Maharaja Jam Sahib Ranjitsinhji, who was the first Indian to play Test cricket for England, may have had an illicit son while at Cambridge University. Ranji, as he is fondly known, was believed to be close to his tutor’s daughter, as per reports in British newspaper ‘The Sunday Times’. He had an illicit relationship with daughter of his Cambridge University tutor, and the scandal was hidden away in a conservative Victorian Era England.
Ranji was born in pre-independence Nawanagar, now known as Jamnagar. He also went on to rule this coastal town of Saurashtra when he became its ruler in 1907. He was given title of “Maharaja Jam Sahib”.
Ranji in his debut match for England against Australia in Ashes series of July 1896, went on to score a brilliant 154 runs, more than half of the England’s total of 305.
In the County Season of 1896-97 Ranji amassed a humongous 2,780 runs, smashing WG Grace’s record which prompted scribe to describe him as “the midsummer night’s dream of cricket”.
Back to the story, where the British paper claims that just after breaking that record, Ranji is understood to have a son with Edith Borissow, who was eldest daughter of his tutor Reverend Louis Borissow.
As per the newspaper, birth certificate of Bernard Kirk, son of Ranji, shows he was born on May 22, 1897. The father’s name, however, was not missing, perhanps deliberate attempt to hide father’s name.
Later on the child was adopted by Paul Beardmore, who was a shoemaker from the city of Bradford, and he took his surname. He later trained as an apprentice welder and boilermaker at a factory, as per claims of his grandchildren as per the newspaper.
Sean Beardmore, Bernard’s grand-son, said to the paper: “My grandfather said that he was given for adoption through a reverend, he also said his mother tried to come and see him as a young boy but he didn’t want to see her. She was well dressed, perhaps middle to upper class.”
Later on at the age of 20, Bernard, as per his grand-son, married Clarice Brayshaw, and they moved with their two children to Plymouth. He died aged 79 in 1976.
“Various bits of information have been passed down through the family about my great-grandad but the story with us was always that Ranji was his father — no doubt about it,” said his great-granddaughter Catherine Richardson.
There is, however, no proof that Ranji had any contact with Beardmore. Lord Hawke, the then Yorkshire and England captain and a good friend of Ranji, did write Beardmore few letters and is widely understood to have informed him of Ranji’s death in April 1933 at the age of 60.
It was Lord Hawke, who was a good friend of Ranji lobbied for his mate in England team. Ranji did not disappoint him scoring 989 runs in 15 Test matches for England at an impressive average 44.95.