11 March 1926, Kimberley-born James Henry “Biddy” Anderson, SA cricketer and SA rugby international, dies.
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Written by Abhishek Mukherjee, the Chief Editor at Cricket Country and CricLife. Edited.
James Henry ‘Biddy’ Anderson, born April 26, 1874, was one of the most versatile sportspersons in the history of South Africa — which is saying something, given the multi-sport stars the nation has produced. Known more for his rugby skills, Anderson, among other cricket feats, led South Africa in the only Test he played.
James Henry ‘Biddy’ Anderson represented South Africa in 4 Tests — 1 in cricket, 3 in rugby; he also led South Africa in the only Test he played in, and was an international rugby referee.
Biddy Anderson remains one of six men to have played both cricket and rugby Tests for South Africa. The other five were Tony Harris, Albert ‘Bertie’ Powell, Alfred Richards, Jimmy Sinclair, and Percy Twentyman-Jones.
Anderson was not just any rugby player — the kind that makes the odd appearance, much to the delight of quiz-masters. His cricket career was not remarkable, but he holds a special place in the history of South Africa’s rugby.
His father, an avid rugby fan, donated the Anderson Cup for an inter-college rugby tournament. Anderson Jr went to Diocesan College, Rondebosch (as did Twentyman-Jones) and Oxford University, and, somewhat predictably, became a Rugby Blue.
He played for teams in mainland Europe, including Rovigo (in Italy) and Saint-Claude and Boulogne-Billancourt (both in France). Back home, he turned up for Western Province.
He made his rugby debut (as did Twentyman-Jones and 10 other South Africans) in the Port Elizabeth match against Great Britain, in 1896, and South Africa were duly thrashed 0-8. However, newspaper reports said that both Anderson and Twentyman-Jones “counter-attacked well from the few opportunities that came their way.”
Anderson and Twentyman-Jones were dropped for the next match at Wanderers, where Great Britain handed out a 17-8 thrashing to South Africa. The next match, where both were recalled and Powell made his debut, ended in a 9-3 British victory.
When the sides met at Newlands for the final Test, the 3,500-strong Newlands crowd had little hopes for a home team victory.
But the Springboks won 5-0, the only score being set up by an amazing run from Anderson. It was also South Africa’s first rugby Test win.
In their wonderful book Shorelines: A Journey Along the South African Coast, Chris Marais and Julienne du Toit narrated a newspaper report by Paul Dobson: “Tommy Crean won the ball for the British Isles at a lineout and fed Louis Magee, the brilliant Irish half-back. Magee passed to Sydney Bell of Cambridge, who was in their fly-half position. Bell passed to Fred Byrne of Moseley, who was playing centre.
“Then it happened. Ferdie Aston of South Africa sailed into Byrne who crashed to the ground. Biddy Anderson darted in, snatched the ball from Byrne’s grasp and set off for the British goal line. Only one opponent blocked his way: Newry Meares, an Irish forward who was chosen at full-back that day. But Alf Lerard, the South African half-back, was up with play. Anderson drew Meares, and Lerard took the pass to score under the posts. Tommy Hepburn converted after the tourists had protested against the try.”
Unfortunately, the Springboks did not play another Test in seven years. By then Anderson’s playing days were over, though, as mentioned before, he officiated in the Newlands Test.
His teammate Twentyman-Jones later wrote in Anderson’s obituary in Cape Times: “So long as rugby football is discussed in South Africa, the name of Biddy Anderson as the prince of South African three-quarters will keep coming up. The players and spectators of the present day have no conception of the remarkable genius lurking behind his every movement on the field of play.”
Anderson’s rugby achievements did not affect his cricket career. A hard-hitting batsman, Anderson scored 511 runs at 23.22 from 14 First-Class matches, but one must remember that these matches spanned 13 years.
Marais and du Toit mention a match, for Cape Town against Alma, where Anderson scored a hundred and took 6 wickets, but there is no available documentation.
Anderson scored only one First-Class hundred, for Western Province against Border in the Currie Cup semi-final of 1903-04, but it was a special innings.
He had walked out to join Allan Reid at 174 for 7. By the time he departed, he had created a whirlwind, smashed 109, and had added 165 with Reid. The last three batsmen all scored ducks, and Western Province folded for 343.
Then Jacobus ‘JJ’ Kotze and Bonnor Middleton bowled unchanged, routing Border for 55 and 52. This meant that Anderson outscored Border (match aggregate 107) single-handedly.
The Test came almost out of nowhere. South Africa had got off to a splendid start in the 1902-03 series. Louis Tancred and Buck Llewellyn scored 90s as South Africa reached 454 in the first innings at Old Wanderers. Llewellyn and Jimmy Sinclair then bowled out Australia for 296. Following on, Australia lost Victor Trumper and Reggie Duff early, but Clem Hill scored a magnificent hundred. Chasing 215, South Africa finished on 101 for 4.
Debutant Henry Taberer, the South African captain at Old Wanderers, was unavailable for the second Test, at the same venue. Anderson was drafted in as captain. He was yet to play a match that season. He was also named captain for some reason: he was yet to lead a First-Class match.
Kotze — also on debut — and Llewellyn bowled out Australia for a paltry 175 after Joe Darling opted to bat. Anderson contributed by catching Darling off Llewellyn.
In response, South Africa were reduced to 179 for 7 before Anderson joined Sinclair. He hit a six, helped Sinclair add 52, and was ninth out for 32. South Africa secured a formidable 65-run lead.
Warwick Armstrong, sent to open in the second innings, carried his bat with 159. Though none of his teammates reached fifty, he resisted Llewellyn and Sinclair and took the score to 309. Set to score 245, South Africa folded for a mere 85 against Jack Saunders and Billy Howell, Anderson scoring a quick 15.
South Africa retained ten men for the Newlands Test, replacing Anderson with — of all people — Twentyman-Jones, who made his debut. Baberton Halliwell led South Africa, who lost by 10 wickets.
Anderson never played another Test (neither did Halliwell or Taberer). He remains one of five men to have led his side in his only Test, the other four being C Aubrey Smith, Richards (one of the South African double-internationals), Taberer, and Nelson Betancourt.
Anderson led Western Province against the Australians a fortnight later to an embarrassing defeat, as the hosts were skittled out for 84 and 80 by Howell, who claimed 8 for 31 and 9 for 23 in the match. His 17 for 54 remain the best figures by anyone on South African soil.
He led Western Province till 1904-05 (a mere 4 matches) and made 2 more appearances three seasons later, under Murray Bisset.
Anderson took over the farm Melkkamer. When over 36,000 hectares were submerged by water following the great flood of 1906, Anderson, cut off from the outside world, saved the farm by moving the livestock to a higher altitude. The De Hoop Nature Reserve, currently a World Heritage Site, stands at the same place today.
He also coached Villagers (founded by Twentyman-Jones’ uncle Sydney) in rugby. Such was his integrity and sportsman spirit that in a match between Villagers and Stellenbosch at Newlands, Stellenbosch wanted the appointed referee to be replaced by Anderson.
He also became a racehorse-breeder. Obviously, he owned a stable, but for some reason he kept a piano inside it, which may give an indication of the person he was like.
Biddy Anderson passed away on March 11, 1926, at Bredasdorp, Cape Province, a month before his 52nd birthday.
11 March 1884, Murderer George Stanley arrested outside the Kimberley Club.
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There was tremendous excitement in all four mining camps on Tuesday 11 March 1884 when it was learnt that there had been a murder the previous evening in the “New Township” of Beaconsfield , a man having killed his estranged wife by shooting her with a borrowed revolver.
George Albert Stanley (alias George A Sleep), who was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, was destined to become the first “white” person to hang in Griqualand West. He had been separated from his wife Christina Johanna Stanley for three months when they decided to get together for a dance that Monday evening at “The Miner’s Retreat”. Christina, together with their two children, had left her husband, an engine driver for the Bultfontein Diamond Mining Company, because she had been stabbed after a quarrel. The dance was the first time they had got together since the incident.
When they had separated Christina had said to her husband: “…if you let me be I shall let you alone…if you support the children, I shall never bother you.”
The dance at “The Miner’s Retreat”, an unoccupied boarding house, was an impromptu but organised affair where coffee, lemonade and soda was for sale, but where there was beer and spirits for friends of the organisers. The admission fee charged was 7 shillings and sixpence per person.
After the dance was over, Stanley accompanied his wife to her room in a house where several other people also lived, and who had gone with her to the dance. Stanley then left the house for a few minutes, collected a revolver he had borrowed and hidden in his house, and when he returned, they had not been long in her partitioned room when a shot rang out and Christina fell against the partition. Then there was another shot.
Two men in close proximity, A.A.Vaughan and Joseph Byfield, made for the room where they had heard the two shots and met up with Stanley in the passage. Byfield caught Stanley and Vaughan made for Christina.
When the second shot was fired Christina was heard to exclaim “O, Heere God”, and while staggering to her feet her last words were that she must “go and see to poor Chrissie”, her young daughter.
Christina had been mortally wounded by a bullet just under the left breast, and died before medical assistance could be obtained.
Stanley, upon being caught, threw the revolver between Byfield’s legs and said: “The revolver’s loaded. I have done it! I have done it! Shoot me now!”
The two men released Stanley, but only on condition that he give himself up to the relevant authorities.
The Resident Magistrate, together with Sub Inspector Robinson, were both called to the house where they examined the body of the unfortunate Christina, and a warrant of arrest for murder was immediately issued in the name of George Stanley. Stanley had not given himself up as promised and he was arrested as he walked past the Kimberley Club on Dutoitspan Road on 11 March.
Christina’s body was identified in the mortuary by her brother and brother-in-law Joseph Daniels and Antonie Gosision respectively.
The trial by jury was a short, sharp affair where the prosecution attempted to show that it was a premeditated murder by a “cold-blooded, heartless” husband, who killed his wife without justification or provocation. There had been no excuse for taking away her life, said the Crown. Stanley’s defence counsel, on the other hand, said that the shooting of Christina had been an accident, and that when Stanley had gone out of the bedroom to visit the bathroom and returned, Christina had been holding the revolver and that in the struggle for the revolver, she had been shot accidentally.
The jury, after being urged by Mr Justice William Musgrove Hopley to consider the possibility of an accident, retired to consider their verdict and returned thirty minutes later, having found Stanley guilty of murder, but with a recommendation of mercy as they believed that the prisoner genuinely believed that his wife had been guilty of unfaithfulness.
When the judge then asked Stanley if he had anything to say before sentence of death was pronounced on him, the prisoner merely said: “I have no excuse” or “I have nothing to excuse”. It was difficult for the reporter to hear in the courtroom commotion.
Judge Hopley disagreed with the jury in regard in a call to mercy by referring the matter to the Governor of the Cape Colony to consider, and sentenced the convicted man to death by hanging. Just before donning the black cap, he told the prisoner that Stanley “deliberately and wickedly took away the life of this unhappy woman, your wife, whom it was your duty to protect and shield from harm”. Furthermore, the Judge added, he was but the minister and mouthpiece of the law and no matter how much he disliked sentencing people to death, it was the law and the law must take its course. He beseeched the prisoner to repent for the crime he had committed in the short span of life left to him, and to prepare for his fate.
Immediately after Judge Hopley’s sentence was delivered, court officials and police rushed to Stanley’s side as he had taken something from his pocket and stuck it in his mouth. The impression given was that he had taken poison, but it turned out to be a harmless piece of tobacco.
He was executed on 20 June 1884, at the Kimberley Gaol together with Samuel Trott.
As usual at Kimberley executions, there were immense crowds of people who gathered on the debris heaps and on buildings in order to see the gallows and the hanging.