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The Athlete for 1868

A[nthony] J[ohn] Anstruther Wilkinson, The Athlete for 1868, 1868

The compiler:

A.J. Wilkinson seems to have been the compiler of this volume.  On p. iv, he asks secretaries of Athletic Clubs to send in results of meetings held at their clubs for next year’s book, but he is not specifically named as the compiler of this one – nor is anyone else. 

He was born in 1835 in Co Durham, and went to Shrewsbury School and St John’s College, Cambridge.  He was a member of the Amateur Athletic Club, and in May 1868 became its Secretary.  He was also an elected member of the London Athletic Club committee (other committee members included E.J. Colbeck, W. Rye, and W.G. Grace.  Secretary was Walter Chinnery).  During 1868 he acted as a judge at LAC’s meetings, and in 1869 at the Cambridge University Sports, and at many others.  Wilkinson was a sprinter who ran races from 100yds to 440yds in 1866 and 1867, without any particular success, but, as Secretary to the AAC and a Committee Member of LAC, and as an active athletics judge, he was in an ideal position to compile the results for the year.  

He was also a member of the Royal Toxophilite Society.  His main sport, however, was cricket.  He was a steady opening right-hand or middle-order batsman, and a right-hand slow round-arm bowler; and he fielded at third man most effectively.  He played 61 First-Class matches: 19 for Middlesex, 5 for Yorkshire, and he also played for the MCC, Surrey, the Gentlemen of the South, the Anomolies Cricket Club, and others.

In 1874 he took the chair at the meeting when the Durham County Cricket Club was formed. 

He was admitted to Lincoln’s Inn in 1858, was called to the bar in 1861, and practiced as a barrister on the North-East Circuit.  He died in 1905.


The place of Wilkinson’s “The Athlete for 1868”, in the history of Athletics literature:

Walter Pilkington had compiled the athletics results for the 1866 season for the Amateur Athletic Club (see Athlos books), and there seemed to be no equivalent compilation for the season 1867; nevertheless, this volume entitled The Athlete for 1868, actually gives the results for 1867.  Thus, it enables us to compare the 1866 and 1867 seasons directly, and to see how the sport developed in these early years of the amateur sport. These were days when a live-and-let-live attitude prevailed, at least among some people in the new sport of amateur athletics; the Amateur Athletic Club promoted a Professional Handicap Meeting at Beaufort House on Saturday 13 April, and the 2nd AAC Champion Meeting for amateurs on Monday 15 April. 


The text:

This is a compilation for the season 1867, although this not made clear in the book itself.  As this is a volume dated 1868, it would be reasonable to suppose, for example, that the entry – “Cambridge University Athletic Sports”, dated as “Thursday 28 March” on p. 22, was 1868; however, it is actually, Thursday 28 March 1867 (to confirm this, see – The Cambridge Independent Press, Saturday, 30 March 1867, The Standard, Saturday, 30 March 1867, and Cambridge Chronicle and University Journal, Saturday, 30 March 1867).  Confusingly, some results from January and February 1868 are also included (pp. 95-6), but this is the exception rather than the rule. 

The book starts with an invitation to Club Secretaries to submit results to A.J. Wilkinson for next year’s volume.  This is followed by the “Laws of Athletics” which has amendments to the 1866 Laws 9 and 13.  The “Definition of an Amateur” is also slightly varied from the 1866 Law, with the words “or is a mechanic, artisan, or labourer” added, reflecting the desire among some to tighten up the definition to exclude some who might not be gentlemen. 

The book is taken up with the results of athletics meetings of all types; schools, colleges, universities, and clubs.  Several cricket, football, and rowing clubs also held athletics meetings, and, also, Hospitals and Military Colleges and Cadets.  Towns had also begun putting on their own athletics meetings.  Often the results of heats are also given plus commentaries on the competitions. The 1866 volume contains 93 pages of athletics results; this one, for the 1867 season, has 167 pages of results.

Peter Radford/2015

Bibliographic details:


The Athlete for 1868

Extract Details:

Excluding: pp. 167-196 inc: these pages contain details of shooting competitions.


Chapman and Hall

Place of Publication:


Date of Publication:


BL Catalogue:

General Reference Collection P.P.2489.fd

"An Athletics Compendium" Reference:



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