Seymour Sackville Carew Dolby was born on the 17th January 1851 in London. He would become one of the great names in the history of badminton managing to be much involved in the game while serving in the army.
He was educated at Eton and Exeter College, Oxford.
He entered the army as a Gentleman Cadet, and was commissioned into the 93rd Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders as a 2Lt on 24th July 1872. The 1878 Army list shows him as a Lt. with seniority 24th July 1873, being promoted Captain 11th May 1880. He then transferred to the Army Pay Department as a Probationer 14th February 1882, serving with the 1st Btn Coldstream Guards 13th February 1885. posted to the Sudan 19th February 1885, transferring to the 1st Btn Cameron Highlanders 19th July 1885. He served with the Sudan Expedition 1885, being awarded the Egypt Medal with Suakin 1885 Clasp and the Khedives Star.
He was posted back to England in September 1885 and attached to 1st West Surrey Regt. In 1888 posted to the District Pay Office, Dublin, and granted sick leave 1889 rejoining Dublin 1890. In 1890 he was posted to Portsmouth and it was at this time that he was participating in the game, and it was in 1893 that Col Dolby called a meeting at his home, Dunbar, in Southsea, of all known badminton clubs to form the Badminton Association with a view to standardising rules of the game and establishing a governing body with a set of rules. This body became the governing body for badminton throughout the world. He was elected Honorary Secretary and Treasurer, and his house where the meeting took place now has a blue plaque recording the event.
Col Dolby was able to combine his army duties and being honorary officer of the Badminton Association despite being posted to Shoeburyness, the Gold Coast and the Ashanti expedition in West Africa, Woolwich, Glencourse and Winchester.
In 1900 he resigned as secretary of the Badminton Association when he went to South Africa for the Boer War, serving in Natal, Orange Free Stare and the Transvaal. He was promoted Lt. Col on 27th December 1902, and Colonel and Chief Paymaster in 1904 while in South Africa, this being the year he formed a United Services badminton club in Wynberg.
He returned to England in 1905 to Portsmouth, and retired from the army in 1911.
In 1912 he won the All England Veterans’ Doubles. At some time he was involved with the Ealing Badminton Club and became their Hon Secretary, and was also Hon. Sec. of the Middlesex Championships.
He died on 27th March 1921.
Col Dolby was included as one of the founder members of the International Badminton Federation Hall of Fame, set up in 1996, his citation stating that his enthusiasm for the game probably started in India while he served with the Royal Engineers in India – this contradicts notes of his military career. There are many unanswered questions regarding Col Dolby’s early life, but there is no doubt that he was instrumental in setting up the Badminton Association in 1893.
The National Badminton Museum would like to acknowledge assistance given by Kevin Morris, who contacted us for help in his research while researching Col Dolby’s military career.