The story of Bolton Clarke’s link to the Ashes

Janet Snodgrass started life as a humble governess to William Clarke’s four children before –  in 1873 and aged only 21 –  she married her employer and bore him another eight children. Janet and William quickly rose to high society after her husband inherited pastoral properties from his father, and in 1882 William was created a baronet to recognise his philanthropic work.

The new Lady Clarke proved formidable, not only hosting lavish parties but also supporting philanthropic work and running a soup kitchen from their city home in Melbourne during the Great Depression.

And the Ashes? The term started in a satirical obituary in a British paper after Australia’s victory at The Oval in 1882, their first Test win in England. The ‘obituary’ stated that English cricket had died, and the “body will be cremated and the ashes taken to Australia”.  Ivo Bligh, English captain, vowed to regain the ashes for England.

At that time Sir William Clarke was president of the Melbourne Cricket Club and Ivo Bligh visited for Christmas during the following year’s Test in Australia.

After England won two of the three Tests on the Tour a small glazed pottery urn with cork stopper, containing the ashes of a bail, was created by Lady Clarke and presented to Ivo Bligh by Lady Clarke and her children’s music teacher Florence Murphy (who later married Bligh).

Read the Wikipedia entry here