1884 – Orsett Match cancelled due to Smallpox

In the Orsett Parish Magazines of 1884, it was reported that Orsett’s home fixture with Herongate CC had to be cancelled due to an epidemic of smallpox at Orsett.

Smallpox, which is believed to have originated over 3,000 years ago in India or Egypt, was one of the most devastating diseases known to humanity.  For centuries, repeated epidemics swept across continents, decimating populations and changing the course of history. In some ancient cultures, smallpox was such a major killer of infants that custom forbade the naming of a newborn until the infant had caught the disease and proved it would survive.

Smallpox killed Queen Mary II of England, Emperor Joseph I of Austria, King Luis I of Spain, Tsar Peter II of Russia, Queen Ulrika Elenora of Sweden, and King Louis XV of France.  The disease, for which no effective treatment was ever developed, killed as many as 30% of those infected. Between 65–80% of survivors were marked with deep pitted scars (pockmarks), most prominent on the face.

However, the parish magazines of that year do report that Orsett played Tilbury Fort on 28th June, and there was a return match on 26th July.  Each team won their home match.

“133 Years of Cricket in Orsett and District” – E. H. Rowley 1948
World Health Organisation