The second son of Joseph Appleby, the founder of the firm of Joseph Appleby and Sons, corn merchants and millers, who owned mills in Enfield, Blackburn and Liverpool, all dependent on the Leeds and Liverpool Canal.
Educated at Milnshaw by Dr. Bayley and later at the Grange School, Thorpe-Arch, near.Tadcaster, Yorkshire, he was about twenty years of age when he started to show an interest in his father's business at the Enfield Corn Mills and a few years later he was taken into partnership.
He started his cricket with the Enfield Club in 1861, when eighteen years old and developed into a fine all-round cricketer under the watchful eye of the Yorkshire professionals John Berry and William Iddison. Six feet tall and weighing thirteen stone, he was a free hitting left-hand batsman and a fast-medium left-hand bowler, with a round-arm action. He usually fielded at slip.
In 1862 he played for Enfield in the famous "Bull's Run" match. Enfield defeated Church by ten wickets and sods were thrown after the match causing a near-riot. The Enfielders drove the Churchites out of the ground but the "Ecclesiastics" returned the charge. Finally the Enfield lads drove their opponents right back to Church.
On 12th and 13th September 1862 he played for the Gentlemen of North Lancashire against the Players of North Lancashire at Whalley, for the benefit of W.Selby, W.Hudson and Harry Lillywhite, local professionals. He scored 5 and 11 not out and took four wickets in the Players first innings.
In May 1864 he played for Twenty-two of Accrington against the "English" Eleven managed by E.Willsher and E.E.Stephenson, scoring 12 runs, but not bowling.
On 15th and 16th July 1864 he was selected for the second match played by the Lancashire County Club, against Birkenhead Park at Birkenhead, when he scored 24 and 38 and took two catches. At the end of July he played for Eighteen Gentlemen of East Lancashire against the Players of East Lancashire, scoring 23 and 4 and taking two wickets in the first innings and six in the second. In August he played for the Gentlemen of Lancashire against the Gentlemen of Yorkshire, at the Broughton Club, and although he scored no runs in his only innings he took two wickets for two runs in the first innings and two wickets for one run in the second.
The following year for the Gentlemen of Lancashire against the Gentlemen of Yorkshire at the Broughton Club he scored 5 not out and took two wickets and made two stumpings.
On 23rd to 25th August 1866 on the old Wavertree Ground at Liverpool he made his debut for Lancashire in a first-class match, against Surrey. He scored 20 and 10 and bowled magnificently in the first innings, taking six wickets for thirty runs. In the second innings he conceded 42 runs for no wickets, but had bowled well enough to be asked by the Surrey secretary if he would be available for the Gentlemen v Players match the following year.
Thereafter he played regularly for Lancashire and the Gentlemen, his appearances being limited only by the pressures of business. He was recognised as the best amateur bowler in England during the early 1870s and turned in many fine performances. One of the best was at Old Trafford on 27th and 28th May 1869, when Surrey batted first scoring 209 and Lancashire led by 46 runs when Surrey started their second innings. Appleby bowled 44 four ball overs and took eight wickets for 68 runs enabling Lancashire to win by seven wickets.
The ball, suitably mounted and inscribed, was presented to him by his captain Edmund Rowley and now rests in the museum at Old Trafford. His best bowling figures were achieved at Hove against Sussex in 1877, when he took nine wickets for 25 runs.
In the autumn of 1872 he joined the team taken by the Secretary of the MCC. Mr.R.A.Fitzgerald to tour the United Staes of America and Canada. It was a successful trip and he was able to make quite a few useful business contacts as well as play cricket. The team included W.G. Grace and the Hon.G. (soon to be Lord) Harris. Of the 309 wickets that fell to the tourists Appleby took 108. He was later asked to tour Australia, in 1873/4 and 1878/9, but had to decline due to business commitments.
His highest score of 99 was made against Yorkshire at Sheffield in 1871, batting at number eight. "I had no idea I was so near the 100," he said later. "On my retirement I found Mr.Hornby on the steps of the pavilion ready with a new bat to present to me."
He played for the Gentlemen as late as 1887, when he was 43, but only in an emergency. He continued to play for Enfield well into his fifties and in 1896, playing for the Northern Nomads against Pocklington Grammar School, bowled 12 overs and two balls, seven maidens, eight runs, and took nine wickets; he caught out the tenth!
He had joined the Enfield Club in 1861 and became its president in 1862. On 20th October 1877 he was presented with a silver cup. On one side there was a representation of a cricket match, and on the other a suitable inscription. From the lid there rose a figure of a bowler in the act of delivering a ball. He played for Enfield in the Lancashire League as late as 1901.
He was also a vice-president of the Bootle Cricket Club.
In 1898-99 he visited India and during his absence was elected County Councillor for Hyndburn.
He lived at the Mill House, Enfield, and became an Alderman of the Lancashire County Council.
He was Chairman of the County Bench sitting at Church, President of the Accrington Division Conservative Association and Joint-Trustee of the livings of All Saints', Clayton-le-Moors, and St.Peter's and St.Paul's, Rishton. He was also Trustee of the Clayton Mechanics Institute and of the Clayton Prize Band.
He was a major share-holder in the Leeds and Liverpool Canal Company Limited.
When he died in 1902 work ceased in Enfield and schools were closed in respect for a great Lancastrian. Nearly 700 walked behind the coffin on its journey from Mill House to the Church. There were 32 private carriages in the procession, eight of them containing Liverpool and Bootle corn merchants.
He left a widow, three daughters and a son, Noel, who played for Enfield with his father during 1901.
(Article: Copyright © 2004 Don Ambrose)
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