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Sporting manuscript Wisden's Secret/Wisden's Bible
260 page partly illustrated sporting manuscript and diary written November 1862- September 1863 by Francis Emilius Cary Elwes.Re. Price. This should be considered as an "invitation to treat" This is probably one of the most extraordinary sporting manuscript in existence or ever discovered.It is perhaps also one of the more remarkable manuscripts to be discovered in the whole of literature. In a small way it will change received history that many people throughout the cricket world, without question, accept as the truth. A truth that I for one, accepted without question. Until that is April 2016 with the study and acquisition of this manuscript and I was able to prove that this could not possibly be the case. Its unusual qualities are threefold. Firstly because it is nothing less than the ORIGINAL SOURCE MANUSCRIPT in part at least for Wisden's Almanac 1864, and secondly because the one person it is not by is John Wisden!!!. and were this not enough thirdly it provides also the textual and stylistic prototype guide from which Wisden's Almanac evolved over the next 10 years. It is of immense importance to the early days of cricket proving as it does that John Wisden was not the sole creator of the 1864 first edition of Wisden but also that the way it supposedly evolved with the edition of bowling analysis, schools cricket and most importantly match reports over the next ten years owes everything to the prototypes in this manuscript and little to John Wisden. It is also of interest to those interested in the subject of plagiarism, because without any doubt as I will show John Wisden is not, repeat not, the sole creator as is generally accepted of Wisden's Almanac. Moreover the way the Almanac supposedly developed was not due to a slow, piece by piece, evolutionary process but simply Wisden imitating textually and stylistically what was in this manuscript. The existence of schools cricket reports, bowling analysis and most importantly cricket match reports for 1863 were written by a man whom as the diary and supporting documents show clearly knew Wisden and knew him for many years and help to prove that this ms. was the original source ms. in part at least for the Almanac. Amongst those who really know their 1864 first edition doubt in some quarters has been expressed as to whether in fact Wisden was the sole creator of the first edition. Proof will be shown in one of the accompanying illustrations and explanations that Wisden directly copied from this manuscript and therefore must have had some access to this manuscript and to a greater or lesser extent copied and claimed as his own, another mans work. To a lesser extent it maybe of interest to those interested in mid- Victorian social history because as one part of this manuscript is a day to day diary. Those interested in shooting at this time will enjoy the daily accounts of shooting in another section of the ms. Whilst those with an interest in medicine and principally the madness of the final stage of syphilis may also find interest because this ms. was probably written during the early part of the final stage of syphilis. It is known that the author died in October 1867 of General Paresis or as we now know it to be syphilis. The ms itself is 3 perhaps 4 mss. in one. The first is a day to day diary covering the period January 1863 to september 1863. The second is a shooting diary covering the period November 1862 to January 1863. The third is a collection of sporting reports to include racing rowing rackets boxing and most importantly cricket. The fourth? is a number of missing pages randomly scattered throughout. In no way do these missing pages impact upon the other 3 texts. The quantity of these pages is sufficient to have contained everything in the 1864 first edition that is unrelated to cricket. The author of this ms. is a man by the name of Francis Emilius Cary Elwes born August 23 1828 and died October 1867. He grew up in a place near Northampton called Great Billing. His father was a race horse breeder (breeder of 2 Derby winners) by the name of Robert Cary Elwes. At a young age his father inherited part of the "Miser Elwes" fortune. From the day to day diary F.E.C. Elwes would seem to have been a man of many interests. His sporting interests included fishing, shooting, rabbiting, rowing probably horse racing, croquet and of course cricket. Outside of sport he enjoyed opera, ballet, theatre, music, art, literature, and history. In about 1856 he married Mary Helen Murray an American born woman whose father Alexander Murray mapped much of Newfoundland and whose great uncle? Sir George Murray was at the Batle of Fuentes d'Onor. Without this ms. little can be found out about F.E.C.Elwes. Googling his name produces few results. But with the ms. he comes to life. Thanks to it it can be shown that he went to Cambridge, rowed and played cricket for Magdalene College, and in all probability first encountered Wisden at Cambridge when Wisden was there in his capacity as a cricket coach and Elwes was playing cricket for Magdalene college. A match in which Elwes took took 13 wickets all bowled. From the diary it can be seen that he banked with the bankers Gosling. Their records for much of the 19th century amazingly still survive and are held by Barclay Archive Group at Withenshaw. His records are accessible and can be read by anyone. They reveal much.They confirm that he enjoyed music. there is a cheque paid to Broadwood and a cheque to Chappelle and Co, both high class piano makers. The records show that he lived at 39 Queens Gate Terrace Kensington. (he writes of "dining at number 39") At the time this street consisted of expensive single occupancy 5 storey mansions. Nowadays many of the houses have been converted into flats. It can be seen that he was a member of the Oval, Lords, Princes Rackets Club, the Oxford and Cambridge Club and the Raleigh Travel and Exploration Club. An important entry is the one in January 1863 which shows that he paid Wisden a sum in excess of 30 pounds. A large sum of money in 1863.This is corroborated by a diary entry that relates to the settling of accounts at Wisden's. Earlier entries in the 1860's show that other bills were paid to Wisden further back into the late 1850's he wrote checks to F Lillywhite, one of Wisden's business partners. Also to be found are entries that relate and connect Gosling's bank records with the day to day diary section of the the ms. with the 1864 Almanac. In the Almanac are 3 entries in January April and October for "dividends due at Bank" The ms. records "dividends due at bank" in January and April but nothing for July. Goslings records show that Elwes did receive dividends in January and April. An entry for fire insurance is found in the Almanac and the Ms. and there is an entry for the payment of insurance. Lords also hold records that go back to the early Victorian era although they do not exist in entirety. But from them we can see he was a member of Lords for many years. 3 addresses are given for him Gloucester Coffee House Piccadilly, Magdalene College Cambridge, and Aislaby Hall, Aislaby Yorkshire. The inclusion of the date of the death of Benj Aislabie one of the worst cricketers on record in the Almanac thus has an alternative reason other than his records as a cricketer and administrator for his inclusion . its a pun on Aislabie's name understood by family and friends but few others. There are many other entries in the 1864 Wisden Almanac which at first sight are puzzling but can be shown to relate to this mans life, family,and friends some of which will be shown later. On many days in the day to day diary are significant entries that are personal to Elwes besides "dividends due at bank" and that are repeated in the Almanac. Below are a few that make it difficult to believe that Wisden thought of them independently by himself. The references to Oxford Cambridge and Hilary Law Terms beginning and ending,Cambridge term divides, Pheasant and grouse shooting begins, ( whilst Wisden may have shot, Elwes clearly knows all about game shooting and fishing and is a far more likely source of the rural pursuit material in the Almanac than Wisden I would beg to suggest) fire insurance ceases,university boat races, Bell's Life are amongst others. Then there are names and words that can be found in both; although in a different context. These include Bentham, Woolwich, Boulougne, horticultural, geological, civil, engineers, Aislaby, Percival, carpets, and monument are but a few. There are a lot of entries that have a personal resonance with the life, family, and friends of Elwes. Some examples follow: Thurs 20 October the Battle of Navarino 1827. Elwes's father in law fought there and received a medal. Saturday 11 June buonoparte captured Malta 1798. Elwes had a brother buried there. The battles of the Crimea. Elwes had at least one close relative (Johnie Elwes who coincidentally? went to Harrow for a short period a few years before Wisden coached there) who appears in the diary and who fought there. For light reading in August he records reading Kinglake's History of the Crimea which quite probably helped provide the Crimean War battle dates together with connections such as the fact that his niece was married to Horatio Tennyson whose brother Alfred of course wrote "the Charge of the Light Brigade. The assassination of Spencer Perceval. There is a check paid to Elwes by a Captain Percival. This may or may not be a pun but in the shooting diary there is a record of a Captain Percival and Spencer Perceval had a son Captain Perceval who fought in the Crimea. 26 January Dr. Edward Jenner who invented vaccination died 1823. There is a diary entry that reads "At Charlotte's. Great panic, smallpox discovered. Thank God its only in a servant as yet" Wednesday 13 July Duke of Orleans killed 1842. There is a short report about racing at Chantilly race course in the Ms. Chantilly was owned by the Duke of Orleans. Or the entry for Tues 5 July which readsD O'connell Roman Catholic elected member for Clare 1828. There are a few connections which suggest Elwes as the source for this entry. His neice Eleanora was married to Charles Fitzgerald a governor of Western Australia and who came from Clare. Another relative owned what is now Stoke College in a place called Stoke by-Clare. Finally there are many connections between the Elwes family and Catholicism in the latter half of the 19th century. They may or may not have been Catholics in secret prior to 1865 but they became prominent and leading members after. Elwes's wife was a Roman Catholic and after his death was the foundress of a St. Dominics school Crieff There are several entries in the ms. that relate to the creation of Almanacs in late March. As a gentleman of leisure and as a man who had some artistic ability it would seem that Elwes spent some of his time creating Almanacs. One entry in particular stands out when his niece Charlotte came round "great fuss and excitement about the Almanacs" records Elwes. Access to this ms. makes it possible ( for me )to think that in late March 1863 this was when the idea for the 1864 Almanac first drew breath. It is posible to think that there was probably a basic agreement between Elwes and Wisden to produce not one but several Almanacs. Elwes would write and probably pay for their production. Wisden would do the trade ie. publish and sell. It is quite clear from some of the entries in the ms. that Wisden and Elwes knew each other and knew each other well. They include "at Wisden's" "pipe with Wisden" "at Wisden's great cricket talk" and most informative of their relationship "Wisden did not come round so I went round to his and found him entertaining a party of cricketers" It was without doubt more than just a simple business arrangement between these 2 men. The shooting diary is of interest simply as a record of shooting in 1862/63. It takes place mainly on the Egton Estate in Yorkshire but there are a few days at Mildenhall and also Stoke by Clare. Each of these places was owned by a member of the Elwes family and it would seem that Elwes had some interest in them. He must have been quite serious about shooting because he speaks of using a Boss Breech Loader. Not cheap. It records basic accounts together with a simple statistical table showing what was shot where and by whom. (if Wisden had some access to this ms. as I shall show he must have had he also had access to this statistical table. (Could this be where the idea for the statistical records employed by Wisden came from). Along with the accounts and statistical table there is a guest list. It shows that Wisden and George Parr were guests for 10 days in 1862.Finally there are several illustrations related to the shooting. One of these shows 3 men in a drawing room and a servant bringing drinks. There is more than a passing resemblance between one of the men sitting down and Wisden. The sporting reports: There are sporting reports for rowing rackets horse racing boxing and most importantly cricket. The rowing reports are very important because of the table showing the university rowing matches from their commencement. When compared with the University Rowing matches in the 1864 Almanac there is an obvious similarity. However when these are compared with the table showing the University Rowing Matches in the Rowing Almanac the trail from the Rowing Almanac to Wisden via the ms. is an easy one to follow. But it becomes certain that Wisden must have copied and modified slightly from the ms. with the use of dittos and single letter abbreviations for minutes and secondsif one examines the timings. The last 3 timings in Wisden 1864 are exactly the same as in the ms. These 3 timings whilst being the same, are wrong, and have been written incorrectly by Elwes.The repetition of mistakes made in an earlier text repeated in a later text together with the virtually identical tables are inescapable evidence of copying and thus prove that Wisden must have had access to this ms. and therefore everything within it. The horse racing records in Wisden 1864 could easily have been supplied by Elwes. Being the son of a race horse breeder who bred 2 Derby winners he probably knew quite a lot about horse racing. Members of his family are listed as stewards etc at Northwold racecourse Lincolnshire. There is a piece in the ms. about the racing at Chantilly in France in 1863. Elwes and or his brother Dick would appear to have had some familiarity with France and French. There is an entry for Dick and Ina (his wife Selina ) going to and returning from Boulougne. This point arguably make Elwes a much better and more likely candidate as the source for the French material and the horse racing tables in the Almanac rather than Wisden. It is however the cricket reports that are of most interest in relation to Wisden. There are many of them. Some of the matches Elwes records his attendance. Some of them have 2 or 3 pages of report for example the match between while the reports for other matches are perhaps only a couple of paragraphs. Any one who knows what Wisden reports are like will soon be struck by the similarity between the reports they know and the reports in this ms.They begin in a similar style: Who was the match between where was it played and when. There maybe a few preliminary remarks about the weather or crowd or details about pitch and then its on to the toss and who opened the bowling and batting and then the bare factual details of play. Just like a later Wisden report, Also sometimes included are unusual but relevant information for example the amusing occassion when the umpires themselves did not know the rules or the "extraordinary" day when Cambridge played the M.C.C. who turned up short of players, borrowed 2 from Cambridge, and won easily in large part to the efforts of the 2 they "borrowed". Elwes, one would guess, was a keen Cambridge supporter. It is not really neccessary to study the newspaper reports of the time to realise that whilst these reports may have been sourced from them they are definitely neither copied nor precised, rather compiled in a similar fashion as Wisden would have compiled reports 6 years later. The use of the words "extraordinary" and "remarkable" when describing unusual cricketing events is met with here for the first time. Their echo is to be heard for many years in latere editions of Wisden . Of course Wisden put his own stamp on the Almanac reports just the same as any other Wisden editor. It was calmost certainly Wisden for example who was resposible for the January 1 entry in the Almanac "British Museum closed" Elwes in his dayu to day diary for January 1 has "circumcision" Later editions would have Circumcision for the January 1 entry.But would Wisden have described Lyttleton, one of the 2 Cambridge players who played for the M.C.C. as a (renegade) or E. Stephenson who was absent for a match and thus had deserted his county thus (the blackguard). Probably not. Of further interest is a report in the style that Wisden adopted for the first Yorkshire Surrey match at the Oval. The missing pages. They in no way effect or impact any of the other 3 texts. Elwes has written 3 concurrent texts within one and on that basis there is no reason why there could not have been a fourth. Elwes is a very fluent writer who makes and or corrects few mistakes in his writing There are at least 15 leaves missing.Given how few mistakes Elwes makes in his writing and the way he has written 3 concurrent texts it seems unlikely that they were removed because of gross error and so therefore it is certainly a strong possibility that there was a fourth text.What could have been written on it? There is more than enough room for one who writes as small as Elwes to have written much if not all of the Almanac on these leaves that is not cricket related. ReflactionTransformation is a recently evolved and evolving technique for the recovery of lost texts. There is a possibility at least that the text of some of these pages is recoverable. Maybe today, maybe tomorrow, but as cameras become more powerful and computers are able to analyze increasing amounts of data the day when what was on these leaves is recoverable may not be far off. The manuscript ends suddenly in mid text.The last pages are all torn or cut out. The handwriting over the last few 50 pages or so shows increasing signs of illegibility becomes increasingly difficult to read. Elwes who writes frequently about being ill between November 1862 and September 1863 is probably reaching the time when his complete sanity is coming to an end. In 1864 according to the records held by Goslings his banking affairs were taken over by his brother and brother in law. In 1864 are court papers that show his wife applying for a divorce. Given that he died of Syphillis there is a something supremely ironic that she cites as reason for her divorce Elwes's inability over 7 years to consumate the marriage. The divorce was contested by Elwes's brother Dick (R.J.C.Elwes) on the grounds that it was not impossible for Elwes to be cured. There seem to be no court papers granting the divorce. His wife Mary Helen Elwes is later referred to as Mother Mary Ignatius and after a period as a nun moved to Scotland and was the foundress of a Roman Catholic school by the name of St. Dominics school Crieff.The Murrays were a prominent family in this region of Scotland. Elwes himself was placed in Ticehurst Asylum. The records of Ticehurst still exist and although his name has been incorrectly entered it is clear from the records that it must be F.E.C.Elwes who is the patient. Ticehurst accounts also survive and they show that either his brother Dick and or solicitor Willoughby Braere Stihl Rackham regularly made quarterly payments generally in excess of 300 pounds. His medical records survive and in the dry clinical way of such documents they record his treatment and deteriorating condition until his death in October 1867.Wisden's Secret/ Wisden's Bible Wisden had 2 big secrets. The first is that he most definitely was not the orignal creative force behind the original Almanac nor was he responsible for the way it looked over the next 10 years. He simply moulded and modified what appears in prototype in this ms. The second secret: Whilst researching this ms. I was astounded to learn that a man as famous in his lifetime as a cricketer, businessman, and publisher as Wisden undoubtedly was should have left not one single signed and inscribed Almanac, not one single signed and inscribed example of his co written book, not one single signed letter. Nothing apart from a few signed legal documents. Nor, even to this day is there a full length biography of Wisden. I find that absolutely amazing and begs the question How come? One reason that may be suggested is that all early Wisden records went up in smoke during the war in a fire and thats why. But surely there were other potential biographers before the war who could have studied these documents. The fact that there has never been a full length biography has a lot to do with the fact that there are no documentary records of any sort were ever found with which to refer to. How Come there are no records. Firstly I think it entirely possible that Wisden may not have been able to write any more than his name and if he were unable to write much more than his name that would offer a sound reason why there are no written records by him. Secondly: Wisden's education ended at an early age. At best his hand writing and spelling skills would have been basic. But suppose he was Dyslexic. Although perhaps very intelligent and his ready wit suggests he was, a basic inability to spell, possibly even to the extent of being unable to spell his own his name as some who have dyslexia are affected may have labelled him as thick and therefore been a prime cause for his education ending early. Over the course of his life he may have learnt to read by his own efforst. But to spell and write correctly is a sperate skill and takes time effort and practice to master. One cannot write without being able to read but one might be able to read and not write. Thirdly: in his lifetime Wisden was one of the most famous people in the country. He must have been asked a thousand times to sign this and that never mind Wisden Almanacs and yet there is not one. Not one even to his friends George Parr and Jemmie Dean, not one to his sister or his editors, not one anywhere! Surely he would have signed some if he could. I have found no evidence that he could write and therefore it is pertinent to ask whether he could in fact write. It explains a lot if he couldn't Notes to the Illustrations Apart from the first illustration all the illustrations appear in the order that they appear in the text.Illustration 1 From this illustration it can be proven that Wisden essentially copied or used with a small amount of editing by the use of dittoes and the substitution of m and s for minutes and seconds this table of the University Rowing Matches. The table of University Rowing Matches can also quite clearly be seen to have been sourced with a few modifications from the Rowing Almanacs of 1863 and 1864 and the trail created from the Rowing Almanac to Wisden's Almanac 1864 via the manuscript is an easy one to follow. But the proof that this must have been copied is to be found in the last 3 timings. The last 3 timings in Wisden are exactly the same as in the manuscript but all 3 are wrong when examined against the Rowing Almanac. The repitition of mistakes made in an earlier work by a later work is a classic proof of copying. Elwes as one can see from the report of the race and accompanying illustration is a fan of rowing. Elwes as can be seen on these illustrated pages writes with surprisingly few corrections although he does make mistakes. The important point about this page is that it proves Wisden had access and used this ms as a source, and because of this, the essential question is not "did Wisden compile the Almanac by himself" By the evidence of the rowing tables he clearly didnt. The question to be asked is how much is Wisden's work and how much is Elwes's. Illustration 2 The second of the missing pages can be seen between pages numbered 2 and 3. There are 2 Sundays on these pages and each have a note denoting their religious significance. Monday 12 is the first mention of Goslings Bank. Monday the 19 "gave cheque to Wisden " this is corroborated by the surviving records for Gosling's which show that Elwes paid Wisden a sum in excess of 30 pounds. Illustration 3 This page is primarily of interest because it shows Wisden and George Parr (another cricketer and best friend of Wisden) as guests for 10 days on the Egton shooting estate in Yorkshire.Illustration 4 Page 28. Is this simple statistical table what inspired Wisden to use or create his own cricket statistics.Illustration 5 Several mentions regarding Wisden and the accumalation of sporting intelligence for the "diary"Illustrations 6 and 7 The beginning of the cricket reports. One should not need to take too long to realise that the way the cricket reports appear here they cannot possibly have just been copied or precised.. Of interest in the All England versus The United match is the short paragraph regarding Law 10 and the illustration at the top of the page 57 depicting law 10. At the bottom of page 57 is a list of the "former matches" Compare this with page 84 in Wisden. Its easy to imagine that Wisden surely copied this with a few modifications. Stephen Baldwin Stephen Baldwin is a well known expert about Wisden the man. When it comes to Wisden the man (I'm not so sure about the texts) he is the go to expert. He along with the publishers of Wisden's Almanac was one of the first people I consulted about this ms. I contacted him about having a look at the ms. Wisden's also requested that he have a look. According to Stephen Baldwin the material I had sent to Wisden's and in which I suggested that Wisden may not have been the original creator of the 1864 first edition had as he put it "piqued their curiosity" He examined the ms for perhaps an hour and a half and duly produced a report and from I have selected 3 highly relevant quotes1) Given the similarity of the style of the reports in Bell's Life and the diary there is a need to ensure that the diary reports are original observations and not just copies or precises of Bell's Life reports. Although invited to no attempt that I am aware of so far has been made on the part of either Wisden's or Stephen Baldwin to do this. However I have looked and there is not the slightest chance that these reports are either copied or precised. 2) This is a valued and valuable item 3) "The diary would suggest that FECE was the source of some of the non cricket information." Since Stephen Baldwin examined the ms. I have studied it much more intensively and relayed anything of significance, and there was much, I have found to him . From this many more connections aside from the ones detailed above have been discovered including some more in the last few weeks that I hasve not relayed to him. I'm not sure but I dont think he knew of the existence of the Rowing Almanac and its relevance to the 1864 Wisden Almanac. (see illustration) Viewing The manuscript is held in a bank deposit box but maybe viewed by anyone with a serious commercial enquiry at any time during banking hours by appointment. 2/3 hours should be allowed during which time I will explain relevance of everything I know between the manuscript and Wisden's Almanac. N.B.To deter any but those interested my time is chargeable.
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Last Found On: 2017-10-02           Check availability:      Biblio    


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