Frederick Stokes (rugby union)

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Frederick Stokes
Frederick Stokes.jpg
Full name Frederick Stokes
Date of birth 12 July 1850
Place of birth Greenwich[1]
Date of death 7 February 1929
Place of death Inhurst House, Baughurst, Berks[1]
School Rugby School
Occupation(s) Solicitor[2]
Rugby union career
Playing career
Position Forward
Professional / senior clubs
Years Club / team Caps (points)
Blackheath
National team(s)
Years Club / team Caps (points)
1871–1873 EnglandEngland 3 (0)

Frederick Stokes was the first captain of the England national rugby union team, who played for and captained the team in the first three rugby internationals, all between England and Scotland. He was also the youngest ever president of the Rugby Football Union.

Early life[edit]

Frederick Stokes was born on 12 July 1850 in Greenwich, the son of Henry Graham Stokes, Proctor to the Admiralty[3] and solicitor, and his wife Elizabeth Sewell. He was one of at least nine children (six brothers and three sisters)[4][5] and attended Rugby School.[2]

Rugby football[edit]

Stokes played for Blackheath F.C. and was for a time captain of that side. His five brothers also played for Blackheath.

Frederick Stokes and the first England Team, 1871, prior to the 1st international, vs Scotland in Edinburgh.

On 26 January 1871, when Stokes was 20 years old he, along with Benjamin Burns, represented Blackheath at a meeting of twenty-one rugby teams at the Pall Mall Restaurant.[2] The outcome of the meeting was the founding of the Rugby Football Union whose Laws were to be drafted by three Old Rugbeians, Algernon Rutter, E.C.Holmes and L.J. Maton. Less than two months later, Stokes, himself an Old Rugbeian, accepted a challenge from Scotland to raise a 20-man side to take to Edinburgh to play in what was to be the first international. Burns was also in the England side and of the 20 men, 10 were former pupils of Rugby School. Stokes was chosen to captain this side, which played Scotland at Raeburn Place in Edinburgh on 27 March 1871.[1] The laws of Rugby were still far from clearly defined at the time and the Scottish and English teams used different interpretations of them, which led to what has been described as "a sometimes chaotic affair".[2] Scotland won this first ever international by one goal and one try to one try.

Stokes was chosen to captain the return match in 1872 when Scotland visited the Kennington Oval on 5 February 1872.[1] England won this match by one goal, one drop goal and two tries, to one drop goal. The teams played for a third time the following year on 3 March 1873[1] in Glasgow which ended scoreless. Once again, Stokes was the captain and was one of only three England players to have appeared in every match. This was Stokes' last international and he effectively retired from international rugby when he was not yet 23 years old. However, his involvement continued and in 1874 he became the second president of the fledgling RFU and remains the youngest person to have held the position.[2]

He was described as a "brilliant forward, being always on the ball, and often making excellent runs …can also play at capital form at half-back, is a sure tackle and a first-rate drop or place-kick".[1]

Frederick Stokes
Personal information
Full name Frederick Stokes
Batting style Right-handed
Bowling style Right-arm fast (roundarm)
Domestic team information
Years Team
1871–1875 Kent
Career statistics
Competition First-class
Matches 8
Runs scored 167
Batting average 15.18
100s/50s 0/1
Top score 65
Balls bowled 817
Wickets 13
Bowling average 25.76
5 wickets in innings
10 wickets in match
Best bowling 3/36
Catches/stumpings 3/–
Source: Cricinfo, 9 March 2009

Other sports[edit]

A good golfer, he also played first-class cricket for Kent, as did two of his brothers, Graham and Lennard.[1]

Life outside of rugby and family[edit]

Frederick followed his father into the legal profession becoming a solicitor.[2] Frederick married Isabella Penn in 1877, the daughter of the famous marine engineer, John Penn. This was in the same year that his fellow rugby international and Old Rugbeian, Joseph Fletcher Green, married Isabella's sister Ellen. Thus, he and Joseph were brothers-in-law. They had a number of children including: Frederic Frank Stokes (1880), Alick (1882), Ellen Muriel Stokes (1888), Ellen Sybil Stokes (1891), Ellen Zoe Stokes (1898). Frederick Stokes died on 7 February 1929, at Inhurst House, Baughurst, Berkshire aged 78. Notably, all five of Frederick's brothers were keen sportsmen and all played rugby.[2] One of his brothers, Lennard Stokes, also captained the England national rugby union team.[2]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g Profile on scrum.com
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Steve Lewis, One Among Equals, 2008, pp9-10 (Vertical Editions:London)
  3. ^ The Gentleman's Magazine, Published by F. Jefferies, 1866, p681
  4. ^ Stokes' brothers included Henry (older), Russell, Lennard, Graham and Reginald (all younger); sisters included Mary (older), Elzabeth and Emily (younger)
  5. ^ Class: RG10; Piece: 760; Folio: 35; Page: 20; GSU roll: 824727, Census Returns of England and Wales, 1871. Kew, Surrey, England: The National Archives of the UK (TNA): Public Record Office (PRO), 1871
Sporting positions
Preceded by
none
English National Rugby Union Captain
1871–1873
Succeeded by
Alfred St. George Hamersley
Preceded by
Algernon Rutter
Rugby Football Union President
1875–76
Succeeded by
L J Maton