GEORGE ULYETT (1857 - 1898)

"..was probably the best cricketer Sheffield ever produced"

This article arose as a result of both an article in a special edition of the Sheffield Star and Telegraph which celebrated its centenary year in 1987, and a comment made in 2006 about cricketers from Sheffield. As far as I can ascertain there are not that many nowadays.

George Ulyett, (born 21 October 1851 in Crabtree, Pitsmoor, Sheffield, died 18 June 1898 in Pitsmoor, Sheffield) was an English all-round cricketer, noted particularly for his attacking batting. A well-liked man who kept a pub in his native Sheffield in his later years, he was sometimes known as "Happy Jack". He once memorably said that Yorkshire played him for his good behaviour and his whistling.

After playing for Crabtree as a boy, George joined the local Pitsmoor, club at the age of sixteen, and from 1871 to 1873 played as a professional at the Old Horton Road ground in Bradford. In 1873, he made his Yorkshire debut, at Bramall Lane against Sussex. He remained a valued member of the team for twenty years, passing 1,000 runs on ten occasions and 50 wickets in three. He took his career-best figures of 7-30 against Surrey in 1878, and in 1887 he made his highest score, 199 not out against Derbyshire.

Ulyett, played in the first ever Test match, staged at Melbourne in 1876 - 77, and took 3-39 in the second innings, his first wicket being that of Charles Bannerman.  In the second game, also at Melbourne, Ulyett, showed his worth as a batsman, making 52 and 63 as England won by four wickets.. Thereafter, he was a regular pick for England, his batting and bowling backed up by some fine displays of fielding.

He played twenty-five Tests in total - much the longest career of any England cricketer to have played in that inaugural Test - and several times changed the course of a match, including the 1884 Lords  Test, when in the second innings he returned bowling figures of 39.1-23-36-7 (4 ball overs.) to reduce Australia from 60 - 1 to 145 all out and force a remarkable innings victory. One of the wickets was a catch that W G Grace, a spectator at the match, said had never been surpassed.

Earlier, in 1881 - 82 he had made his only Test century, hitting 149 at Melbourne in a drawn match.

The end of George's international Test career came in somewhat controversial fashion. At Lord's in 1890 he had made 74 out of 173 to shore up England's first innings after they had slumped to 20 - 4, putting on 72 with Maurice Read. However, he did not appear at The Oval three weeks later because the authorities at Yorkshire refused to release him from county duty, requiring him instead to play against Middlesex at Bradford. (He made 11 and did not bowl a ball.)

He played on for Yorkshire for a few more years, but bowled increasingly little and did not take a wicket after 1891. The last of his 18 century's came against Middlesex in 1892, and he bade a quiet farewell from the first-class game in scoring just nine at Bramall Lane in August 1893.

Batting style Right-hand bat (RHB)
Bowling type Right-arm fast
  Tests First-class
Matches 25 537
Runs scored 949 20,803
Batting average 24.33 23.44
100s/50s 1/7 18/101
Top score 149 199*
Balls bowled 2,627 31,136
Wickets 50 653
Bowling average 20.39 20.14
5 wickets in innings 1 23
10 wickets in match 0 3
Best bowling 7-36 7-30
Catches/stumpings 19/0 368/0
Test debut 15 March 1877 
Last Test: 23 July 1890

Full details of George's cricket career and his Wisden Obituary can be found on the following link

"Of large build, ruddy countenance and of cheery disposition, Ulyett, was a typical Yorkshireman." He was clean hitter of a cricket ball and a fast bowler with "a high action". Lyttleton, also says he was not a particularly skilful bowler; "He pounded away straight and hard but I never thought that he used his head much".

To summarise, in the twenty year period between 1873 - 1893. George played in 537 first-class matches, including 359 for Yorkshire and 25 Test Matches. He toured Australia five times, 1876 - 77, 1878 - 79, 1881 - 82, 1884 - 85 and 1887 - 88, North America 1879, and South Africa 1888 - 89.

After retiring George was a first class umpire for the 1894 - 95 season

Outside cricket, George played football in the 1882-83 and 1883-84 seasons as goalkeeper for Sheffield Wednesday. I can only find one game that George played in during that time - a FA Cup tie against Notts. County on Monday 12th February 1884. The Wednesday lost 4 - 1.

I located George in the 1871 Census still living in Crabtree Sheffield Public Records Office Reference   RG10   Piece / Folio   4693 / 23 Page 38

Joseph ULYETT  Head   M   Male  55  Cuckney Nottinghamshire   Gardener
Ann ULYETT  Wife   M   Female  52  Whitwell Derbyshire   
Emily ULYETT  Daughter     Female  20  Crabtree York, England    Dressmaker
George ULYETT  Son      Male  19  Crabtree York, England      Roller
Joseph ULYETT  Son      Male  15  Crabtree York, England    Roller
Edward ULYETT Grandson   Male 2  Crabtree York, England   
Thomas ULYETT Grandson   Male 5mnths  Crabtree York, England   

Despite his prowess as a cricketer, George is down as a steel sheet roller in the 1881 Census. He still needed the day job!. He also married in the interim and was the father of three daughters

Dwelling   23 Roe Lane Pitsmoor, Sheffield   Census Place Brightside Bierlow, York, England   Family History Library Film   1342126   Public Records Office Reference   RG11   Piece / Folio   4660 / 23

Name  Relation Marital Status Gender Age Birthplace Occupation Disability  

George ULYETT   Head   M   Male   29   Sheffield, York, England   Sheet Roller (Steel)      

Emma ULYETT   Wife   M   Female   29   Sheffield, York, England         

Kate ULYETT   Daughter      Female   4   Sheffield, York, England       

Lora ULYETT   Daughter      Female   3   Sheffield, York, England         

Zoe ULYETT   Daughter      Female   7 m   Sheffield, York, England         

Martha BRADBURY   Servant      Female   14   Sheffield, York, England   General Servant Domestic    

His benefit match against Surrey in July 1887 at Bramall Lane raised about £700 and his benefit year in total amassed a grand total of £1,000. In 1889, George became the publican of the Queen’s Head Inn, Castle Street, Sheffield, but later moved to the Vine Hotel, Brunswick Street, Pitsmoor, Sheffield. He is shown in the Sheffield Directory as being the licensee in 1893. (The Vine opened in 1860 and closed 90 years later in 1960 - it was demolished many years ago)

The Queens Head Hotel circa 1910

But sadly after his retirement, his health began to fail and five years later he died in Pitsmoor, aged just 46, of acute pneumonia contracted while attending a Yorkshire match. His popularity was shown by the turnout of 4,000 for his funeral and interment in Burngreave Cemetery, Sheffield. GRO Ref Deaths Jun 1898 qtr Ulyett George age 46 Sheffield Volume 9c Page 325)


The death occurred on the 18th inst. at Sheffield of George Ulyett, the famous Yorkshire cricketer. Pneumonia which developed form a chill was the cause of death. The Sporting Chronicle says "The shire of many acres has produced great men with bat and ball from the days of Tom Marsden of Sheffield but it is open to serious contention that Ulyett, had no superior. His batting was forcible, frequent and free and once he had obtained good sight of the ball all deliveries he treated alike. His fast round arm balls came down on the pitch from a considerable height flew in from the off and on a piece of turf that offered any assistance, Ulyett, required a great deal of watching, for he was dangerous in more ways than one. As a fielder he never flinched at the hardest drive. Such a word as fear did not have a place in his vocabulary and fourteen years ago "Punch" suggested that Ulyett should be placed in forefront in battle to catch cannon balls. He was forty seven years old.    


George Ulyett the famous Yorkshire cricketer who was for twenty years a prominent member of the county team died in Sheffield at a quarter to seven last evening. The deceased was present at the Yorkshire and Kent match at Sheffield at the beginning of the week where hwe caught a chill. Pneumonia supervened and the illness made such progress that the medical men present pronounced the case hopeless yesterday afternoon. His brother who is groundsman at Bramall Lane was called to his bedside in the course of yesterday. Ulyett was born on Oct 21. 1851 and had several times represented England against Australia both at home and in the colonies. He made his first appearance in the county eleven in 1873 and his last in 1893 and was certainly one of the finest cricketers ever produced by Yorkshire.  

In October 2009 I visited Burgreave Cemetery in Sheffield and actually located George's grave. It is situated on the periphery of what is one of Sheffield's largest cemeteries

 I was surprised when I read the monumental inscription for the grave was first laid for George's son Fred who died at the age of 9 months in 1875. (the grave is to the right) It reads - 

In Affectionate Memory of


The Beloved son of George & Emma Ulyett who departed this life July 24 1875 age 9 months

He sleeps in Jesus

Also of the above named   

Emma Ulyett who departed this life May 12 1897 age 48 years

A sudden change, I in a moment fell and had not the time to bid my friends farewell

Think this not strange, death happens to us all.

This day was mine, To-morrow you may fall

Also of the above named   

George Ulyett who departed this life June 18 1898 in his 47th year

Gone but not forgotten

An usual verse to say the least.

The other noticeable feature of the location is that adjacent to George and Emma's grave are two more Ulyett graves. The one to the back of the three reads

In Loving Memory of


The Beloved son of John and Mary Jane Ulyett who died November 17th 1891 aged 27 years

He suffered long & murmured not

Also of the above

Mary Jane Ulyett who died March 12th 1909 aged 67 years

Also John, the dearly beloved husband of Gertie Ulyett who died December 30th 1918 aged 74 years

Bramall Lane Groundsman

John according to the newspaper reports was George's brother. It also appears that john remarried soon after the death of his first wife Mary Jane. The BMD registers show that in the December quarter of 1909 the following marriage took place 

Surname First name(s) Age        District Vol Page
LAIDLER Hannah Gertrude Ecclesall B. 9c 682
ULYETT John                         Ecclesall B. 9c 682

John would have been 65 at the time. His first marriage took place in the March quarter of 1864

Marriages Mar 1864 Cornthwaite Mary Jane  - Ulyett John Sheffield Volume 9c Page 526. They had been married for 45 years before Mary Jane's death in 1909. Also see notes on 1881 Census

The last grave to the left of the photo is that of George's parents, Joseph and Ann Ulyett who died at the age of 67 and 66 respectively

It is in effect an Ulyett burial plot where three generations are buried together.

It is a very peaceful location.

I should also mention that there is a support group - The Friends of Burngreave Cemetery - whose aims and objectives are listed on the pages of The Burngreave Messenger. They do valuable work in ensuring that the Cemetery will be available for future generations to enjoy      


1. 1881 Census. - George's parents and family were still living in Crabtree

Dwelling 3 Friths Houses Up Crabtree Census Place Brightside Bierlow, York, England
Family History Library Film 1342126 Public Records Office Reference RG11 Piece / Folio 4660 / 15 Page Number 23

Name Relation Marital Status Gender Age Birthplace Occupation Disability
Joseph ULYETT Head M Male 60 Cuckney, Nottingham, England Agricultural Laborer
Ann ULYETT Wife M Female 59 Whitwell, Derby, England
Anne LAYCOCK Daughter M Female 35 Sheffield, York, England Laundress Domestic Servant
Emily ULYETT Daughter U Female 31 Sheffield, York, England Housekeeper Domestic Servant
Joe ULYETT Son U Male 23 Sheffield, York, England Labourer At Wire Works
Richard E. ULYETT Grandson Male 12 Sheffield, York, England Scholar
Thomas Ross ULYETT Grandson Male 10 Sheffield, York, England Scholar
Oswald L. LAYCOCK Grandson Male 12 Sheffield, York, England Scholar
Harry LAYCOCK Grandson Male 10 Sheffield, York, England Scholar
Frederick LAYCOCK Grandson Male 5 Sheffield, York, England

George's brother John and his family also lived close by

Household: Source Information:
Dwelling 11 Crabtree Lane Census Place Brightside Bierlow, York, England
Family History Library Film 1342126 Public Records Office Reference RG11 Piece / Folio 4660 / 15 Page Number 24

Name Relation Marital Status Gender Age Birthplace Occupation Disability
John ULYETT Head M Male 39 Whitwell, Derby, England Laborer At Iron Works
Mary Jane ULYETT Wife M Female 39 Sheffield, York, England
Arthur ULYETT Son U Male 16 Walkley, York, England Joiner Apprentice

2. In July 2011 I came across the following information that forms part of an excellent essay on Yorkshire cricketing history but has particular reference to Sheffield and how and more importantly why cricket developed in the city. It is of course highly relevant to George's life and career

It is well known that Sheffield was one of the first places in Yorkshire where cricket was widely played and the very first where it became a regular public attraction. Cricket spread from southern England and became popular in Leicester and Nottingham then Sheffield and inter-town matches between Sheffield and Nottingham were taking place as early as 1771! Such fixtures went on for almost a century before county fixtures became more important. Three grounds were developed in Sheffield and quickly superseded each other, Hyde Park, Darnall then Bramall Lane. The most important cricket matches attracted people in their thousands, the largest crowd reckoned to be as many as 16,000 when 22 of Sheffield took on the All England X1 at Hyde Park in 1846. It was predictable that Sheffield should organise the first unofficial Yorkshire county match, against Norfolk in 1833. The team comprised entirely of Sheffield players which probably had more to do with local talent than local favouritism.

Sheffield’s best players over the years included Tom Marsden, Harry Sampson and Jimmy Dearman, whose combined playing careers spanned the eighteen twenties, thirties and forties.. They not only represented Sheffield and unofficial Yorkshire sides but also such teams as the United All England X1, the Players against the Gentlemen and the North versus the South. They also participated in important single wicket matches, Marsden and Dearman taking on but losing to the best players of the day, Alfred Mynn of Kent and Fuller Pilch of Norfolk. Pilch lived in Sheffield for a time and his presence there was probably the reason why Yorkshire’s first opponents were Norfolk.

Sheffield was proudly Yorkshire but given its close proximity to Derbyshire and also Nottinghamshire its cricketing links and indeed teams were not confined to Yorkshiremen. The city grew rapidly in the early nineteenth century and people came from far and wide to work, first in its cutlery and then its steel manufacturing industries. Many people moved to Sheffield from Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire whilst some wealthier people took advantage new railway system and lived in Derbyshire.

Rawson Barker, who captained Yorkshire in their first match against Lancashire 1849, became Mayor of Sheffield and then Yorkshire CCC’s first President – albeit for one year – was born in Bakewell. Another Derbyshire man, Thomas Hunt born in Chesterfield, played for Yorkshire and Lancashire at that time (cricketers were freelance in those days and took every opportunity to play and earn a living). The Sugg brothers, Frank and Walter, who made occasional appearances for Yorkshire in the eighties and nineties, were born in Ilkeston. Their father was a solicitor in Sheffield. Neither made best use of their opportunities and both then played for the newly formed Derbyshire CCC. Frank went on to make a fine career for himself with Lancashire and England, keeping himself busy in the winter playing football for a number of clubs including Sheffield Wednesday, Derby County, Burnley and Bolton Wanderers!

Some fascinating research has been done by an enthusiast called Chris Hobbs and he has posted information on the internet about George ‘Happy Jack’ Ulyett, one of Sheffield’s last nineteenth century cricketers. George was born and raised in Sheffield but his father was from Nottinghamshire and his mother from Derbyshire whilst his eldest brother, John who became grounds-man at Bramall Lane, was born in Derbyshire.

Moreover, Michael Ellison, a principle mover in the formation of the Yorkshire CCC, its treasurer and president for over thirty years and the clubs first major benefactor, was born in Worksop, Nottinghamshire (as stated in Tony Woodhouse's 'Whose Who of Yorkshire CCC)! It was true that he lived most of his life in Sheffield and devoted himself to Yorkshire CCC and Bramall Lane but consider the supreme irony that he and Lord Hawke, famously born in Lincolnshire, lead the drive for Yorkshire to play only Yorkshire-born cricketers.

When Sheffield cricketers formed the Yorkshire CCC in 1863 their first rules included statements of county wide intent that all districts should nominate cricketers for the county side and that any that any club that had the necessary facilities and financial backing could make an offer to stage matches. In other words it was to be a county club playing matches throughout the county and not a solely a Sheffield based organisation. This was also a recognition of reality for cricket was becoming widely played throughout the county and the first Yorkshire official side of 1863 included only three Sheffielders.

In fact Sheffield’s greatest cricket days, and its playing supremacy in Yorkshire, were gone by the time the city lead the move to form a county club. When Yorkshire won their first official county championship in 1893, there were two Sheffield cricketers, George Ulyett and Ted Wainwright, in the side. However, on their retirement the city’s representation in the county side became intermittent for much of the following century.

However, towards the end of the twentieth century an international cricketer to compare with George Ulyett’s fame, and arguably, surpass his achievements, developed his skills in Sheffield. Exactly one hundred years after George Ulyett retired, in 1893, a young man emerged from the city to make his debut and his out of county background - once familiar in Sheffield’s earlier days - helped radically change and modernise Yorkshire’s identity and future.

A reviewer of the article then added some additional information about about Sheffield's Michael Ellison, YCCC's first treasurer (for 30 years) and president for 33 years. Not only was he born in Worksop (in 1817) but, according to Ashley-Cooper's 'Notts Cricket and Cricketers' he played for the county of his birth on one occasion, in 1852 against Surrey at The Oval. Notts won by an innings but Ellison, then in his mid-thirties, only made 6. As a resident of Sheffield he played for unofficial Yorkshire sides in 1849 and 1853. I have not ascertained when he moved from Worksop to Sheffield.

It is if course reckoned that he and Lord Hawke (born in Lincs) between them ran the club during the period when the practice of playing only Yorkshire born players becoming an accepted tradition. Notts CCC incidentally was formed in 1841.

Ellison was the most important figure in Sheffield sport in his time as besdises his work with Yorkshire CCC he was the mover behind the creation of the Bramall Lane cricket ground and became chairman of the Sheffield United Football and Cricket Club. He also played cricket for Sheffield Wednesday!

3. Notes on Yorkshire Cricket Club - The county club only dates from 1861, and for some years the team was composed entirely of professionals. But though Yorkshire attained the championship three times during the first ten years of the county club's existence, thirteen years elapsed after 1870 before it again occupied the place of honour. In the ten years 1896-1906 Yorkshire was no less than six times at the head of the list, this position of supremacy being in no small measure due to the captaincy of Lord Hawke (b. 1860, who played continuously for the county from his university days for more than twenty years, and whose influence on Yorkshire cricket was unique. But before his time Yorkshire had already produced some notable cricketers, such as George Ulyett, (1857-1898), who headed the batting averages in 1878, and who was also a fine fast bowler; Louis Hall (b. 1852), a patient bat; and another excellent scorer, Ephraim Lockwood (b.1845). William Bates (1855-1900), too, was effective both as batsman and bowler; and Tom Emmett (1841-1904), long proverbial for bowling " a wide and a wicket," was deservedly popular. To the earlier period belonged two fast bowlers, George Freeman (1844-1895) and Allan Hill (b. 1845), and the eminent wicket-keeper Pincher (1841-1903), who was succeeded by J. Hunter (1857-1891), and later by his brother Daniel Hunter (b. 1862). The full effect of Lord Hawke's energetic captaincy was seen in 1900, when Yorkshire played through a programme of twenty-eight fixtures without sustaining a defeat; and the county's record was but little inferior in both the following years and again in 1905, in each of which years it retained the championship. It was during this period that as notable a group of cricketers wore the Yorkshire colours as ever appeared in county matches. Edmund Peate (1856-1900), one of the finest bowlers in his day, did not survive to take part in the later triumphs of his county; but the period beginning in 1890 saw J. T. Brown, J. Tunnicliffe, R. Peel, W. Rhodes, George Hirst and the Hon. F. S. Jackson in the field. The two first named became famous for their first wicket partnerships. In 1896 in a match against Middlesex at Lord's these two batsmen scored 139 before being separated in the first innings, and in the second knocked off the 147 required to win the match. In the following year they made 378 for the first wicket against Surrey, and during their careers they scored over a hundred for the first wicket on no less than fifteen occasions, the greatest feat of all being in 1898, when they beat the world's record by staying together till 554 runs had been compiled. Peel was for many years an untiring bowler, and Yorkshire was fortunate in discovering a successor of even superior skill in Wilfrid Rhodes, who in 1900 took over 200 wickets at a cost of 12 runs each in county matches alone, and was also an excellent bat. Hirst and Jackson were the two finest all-round cricketers in England about 1905. The Hon. F. S. Jackson (b. 1870), like his fellow-Harrovian A. C. MacLaren, had a wonderful record in test matches against Australia; he captained the England eleven in 1905, and his wonderful nerve enabled him to extricate his side when in a difficulty, and to render his best service at an emergency. Hirst (b. 1871) in 1904 and in 1905 scored over 2000 runs and took more than loo wickets; and in 1906 he surpassed all previous records by scoring over 2000 runs and taking over 200 wickets during the season. A concourse of 78,000 people watched his " benefit " match (Yorkshire against Lancashire) in August 1904. Besides cricketers like these, such fine players were included in the team as Wainwright (b. 1865), Haigh (b. 1871), Denton (b. 1874), and E. Smith (b. 1869); with such material the Yorkshire eleven had no " tail," and was able to win the championship six times in a decade.



1871 - 1881 Census


Sheffield Star and Telegraph 1887 - 1987 Part1 Tuesday 13 January 1987

1911 Britannica Encyclopaedia

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