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James Bush

Back Row (L-R): E.P.Warren, H.Nash, W.Fairbanks, E.Phillips, W.Strachan, E.J.Taylor, W.S.Paul, W.R.Webb, J.H.Dunn, J.Curtis, M.Curtis, F.Morris, J.G.Thomson. Middle Row: R.E.Bush, C.Strachan, A.C.St.Paul, J.D.Miller. In Front: W.R.Gribble, J.A.Bush

He was born on the 28th July 1850 in Cawnpore (now Kanpur ), Uttar Pradesh, India . His father was a Major in the British Army.  The family returned to England and James attended Clifton College from 1863 to 1868. He excelled at Cricket and Rugby and from June 2nd to 4th 1870 he appeared for Gloucestershire CCC in their first match v Surrey on Durdham Down in Bristol . He went on to be Gloucestershire Wicket Keeper until the 30th July 1890.

He initially played rugby for Blackheath who he was forced to join because at the time to be selected to play for England you had to belong to a club that was affiliated to the RFU. As the RFU had only been in existence for 1 year, and very few clubs were affiliated, this proved a problem for many players. It was the RFUs way of forcing the clubs to become affiliated and standardise the rules. This meant that all the players selected were affiliated to London clubs. Bush played 5 times for Blackheath and he joined Clifton Rugby Club when it was founded, 7 months later. He went on to gain 4 further caps for England . His last cap for England was on the 6th May 1876. This was the last 20-a-side rugby international.

James Bush played rugby for Clifton until 1877. He then played association football as a goalkeeper for Clifton Association Football Club.

He became the best friend of W.G.Grace and his bestman at his wedding on 9th October 1873 at St.Mathias Church in West Brompton, London .  He went on the 1873 MCC tour of Australia which also acted as W.Gs honeymoon.

James Bush took over the family business in 1905 with his brother George de Lisle Bush. The family had run a warehousing company since 1700. The warehouse itself was known as Bush Warehouse. The company passed on to his son, Reginald Arthur Bush in 1926 and was known as J&R Bush until it ceased trading in the 1960s. The building is now more famous for being the home of The Arnolfini, a leading centre for contemporary Arts.

He died on 21st September 1924 in Clevedon, nr. Bristol and is buried at Canford Cemetery in Bristol .




The book "For College, Club & Country - A History of Clifton Rugby Football Club" will be published in November 2009 by MX Publishing.


Patrick Casey, 2009
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