Charles Leslie: Montgomeryshire’s first-ever Test cricketer

Charles Leslie, the amateur who played four times for England on the MCC’s tour to Australia in 1882/83, was the first – and so far only – Test cricketer to hail from Montgomeryshire.

Born in Westminster on 8 December 1861, Charles was the son of Henry Leslie, the well-known choral musician who lived with his wife Mary at Bryn Tanat Hall, close to the village of Llansaintffriad-ym-Mechain, situated seven miles south-west of Oswestry and eight miles north of Welshpool, with the Hall being part of the Godolphin Estate which spanned the Mid Wales border and Shropshire.

His father Henry was a keen supporter of cricket and arranged country house matches at Bryn Tanat from 1875 onwards. That summer, the thirteen year-old Charles batted at number three for the Bryn Tanat side against a team representing Penyllan Hall. In July 1876, the teenager also appeared for the Tanat Side Wanderers in their match in Aberystwyth against the Ceredigion Cricket Club.

Charles Leslie. Photo Credit – Glamorgan Cricket Archives.

However, it was at Rugby School where Charles developed his cricketing skills with the all-rounder going on to captain the school’s eleven from 1878 until 1880, prior to going up to Oriel College, Oxford where he won Blues from 1881 to 1883 besides representing the University at football and racquets.

Charles also played cricket for Oswestry and made his debut for Shropshire in 1879, before playing for Middlesex from 1881. His success at county and university level led to his selection in the MCC party, led by the Hon. Ivo Bligh, which toured Australia in 1882/82 and regained the Ashes. Charles played in all four Tests, scoring 106 runs and taking 4 wickets with his fast-medium bowling, besides excelling as a fielder at cover point.

After coming down from Oxford, Charles worked in the London area, besides playing for Middlesex until 1886. He subsequently became Managing Director of France, Fenwick and Company, a firm of coal merchants and shipowners in London, before developing business interests in eastern Europe and Russia, In particular, he became Chairman of the Baku Russian Petroleum Company, and from 1908 also served as Chair of the Kyshtym Mining Corporation.

Charles lived at Hertingfordbury in Hertfordshire and died at the age of 59 on 12 February 1921. His great grandson is Matthew Fleming, the former Kent and England all-rounder.

Leave a Reply