Regency Villians: Lord Frederick Beauclerk

” Undoubtedly Lord Frederick was the first gentleman cricketer of his day for although he could not equal David Harris in bowling surpass Tom Walker in batting or Hammond in wicket keeping he united in his own person all those three great points in the game to such a considerable degree as to be pronounced the Crichton of cricket.” – Lord William Pitt Lennox

The fourth son of the 5th Duke of St. Albans, Frederick Beauclerk  (May 1773, London – 22 April 1850, Westminster) was a vicar, famous cricketeer and also well known as “an unmitigated scoundrel.” He was Vicar of St. Michael’s Church at St Albans and a Doctor of Divinity, as well as a star of the cricket field.

Despite his religious profession, he claimed to have made at least £600 a year – a colossal sum at the time – from playing cricket for stakes.  He was also terribly disliked, so much so that the Times did not even publish his obituary.  He was said to be “foul-mouthed, dishonest man who was one of the most hated figures in society … he bought and sold matches as though they were lots at an auction”.  It was said  that a notorious criminal once refused to travel in the same coach as him on account of his “fluent and expressive vocabulary”.  Another source said he was “cruel unforgiving, cantankerous and bitter”.  (Presidents of MCC by Jonathan Rice.) Rowland Bowen likened him to Talleyrand as “a cleric without, it would seem, the faintest interest in being a clergyman or any kind of Christian”.

The rivalry between Lord Frederick Beauclerk and George Osbaldeston created a large scandal for the institution of cricket during the Regency era. In 1817, their intrigues and jealousies exploded into a match-fixing scandal with the top player William Lambert being banned from playing at Lord’s Cricket Ground for life.

Beauclerk was, no doubt, a scoundrel of the first order during the Regency era.  Criticized in the press for his gamesmanship, he even had a little ditty about him which was said to be a most accurate portrayal of his character:

My Lord he comes next, and will make you all stare With his little tricks, a long way from fair.”

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