Australian Dictionary of Biography

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McDonnell, Percy Stanislaus (1860–1896)

by Ian Johnson

This article was published:

Percy Stanislaus McDonnell (1860-1896), cricketer and broker, was born on 13 November 1860 in London, son of Morgan Augustus McDonnell (1824-1889), barrister, and his wife Frances Marie, née Bonham. In 1864 the family migrated to Melbourne and in 1868 Morgan was elected for Villiers and Heytesbury to the Legislative Assembly, serving as attorney-general under Sladen in 1868 and MacPherson in 1869-70.

McDonnell was educated at St Patrick's College, where he was a prodigy at cricket and a fine footballer. After an inauspicious début in intercolonial cricket in 1878, in which he got 'a pair' against New South Wales, he soon became one of the fastest scoring batsmen in Australian cricket. In 1878-85 he batted seventeen times for Victoria with an average of 30.31. For New South Wales from 1885 he batted fifteen times at 38.21. In 1886 at Melbourne he scored 236 of the New South Wales total of 363.

McDonnell toured England in 1880, 1882, 1884 and as captain in 1888. With 418 runs at 23.22 he was second to W. L. Murdoch in 1880 and again in 1884, with 1225 runs at 23.25. He headed the batting in 1888 with 1393 runs at 22.83. In nineteen Tests against England he scored 958 runs at 29, with three centuries and a highest score of 147. One of his best innings was against the north of England in 1888 when, on a sticky wicket, he scored 82 in 55 minutes in a partnership of 86 with A. Bannerman. In 1884 against England at Adelaide he scored 124 and 83, his batting described 'as unsurpassed for finish, power and complete command over the best of English bowling'. In all his first-class cricket he scored 6460 runs at an average of 23 and is reckoned one of the great Australian batsmen.

McDonnell died of cardiac failure at Brisbane on 24 September 1896 and was buried in the Roman Catholic section of Toowong cemetery. He was survived by two sons and his wife Grace, née McDonald, whom he had married at Sydney on 8 April 1891.

Select Bibliography

  • Town and Country Journal, 5 Oct 1889
  • Australasian, 26 Sept 1896.

Citation details

Ian Johnson, 'McDonnell, Percy Stanislaus (1860–1896)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1974, accessed online 5 June 2023.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 5, (Melbourne University Press), 1974

View the front pages for Volume 5

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2023

Life Summary [details]


13 November, 1860
London, Middlesex, England


24 September, 1896 (aged 35)
Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

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