Museum cricket discovery coincides with The Ashes
17 July 2015
With The Ashes in full swing, a piece of cricketing history has been uncovered at RAMM.
Rare historic artefacts relating to a 19th century Australian Aboriginal cricket tour of England have been identified by a visiting researcher who discovered that the objects were brought from Australia as part of a cricket tour organised by Devonian William Hayman in 1868.
Following the tour, the collection of wooden objects – including firesticks, spears, and a boomerang – was donated to the museum.
Dr Gaye Sculthorpe from the British Museum made the discovery when she noticed the name of the person who donated the objects. Until now, the only Aboriginal artefact known to be surviving from the 1868 cricket tour was a single club, currently on loan to the British Museum from the Marylebone Cricket Club Museum, Lords’ Ground London, for an exhibition.
William Reginald Hayman (1842-1899) was the manager of the Aboriginal cricket team that toured England from May to October 1868. Born in Devon in 1842, he was the eldest son of Philip Charles Hayman, a doctor in Axminster. In 1858, Hayman emigrated from Devon to western Victoria.
During their tour, the Aboriginal cricketers also mounted displays of traditional skills including boomerang and spear throwing. The team played 47 matches, the last one at The Oval. They then left for what has been described as a ‘brief holiday’ in Devon, where Hayman’s family still lived. A demonstration of skills was staged by some members of the team at a sports meeting in Plymouth. This included ‘native sports’ of throwing the spear and boomerang. The cricketers sailed from Plymouth on 26 October 1868.
Hayman donated the objects to RAMM on 29 October 1868, which was the year in which the Museum opened. Two of the artefacts are currently on display at the museum and the remainder are kept in the museum’s store.
Cllr Rosie Denham, Lead Councillor for Economy and Culture, said: “This is a wonderful discovery for RAMM. There are so many amazing objects in the museum with stories to tell and I’m very excited to hear that we now know more about this important piece of Australian Aboriginal history and its connections with Devon.”