The grandson of the Rev. Joseph Rowley, who was chaplain at Lancaster Castle from 1803 to 1853. Fourth son of Alexander Butler Rowley, a Manchester solicitor. He was educated at Rossall, which he entered in 1854 and left 1857, being a member of the cricket eleven in 1856.
His first important match was for the Gentlemen of the North against the Gentlemen of the South, played at the Broughton Club, 9 to 11 August 1860, at the age of eighteen, when he scored 5 in his only innings. Two years later in the same fixture at The Oval he scored 61 and 70, and it was in this match that he took his only wicket.
Together with his brother Alexander Butler Rowley, who played for Lancashire 1865-71, he was present at the meeting at the Queen's Hotel, Manchester, on 12 January 1874, when the formation of the Lancashire County Cricket Club was agreed. On 15th and 16th June 1864 he played for Lancashire in their first ever match, against Birkenhead Park, at Warrington, when he scored 29 and 0. The match was drawn, very much in favour of Birkenhead Park.
The following year he went to London to play in Lancashire's second first-class match, against Middlesex at Islington, where he scored 13 and 5, and probably captained the team.
At Old Trafford, on 9th to 11th July 1867, playing for Gentlemen of Lancashire against Gentlemen of Yorkshire, going in first wicket down, he scored 219 runs in his only innings, out of Lancashire's total of 586. The match was drawn.
Just over 5ft.8 inches tall and weighing 10 - 11 stone. He was a hard hitting right-hand batsman, who fielded at slip.
He was admitted as a solicitor in 1865 and was a notary public. He was a member of the firm Rowley, Page and Rowley until 1894 and then with Rowley and Company.
At the time of the 1881 Census he was staying at 1 Princess Street, Manchester, aged 38, a widower and a solicitor/notary public. This was the home of Walter Brierley, aged 33 born at Rochdale, an unmarried merchant in the home trade.
He served on the committee of the Lancashire County and Manchester Cricket Club from its formation in 1864 until his death, and was captain of the Club from 1866 to 1879.
His son, Ernest Butler Rowley junior, also played for Lancashire 1893-1898.
(Article: Copyright © 2004 Don Ambrose)
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