Sunday, 11 August 2013

W G Grace knew my great grandmother

I've never been any more than a lukewarm fan of cricket. To be honest, I'd put cricket in the 'things I could quite happily live without' category (along with pandas, meercats, Tories and the Royal family - to name just a few other contenders for the same fate). Imagine, if you can (or can be bothered to, I won't be offended if you can't) my surprise when I discovered a link, albeit very tenuous, between my family and W.G.Grace, possibly the most famous of all English cricketers. Here's the story.

As part of my ongoing family history researches, I've just got a copy of my great grandmother, Sarah Batt's, death certificate. Her death was certified by one W.G.Grace and, after a little Googling, it turns out that this was the man with the bat - or stethoscope on this particular occasion. After qualifying W.G. worked in his own practice in Easton, a largely poor district of Bristol where great grandmother Sarah lived, employing two locums to look after matters when he was away during the cricket season. He was the local Public Vaccinator and had additional duties as the Medical Officer to the Barton Regis Union, which involved tending patients in the workhouse. It is not fanciful to speculate that he probably came across other members of my family whilst doing that. Some of them do feature as sometime inmates of this establishment. There are many testimonies from his patients that he was a good doctor, for example: "Poor families knew that they did not need to worry about calling him in, as the bills would never arrive". I wonder if great grandfather Jacob got a bill from him for the certification?

It occurs to me that that might have been the closest any of my family have come to cricket - then or since. In Sarah Batt's case, she was dismissed for 39. And I'm resisting the temptation to comment on the Batt/cricket/W.G. coincidence.

My great grandmother, Sarah Batt, died in 1884 in Bristol. She was 39 and a mother of five. Click on the image to see a larger version.
The cause of death was bronchitis and asthenia (exhaustion) and was certified by W.G.Grace.

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