George Frederick Wood

George Frederick Wood

b: 7 DEC 1838
d: 2 JUL 1870
From Cambridge Independent Press, 9 July 1870, p. 5:

The mortal remains of poor Tarrant the All England cricketer, who has delighted so many thousands of lovers of cricket in England, America, and Australia, and who died on Saturday last from the effects of injuries received at Sunderland exactly a year ago, were buried on Thursday, in the Cemetery, at Cambridge, by the Rev. --Scott, curate of Christ Church, in the presence of hundreds of spectators. Amongst the proessional cricketers who followed him to the grave were Watts, D. Hayward, H. Dakin, J, Fordham, and C. Newman. Poor "Tear'em" as he was facetiously called for his rapid bowling, was buried in the grave with three of his children, and he has left a widow and three surviving children, the youngest only six weeks old, without any means of support. His brother professionals purpose playing a benefit match, and it is hoped that sufficient funds may be obtained to put the widow in some business.

From Cambridge Chronicle, 9 July 1870, p. 4:

After an illness of about a year, George Tarrant, the renowned cricketer, died on Saturday at his residence, Newmarket Road, Cambridge. During the latter part of his sickness he was a great sufferer, and a wandering intellect would occasionally manifest his strong attachment to his profession, His illness was brought on by bowling, in which art he will long be had in remembrance for his celerity, which was the cause of his being so familiarly called "Tearem." During his affliction he was well cared for, and only recently a sceme was set on foot for the purpose of saving him from any privation so long as he survived. He has laid the bat and ball aside at an early age, being but 31; and a wife and three children survive him - twins being born only a few weeks back, one of which, however, has since died.

From Cambridge Express, 9 July 1870, pp. 4-5:

Death of George Tarrant: At five o'clock last Saturday evening this celebrated cricketer died at his residence on the Newmarket-road, Cambridge, and it is a mournful, if not singular, coincidence, that his death took place on the anniversary of his final match with All England against Twenty-two of Sunderland, played July 1, 2, and 3. Emmett bowled his, for twenty-one, and after the game he proceeded to Hull for the purpose of officiating as umpire, but before the match finished he was obliged to return to Cambridge, where, after a year;s affliction, his decease happened, as we have stated. He was born of humble parents at Cambridge, on December 7, 1838, and was therefore in his thirty-second year. At an early age he exhibited a strong passion for cricket, and about the best places in England - Parker's Piece and Fenner's Ground - being near at hand, his pretensions as a player were soon patent. His first engagement of any note was at Bottesdale, Suffolk, where he succeeded Fred. Reynolds, who was drafted into the All England Eleven, and afterwards went to Manchester. About ten years ago Tarrant first distinguished himself at Lord's Cricket Ground in a match with All England against the United Eleven, and for his terrific bowling he was soon after gazetted with George Parr's team to battle against the Twenty-twos, where the havoc he made is too well known to need much record. Playing with All England against Twenty-two of Hull, in 1863, he was fatal to the fall of seventeen wickets in the first innings; and in the match with the North and South, played at Lord's in 1862, for the benefit of that evergreen of evergreens, Jemmy Grundy, Tarrant caught W. Nicholson, Esq., and bowled W.F, Trail, Esq., Bennet, Caesar, Griffith, Wilsher, Lockyer, and Hearne, the South in the first innings falling for 61 only.
At the height of his fame, in 1866, he unfortunately made a great hole in his manners, and it is mentioned for the sake of truth, and truth only. Middlesex was contending against Cambridge, at Fenner's Ground, and during the match Bob Carpenter hurt his hand, when Newman was authorised to play in his stead. At thes proceeding Tarrant was dissatisfied, and refused to take furtber part in the game, and, though every effort was used to induce him to resume, he continued inflexible, and so the match was lost, and many friends besides. However, let it be understood that he repented and apologised afterwards, and in a match between Yorkshire and Cambridgeshire, played at Wisbech the following year, he made amends, if good bowling can be said to atone for silly conduct, for in one innings he led off with twenty-three overs for three wickets and a run only. On another occasion, against the same county, he bowled fifty overs, thirty-seven of which were maidens, for twenty-eight runs and seven wickets.
His best innings, perhaps, was the one he played for his county against the University, on Fenner's Ground, in 1866. From the bowling of the Hon. F. G. Pelham and Mr. C.E. Green, and other celebrities, he compiled one hundred and eight runs in such rapid style that only the odd runs were singles. He went once to America, and once to Australia; and so much was he petted at the Antipdes, and so great was his zeal in the game, that on several occasions, after a hard day's work, he challenged eleven colonials at single wicket, and beat them in the bargain.
As late as 1869 he was in fine form with the ball, for at Fenner's Ground in May, on behalf of All England against Sixteen of the University, he bowled forty-four overs for just that number of runs; two dozen overs were maidens, and nine wickets resulted. By many he was thought to be conceited, but such was not the case; and if abrupt expressions escaped his lips, they proceeded from channels that were not to be fathomed by any one. To other than men as ignorant as himself he was seldom overbearing; having deoted a lifetime and his heart and soul to the game, he was simply conscious of his own power. For the last few days he was blind and delirious, and his final words were, "I am happy;" and, if the opinions of a dying man are worthy of record, Tom Hayward has every reason to be proud. Tarrant was buried last Thursday, at the Mill-road Cemetery, and he lies within fifty or sixty yards of the celebrated Buttress. The members of his benefit club - the Foresters - followed, and it is rather remarkable that their high court was also held at Sunderland last year. Mr Inspector Robinson, and a few professional cricketers, also took part in the procession, but there were not so many as anticipated.

From an undated newspaper cutting:

"Tearem" Tarrant, one of the greatest of all Cambridge cricketers, who gained world-wide fame as a bowler. He was contemporary with those other renowned players, T Hayward (uncle of the great Yorkshire batsman) and Bob Carpenter; whose photograph was recently hung in the Hobbs Pavilion on Parker's Piece (reproduced at the time in the Cambridge Chronicle). George Tarrant (his real name we are told in Wisden's was George Tarrant Wood) was borne at Cambridge on December 7, 1838, and died on July 2nd, 1870. He is described in 1860 as being "a slight lad of 22, a capital fielder, whose deliveries are so difficult to hit away that they require a totally new arrangement of the fielders. These three famous cricketers placed Cambridge for several years among the leading cricketing counties in the country. They were renowned throughout the crickct world.

Tarrant died at his residence on Newmarket Road after an illness (a strained heart), brought on by his bowling, which extended over twelve months, at the age of 31. He was survived by a wife and three children.

It is recorded that in September 1862 Mr. Jackson, a well-known owner of racehorses, issued a challenge offering to back for a heavy wager the celebrated trio of Cambs cricketers, Hayward Carpenter and Tarrant, against Halton, Robinson, Hornsby, Darnton and Atkinson. The match came off and ended in favour of the Cambs men by 22 runs. In 1863 Mr Jackson issued another challenge, to the following effect: "My men, Carpenter, Hayward and Tarrant, of Cambs, shall play any three men in England at single wicket for a thousand or any part of it. If there be any pluck in the south I have no doubt a match can be made." This challenge was not accepted "Bell's Life in London," referring to the challenge remarked, "they would doubtless defeat any trio that could be got together." The three were included in the second English team which George Parr took out to Australia in 1863 [see photos in Odds& Ends]. This was in the days before the "ashes."

There passed away recently one who recalled Tarrant's boyhood days He was then known as "Pepper," and among his youthful escapades was the riding of horses bare back round the Common standing circus-like fashion on their backs.

From a letter from the Curator of the MCC, 22 September 1965 (see the photo in 'Odds&Ends'):

Dear Madam,

The Secretary has asked me to reply to your letter of 19th September asking for information about George Tarrant (Wood). He was born on 7th December, 1838, and died at Cambridge on 2nd July 1870, he is said to be buried at Cambridge.

Tarrant toured Australia in 1863/4 and America in 1868. He was a notable fast bowler with a break back from the off, a good fielder in any position and a useful batsman. His contemporaries nick-named him 'tear-away' or 'tear'em'. In his first match at Lord's for All England XI v. United England XI in May 1860 he took 6 wickets for 28 runs in the United's first innings.

The picture you mention is I believe, now at Lord's; a full length photograph painted over in oils and measuring 33 1/2 ins x 24 1/2 ins. It was given to M.C.C in 1951 by a Mr W.M. Wood who claimed to be a grandson and is possibly the crippled cousin you mention because he was I believe living in Balham. He presented it through a friend who was a member of M.C.C. and it now hangs in the Long Room where we should be delighted to show it to any member of your family if you like to get in touch with us. I am very sorry we have no news cuttings but there are books in the library which describe the various tours and matches in which Tarrant took part. These also could be seen by appointment.

Yours faithfully,

Diana Rait Kerr
Curator, M.C.C.


George Tarrant

George Frederick Tarrant
Born: 7 December 1838, Cambridge
Died: 2 July 1870, Cambridge
Major Teams: Cambridgeshire, Cambridge Town Club.
Known As: George Tarrant
Also Known As: registered at death as George Frederick Wood
Batting Style: Right Hand Bat
Bowling Style: Right Arm Fast (round arm)

Career Statistics:

(1860 - 1869)
M I NO Runs HS Ave 100s Ct St
Batting & Fielding 71 119 9 1633 108 14.84 1 58 0

R W Ave BBI 5 10
Bowling 4887+ 421 11.74 10-40 41 16

- Explanations of First-Class and List A status courtesy of the ACS.

Last Updated: Monday, 26-Aug-2002 19:00:00 GMT

From Melbourne Cricket Ground website hall of fame,

"Our dictionaries are in general agreement in defining a demon variously as "an evil spirit, devil, cruel, malignant or terrible person" and (as an afterthought recognising a great game) "a very fast bowler at cricket".

There is little doubt that the cricket reference would have been inspired by the reputation of New South Welshman Frederick Spofforth, who was dubbed "the demon bowler" in the 1880s, when he performed magnificently for Australia against England in the early eleven-a-side combination matches, later known as test matches, which began at Melbourne in 1877. Spofforth incidentally withdrew from this inaugural match because Blackham (Vic), who he had not seen, was preferred to NSW's William Murdoch as wicketkeeper.

The spark igniting the fire in a 10-year-old Spofforth was the 1863-64 visit to Australia of Parr's XI which included the fast bowler George Tarrant. Spofforth marvelled at Tarrant's speed and determined to copy him. The triple objective for Spofforth was pace, pace and more pace.

But these were early days. In the 1873-74 season the immortal W.G. Grace's team to Australia included Shaw and Southerton, whose multiple skills were beyond the limit of speed for the sake of speed. In "Days in the Sun", Neville Cardus quoted Spofforth as having said: "When Southerton and Alfred Shaw came over to Australia their bowling was a revelation and I didn't see why I shouldn't copy them, and Tarrant as well, and try to combine all three. I soon found that variation in pace was the most important thing of all."

Thus Tarrant, Southerton and Shaw must fairly be regarded as the co-grandparents of Australian fast bowlers and, in light of what was to follow, Fred Spofforth certainly is the father. But as a fast bowling demon? No. His subsequent opening partner, Harry Boyle, sometimes was as fast, while Spofforth became a master of subtle changes of pace, swerve, spin and line of attack.........................................".

From about

In 1868 a young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cricket team took to the field at Lord's, in London. And on The Sports Factor, we remember the very first Australian cricket team that played at Lord's, in 1868. This was also an Aboriginal team, from the colony of Victoria. Why were the first Australians to play cricket overseas an indigenous team, and how did this tour come about? Were the players exploited and paraded as a novelty act, or were they respected as serious cricketers? One comment on this, from Rex Harcourt: "If you take the cricketers per se, you’ve got five or six who stood out, and who did the bulk of the play, and then you tailed right to the end where the last two or three hardly contributed at all. But if you’re looking in terms of Aboriginal skills, the top few of the Aborigines were every bit as good as their counterparts in England, and the outstanding fast bowler at the time, the Dennis Lillee of that time, George Tarrant, took Mullagh during the lunch time interval and bowled to him and came back later and said ‘I have never bowled to a better batsman’."

From Susanne Jolme, Australia:
23 April 2004, by email:

Hello Alan, Greetings to you from Australia

I really enjoyed your web-site and all the information about yourself and the family. I had been attracted to it because of the reference to your wife Elizabeth's mother, Winifred Welcher who is the granddaughter of George Frederick Tarrant, the famous Cambridge fast-bowler. I also have Tarrant ancestors and although I have established that there is a link between these two Tarrant families I have not been able to work out the nature of the relationship. I am hoping that you may be able to shed some light on George Tarrant and his ancestors.

My G/G/grandfather, John TARRANT was born c.1819 in London to parents John TARRANT and Annie(or Mary) SCOTT.
He was one of at least 5 children, the other siblings being Ellen (born c.1816); Agnes (born. c.1828 London); Edmund (born c.1830 born Norfolk) and Anna (born ?).

Three of these children (John, Agnes and Edmund) emigrated as adults to Melbourne, Australia c.1850. Soon after he arrived John TARRANT married Amy BOBBET who had emigrated from Somerset. They had 8 children, of which my G/Grandfather, Francis John (born 1851) was the eldest. Francis was known as Frank.

In the summer of 1864, George Frederick Tarrant travelled here as a member of the Second All England cricket team (captained by George Parr) which toured Australia and New Zealand. During that 1864 tour George presented a personally engraved cricket ball to my G/Grandfather, Frank Tarrant, who was then 13 years old. The text is engraved on to a silver plaque which was attached to the much "batted" and "bowled" cricket ball and actually states that it was presented by George Tarrant to Frank Tarrant. No doubt young Frank would have been in seventh heaven at such a gift from the great man himself. This cricket ball has been handed down from Tarrant to Tarrant through the generations and is a cherished possession, however it has always intrigued and baffled us as to what the connection was between George and Frank Tarrant.

It would seem that cricket was in the blood. The "Australian" Tarrants (John & Amy's descendants) made quite a name for themself as a "cricketing" family. One of their sons, Willam Ambrose, played in first class matches for Victoria and a grandson, Francis Alfred Tarrant (known as Frank - yes there are many Frank Tarrant's in this family!!) became a professional cricketer and for 10 years before WW1 was ranked amongst the best players in the world. Frank or "FA" as he was known was a 1st class all-rounder. He eventually went to England, joined the ground staff at Lord's to serve his qualifying period, then played for Middlesex from 1905 to 1914. In 1907 he was named one of Wisden's Five Cricketers of the Year. I think that his wife Kathleen and sons, Louis Bernard Napoleon (good name eh), Albert Edward and Francis Alfred would have been living in England with him at this time. Various cricketing biographies mention that "FA" is related to George Tarrant.

But back to our earlier Tarrants......Would you have any information that may assist with regard to George's parents, James Tarrant and Eliza (nee Wood). Did James Tarrant have any brothers? From the info that I have gathered it would seem that George had a brother Edward and a sister Louisa. Do you know if they married and had children? Even if you do not have any info about George's ancestors, I would still be interested in anything that you may have on George's life, including his descendants. According to the 1881 British census, George's widow, Martha Tarrant WOOD was living at 30 Melbourn Place, St Andrew the Less, Cambridge with her sons, George Thomas TARRANT, aged 18yrs and Harry TARRANT, aged 12 yrs. Also listed are Annie Louisa RAVON, niece, aged 16 yrs; Martha Maud LUMB, niece, aged 8 yrs and Frederic NUNN, nephew aged 7 yrs. Do you know how these nieces & nephews fit into the picture?

I wonder why George's surname on his death registration is listed under his mother's maiden name, WOOD. His birth was registered as TARRANT. Interestingly in the 1881 census, George's wife, Martha has listed her surname as Tarrant WOOD, although her children's surnames are listed as TARRANT.

I am not sure how much information you have collected with regard to George. I read with interest the letter on your web-site from Lord's with regards to a portrait of George. I too have written to Lords with regard to both George and "FA" Tarrant and they kindly sent me various bits and pieces on both cricketers, including a most informative obituary and a poem about George. I also have a copy of George's birth certificate. If you would like a copy of these or any further info on the "Australian" Tarrants, please let me know and I will send/scan to you. No problem at all.

Being a sports-loving nation it goes without saying that we Australians are tremendously proud of our cricketing Tarrant ancestors and are delighted to be linked to "Tear 'em Tarrant" even if somewhat distantly. The famous cricket ball was recently been handed down to a new generation of Tarrants and it would be so lovely to complete the missing piece of the puzzle as to how the two Tarrant families are related? If there is another member of the family that you think may be able to assist would you be kind enough to either forward this on to them or I am happy to write if you think it more appropriate.

Isn't the internet wonderful. I am so happy to have finally found a descendant of George Tarrant (in your Elizabeth). Please pass on my best regards to her.

Look forward to your thoughts.

Kindest regards
Susanne Jolme
Mount Evelyn, Victoria

27 April 2004, by email:

Hello Alan

Thank you so much for the article and the newspaper cutting. I was absolutely delighted with them. The newspaper cutting has printed out beautifully. I was amazed that it would appear to be the original article and still in tip-top condition - not bad for a 140 year old newspaper cutting - you, Elizabeth and her ancestors have been excellent historical custodians.

The article from the Cambridge City Library is just fantastic. I have read and reread it over the weekend and now feel that I have a clearer picture of George. You wouldn't credit it but George's personality is very similar to our Tarrant ancestors here!! My grandfather and his cousins would often reminisce about the "good old days". The family were rather eccentric, all great debaters (around the dining table that is), intelligent, very outspoken but decidedly "blinkered" in their views. They were keenly interested in all sports (with notable contributions to cricket and football) and just like George, some of the boys had some skill as boxers (in the ring I think - not the street!!) during their early days.

There is another interesting similarity between the two families. There is a possible entry in the 1881 British Census for George's brother, Edward (who died only 4 years later) and his family. This Edward stated his occupation as Boot Closer which is exactly the same occupation that my Great Grandfather, Frank Tarrant and his brother Edward Tarrant had in Australia (at around the same time). Maybe some of the following names might be familiar to Elizabeth or her sister?

Here is the census entry for Edward Tarrant and his family:

114 Newmarket Road, St Andrew the Less, Cambridge
Edward TARRANT Head 33 years Born Cambridge Occupation Boot Closer
Susan TARRANT Wife 33 years Born Cambridge (Was Susan's maiden name CASEY by any chance?)
Sarah TARRANT Dgtr 6 yrs Born Cambridge Occupation Scholar
Florence A. TARRANT Dgtr 2 yrs Born Cambridge
William TARRANT Son Age 1 month Born Cambridge
Sarah JAMES Aunt Age 65 yrs Born Cambridge (Sarah was blind)

As I mentioned in my earlier email, I have collected various bits and pieces on George's cricketing career including his biography in various cricketing almanacks and would be happy to mail them to you if you would be interested. However I must say these pale into comparison when I look at the wonderful article that you have sent sent me. I am not sure whether Elizabeth is interested in the Australian Tarrants at this stage but would be happy to send further info about the cricketing career of Frank "FA" Tarrant who is my grandfather's cousin. One of the pieces from the Wisden Book of Obituaries refers to the fact that 'FA" and George are related. It is no problem at all to do this for you.

Thankyou so much again Alan for the information you so kindly emailed to me. It was very much appreciated.

Kindest regards to yourself and Elizabeth

See also folders 4 (for a detailed cricket biography) and 7.
  • 7 DEC 1838 - Birth - ; Cambridge
  • 2 JUL 1870 - Death - ; Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, England
  • Occupation - Professional Cricketer
George Frederick Wood
7 DEC 1838 - 2 JUL 1870
Family Group Sheet - Child
PARENT (M) James Tarrant
Marriageto Eliza Wood
PARENT (F) Eliza Wood
Marriageto James Tarrant
MEdward Tarrant
BirthABT 1848
FLouisa Tarrant
MGeorge Frederick Wood
Birth7 DEC 1838Cambridge
Death2 JUL 1870Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, England
Marriageto Martha Lumb
Family Group Sheet - Spouse
PARENT (M) George Frederick Wood
Birth7 DEC 1838Cambridge
Death2 JUL 1870 Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, England
Marriageto Martha Lumb
FatherJames Tarrant
MotherEliza Wood
PARENT (F) Martha Lumb
Marriageto George Frederick Wood
MGeorge Thomas TARRANT
BirthABT 1863
MHarry Wood
Birth22 JAN 1869Cambridge, England.
Marriage11 DEC 1887to Anna Elizabeth Dant at Chesterton, Camridge, Cambridgeshire.
[S37940] Newspaper cutting(s)
Descendancy Chart
George Frederick Wood b: 7 DEC 1838 d: 2 JUL 1870
George Thomas TARRANT b: ABT 1863
Harry Wood b: 22 JAN 1869
Anna Elizabeth Dant b: MAR 1869 d: 29 NOV 1896
Winifred Emilie Wood b: 15 APR 1892 d: 30 MAR 1992
Maurice Martineau Welcher b: 13 NOV 1893 d: 14 MAY 1981
Eileen Mary Welcher b: 26 NOV 1922 d: 10 APR 2015
Elizabeth Ethel (Bebet) Welcher b: 29 MAR 1930 d: 1 MAY 2024
Mabel Wood b: ABT 1890
Wilfred Wood b: ABT 1891