By O. R. Borradaille.
The Essex County Cricket Club was formed at Brentwood in the year 1876, but it was found that the support accorded to the county there was so small, owing to its being so inaccessible, that in the year 1886 the Lyttleton ground at Leyton was purchased for £12,000, and county cricket in Essex may be said to have started from that date, and the ground is now known as the Essex County Cricket-Ground. The ground is one of the best in England, and a large sum of money was spent on the pavilion and other improvements; but for many years the ground did not attract public attention, and consequently in 1894 it was found that the club was in debt to the extent of nearly £3000, and it was feared that it would have to be wound up, as the bank declined to advance any more money, and there seemed to be no prospect of wiping off the deficit. But, luckily for county cricket in general and Essex in particular, a guarantee fund was started, and the whole of the £3000 was guaranteed. Mr C. M. Tebbut, an old Essex and Middlesex cricketer, advanced the sum of £2000, and the debt to the bankers was paid off. In 1894 Essex was included in the list of first-class counties together with Warwickshire, Derbyshire, and Leicestershire; but it did not receive sufficient support from the other counties to enable it to enter the County Championship—in fact so badly did Essex fare this season that it did not win a single Inter-County match, its only victory being one against a weak team of Oxford University, and many people thought its promotion to first-class cricket was premature. In 1895 Essex for the first time entered for the County Championship, and at the end of the season stood eighth on the list, which was considered satisfactory for the first attempt. In 1896 Essex cricket made a great advance, and at the end of the season was number 5 on the list, Yorkshire, Surrey, Lancashire, and Middlesex being in front of it. 1897 has opened in a very promising manner. It remains to be seen, however, whether Essex will improve upon its 1896 form: certainly its prospects are brighter than they have ever been.
The Right Hon. Lord Carlingford was the first president of the club, and on his retirement in 1896 the Right Hon. Lord Raleigh was elected in his place, and is the present president.