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First Detailed Set of Rules for Stoolball Appear

Salience Noteworthy
Tags Antedated Firsts
Location England
City/State/Country: East Sussex, England
Game Stoolball
Age of Players Youth, Adult


1. The ball to be that usually known as best tennis, No. 3.

2. The [paddle-shaped] bat not to be more than 8 inches in diameter.

3. The wickets to be boards one foot square, mounted on a stake; the top of the wicket to be four feet nine inches from the ground.  One of these wickets to be selected by the umpire as that to which the ball shall be bowled. 

4. The wickets to be 16 yards apart, and the bowling crease to be eight yards from the striker's wicket.

5. The bowler shall bowl the ball, not throw it or jerk it, and when bowling the ball shall stand with at least one foot behind the crease.

6. The striker is out, if the ball when bowled hit the wicket. 

7.  Or, if the ball, having been hit, is caught in the hands of one of the opposite party.

8. Or, if while running, or preparing or pretending to run, the ball itself be thrown by one of the opposite party so as to hit the face of the wicket; or if any one of the opposite party with ball in hand touch the face of the wicket before the bat of either of the strikers touch the same.

9.  Or, if the ball be struck and the striker willfully strike it again.  

10.  If the ball be hit by the striker, or pass the wicket so as to allow time for a run to be obtained, the strikers may obtain a run by running across from one wicket to the other.

11. If, in running, the runners have crossed each other, she who runs for the wicket whick is struck by the ball is out. 

12. A striker being run out, the run which was attempted shall not be scored. 

13. A ball being caught, so that the striker is out, no run shall be scored.

14. If "lost ball" be called, the striker shall be lowed three runs; but if more than three have been run before "lost ball" has been called, then the striker shall have all that have been run.

15. The umpires, one for each wicket, are the sole judges of fair or unfair play; and all disputes shall be settled by them, each at is own wicket; but n the case of any doubt on the part of an umpire, the other umpire may be by him requested to give an opinion, which opinion shall be decisive.

 16. The umpires are not to order any striker out unless asked by one of the opposite party.

17. The umpires are not to give directions to either party when acting as umpires, but shall be strictly impartial. 

N.B. The bat is in form similar to a battledore."


Note: These appear to be, other than Willughby's circa1672 of a non-running version of stoolball and and Strutt's 1801 general description,  the first known full set of rules for stoolball, appearing over four centuries after the game's first known play.




Andrew Lusted, Girls Just Wanted to Have Fun; Stoolball Reports to Local Newspapers 1747 to 1866, (Andrew Lusted, 2013), inside front cover.

These rules are attributed to William De St. Croix, 1819-1877.

See also Andrew Lusted, The Glynde Butterflies Stoolball Team, 1866-1887: England's first Female Sports Stars (Andrew Lusted, 2011). 

Comment Edit with form to add a comment

As a set, do these rules resemble contemporary rules for cricket in the 1860s?  Do they align with cricket rules in 1800?

Do we know what the ball was like?  Presumably, tennis balls were hand-wound string in this era, and the ball may have resembled cricket balls and base balls for the era.  

Edit with form to add a query
Submission Note Entered 11/25/2021


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