About John Jaques, II
John Jaques II won a place in sporting history - and a Gold Medal - for introducing croquet into England at the Great Exhibition in 1851. His display there attracted such wide attention that the game speedily became the vogue, not only here but in Europe and throughout the British Empire. It was especially popular in India, reportedly played by The Viceroy himself with a solid ivory mallet, probably made by Jaques as part of their finest set.
The attractions of croquet were obvious (in hindsight). It allowed the fashionable set to step outside the claustrophobic Victorian parlour; to "take exercise" and enjoy the fresh air without (heaven forbid) breaking into a sweat; to show off their finery - hence the term, "crinoline croquet". Moreover, it gave young men and women a legitimate opportunity to mingle and wander off into the proverbial rhododendron bushes, momentarily out of sight of their ever-present chaperones!
"Nothing but tobacco smoke has ever spread as rapidly" commented Dr Prior, an early enthusiast of the game. Certainly Jaques and Son (as it was then called) had no trouble selling its equipment. JJ II was regarded as the greatest authority on the game and in 1864 wrote and published Croquet; the Laws and Regulations of the Game, by which (with some revisions) croquet is still played today.
The origin of croquet is somewhat obscure - John II first glimpsed a version of it in Ireland. And the etymology of the word "croquet" remains "tantalizingly unresolved".' But JJ II's compilation of rules no doubt saved the sport from flying off in all directions, as it seemed in danger of doing during those early years.
From those those early days, the Jaques Company have been producing croquet sets continually for over 150 years.
- Harriet Jaques, d. date unknown.
- +John Jaques III, b. 1862, d. 1937.
- Elinor Mary Jaques, b. 1863, d. 1865.
- Percy Jaques, b. 1865, d. 1958.
- Alfred Jaques, b. 1866, d. 1929.
- Rosalind Mary Jaques, b. 1868, d. 1940.
- Oswald Hastings Jaques, b. 1869, d. date unknown.
- Ellen Beatrice Jaques, b. 1873, d. 1969.