Australian Dictionary of Biography

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George John Bonnor (1855–1912)

by Ian Johnson

This article was published:

George Bonnor, c.1895

George Bonnor, c.1895

George John Bonnor (1855-1912), cricketer, was born on 25 February 1855 at Bathurst, New South Wales, son of George Bonnor, produce merchant, and his wife Sarah Ann, née Holmes. He had a magnificent physique, standing six feet six inches (198 cm) and weighing seventeen stone (108 kg); with his golden hair and flowing beard, he was often referred to as a reincarnation of the Viking gods. He is probably the biggest hitter in cricket history; he hit one ball over the pavilion at Kennington Oval, drove another 170 yards (155 m), and hit yet another so high that he and his partner ran 3 before it was caught. He had great self-confidence. When asked to name the three best batsmen in the world he replied, 'Well you cannot get away from W. G. and Murdoch isn't far behind. I would rather you did not ask me to name the third!' He played with Victoria until 1885 when he transferred to New South Wales.

Bonnor played in seventeen Test matches against England, touring England five times; in 1880 he scored 145 runs averaging 9 each innings; in 1882 he made 815 runs averaging 20 with a top score of 122 not out; 937 averaging 19 in 1884, 581 averaging 19 in 1886, and 1204 runs averaging 19 in 1888 when he was second in the batting averages to Percy McDonnell. In Test matches Bonnor scored 512 runs at an average of 16 with a highest score of 128; a typical reference to this innings was that 'the big man slogged of course'. Sometimes it was said that too often his batting suffered because he tried to play steady cricket; once when congratulated upon hitting a ball over the fence, he replied, 'Why, I only blocked it'. An excellent outfield, he had no superior in his returns to the wicket. He could throw the ball further than any other player of his day, regularly sending it over 120 yards (110 m). While travelling to England in 1880 he made a wager of £100 with a fellow passenger that his first throw in England would be more than 100 yards (91 m); he won the bet by throwing the ball 115 yards (105 m).

In his last years Bonnor suffered from a heart condition, but carried on business as a produce buyer. He died, unmarried, at East Orange, New South Wales, on 27 June 1912 and was buried in the Baptist cemetery.

Select Bibliography

  • A. G. Moyes, Australian Batsmen (Syd, 1954)
  • A. G. Moyes, Australian Cricket: A History (Syd, 1959)
  • Argus (Melbourne), 28 June 1912.

Related Entries in NCB Sites

Citation details

Ian Johnson, 'Bonnor, George John (1855–1912)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1969, accessed online 17 April 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 3, (Melbourne University Press), 1969

View the front pages for Volume 3

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

George Bonnor, c.1895

George Bonnor, c.1895

Life Summary [details]


25 February, 1855
Bathurst, New South Wales, Australia


27 June, 1912 (aged 57)
Orange, New South Wales, Australia

Cause of Death

heart disease

Religious Influence

Includes the religion in which subjects were raised, have chosen themselves, attendance at religious schools and/or religious funeral rites; Atheism and Agnosticism have been included.