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Gregory, David William (1845–1919)

by R. Else-Mitchell

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 4, (MUP), 1972

David William Gregory (1845-1919), cricketer, was born on 15 April 1845 at Wollongong, son of Edward William Gregory (1805-1879), bootmaker, and his wife Mary Anne, née Smith (1817-1901), who were married on 25 May 1835 at Sydney. Edward William arrived in Sydney on 28 July 1814 in the Broxbornebury with his parents and two brothers. A capable cricketer himself, he founded probably the most famous family in Australian cricket. In 1861-84 five of his eight sons played for New South Wales in international or intercolonial matches: twenty of his descendants represented New South Wales in cricket and other sports.

David was educated at the St James Model School and in 1861 joined the Auditor-General's Department. In 1883 he became inspector of public accounts and later paymaster of the Treasury until he retired in 1908. Meanwhile he had joined the National Cricket Club in Sydney and in 1866 played his first intercolonial match against Victoria. In 1867-75 he was a member of the Warwick Club and for two seasons had the best averages both as a batsman and a bowler. With his brothers Edward James and Charles Smith (1847-1935) he played a celebrated series of single wicket matches against Victorian players. He captained New South Wales and in March 1877 the combined New South Wales and Victorian side that defeated J. Lillywhite's English team in what is known as the first Australia-England Test match.

In 1878 with John Conway of Victoria Gregory organized the first Australian team to visit England. Gregory captained the side which was financed by £50 from each player. It played thirty-seven matches and won thirteen of seventeen eleven-a-side games, including a renowned victory at Lords on 27 May against the Marylebone Cricket Club that established the repute of Australian cricketers in England and inspired Punch into verse:

The Australians came down like a wolf on the fold,
The Marylebone cracks for a trifle were bowled;
Our Grace before dinner was very soon done,
And Grace after dinner did not get a run.

The team also toured America. Gregory introduced a new conception of big cricket leadership with masterly control of bowling changes, placement of fields and team run-getting. The team's success proved not only a stimulus to Australian cricket but also an impetus, often overlooked, to Australian nationhood.

In 1883-89 Gregory was secretary of the New South Wales Cricket Association. He died from heart disease on 4 August 1919 at Paddington and was buried by an Anglican clergyman in the Congregational section of the Gore Hill cemetery. He was survived by four sons and three daughters of his first wife Mary Ann, née Hitchings, by two sons of his second wife Lilies Leslie, née McMillian, and by his third wife Ellen, née Hillier. He was predeceased by four sons and two daughters of his first marriage and one daughter of his second.

Edward James Gregory, brother of David, was born on 29 May 1839 at Sydney. He played with the National, East Sydney and Bathurst Cricket Clubs. He represented New South Wales against English teams led by H. H. Stephenson in 1862, G. Parr in 1864, W. G. Grace in 1874 and J. Lillywhite in 1876. Next year in Melbourne he played in the first England-Australia Test match. An aggressive batsman he was known as 'Lion-hearted Ned'. In 1878 he retired from big cricket and became curator of the Sydney Cricket Ground which was laid out under his supervision. In 1861 at Sydney he had married Ellen, née Mainwaring; they had three sons and five daughters. He died on 22 April 1899 and was buried in the Anglican section of the Waverley cemetery.

His son Sydney Edward, born on 14 April 1870 at Sydney, played for New South Wales against Queensland in 1889. Next year he visited England with William Murdoch's Australian team and was in every touring side until 1912 when he was also captain; he played in 52 Tests against England and batted 92 times to score four centuries and 2193 runs, averaging 25.8. Known as 'Little Tich', Gregory was a superb fielder especially at cover-point; a strong driver with excellent leg-side shots, he improved the art of footwork and in 1894 he scored 201 against England, a record for the Sydney Cricket Ground until Bradman scored 234 in 1946. Gregory died at Randwick on 31 July 1929 from a gastric ulcer and was buried in the Anglican section of the Randwick cemetery. In 1892 at Sydney he had married Mary, née Sullivan; they had one son and one daughter.

Select Bibliography

  • Argus, Australian Cricketers' Tour Through Australia, New Zealand and Great Britain (Bathurst, 1878)
  • F. J. Ironside, Australasian Cricketing Handbook (Syd, 1880)
  • H. W. Hedley, At the Wickets (Melb, 1888)
  • A. G. Moyes, Australian Cricket: A History (Syd, 1959)
  • Wisden Cricketers' Almanack, 1879-80, 1900, 1911, 1920, 1930
  • Australian Cricket Annual, 1895-98
  • Sydney Mail, 29 Apr 1899, 13 Aug 1919, 14 Mar 1928, 7, 21 Aug 1929, 23, 30 Dec 1931.

Related Entries in NCB Sites

Citation details

R. Else-Mitchell, 'Gregory, David William (1845–1919)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/gregory-david-william-3664/text5719, published in hardcopy 1972, accessed online 30 July 2014.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 4, (MUP), 1972

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