Page:Jubilee Book of Cricket (Second edition, 1897).djvu/339

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317
EARLY HISTORY OF THE CLUB.

ground? Attached to Magdalen College is a school for the choir-boys, and the Rev. H. Jenkins, a Kent cricketer. Fellow of Magdalen, and master of the school, used to take his choir-boys to play on the common. An enthusiastic cricketer, he handed the part he had used, the first part you come to from Oxford, over to the University Eleven, merely reserving a corner for his choir-boys. Hence the Magdalen ground; and for many years after, the Magdalen College School continued to play on the same field as the University Cricket Club, which was actually called the Magdalen Cricket Club.

Though it got the name of the Magdalen ground, it was still part of the common belonging to Cowley. The University Cricket Club did not own it, and their right to it must have been comparable to the right of the University Boat Club over the river. The right is peculiar. The Cricket Club did not own the ground, and the Boat Club does not own the river. But anybody who interferes with the sole use of these things when these clubs are using them—well, he does not feel exactly comfortable. So it went on for many years on the part of Cowley Common called the Magdalen ground; so it goes on to this day on the part of the river Thames between Iffley and Oxford. We may leave the exact description of this peculiar right to the ingenuity of lawyers.

Under an Enclosure Act, the time came when the parish of Cowley began to part with its common. When Dr Plumptre, Master of University (famous for his height, for the story of F.P. in 'Verdant Green,' and for his refusal to support Thackeray's candidature as member for Oxford on the ground that he subscribed to "that ribald publication 'Punch'"), was Vice-Chancellor, the Magdalen ground was put up to auction in the Clarendon Rooms, and bought by the University.

The Act of Convocation, dated May 30, 1851, authorising this purchase for the special purpose of enabling members of the university to play cricket, runs as follows:—

Proponente Domino Vice-Cancellario ut Universitatis Sigillo muniendæ sint tabulæ quæsdam quibus e pecuniis ab Academia in sortibus publicis fœnore positis summa duo millia Librarum impendantur ad cœmendum prata quædam apud Cowley juxta Oxoniam in quibus prout hue usque consuetum est pila, vulgo vocata Cricket, sese exerceant Academici juniores, placuit Ven. Cœtui consentire, at ad mandatum Domini Vice-Cancellarii iisdem Sigillum commune affixum est.

Thereupon, by an agreement dated June 7, 1851, and signed