A Trinity 1859 Tankard

22 February 2023

By Duncan C. MacKinnon & Andrew Guerin

The other day, HTBS received an email from Duncan C. MacKinnon, a member of Mercantile Rowing Club on the Yarra River, Melbourne. Duncan writes that he has a rowing artefact, a tankard from a Cambridge race, that he wanted to share with the HTBS readers. (You can see Duncan’s tankard above.)

Duncan writes about the tankard: “The inscription reads, ‘Trinity Four Oared Races – 7 boats started –March 1859’. The crew as listed is M.A. Lawson, C. Chapman, J. Forster, J. Graham (stroke), J.M. Dyson (cox)”.

Duncan turned to his friend Andrew Guerin, the Australian rowing historian, who, Duncan writes, “is a wealth of knowledge on these matters, and has provided me with the following information”. Andrew wrote that the Trinity Boat Club website states:

“Rowing at Trinity College started, in 1825, with the formation of what became First Trinity Boat Club, closely followed by the forming of other Trinity Boat Clubs. The clubs all enjoyed a great deal of success throughout the 19th century, and though the Second Trinity Boat Club was dissolved due to insufficient membership, the standard of rowing remained excellent. The Clubs sent winning crews to the Olympics in various years and remained as one of the most formidable opponents at Henley Royal Regatta, winning the Grand on numerous occasions.”

Andrew continues:

On the basis of this comment, the trophy may refer to the club name rather than the second event. In other words, it was a trophy for the four oared intra club four oared races.

The current boat club is called the First and Third Trinity Boat Club, the clubs that survived into the 20th Century and merged.

In case you want to investigate further, I refer you to another passage from the website:

“The table of results of races published in Rouse Ball’s book A History of the First Trinity Boat Club, published in 1908, shows that between 1827 and 1908 there were 103 ‘Heads of River’; one a year until 1886 and thereafter two a year, when the ‘Lents’ and ‘Mays’ became separate competitions. During that time crews from Trinity were ‘Head’ on fifty-two occasions (First Trinity thirty-eight, Third Trinity twelve and Second Trinity twice). The next clubs were Trinity Hall sixteen, Jesus fifteen and Lady Margret twelve.”

This book is reproduced in full and the 1859 reference states:

The Oxford and Cambridge race in 1859 was marred by the weather. The race was over the usual course from Putney to Mortlake. Cambridge rowed in a very light low boat which was swamped by the wash from one of the steamers. According to the T.B.C. minutes the crew was an exceptionally fine and fast one, and was confident of victory, so the disappointment at the result was great. The T.B.C. representatives in the boat were N. Royds, A. L. Smith, D. Darroch, and J. T. Morland (cox).

In 1859 the Lent Term was unusually long, and it was agreed that all the boats in the first division should race that term. The Club entered six boats. On the second day in the races the first boat was bumped by Third Trinity. On this the Club altered the constitution of the crew, always a dangerous action in the middle of racing, and suffered by being bumped by Trinity Hall the next night. But the success of the Hall was only temporary, and in the Easter Term, T.B.C. recovered its place. The Club took off the fifth and sixth boats in May. At the conclusion of the races, the first six boats were Third Trinity, T.B.C., Lady Margaret, Trinity Hall, Second Trinity, and Magdalene; the T.B.C. boats finishing 2nd, 10th, 19th, and 25th, the Second Trinity boats 5th, 15th, and 34th, and the Third Trinity boats 1st and 24th. The Magdalene pairs were won by D. Ingles of T.B.C. and J. P. Ingham of Third Trinity: I mention the fact here because they rowed in a keel-less boat which improved their time over the course by 30 seconds.

In the Easter Term the Club discussed at length whether it should move from Searle’s boathouse. But finally it was agreed to continue for the present with him, provided he improved the arrangements in various specified matters. He met the Club’s wishes in these respects, and it continued to occupy the rooms until 1863, when he built a separate boathouse for the use of T.B.C.

The Club entered for the Ladies Plate and the Wyfold Cup at Henley, and won both events. The regatta was so late this year that T.B.C. and Third Trinity combined to spend a fortnight at Maidenhead prior to it.’

None of the people named on the trophy appear in any Cambridge crews in The Boat Race in that period.”

If any reader of HTBS has any further information on the crew or race mentioned on Duncan’s “pot”, please contact him at: duncan.c.mackinnon – at – icloud – dot – com

Thank you!

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