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Somerset's First Captain

Since being established in August 1875 Somerset County Cricket Club has had 42 official captains.

The first of the 42 was Stephen Newton who was in charge of the side between 1882 and 1884.

Born in Nailsea in 1853, Newton was a right-handed batsman who had a 14-year association with Somerset that started in their first full season of 1876.

Sadly, Newton’s mother died when he was only six years old and as a result of this he grew up living with an aunt in Jersey, where he was educated at Victoria College. He topped the First XI batting averages there for five seasons and captained the side for his last three years at school.

From Victoria College he went on to Corpus Christie Cambridge where he was awarded his blue, and during 1876 he played in five First Class matches for the university.

That same summer Newton made his first appearance for the Gentlemen of Somerset, who at that stage were still not a First Class county, against their Dorset counterparts in a two-day match in August at Combe Park, Bath, making 91 before being run out.

In 1877 Newton was Somerset’s leading scorer with 285 runs at an average of 25.90, in addition to which he also claimed 21 wickets.

Unfortunately, Newton’s appearances for the County were somewhat limited by the fact that he was a school teacher at Highgate School in London. However, despite this he continued to appear for the Club who began being referred to as Somerset in 1879, despite still being regarded as a Second Class county.

Somerset were eventually awarded First Class status in 1882, which they initially retained for four years. Newton, who had skippered the side in five games the previous season, was again the man charged with leading the side.

Due to his teaching duties he missed the first three games of the season, but in his inaugural game as Somerset’s first First Class captain he top-scored in both innings, making 57 and 67, as Somerset lost to the MCC by one wicket.

Newton then made 80 in the side’s next match, a win over Hampshire. In total that summer he made 310 runs at an average of 34.44, which included three half centuries.

Newton continued to captain the side in both 1883 and 1884 and during his three-year spell as Somerset’s first captain he played in 16 matches and scored 737 runs at an average of 24.56.

Newton left to play for Middlesex and MCC in 1885 and 1886 but returned in 1887 to play a further three games for Somerset, by which time they no longer held First Class status.

In 1888 he became Headmaster at Loudon House School at St John’s Wood, London. 

He died in Ipswich on August 16th 1916 at the age of 66.

Image courtesy of Barry Phillips

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