The book on Knole and the Sackvilles (mentioned here and here) has now been read. There are many interesting moments in it but one particularly tantalizing question arose on page 134: could John Frederick Sackville, the third Duke of Dorset have prevented the French Revolution.

The Sackville family became great supporters of cricket on their estate and, indeed, played it themselves, putting together teams at various times to play others.

In 1783 the third Duke of Dorset was appointed ambassador to the court of Louis XVI. By all accounts, he was a lazy and not very intelligent though amiable sort of chap, who was fond of cricket, tennis and billiards as well as society gossip. He did manage to be on very good terms with Marie Antoinette but had little appreciation of the storm that was brewing in France during his term as ambassador.

One thing he did try to achieve, with indifferent success, was to introduce cricket to the French society. As Robert Sackville-West says, the historian G. M. Trevelyan claimed that
If the French noblesse had been capable of playing cricket with their peasants [as the English aristocracy and their tenants and labourers did] their chateaux would never have been burnt. 
Which suggests that if the British ambassador had been successful in getting the French aristocracy to play cricket, preferably with their peasants, which begs the odd question, the French Revolution might never have happened. A sobering thought.


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