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Claxton, Norman (1877–1951)

by Neville Hicks and Elisabeth Leopold

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 8, (MUP), 1981

Norman Claxton (1877-1951), sportsman and businessman, was born on 2 November 1877 at North Adelaide, South Australia, son of William Denton Claxton, auctioneer, and his wife Hannah, late Moyle, née Parr. By the late 1890s Claxton was showing promise as a batsman in the Adelaide Electoral (district) cricket competition. An elegant right-hander, he scored over 500 runs in 1900 and again in 1904, at averages of 48 and 72. After 1904 he also shone as a fast-medium bowler and played for the South Australian team in Sheffield Shield contests in 1903-10.

Claxton was a popular cricketer 'of sanguine temperament' who was said to 'bat and bowl hopefully'. His bowling lacked penetration at State level; but his batting yielded an aggregate of 2090 with averages of 40 or better in three seasons. He took 5 wickets for 129 in 1904 against New South Wales. In a 1906 match against Victoria he 'turned the game' in South Australia's favour, batting for over six hours for a 'splendid 199' not out which included twenty-two boundaries. He managed the South Australian team on its 1913 tour of the eastern States and was a selector with Joe Darling, Clem Hill and George Giffen in 1902-05 and 1907-09. A committee-member of the South Australian Cricket Association for twenty years, Claxton fostered the game among high school students.

Baseball, Australian football, cycling and athletics also interested him and provided opportunities for business and social contacts with other people of modest commercial standing. A 'brilliant cyclist', Claxton joined the North Adelaide Cycling Club in 1902 and captained it from 1917 until his death; he won the Bay Sheffield sprint, using the name F. Pierce, at Glenelg in 1900 and the Bendigo cycling championship in 1901. He played senior football and baseball for North Adelaide. He was president of the South Australian Baseball League in 1913-29 and patron from 1932 till his death, doing much to promote the game at junior levels. In 1934 he donated the Claxton Shield, which remains the trophy of a regular Australian championship.

Claxton had joined the Adelaide Stock Exchange in 1910: his varied business interests included Aileron station via Alice Springs and a partnership in the dredging of Darwin Harbour. A dapper dresser, 'the man with the buttonhole', he never married but had a fatherly relationship with W. C. Clarke. The latter and his family were the chief beneficiaries of an estate of £27,118 left by Claxton when he died in North Adelaide on 5 December 1951, survived by two sisters. After a private funeral with Anglican rites, he was buried in North Road cemetery, Nailsworth.

Select Bibliography

  • Wisden Cricketers' Almanack, 1907
  • Advertiser (Adelaide), 7 Dec 1931
  • records (South Australian Cricket Assn, Adelaide)
  • private information.

Citation details

Neville Hicks and Elisabeth Leopold, 'Claxton, Norman (1877–1951)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/claxton-norman-5674/text9585, published first in hardcopy 1981, accessed online 17 October 2018.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 8, (MUP), 1981

View the front pages for Volume 8

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