Herbert Charles Bruce Cummins was born in Hedenham, Norfolk, in 1876. He was the third son of Rev. William Henry, then vicar of Hardley, and Jane Douglas Cummins. Other siblings included Ethel, Aubrey, Henry and Norman. Herbert went to Tonbridge School and was in the cricket XI there in 1894 and 1895. He matriculated at Durham as a member of University College in Michaelmas term 1898, having won, after an examination, one of the university’s Foundation Scholarships, worth £70 annually over two years, and which required him to read for Honours. This he duly did, passing his 1st year Honours Arts exams with a Class II in Michaelmas 1899. He then passed the Theological portion of the BA in June 1900, and went out of residence for the following Michaelmas and Epiphany terms. He returned for the Easter 1901 term and passed his Classical and General Literature finals in the First Class. He took his BA degree on 25 June 1901, and went on to take his MA degree after the requisite 3 years on 21 June 1904.
Cummins was not merely academically gifted. He was quick to prove his sporting prowess as well, trialling as a forward, and scoring, for the Durham Colleges football team, and playing rugby for both his college and university sides in his first term. In the next term, he concentrated on playing rugby, again representing both his college and the university. He was particularly lauded for his forward efforts in a match against Percy Park, and was awarded his palatinate colours and made vice-captain of the university side and captain of his college side for the following season. He also played fives for and captained his college in the annual match against Hatfield, and turned out for the Durham Colleges football team. In the following term, Easter 1899, he soon made his mark as an all-rounder with the university cricket XI. He was a useful right-hand batsman but was a particularly good right-arm fast bowler, topping the bowling statistics with 38 wickets taken. He was also not above winning the shot putt at the Athletics Sports on 3 June 1899; he came third and second in this in the next two years. For the 1899-1900 season, he was a stalwart of the university’s rugby team, having his Palatinate colours renewed and being appointed captain for the following season. He also turned out on occasion for the Durham Colleges football team, and continued to play fives for his college. In Easter term 1900, he was now vice-captain, and even captain by the end of term, of the university cricket XI. He again headed the bowling statistics, taking over twice the wickets (25) of the next man, and he also had the highest batting score of 104. In addition, he took a hat-trick in an 8 wicket haul playing for his college against Hatfield, when he top scored with the bat as well. Having missed the 1900-01 university rugby season, being out of residence, he returned to play cricket again for the university in Easter term 1901. He was not now quite such an ever-present as he had finals to concentrate on. He still took 29 wickets and scored 217 runs without reaching quite the heights of the previous season.
After Durham, Cummins was a Classics and Upper School master at the Edinburgh Academy from 1908 until the war, living at 6 Melville Street in Edinburgh in 1911. As one would expect, his sporting activities continued as well. He played Minor Counties cricket for first Staffordshire (1898-1901), and later Dorset (1908-1913), heading Dorset’s bowling figures for 1908, 1909 and 1913: his career is recorded in both the Cricket Archive and in Wisden on the Great War. Whilst in Edinburgh, he played regularly for the renowned Grange Cricket Club from 1909, and was also a member of the Murrayfield Golf Club. He also played rugby for Hampshire!
In August 1914 he was serving as a Second Lieutenant on the unattached list of the Territorial Force in the Edinburgh Academy Officers Training Corps, and was subsequently gazetted Second Lieutenant on 13 August 1914. He joined the 9th (Pioneer) Battalion of the Seaforth Highlanders, and by February 1915 was an Acting Captain. He arrived in France with his battalion on 10 May 1915. Having already been wounded in 1916, and with the confirmed rank of captain, he eventually died of wounds received in action on 7 May 1916, aged 39: a short obituary was published in the Durham University Journal in June. His home address was then Fota, Foxhole Road, Southbourne, Bournemouth. He is buried at Nieppe Communal Cemetery in France.