The son of Henry Rawlinson, who in 1851 lived at number one, Malt Kiln Street, Burnley and William was registered as being three years old. Ten years later they were at Fulledge, Todmorden Road, Burnley, where Henry was a farmer and young William was registered as thirteen years old.
Always a lover of cricket, in 1863 he joined the Burnley Wellington Club, later Burnley Cricket Club, and soon made a name for himself as an accomplished batsman a useful fast round-arm bowler and a good field, usually at mid-wicket or cover point. Being only 5ft. 7 inches tall and weighing 10 stone, he was known as "Little Billy" to distinguish him from "E.B." Rawlinson the Burnley Club professional. At one time he was Treasurer and Secretary of the Club and had the distinction of carrying off all four prizes for the club in batting, bowling and fielding. In the late 1860's he was the best amateur batsman and bowler the club had.
On 10th and 11th May 1869 he was selected to play for the Colts of the North against the Colts of the South at Lord's, when he scored 3 and 3. This probably led to his selection for the Lancashire County team the following year, when he played against Surrey at The Oval and against Hampshire at Southampton. In June 1871 he played against Kent at Gravesend. He apparently played as a professional, but his club cricket was always unpaid. As a good working-class lad it probably suited the Lancashire authorities to have him placed with the professionals during trips away, and as a good working-class lad, he probably though it good policy to take the money if it was on offer.
Not long after his Lancashire appearances Billy switched to the East Lancashire Cricket Club, but shortly afterwards went to live in Thorner, near Leeds, where he played for the local club with some success.
In 1881 he was living at Appleby Street, Blackburn, aged 32, a clerk in a corn mill, with his wife Mary A. aged 27 born York, and four sons John A. aged 6, Henry aged 5, John aged 3 and Charles aged 1.
He returned to Burnley to live in semi-retirement. The Burnley Express of 1st January 1898 carries a long "Chat with Billy Rawlinson" reminiscing about "Old Time Cricket in Burnley."
On 14th May 1919, the Burnley Express & Advertiser carries a long obituary notice, stating that he maintained his interest in cricket to the end and often watch matches at Turf Moor and at Lowerhouse. It also confirms that he died at the age of 71.
(Article: Copyright © 2004 Don Ambrose)
Copyright © 2003-2013 Lancashire CCC and CricketArchive