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Game Stoolball
Game Family Baseball Baseball
Location England (in the past century, predominantly in Sussex and other south east counties)
Regions Britain
Eras 1700s, 1800s, Contemporary, Post-1900, Pre-1700, Predecessor
Invented No

Stoolball’s first appearance was in the 1600’s; there are many more references to stoolball than to cricket in these early years.  For Protoball's  listing of over 60 specific (but mostly fragmentary) sources on early stoolball -- 45 of them preceding the year 1700 -- see Chronology:Stoolball.

Believed to have originated as a game played by English milkmaids using a milking stool set on its side as a pitching target, stoolball evolved to include the use of bats instead of bare hands, and running among goals or bases.

The modern form of the is actively played in counties in the south east of England, and uses an opposing pair of square targets set well off the ground as goals, and heavy paddles as bats.  Since 2010, the game has experienced a renaissance, and now has active youth programs, a season-ending All-England match of prominent players, and the expansion of mixed-gender play. (The ancient game was played by women and men, but in recent years most players and have been women.)  The game is reportedly played in other countries as well.

For more information on Stoolball England and the current status of the game, see  Also see an account of today's stoolball at

Note: McCray suggests that before 1800, there is little convincing evidence that stoolball involved baserunning.


For more information on Stoolball England and the current status of the game, see  Also see an account of today's stoolball at

For a 2013 review of the recent upwelling of interest in stoolball, see Stoolball Today -- The Rejuvenation of an Ancient Pastime

Alice Bertha Gomme, The Traditional Games of England, Scotland, and Ireland (New York; Dover, 1964 – reprinted from two volumes printed in 1894 and 1898), pp 219-220

A. Lusted, Girls Just Wanted to Have Fun: Stoolball Reports in Local Newspapers, 1747 to 1866, (44 pages) 2013. 

A. Lusted, The Glynde Butterflies Stoolball Team 1866-1887 (96 pages), 2011.

L. McCray, "The Amazing Francis Willughby, and the Role of Stoolball in the Evolution of Baseball and Cricket," Base Ball, volume 5, number 1,. pages 17 to 20.



Writing in 1898, Gomme refers to a revival of stool-ball, and describes the rules, noting that the hands -- not bats -- were used to make hits.


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Is there a recent publication that covers evidence concerning stoolball's earliest playing rules?

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