Just as the 2015 cricket season is about to get underway, we were excited to welcome Essex County Cricket Club star Graham Napier to the ERO to discover his Essex roots.
Graham’s family has a long history in Essex, going back at least to the 1700s. Several of his ancestors were from the Tilbury area, and include agricultural workers, gamekeepers and blacksmiths. Apparently blacksmiths were reputed to be so strong they could hit a cricket ball out of the ground! Graham discovered that one of his great-grandfathers, Edward Chatten was killed in the First World War in September 1918, just two months before the Armistice. He is now planning to visit Edward’s grave in France when he gets the opportunity.
Just like his ancestors, Graham is in the archive himself, amongst the records deposited by Essex County Cricket Club. We dug out some scorebooks to show him, including one from 1997 which includes his very first professional games for Essex, and one from 2008 which records his famous innings in a Twenty20 cup match against Sussex when he scored 152 not out from 58 balls – the highest individual score in a T20 innings in England at the time, and the highest number of sixes in an individual T20 innings.
We also shared with Graham some of the older records of Essex County Cricket Club which are looked after here dating back to the nineteenth century.
During our research we also came across this photo of a cricket team in Chelmsford c.1870, taken on Fair Field with the railway viaduct in the background. Cricketing style has changed somewhat since then!
Graham said: ‘It’s safe to say I’m truly from Essex, going back several generations. What a great experience to come to the ERO and trace back my family history, it’s something I’d recommend more people do’.
We wish Graham and the Essex team the very best of luck as the new season gets underway.