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1500s.2 Queen Elizabeth's Dudley Plays Stoolball at Wotton Hill?
Lord Robert Dudley; Queen Elizabeth I
According to a manuscript written in the 1600s, Robert Dudley, the Earl of Leicester and his "Trayne" "came to Wotton, and thence to Michaelwood Lodge . . . and thence went to Wotton Hill, where hee paid a match at stobball."
Internal evidence places ths event in the fifteenth year of Queen Elizabeth’s reign, which would be 1547-48. Elizabeth I named her close associate [once rumored to be her choice as husband] Dudley to became Earl of Leicester in the 1564, and he died in 1588.
Caveat: "Stobbal" is usually used to denote a field game resembling field hockey or golf; thus, this account may not relate to stoolball per se.
The Wotton account was written by John Smyth of Nibley (1567-1640) in his Berkeley Manuscripts [Sir John McLean, ed., Gloucester, Printed by John Bellows, 1883]. Smyth's association with Berkeley Castle began in 1589, and the Manuscripts were written in about 1618, so it is not a first-hand report.
Note: Is it possible to determine the approximate date of this event?
1586c.1 Sydney Cites Stoolball
Sir Philip Sydney, Lady Mary Dudley
"A time there is for all, my mother often sayes
When she with skirts tuckt very hie, with gyrles at stoolball playes"
Sir Philip Sydney, Arcadia: Sonnets , page 493. Note: citation needs confirmation.
Sir Philip Sydney (1554-1586) died at age 31 in 1586.
As of October 2012, this early stoolball ref. is the only one I see that can be interpreted as describing baserunning in stoolball - but it still may merely describe running by a fielder, not a batter. (LMc, Oct/2012)
Sydney's mother was the sister of Robert Dudley, noted in item #1500s.2 above as a possible stoolball player in the time of Eliizabeth I.
Further interpretations are welcome as to Sydney's meaning.
1680.3 John Bunyan's Son Yields to "Drunkenness, Card-playing, Stoolball," Maypole Dancing
"Bunyan repeatedly emphasized that children should be taught about hell, and that they are accursed. 'Upon the Disobedient Child is written strictly from the parents' point of view. 'The rod of correction....is appointed by God for parents to use' Bunyan had written in Mr Badman, 'that thereby they might keep their children from hell.' But flogging in this case was not successful. 'Since this young Badman would not be ruled at home', his father put him out as an apprentice to a good man of his acquaintance.This familiar seventeenth-century practice did not work either. Bunyan's own eldest son, John, though apparently properly flogged in childhood, was by 1680 mixing with bad company (including another son of a member of Bunyan's church) and later took to 'drunkenness, card-playing, stoolball', and dancing round the maypole."
Christopher Hill, John Bunyan; A Turbulent, Seditious, and Factious People: John Bunyan and his Church (1989), page 270.
Another source attributes Hill's source as Particia Bell, "John Bunyan in Bedfordshire," in The John Bunyan Lectures (Bedfordshire Educational Service, 1978), pp. 35-36.
John Bunyan (1628-1688) was a Baptist preacher and author of The Pilgrim's Progress (1678 and 1684).
So . . . the quote was, perhaps, from a 1680 lecture by John Bunyan himslef?
1748.1 Lady Hervey Reports Royals' "Base-ball" in a Letter
Lady Hervey (then Mary Leppel) describes in a letter the activities of the family of Frederick, Prince of Wales:
"[T]he Prince's family is an example of innocent and cheerful amusements All this last summer they played abroad; and now, in the winter, in a large room, they divert themselves at base-ball, a play all who are, or have been, schoolboys, are well acquainted with. The ladies, as well as gentlemen, join in this amusement . . . . This innocence and excellence must needs give great joy, and well as great hope, to all real lovers of their country and posterity."
[The last sentence may well be written in irony, as Lady Hervey was evidently known to be unimpressed with the Prince's conduct.]
Hervey, Lady (Mary Lepel), Letters (London, 1821), p.139 [Letter XLII, of November 14, 1748, from London]. Google Books now has uploaded the letters: search for "Lady Hervey." Letter 52 begins on page 137, and the baseball reference is on page 139. Accessed 12/29/2007. Note: David Block, page 189, spells the name "Lepel," citing documented family usage; the surname often appears as "Leppell." In a 19CBB posting of 2/15/2008, David writes that it is "George III, to whom we can rightly ascribe the honor of being the first known baseball player. The ten-year-old George, as [Prince] Frederick's eldest son, was surely among the prince's family members observed by Lady Hervey in 1748 to be 'divert[ing] themselves at base-ball.'"
1796.1 Gutsmuths describes [in German, yet] "Englische Base-Ball"
Johann Gutsmuths, an early German advocate of physical education, devotes a chapter of his survey of games to "Ball mit Freystaten (oder das Englische Base-ball)" that is, Ball with free station, or English base-ball. He describes the game in terms that seem similar to later accounts of rounders and base-ball in English texts. The game is described as one-out, side-out, having a three-strike rule, and placing the pitcher a few steps from the batsman.
Block advises [11/6/2005 communication] that Gutsmuths provides "the first hard, unambiguous evidence associating a bat with baseball . . . . We can only speculate as to when a bat was first employed in baseball, but my intuition is that it happened fairly early, probably by the mid-18th century."
Gutsmuths Johann C. F., Spiele zur Uebung und Erholung des Korpers und Geistes fur die Jugend, ihre Erzieher und alle Freunde Unschuldiger Jugendfreuden [Schnepfenthal, Germany] per David Block, page 181.. This roughly translates as: Games for the Exercise and Recreation of Body and Spirit for the Youth and His Educator and All Friends of Innocent Joys of Youth.
For Translated Text: David Block carries a four-page translation of this text in Appendix 7, pages 275-278, of Baseball Before We Knew It.
In 2011, David Block added to his assessment of Gutsmuth in "German Book Describes das Englische Base Ball; But Was it Baseball or Rounders?," in Base Ball Journal (Special Issue on Origins), Volume 5, number 1 (Spring 2011), pages 50-54. He notes the absence of the use of bats in base-ball in England, except in this single source, while rounders play commonly involved a bat.
1827.6 A Tip for Good Health: Cricket for the Blokes, Bass-ball for the Lasses
"With the same intention [that is children's health], the games of cricket, prison bars, foot ball, &c. will be useful, as children grow up, and are strong enough to endure such exercise.
"With regard to girls, these amusements may be advantageously supplanted by bass-ball, battledore and shuttlecock, and similar and playful pursuits."
William Newnham, The Principles of Physical, Intellectual, Moral, and Religious Education, Volume 1 (London, 1827), page 123. Uncovered and provided by Mark Aubrey, email of 1/30/2008.
1828.13 In Christian Story, a Young Girl Chooses Batting Over Tatting
A very strict school mistress scolds the title character: "You can't say three times three without missing; you'd rather play at bass-ball, or hunt the hedges for wild flowers, than mend your stockings."
A.M.H. [only initials are given], "The Gipsey Girl," in The Amulet, Or Christian and Literary Remembrancer (W. Baynes and Son, London, 1828), pp 91-104. This short moral tale is set in England, and the girl is described as being eight or nine years old. Accessed 2/4/10 via Google Books search ("amulet or christian" 1828).
Reported by Tom Altherr, "Some Findings on Bass Ball," Originals, February 2010. This story was reprinted as "The Gipsy Girl," in The Cabinet Annual: A Christmas and New Year's Gift for 1855 (E. H. Butler, Philadelphia, 1855) page 93ff:
1850s.21 "Shoddy" Lords Opts for Mechanical Grass-Cutter
"The art of preparing a pitch came surprisingly late in cricket's evolution. . . . [The grounds were] shoddily cared for . . . . Attitudes were such that in the 1850s, when an agricultural grass-cutter was purchased, one of the more reactionary members of the MCC committee conscripted a group of navvies [unskilled workers] to destroy it. This instinctive Luddism suffered a reverse with the death of George Summer in 1870 and that year a heavy roller was at last employed on the notorious Lord's square."
Simon Rae, It's Not Cricket: A History of Skulduggery, Sharp Practice and Downright Cheating in the Noble Game (Faber and Faber, 2001), page 215.
1850.22 British Trade Unionists Play Base Ball
Richard Hershberger found an account of blue collar base ball in England. A union journal described a May 21 march in which "hundreds of good and true Democrats" participated. Boating down the Thames from London, the group got to Gravesend [Kent] and later reached "the spacious grounds of the Bat and Ball Tavern," where they took up various activities, including "exhilarating" games of "cricket, base ball, and other recreations."
"Grand Whitsuntide Chartist Holiday," Northern Star and National Trades' Journal, Volume 13, Number 657 (May 25, 1850), page 1. Posted to 19CBB by Richard Hershberger on 2/5/2008.
This is mentioned in a newspaper article on a Chartist excursion to Gravesend, in the Leeds "Star of Freedom," May 25, 1850. The Bat and Ball Tavern still stands in Gravesend, and the "spacious grounds" refers to a cricket field adjacent to the tavern, which also exists today. Another article on this excursion, in "Reynolds' Newspaper," May 26, 1850, merely mentions cricket playing. [ba]
1850.23 English Novel Briefly Mentions Base-Ball
"Emma, drawing little Charles toward her, began a confidential conversation with him on the subject of his garden and companions at school, and the comparative merits of cricket and base-ball."
Catherine Anne Hubback, The Younger Sister, Volume I (London, Thomas Newby 1850), page 166. Provided by David Block, 2/27/2008. Mrs. Hubback was the niece of Jane Austen.
1850c.34 Tut-ball Played at Young Ladies School in England
"'Tut-ball,' as played at a young ladies' school at Shiffnal fifty years ago. The players stood together in their 'den,' behind a line marked on the ground, all except one, who was 'out' and who stood at a distance and threw the ball to them. One of the players in the den then hit back the ball with the palm of the hand, and immediately ran to one of the three brickbats, called 'tuts,' which were set up at equal distances on the ground, in such positions that a player running past them all would describe a complete circle by the time she returned to the den. The player who was 'out' tried to catch the ball, and to hit the runner with it while passing from one 'tut' to another. If she succeeded in doing so, she took her place in the den, and the other went 'out' in her stead. This game is nearly identical to 'rounders.'"
Alice B. Gomme, The Traditional Games of England, Scotland, and Ireland (David Nutt, London, 1898), page 314. Accessed 2/10/10 via Google Books search (gomme tutt-ball 1898). Gomme adds that "pize-ball" is a similar game, and that in the past Tut-ball was played on Ash Wednesday in the belief that it would ward off sickness at harvest time. Shifnal, Shropshire, is in the west of England, about 25 miles northwest of Birmingham.
1850s.50 Benefits for Adults Seen in Ballplaying in English Shire: Tutball Rules Described
"Yorkshire: Now only played by boys, but half a century ago [1850's] by Adults on Ash Wednesday, believing that unless they did so they would fall sick in harvest time. This is a very ancient game, and was elsewhere called stool-ball. [West Yorkshire]. Shropshire: Tut-ball; as played at a young ladies school at Shiffnal fifty years ago. (See also 1850c.34). The players stood together in their 'den,'behind a line marked on the ground, all except one, who was 'out', and who stood at a distance and threw the ball to them. One of the players in the den then hit back the ball with the palm of the hand, and immediately ran to one of three brick-bats, called 'tuts' . . . . The player who was 'out' tried to catch the ball and to hit the runner with it while passing from one 'tut' to another. If she succeeded in doing so she took her place in the den and the other went 'out' in her stead. This game is nearly identical with rounders."
Joseph Wright, The English Dialect Dictionary (Henry Frowd, London, 1905), page 277. Part or all of this entry appears to credit Burne's Folklore (1883) as its source.
Note: This describes a scrub form of tutball/rounders. It suggests that all hitting was forward, thus in effect using a foul line, as would make sense with a single fielder.
The claim that tutball and stoolball used the same rules is surprising; stoolball is fairly uniformly described as having but two bases or stools, and using a bat.
1853.12 English Cleric Promotes Co-ed Rounders
"In school at Westbourne I generally examine boys and girls together, and I find this always produces a greater degree of attention and emulation, each being ashamed to lose credit in the eyes of he other.
"In the playground they [boys and girls] have full permission to play together, if they like . . . but they very seldom do play together, because boys' amusements and girls' amusements are of a different character, and if, as happens at rare intervals, I do see a dozen boys and girls going down a slide together in the winter, or engaged in a game of rounders in the summer, I believe both parties are improved by their temporary coalition."
Rev. Henry Newland, Confirmation and First Communion (Joseph Masters, London, 1853), page 240. Accessed 2/11/10 via Google Books search ("henry newland" mdcccliii).
Newland was Vicar of Westbourne, near Bournemouth and about 100 miles SW of London.
1854.8 Historian Describes Facet of 1850s "School Boys' Game of Rounders"
A cricket historian describes an early attribute of cricket"
" . . . the reason we hear sometimes of he Block-hole was . . . because between these [two] two-feet-asunder stumps [the third stump in the wicket had not yet been introduced] there was cut a hole big enough to contain a ball, and (as now with the school boy's game of rounders) the hitter was made out in running a notch by the ball being popped into [a] hole (whence 'popping crease') before the point of the bat could reach it."
James Pycroft, The Cricket Field , page 68.
Note: Pycroft was first published in 1851. See item #1851.1. Was this material in the first edition?
1855c.8 New British Manual of Sports Describes Rounders
An English sports manual includes a description and diagram of rounders that Block characterizes as "generally consistent with other accounts of rounders and pre-1845 baseball." This version of the game used a pentagon-shaped infield and counterclockwise base running.
Walsh, J. H. ("Stonehenge"), Manual of British Rural Sports (London, G. Routledge, 1855), per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 216.
1855c.11 Master Trap-ball, Meet Mister Window
Pictured is a struck ball heading toward a window. Text: "School's up for to-day, come out boys and play I'll put my trap here on the grass;/ Look out John Thatcher, here comes a catcher, oh dear! It will go through the glass."
Sports for All Seasons, Illustrating the Most Common and Dangerous Accidents That Occur During Childhood . . . [London, J. March], six pages; per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 216-217.
1856.7 First Official Use of the Term "Rounders" Appears?
Zoernik, Dean A., "Rounders," in David Levinson and Karen Christopher, Encyclopedia of World Sport: From Ancient Times to the Present [Oxford University Press, 1996], page 329.
Note: Whaaaat? See #1828.1 above, and the Rounders Subchronology.
1857.4 London Rounders Players Arrested
A group of "youths and lads" were arrested by a park constable for "playing at a game called rounders." Posted to 19CBB by Richard Hershberger on 2/5/2008.
The Morning Chronicle, March 17, 1857
1857.31 Rounders "Now Almost Entirely Displaced by Cricket:" English Scholar
"Writing in 1857, "Stonehenge" noted that 'it [rounders] was [p. 232/233] formerly a very favourite game in some of our English counties, but is now almost entirely displaced by cricket.' . . . documentary evidence of it is hard to find before the chapter in William Clarke's Boys' Own Book of 1828."
Tony Collins, et al., Encyclopedia of Traditional British Rural Sports (Routledge, 2005), pages 232-233.
Rounders made a comeback later, at least as a school yard game played mostly be female players. Is it clear whether the game was played significantly among men and boys before 1857?
1858.11 British Sports Anthology Shows Evolved Rounders, Other Safe Haven Games
Block notes that this "comprehensive and detailed anthology of sports and games includes the full [but unnamed - LM] spectrum of baseball's English relatives." The rounders description of rounders features 5 bases, plus a home base. Block considers the changes described for rounders since the first (1828) account, and descries "the steady divergence of rounders and baseball during those decades to the point of becoming two distinct sports."
Pardon, George, Games for All Seasons [London, Blackwood], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 218.
1858.23 "The Playground" Gives Insight into Rounders, Trap-ball, and Cricket Rules and Customs
George Forrest, The Playground: or, The Boy's Book of Games [G. Rutledge, London, 1858, pp. 67-72]. Available via Google Books.
The manual covers rounders, cricket, and trapball - but not stoolball.
Among the features shown: when only a few players were available, backward hits were not in play; leading and pickoffs were used in rounders; the rounders bat is three feet long; two strikes and you're out in trapball; and when a cat is used in place of a ball in rounders, plugging is not allowed.
1858.34 Amusements at Duchess' Birthday Party Includes Base Ball
Duchess of Kent
August 17 was the 72nd birthday of the Duchess of Kent, celebrated at Windsor. Church bells rang. Royal tributes were fired. And, "amusements principally consisted of cricket, dancing, archery, football, trap and base ball, swinging, throwing sticks for prizes, etc."
"Birthday of the Duchess of Kent," Times of London, Issue 23073 (August 18, 1858), page 7 column A.
Given the absence of the term "base ball" in this period, one may ask whether "trap and base ball" was a variant of "trap ball." In fact, the phrase appears in an 1862 in a description of a fete held in August 1859, presumably near Windsor, where, after a one-innings cricket contest, "archery, trap and base ball [and boat races] were included in the diversions. Gyll, Gordon W. J., History of the Parish of Wraysbury, (H. G. Bohn, London, 1862), page 55. Available on Google Books [google "trap and base ball"].
1858.37 In English Novel, Base-Ball Doesn't Occupy Boys Very Long
The boys were still restless - ". . . they were rather at a loss for a game. They had played at base-ball and leap-frog; and rival coaches, with six horses at full speed, have been driven several times around the garden, to the imminent risk of box-edgings, and the corner of flower beds: what were they to do?" . The boys appear to be roughly 8 to 10 years old.
Anon., "Robert Wilmot," in The Parents' Cabinet of Amusement and Instruction (Smith, Elder and Co., London, 1858), page 59
1859.15 Games and Sports Covers Rounders, Feeder, Trap-ball, Northern Spell
Games and Sports for Young Boys [London, Warne and Routledge] This book's descriptions of rounders, feeder, trap-ball, and northern spell were cloned from the 1841 publication The Every Boy's Book, but many new woodcuts seem to have been inserted.
David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 221.
1859.16 Boy's Own Toy-Maker Covers Tip-cat and Trap-ball
The Boy's Own Toy-Maker [London, Griffith and Farran]. This book has information on making toys and sporting equipment. It spends two pages on tip-cat and three on "trap, bat, and ball." An American edition [Boston, Shepard, Clark and Brown] also appeared in 1859.
David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 220.
1859.44 English Social Event Includes Base Ball as Well as Cricket
The activities at an August 1859 event of the Windsor and Eton Literary, Scientific and Mechanics Institute included a one-innings cricket match. In addition, "[a]rchery, trap and base ball, were included in the diversions on the firm-set land, as well as boat-racing open the pellucid flood."
G. W. J. Gyll, The History of the Parish of Wraysbury, Ankerwycke Priory, and Magna Charta Island (H. G. Bohn, London, 1862), page 55. Posted to 19CBB by Richard Hershberger, 3/18/2008.
Richard suggests that this is the last known published reference to home-grown "base ball" play in Britain. This area is about 20 miles west of London. The full list of diversions gives no indication that it was children who were to be diverted at this event, so adult play seems possible.
Would it be helpful to understand what the membership and purposes of the Institute were? Is "trap and base ball" to be construed here as "trap ball," rather than Austen-style base-ball, in this part of Victorian England?
1859.46 Visiting English Cricketers View the Bound Rule as "Childish"
On October 22, 1859, the touring English cricketers played base ball at a base ball field in Rochester, NY, "about two miles from the town, and had been enclosed at great expense. The base-ball game is somewhat similar to the English game of "rounders," as played by school-boys. . . .Caffyn played exceedingly well, but the English thought catching the ball on the first bound a very childish game."
Fred Lillywhite, The English Cricketers' Trip to Canada and the United States (Lillywhite, London, 1860), page 50. The book [as accessed 11/1/2008] can be viewed on Google Books; try a search of "lillywhite canada."
1860c.26 British Book Shows Several Safe-Haven Games - Cricket, Rounders, Feeder, Nine Holes, Doutee Stool, and Stoolball
Doutee Stool: After a ball is thrown or struck, players try to reach a stool further along a circle before the server can retrieve the ball and strike one of them [page 41-42].
Egg Hat: Player A throws a ball into another player's hat, say Player B. Player B tries to retrieve the ball and hit one of the fleeing others, or he is assessing an egg. Three eggs and you're out [pages 42-44].
Feeder: Batter must complete a circle of bases [clockwise] before the pitcher [feeder] retrieves the ball and hits him with it. Not described as a team game [pages 44-46].
Nine-Holes: Egg Hat without hats [pages 54-56].
Rounders: "a most excellent game, and very popular in some of our English counties." One-handed batting; teams of five or more, stones or stakes for bases, runners out be plugging or force-out at home, one-out-side-out, three strikes and out, balks allowed, foul balls in play [pages 57-60].
Stool-Ball: "an old English sport, mentioned by Gower and Chaucer, and was at one period common to women as well as men. Player defends against thrown ball hitting his stool [pages 61 ff]."
Ball Games with Illustrations (Routledge and Sons, London, 1860 [as annotated by the MCC]). Per Google Books, published in 1867.