Source: Cricket Archive
Percy Jeeves (5 March 1888 – 22 July 1916) was a first-class cricketer from England, playing 50 matches for Warwickshire County Cricket Club from 1912 to 1914. He joined the British Army in the First World War and was killed in action in 1916. P. G. Wodehouse named his character Jeeves after him.
Percy Jeeves was born on 5 March 1888 in Earlsheaton, near Dewsbury in Yorkshire, England, United Kingdom. He played cricket at Goole Cricket Club, and became a professional player at Hawes Cricket Club. In 1910, he did trials with the Yorkshire County Cricket Club.
In 1912, he joined Warwickshire. In 1913, mainly a fast-medium bowler, he took 106 wickets in first-class matches, at 20.88, and scored 765 runs at 20.13. In 1914, he took 90 further wickets. In all, he took 199 wickets in his 50 first-class matches at a bowling average of 20.03.
In 1914, Jeeves was picked to play for the Players against the Gentlemen at the Oval, assisting the Players to victory by taking 4-44 in the Gentlemen's second innings; Plum Warner predicted a bright future for him.
A few months later, after the outbreak of the First World War and once the 1914 cricket season had finished, Jeeves volunteered for service in the army. He was posted to the 15th (Service) Battalion of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment. On 22 July 1916, Private Jeeves (aged 28) was killed in action in France, at High Wood near Montauban-de-Picardie, during the Battle of the Somme. His body was never recovered and his name is carved on the Thiepval Memorial for soldiers with no known grave.
Inspiration for Wodehouse
P. G. Wodehouse's characters Bertie Wooster and his ingenious valet Jeeves have become famous since their 1915 debut short story; Wodehouse has said that he named his valet after Percy Jeeves. Wodehouse was having a short holiday in Wensleydale, and happened to come across a cricket match at Hawes where Percy Jeeves was playing and thought the name would be ideal for one of his characters.
- Wodehouse, in his 1953 semi-autobiographical book Bring on the Girls!
- "Cricketers who died in World War 1 — Part 3 of 5". Cricket Country. Retrieved 28 November 2018.
- "Casualty Details: Jeeves, Percy". Commonwealth War Graves Commission. Retrieved 8 April 2018.
- Sources consulted