died on 20 Sep 1947 at Westbourne Park, Paddington, London.


Diana Kennedy, our Sewell Co-ordinator, has a lot of information about this particular Sewell family and I am grateful to her for clarifying certain points about ‘EHD’.


Cyril Otto Hudson Sewell was a South African, the son of John Joseph Sewell, b.19 Dec1874 in Pietermaritzburg, Natal.  At the age of 19 he was a member of the first South African team to tour England, scoring more than 1000 runs.  He moved to England and played for Gloucestershire as an amateur from time to time between 1895 and 1919, serving as secretary from 1912 to 1914 and as captain in 1913 and 1914.  In 303 first-class innings he scored 7562 runs, including 9 centuries and a best score of 165. He twice hit more than 1000 runs in a season.  He died on 19 Aug 1951 at Bexhill-on-Sea, Sussex.


Frederick Alexander Seymour Sewell, b. 6 Oct 1881 at Leamington Spa.  After school cricket at Weymouth he played for Cambridge University in 1901 and 1902 but was not awarded a ‘Blue’.  Later he played minor counties cricket for Dorset (1912/13) and Bedfordshire (1921/22). He died on 5 Jun 1964 at Parkstone, Dorset.


Frederick John Sewell, b.29 Sep 1913 Great Barrington, Gloucestershire. A middle-order batsman, he played school cricket for Cheltenham and 4 matches for Gloucestershire as an amateur in 1937.


Our team is completed by 2 Solly’s:


George Edward Solly, b. 27 Mar 1855 at Congleton, Cheshire. He played school cricket for Winchester and represented Oxford University in 1877.  He won a ‘Blue’ for athletics and played county cricket for Cheshire as an amateur, being regarded as a lower-order batsman and useful bowler.  He died at Mentone, France on 10 March 1930.


Edward Walter Solly, b.7 May 1882, Eastry, Kent.  He played cricket professionally, representing Worcestershire in 8 matches between 1903 and 1908, and was a lower-order batsman and fast-medium bowler.  This limited career produced just 78 runs and 14 wickets.  He died at Cefn Mably, Glamorgan on 12 Feb 1966.


Sadly we have failed to find any cricketing Sauls or Soles.  The nearest to Saul are 2 Saulez’s.  The first of these could be our 12th man (or umpire), the second our scorer.


Lt-Col E.Saulez, b.21 Feb 1867.  He played for Glamorgan long before they became a first-class county, and also in India.


Geoffrey Gordon Alfred Saulez, d. 23 Dec 2004 aged 88.  He was the England scorer on a succession of overseas tours in the 1970s and 1980s.   


If you think you have a cricketer amongst your ancestors then, providing he played first-class cricket in the British Isles, you should be able to find a record of his career with perhaps other brief details in one or other of the sources we have used.  Do let me know of anyone I may have missed, as I fear that our team as it stands is a bit weak!


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