Cricket in the 18th century was funded by gambling interests and some of the wealthier gamblers, acting as patrons, formed whole teams that were representative of several parishes and even of counties. Such a team was "poor little Slyndon (sic) against almost your whole county of Surrey". That quote is taken from a letter written by Slindon's patron, Charles Lennox, 2nd Duke of Richmond (1701 - 1750) in the 1741 English cricket season. Playing at Merrow Down near Guildford on 1 September, Slindon had just beaten Surrey "almost in one innings" .
The Duke of Richmond was the greatest of the sport's early patrons and he did an enormous service to the development of the sport in his native Sussex. He had been active as a player and patron since the 1720s and he lent his benevolence to the little woodland club near Arundel in the late 1730s when he became aware that its residents included three talented brothers, one of whom was showing signs of greatness, and a number of other decent players.
The brothers were the Newlands, among whom Richard was outstanding. Richard Newland (1718 - 29 May 1791), an all-rounder who batted left-handed, became one of the greatest early cricketers and was famous throughout the 1740s. His brothers, about whom little is known, were Adam (born 1714) and John (born 1717). Another good player in the village, although he was an unsavoury one, was the notorious smuggler "Cuddy" whose real name was Edward Aburrow senior. Senior because his son became a regular in the Hambledon team of the 1770s.
It is almost certain that Slindon was not just a village team and that it was in fact a Sussex county team, just as Dartford Cricket Club had always formed the nucleus of the Kent team. There can be little doubt that Richmond cast his net wide and that players from elsewhere in Sussex played for Slindon. But Richard Newland was the star and he was definitely local. It seems that Richmond built the team around Newland and so it was perhaps natural that the name of the team, even if it were a Sussex county XI, should be that of Newland's village .
On Thursday 9 July 1741, in a letter to her husband, the Duchess of Richmond (1706 - 1751) mentioned a conversation with John Newland re a Slindon v East Dean match at Long Down, near Eartham, a week earlier. This seems to be the first recorded mention of any of the Newland family .
In two subsequent letters to his friend the Duke of Newcastle, a future Prime Minister, Richmond spoke about a game on Tuesday 28 July which resulted in a brawl with hearty blows and broken heads! The game was at Portslade between Slindon and unnamed opponents. Apparently, Slindon won the battle but the result of the match is unknown ! Richmond had been involved in ruckuses of this sort before and it must not be forgotten that Georgian England was an essentially violent society. As we have seen in Richmond's tolerance of Aburrow, it was quite normal in cricket for the rough to rub shoulders with the smooth .
The poor little Slyndon phrase followed the game against Surrey at Merrow Down on 7 September 1741. Richmond in a letter to Newcastle before the game spoke of "poor little Slyndon against almost your whole county of Surrey". Next day he wrote again, saying that "wee (sic) have beat Surrey almost in one innings" .
Soon afterwards, Richmond's wife Sarah, a feisty character in her own right, wrote to him and said she "wish’d..... that the Sussex mobb (sic) had thrash’d the Surrey mob". She had "a grudge to those fellows ever since they mob’d you" (apparently a reference to the Richmond Green fiasco in August of the 1731 English cricket season). She then said she wished the Duke "had won more of their moneys" .
In September, the Slindon team came to the Artillery Ground for probably the first time. London Cricket Club was pre-eminent in the game at that time and had dominated the 1730s. In the two matches on 6 and 10 September, London prevailed. They won the first game "with great difficulty" and then, apparently having been assisted by the weather which made the pitch unplayable, they won the second by 184 runs .
The enthusiasm generated by these matches cannot be overstated. Massive crowds attended and fortunes were gambled on the results and on individual performances. A report states that Slindon came to the Artillery Ground "having played 43 games and lost but one". Richard Newland was heavily backed to score 40 runs off his own bat – a feat he failed to accomplish. It should be noted that pitch conditions in those days heavily favoured the bowlers and to score 40 then would be like making a century on a modern "flat track" .
A report states: "At the conclusion of the above (i.e., second) match Slindon offered to play another match against London either at Guildford or on the South Downs for £100, but the challenge was not accepted" .
Monday 23 April marked the death of Sir William Gage, 7th Baronet (1695 – 1744) who was one of the greatest of cricket’s early patrons, especially in his native Sussex, though it is not actually known if he was involved with Slindon. He always enjoyed a friendly rivalry with Richmond and it is possible he did share in Slindon's fortunes .
The London Daily Advertiser carried various notices from Thursday 31 May until Sunday 3 June which announced that two untitled sides would play in the Artillery Ground on Saturday 2 June . On 31 May, the paper said that the teams would consist of "four gentlemen from Slindon, one from Eastbourne, two from Hamilton (sic) in Sussex, one from Addington and three from Lingfield in Surrey" against "four gentlemen of London, one from Richmond, one from Reigate, three from Addington in Surrey, one from Bray Wick in Berkshire and one from Arundel in Sussex". This was followed by the usual reminder about no dogs and the need to obtain a pass ticket if leaving the ground during play .
The Daily Advertiser changed its notice on Friday 1 June through 2 and 3 June by confusingly announcing the names of the players on each side . However, the names in the paper are not the same as those on the earliest known cricket scorecard kept by the Duke of Richmond . The same (i.e., incorrect) names were also reported on 3 June, the day after the match . The paper announced that the two teams would consist of: Cuddy (i.e., Edward Aburrow senior), Richard Newland, Adam Newland, John Newland, Ridgeway, Green (all of Sussex); William Sawyer, Stevens, Stevens, Collins (all of Surrey); and Norris of London versus Stephen Dingate, John Harris, Joseph Harris, Tom Faulkner, George Jackson, Maynard (all of Surrey); ? Bryant (Bromley), George Smith, ? Bennett, Howlett (all of London); and the famous all-rounder Thomas Waymark, now of Berkshire. No titles were given to the teams .
According to the Duke of Richmond’s papers, which are now in the possession of the West Sussex Records Office, including the recorded scores of this match, the teams were somewhat different from those advertised . The scorecard is currently the earliest known in which individual and team scores are recorded but it lacks details of dismissal.
Slindon: Edward Aburrow (aka Cuddy), ? Bryant, Richard Newland, Adam Newland, – Ridgeway, Joseph Harris, George Jackson, John Harris, – Norris, – Andrews, George Smith .
London: – Howlett, Stephen Dingate, William Sawyer, – Maynard, ? Bennett, Tom Faulkner, Thomas Waymark, – Butler, – Green, – Hodder, – Collins .
It is not known which of the two Bryants or which of the two Bennetts took part. Both the Harris brothers, John and Joseph, were involved; and of the three Newland brothers it was John who did not play .
Thomas Waymark was formerly employed by the Duke of Richmond but he is here given as a Berkshire resident and playing for the London XI .
The match included a declaration by the Slindon team in their second innings at 102–6. They made 102 & 102–6d against London’s scores of 79 & 70. Slindon won by 55 runs .
In September, Slindon again played London at the Artillery Ground and won, but details including the margin of victory have not survived . Having now defeated London twice, Slindon felt emboldened enough to issue a challenge whereby it would play any parish in England . London did not accept. Only Addington Cricket Club and Bromley Cricket Club were able to accept .
Matches against both these clubs were arranged at the Artillery Ground: against Addington on 12 and 13 September; and against Bromley on 14 September. It is known that rain intervened and no result or match report has survived of either game, even though they are known to have created huge interest . The only conclusion is that they were rained off .
On 5 July 1745, there was a match at the Artillery Ground between two \"best elevens\", apparently organised by Robert Colchin and Richard Newland, which was advertised rather wordily as Sevenoaks, Bromley & Addington versus Slindon, Horsmonden, Chislehurst & London !
In the 1747 season, Slindon issued challenges in the highly popular (and lucrative) \"fives\" version of single wicket .
On Monday 6 July 1747, Five of Slindon played Five of Dartford at the Artillery Ground . This was the result of a challenge by Slindon, published in the Daily Advertiser on Mon 29 June, to play five of any parish in England, for their own Sum. The announcement advised interested parties: If it is accepted of by any, they are desir’d to go to Mr Smith, who has Orders to make Stakes for them. The three Newland brothers all played . "Mr Smith" was George Smith, keeper of the Artillery Ground. On Saturday 4 July, George Smith announced in the same paper that five of Dartford in Kent, have made Stakes with him, and will play with the above Gentlemen at the Time and Place above mentioned for twenty Pounds .
An immediate slump ensued from this loss of patronage and then cricket was badly impacted by the Seven Years War from 1756 to 1763 .
References to the Hambledon Club, particularly those in the works of G B Buckley , strongly suggest that Hambledon was the organiser of matches played not just by a Hampshire county team but by a combined Hampshire-Sussex team. A number of Sussex cricketers are known to have played for Hambledon during its glory days: one of them being Edward "Curry" Aburrow, son of the notorious Slindon smuggler; and another being none other than the club captain Richard Nyren, who was born in Sussex and was the nephew of the three Newland brothers .