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Historic silver tankard found on the internet

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Latest news from the Suffolk Free Press, suffolkfreepress.co.uk, @sfpsudbury on Twitter

Sudbury Cricket Club has been reunited with a valuable silver tankard it presented as a wedding gift to one of its legendary figures more than a century ago.

William Allen Hart, who was part of the club during a golden era at the end of the 19th Century, received the inscribed pint mug from his team mates as a wedding gift in 1899.

It was at a time when “Slogger” Hart’s playing days were reaching an end, and as the widower was marrying for the second time at the age of 46.

The hard hitting tonker, who farmed at Edwardstone, was part of the club committee that saw it develop its present ground in 1892. His matches for the club included fixtures with the MCC.

An investigation into his history has been sparked by reports that online £45 bids were being sought for a copy of the club’s 200th anniversary history book, written in 1987.

Louis Brooks, club chairman, explained: “We were totally taken aback when the tankard came up online for £500. It was being offered by a dealer, who bought it recently at a Suffolk auction.”

He said three members of the club had put up money to buy the tankard, which he hoped would be used as a trophy for individuals making special efforts to help the club.

Mr Brooks said that at a club dinner in 1936, Hart was remembered in a speech by then president, Frank Nott. He described the late farmer as the best “slogger” he had ever seen.

The 19th Century cricketer’s father, Jeremiah Kerr Hart, was born in Edwardstone in 1815. He became an Inland Revenue officer. He married at South Shields in 1842, and among his six children was William Allen Hart, who was born in Kilmarnock in 1853.

In his early 20s, William Allen Hart and his younger brother Henry moved to work with their second cousin William Hart, at 160-acre The Willows, Edwardstone.

William died in 1874 and, although he had a daughter, the cricketer took over the running of the farm. Henry also farmed at Boxford, and eventually died in 1938, aged 84.

William Allen Hart married Elizabeth Mary Machin in 1881, but she died in 1892, while having their first child. The offspring died within a short time.

In 1899, Hart married Edith Parsons, of the Firs, Boxford, who was 20 years his junior. The couple were married in London, when the certificate said he was living in Marylebone.

They had a daughter Eileen, who was 13 when her father died, aged 63, in 1916. His final address was given as Boser House Farm, Boxford.

In 1924, daughter Eileen (1903-1991) married Arthur Ronald Byham (1904-1955), and at one time they were living in Chilton.

Their son Ronald Roy Byham (1925-2004), a driving instructor, married Sylvia (nee Parker) in 1950, and she became a district councillor and mayor of Sudbury, dying last year.

One of her two sons, David Byham, a great grandson of the cricketer, lives locally at Long Melford. He said: “I was aware there were distant relatives by the name of Hart, but had not previously heard of the cricket connection.”

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