Frank Stoker

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Frank Stoker
Country (sports)Ireland Ireland
Born(1867-05-29)29 May 1867[1]
Dublin, Ireland
Died8 January 1939(1939-01-08) (aged 71)
Dublin, Ireland
Grand Slam singles results
Wimbledon2R (1893)
Grand Slam doubles results
WimbledonW (1890, 1893)
Frank Owen Stoker
Date of birth(1867-05-29)29 May 1867
Place of birthDublin, Ireland
Date of death8 January 1939(1939-01-08) (aged 71)
Place of deathDublin, Ireland
UniversityRoyal College of Surgeons of Ireland
Notable relative(s)Bram Stoker (distant cousin)[2]
SpouseMargaret (Rita)
ChildrenMay, Norma, Joan and Ruth
Rugby union career
Position(s) Forward
Amateur team(s)
Years Team Apps (Points)
Wanderers F.C. ()
International career
Years Team Apps (Points)
1886–1891 Ireland 5 (0)
Correct as of 9 February 2021[3]

Francis Owen Stoker (29 May 1867 – 8 January 1939) was an Irish tennis and rugby union player.[4][3] He was a member of the pair that won the Wimbledon doubles title in 1890 and 1893[2] and is the only rugby international to have been a Wimbledon champion.[4]

Birth and background[edit]

Frank Stoker was born at Dublin on 29 May 1867, the youngest of the five sons of Edward Alexander Stoker, FRCSI, and his wife Henrietta, née Wisdom, of Rutland Square in that city.[5] The father, himself the son of Dr William Stoker (Senior Physician to the Cork Street Fever Hospital), was "one of the most distinguished of Irish anatomists" and, apparently on account of his prowess in the hunting field, acclaimed "a fine sportsman".[6] All his sons followed him into the medical profession.[7] They were distantly related to Sir Thornley Stoker, President of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, and his brother, the novelist Bram Stoker.[8]

Rugby career[edit]

Frank Stoker was a member of the Second XV of Dublin's Wanderers F.C. from 1883 onward.[9] He played for Irish Schools at their annual meeting with English Schools in 1885,[10] and for Dublin United Hospitals in the following year when a student at Jervis Street Hospital.[11] He was in Wanderers' First XV by the beginning of 1886, was second in the club’s drop-kick contest shortly afterwards (kicking an average of 44 yards with both feet), and was elected its captain for the following season.[12]

He played in the Irish international team that met Scotland in 1886 and again (in what was described as "the best match ever played in Scotland") in 1888.[13] He was named as a reserve for his country's match against England in 1887,[14] played for Ireland against both Wales and the New Zealand touring side in 1888, and appeared once more against Scotland in 1889.[15] His brother Ernest Stoker, also of Wanderers F.C., represented Ireland alongside him in the 1888 games against Scotland and Wales; both men played as forwards.

While studying in London in 1893–94 Frank played for Guy's Hospital and Blackheath F.C., scoring a try in the latter's match with Hartlepool Rovers.[16] He was President of Wanderers F.C. in 1899–1900.[17]

Tennis career[edit]

Frank and Ernest Stoker, playing as a pair, figured in Irish tennis tournaments of the mid-1880s and in 1886 were successful in a doubles semi-final at the Greystones Tournament in Bray, County Wicklow. The last set of that match was "entirely won by the place-volleying and smashing of Frank Stoker who scarcely allowed a ball to pass him at the net", but the pair were outplayed in the final.[18]

Frank subsequently found a new doubles partner in Joshua Pim, a fellow member of Dublin's Lansdowne Club, and the pair began to compete in the annual Irish Championships at Fitzwilliam Square.[19] They were Irish national doubles champions on five occasions between 1890 and 1895[20] and, bringing their talent to England, took the Northern Championships title in 1890, 1892, 1893 and 1894[21] and the All England title at Wimbledon in 1890 and 1893.[22]

By June 1891 the tennis pairing of Pim and Stoker "had been pronounced the finest combination the world had ever seen".[23] This accolade was promptly followed by the pair's temporary loss of their Northern and Wimbledon titles, but they had returned to dominance by 1893.

In 1894, shortly before their victory in the Northern Championships, Stoker was admitted a Licentiate in Dental Surgery by the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland.[24] Aged 27, he was anxious to commence practice as a dentist without further delay and he elected not to defend his Wimbledon title.[25] After he retained his Irish title in 1895 his tennis career largely came to an end, although in 1896 (as in 1893 and 1894) he represented Ireland against England in both the singles and doubles matches of the international fixture.[26]

Stoker's tennis reputation has been somewhat overshadowed by Pim's additional successes in the singles format of the game, but his own strengths in that format were regularly demonstrated. He was a winner of the County Dublin Championships and the Fitzwilliam Purse, was runner-up in many singles tournaments (including when defeated by Pim in the 1891 Northern contest), and during the whole of 1892 was the only player to win a match against the reigning Wimbledon champion, Wilfred Baddeley.[27] His form in 1894 was such that, among Irish players, only Pim and Tom Chaytor were regarded as his equals,[28] it being observed that "His tremendous service, his hard driving and accurate placing both fore and backhand would alone make him a dangerous opponent for the most skilful players, but with these good points he combines volleying of a high order, and quickness which is quite remarkable in a man of his size". He was 6'1½" in height and over 13 stone in weight.[29]

Personal life[edit]

He was licensed to practice medicine and surgery by the Irish Royal College in August 1892[30] but, wishing to specialise in dentistry, obtained a place at the recently established Dental School of Guy's Hospital in 1893.[31] After obtaining his dental degree he practised from 23 Westland Row (next to Oscar Wilde's birthplace) in Dublin,[32] and in June 1899 he married Margaret (Rita) Maunsell, niece of Surgeon General Thomas Maunsell, CB, of the Army Medical Service.[33]

He took up golf, playing at and for the Portmarnock and Royal Dublin clubs and competed, unsuccessfully, in the Irish Amateur Open Championship in 1907.[34]

He died at St Vincent's University Hospital, St Stephen's Green, Dublin, on 8 January 1939, aged 71.[35] He and his wife had five daughters, of whom Monica, Joan and Norma survived to adulthood. Norma won the Irish Girls' Lawn Tennis Championship in 1922, was for several years Irish Ladies' Doubles Champion, and represented Ireland at both tennis and hockey.[36]

Grand Slam finals[edit]

Doubles (2 titles)[edit]

Result Year Championship Surface Partner Opponents Score
Win 1890 Wimbledon Championships Grass United Kingdom Joshua Pim United Kingdom George Hillyard
United Kingdom Ernest Lewis
6–0, 7–5, 6–4
Win 1893 Wimbledon Championships Grass United Kingdom Joshua Pim United Kingdom Harry Barlow
United Kingdom Ernest Lewis
4–6, 6–3, 6–1, 2–6, 6–0

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Residents of a house 23 in Westland Row (Trinity Ward, Dublin), Census of Ireland, 1911; Westland Row Dublin; Retrieved on 5 March 2018
  2. ^ a b "1890: The year that Ireland ruled at the All England Club". Irish Times. Retrieved 9 February 2021. This article describes Frank Stoker as Bram Stoker's cousin; they were not, however, first cousins.
  3. ^ a b Player profile on, retrieved 27 February 2010
  4. ^ a b Fran Cotton (ed.) The Book of Rugby Disasters & Bizarre Records (Compiled by Chris Rhys. London. Century Publishing. 1984. ISBN 0-7126-0911-3)
  5. ^ Nottingham Evening Post, 18 August 1893, p. 2; Wicklow News-Letter and County Advertiser, 21 May 1864, p. 1.
  6. ^ The Freeman's Journal, Dublin, 21 January 1889, p. 5; Daily Express, Dublin, 21 January 1889, p. 4; The Field, 26 January 1889, p. 22.
  7. ^ Daily Express, Dublin, 24 January 1889, p. 7; Cork Constitution, 27 September 1895, p. 1.
  8. ^ The Life of Bram Stoker, Extended Family.
  9. ^ Daily Express, Dublin, 5 November 1883, p. 3.
  10. ^ The Field, 10 January 1885, p. 33.
  11. ^ The Field, 13 November 1886, p. 39.
  12. ^ Sport, Dublin, 10 April 1886, p. 7; The Freeman's Journal, Dublin, 2 January 1886, p. 7, and 2 October 1886, p. 7.
  13. ^ Sport, Dublin, 27 February 1886, p. 8; The Freeman's Journal, 12 March 1888, p. 7.
  14. ^ The Sportsman, 24 January 1887, p. 4.
  15. ^ Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser, 5 March 1888, p. 7; The Freeman's Journal, 3 December 1888, p. 7; Belfast News-Letter, 18 February 1889, p. 3.
  16. ^ Athletic News, 27 November 1893, p. 3; Edinburgh Evening News, 7 December 1883, p. 4; Sketch, 10 January 1884, p. 10.
  17. ^ Northern Whig and Belfast Post, 11 January 1939, p. 6.
  18. ^ Daily Express, Dublin, 21 August 1886, p. 7.
  19. ^ Daily Express, Dublin, 24 May 1888, p. 2.
  20. ^ Daily Express, Dublin, 2 June 1890, p. 2; Sheffield Daily Telegraph, 5 June 1891, p. 8; Irish Independent, 29 May 1893, p. 6; Northern Whig, 28 May 1884, p. 7; The Field, 8 June 1895, p. 38.
  21. ^ Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser, 23 June 1890, p. 3; East Anglian Daily Times, 20 June 1892, p. 8; Bradford Daily Telegraph, 19 June 1893, p. 3; The Field, 23 June 1894, p. 64.
  22. ^ Sheffield Daily Telegraph, 24 July 1890, p. 8; The Field, 22 July 1883, p. 33.
  23. ^ Yorkshire Post, 24 June 1891, p. 3.
  24. ^ The Freeman's Journal, 26 May 1894, p. 6.
  25. ^ Irish Independent, 3 July 1894, p. 7.
  26. ^ Sheffield Daily Telegraph, 21 July 1893, p. 8; Sheffield Evening Telegraph, 30 May 1894, p. 3; Morning Post, 26 May 1896, p. 3.
  27. ^ Pall Mall Gazette, 30 September 1892, p. 2.
  28. ^ The Freeman’s Journal, 4 June 1894, p. 4.
  29. ^ Nottingham Evening Post, 18 August 1893, p. 2.
  30. ^ Daily Express, Dublin, 3 August 1892, p. 7.
  31. ^ Evening Herald, Dublin, 7 October 1893, p. 4.
  32. ^ The Freeman's Journal, 30 June 1899, p. 6.
  33. ^ The Queen, 24 June 1899, p. 52.
  34. ^ Irish Times, 3 April 1905, p. 7; Yorkshire Post, 4 April 1910, p. 11; Dundee Courier, 3 September 1907, p. 3.
  35. ^ Northern Whig, 11 January 1939, p. 6; England and Wales Probate Calendar: grant of administration in respect of the effects of Francis Owen Stoker, 18 November 1939.
  36. ^ Sport, Dublin, 26 August 1922, p. 12; Evening Herald, Dublin, 14 July 1930; Belfast News-Letter, 27 February 1928, p. 3, and 27 July 1931, p. 13; Northern Whig, 3 March 1928, p. 4; Dictionary of Irish Biography[1].

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