Grace, Edward Mills (DNB12)

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GRACE, EDWARD MILLS (1841–1911), cricketer, born at Downend, near Bristol, on 28 Nov. 1841, was third of five sons of Henry Mills Grace (1808-1871) of Long Ashton, Somerset, medical practitioner and cricketing enthusiast, who had settled in 1831 at Downend. His mother was Martha, daughter of George Pocock, proprietor of a boarding school at St. Michael's Mill, Bristol. His brothers, Henry (1833-1895), Alfred (b. 1840), William Gilbert (b. 1848), and George Frederick (1850-1880), who all studied medicine, devoted themselves to cricket, the two youngest obtaining world-wide reputations for their all-round play. After education at Long Ashton, where he showed the family zeal for cricket, Grace studied medicine at the Bristol Medical School; he became M.R.C.S. England and L.R.C.P. Edinburgh in 1865, and L.S.A. in 1866. At first residing at Marshfield, he settled in 1869 at Thornbury, where he practised till his death, and took a prominent part in the life of the town. He was coroner for West Gloucestershire from 1875 till 1909, and held the office of district officer for the Thornbury board of guardians, was chairman of the Thornbury school board, and a member of the parish council. He died of cerebral haemorrhage at his residence, Park House, Thornbury, on 20 May 1911. He was married four times, and left a widow, five sons and four daughters.

Grace, who was in youth a good athlete and fast runner, inherited from his father an aptitude for cricket, and was the first of the family to become famous at the game. On 7 August 1855, at the age of thirteen, he was chosen for his long-stopping to represent 22 of West Gloucestershire v. the All England eleven. William Clarke, the secretary and manager of the All England eleven, acknowledged his promise by presenting him with a bat (W. G. Grace's Reminiscences, pp. 5-6). He first appeared at Lord's in July 1861, playing for South Wales V. M.C.C., and next year he established his position as one of the finest batsmen in England. He first represented the Gentlemen v. Players in July 1862, and played on twelve occasions between 1863 and 1869, and after an interval of seventeen years played for the last time in 1886. He was the only amateur member of George Parr's team to Australia in 1863, but he met with small success. In August 1862, playing as a substitute for the M.C.C. v. the Gentlemen of Kent, at Canterbury, Grace carried his bat through the innings, scoring 192 not out, and captured all ten wickets in the second innings — a double feat only equalled by his brother William in 1886 and by Vyell Edward Walker [q. v. Suppl. II] in 1859. Grace's most notable seasons were those of 1863, of 1864, and of 1865. In 1863, when he made during the season 3000 runs, he, when playing for twenty of the Lansdown Club, Bath, scored 73 against a team which included Tinley, Jackson, and Tarrant, leading bowlers of England. In June 1865, when playing for eighteen of the Lansdown Club at Sydenham Field, Bath, he scored 121 against the United All England XI, 'an epoch-making event, as such achievements against the All England team were almost unheard of' (W. G. Grace's Reminiscences, p. 28). Although after 1865 Grace's fame was overshadowed by that of his younger brothers, William Gilbert and George Frederick, he long had a share in most of their triumphs in the matches between the Gentlemen and Players; from 1867 to 1874 the amateurs lost only a single match. The three Graces played for England against the Australians (6–8 Sept. 1880), an incident unparalleled in international cricket history. In August of the same year, at Clifton, Grace scored 65 and 43 (of 191 and 97 respectively) for Gloucestershire v. the Australians. The brilliant play of the Graces raised Gloucestershire to a first-class county in 1869, and champion county in 1876 and 1877. Grace was secretary of the Gloucestershire club from 1871 until 1909.

Quick of eye and limb, Grace was a rapid scorer and forcible hitter. Of unorthodox style, he was one of the first to employ the 'pull' stroke, hitting well-pitched off-balls to the on-boundary with consummate ease. His nerve, judgment, and speed made him 'the best point' ever known, taking the ball almost off the bat (Daft, Kings of Cricket, p. 107). Grace ceased to play in county cricket in 1896, but played almost until his death for the Thornbury team, which he managed and captained for 35 years. In 1910, at the age of seventy, he played for them in some forty matches, meeting with much success as a lob bowler. During his cricketing career he scored over 76,000 runs and took over 12,000 wickets; he had an inexhaustible supply of cricketing recollections, which he would relate with much vivacity. He was a bold rider to hounds.

[W. G. Grace's Cricketing Reminiscences, 1899; Daft, Kings of Cricket, pp. 106–7 (with portrait, p. 13); K. S. Ranjitsinhji's Jubilee Book of Cricket, 1897, pp. 378–80; Haygarth's Scores and Biographies, vii. 114–5; Wisden's Cricketers' Almanack, 1911, p. 201 (for Thornbury performances) ; 1912 (for memoir); Lancet, 27 May 1911.]

W. B. O.