It started with the purchase of a simple tankard – but, before long, it led to the discovery of 300 years of history linked to one of Sudbury Cricket Club’s best-known historical figures.
The club has published a new book, written by club supporter Roger Prosser, that sheds fresh light on the life and family history of William Allen Hart, a local farmer known for being a big-hitting batsman for Sudbury during the Victorian era.
The new information came to light after a special silver tankard, which had been presented by the club to Mr Hart on April 18, 1899, was acquired in an online auction on behalf of the club by chairman Louis Brooks, president Ted Clarkson and lifetime member Alan Cocksedge.
This find was then brought to the attention of Mr Prosser, who, having documented the genealogy of his own family, decided to research Mr Hart, sending him on a journey through the records all the way back to 1701.
Mr Prosser, of Swan Street in Boxford, said: “I confess the outcome of the urge to know more of the history of a simple tankard has exceeded the cricket club’s expectations, but, once started, a trail has to be followed.”
Mr Prosser’s research of Mr Hart, who was known to many as ‘Slogger’, revealed a family tree which stretched as far away as Scotland and Ireland, and enabled him to trace surviving family members, with particular help from Mr Hart’s great-grandson Mike, who lives in Spain.
Mr Hart received the tankard itself near the end of his Sudbury cricket career, aged 45, to coincide with his marriage to a Boxford woman.
The publication also gives details of Mr Hart’s agricultural life, having moved from Scotland as a young man to help on his uncle’s farm in Edwardstone, and his subsequent land acquisitions in the Sudbury area.
It even found that Mr Hart was a budding inventor, and had patented the design for a paddle boat in 1902.
Mr Prosser added: “He was quite the interesting character. He was a man of the community for a great number of years.
“I think the danger with this sort of project is going off on a tangent. I have tried to keep on the straight and narrow of his bloodline.
“I think what I was asked to do, I hope I have achieved. It did take a lot of time, but I certainly would like to think it was worthwhile.”
Club chairman Mr Brooks said: “The club has produced a number of significant works on its history in recent times, and Roger Prosser’s work represents an important addition to our knowledge.”
The publication is now on sale from Sudbury Cricket Club for £5.