A. E. J. Collins and the highest recorded cricket score

Posted on June 26th, 2014 by The British Newspaper Archive

A 13-year-old schoolboy has held the record for the highest cricket score for over 100 years.

Arthur Edward Jeune ‘James’ Collins, also known by the initials A. E. J. Collins, scored an incredible 628 not out in June 1899. The cricket match took place over four days at Clifton College in Bristol.


Blackburn Standard reports a score of ‘628 not out’

A copy of the Blackburn Standard printed on 1 July 1899 reveals that Collins achieved the majority of his team’s total score. Out of a total of 833 runs, Collins scored an incredible 628.


A. E. J. Collins in the Blackburn Standard

Blackburn Standard – Saturday 01 July 1899

View the whole newspaper page


Was A. E. J. Collins an orphan?

The article in the Blackburn Standard went on to state that Arthur Collins ‘was born in India, where his father was in the Civil Service, and is an orphan’.

Family history website Findmypast recently published over 2.5 million records detailing the lives of the British in India, in partnership with the British Library. We took a look at these records to see if the Blackburn Standard’s report was true.


India Office pension record from findmypast


The East India Company & Civil Service Pension record above confirms that Arthur’s father, Arthur Herbert Collins died on 17 January 1899. This was just five months before his son’s incredible cricket feat.


The 1901 census reveals the truth

While the India Office records show that Arthur Collins’ father had died, we’ve found no record of his mother’s death before June 1899.

The 1901 census, also available to search at Findmypast, reveals why. Esther Ida Collins was still alive in 1901, recorded as being a widow and living with her children in Clifton.


1901 census proves A. E. J. Collins was not an orphan in 1899


The Blackburn Standard’s report that A. E. J. Collins was an orphan when he achieved the highest cricket score ever recorded was therefore not correct – Arthur’s mother was still alive.


Search the Blackburn Standard


  • Joanne McKinnon

    If the father was deceased, I think it was common to refer to a child as an “orphan”. Didn’t matter whether the mother was still living. My father passed away when I was 13 and I received an “orphan’s benefit” when I turned 18, even though my mother was living.

    • http://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk/ The British Newspaper Archive

      Thank you very much for sharing that Joanne – a very interesting fact.

  • kaythegardener

    Was his mother an adult of “legal standing” at the time?
    Women didn’t achieve full legal status as an adult in many countries until well into the 20th century…and so far in the 21st century, there are many countries STILL where they are not fully legally independent of adult male relatives, regardless of chronological age!!

    • http://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk/ The British Newspaper Archive

      An interesting question, Kay. His mother would have been about 40 years old at the time. Two years after her son’s incredible feat, she was recorded on the census as ‘Living on her own means (pension)’.

  • Paul Millington

    Arthur Collins himself was killed at Ypres in November 1914