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Mr. Windham in the House of Commons.

Discussion in 'Staffordshire Bull Terriers' started by F.W.K., Mar 19, 2019.

  1. F.W.K.

    F.W.K. Retired Historican

    BULL-BAITING
    was formerly not merely a pleasing pursuit, but an extatic diversion, of the most unfeeling, and least humane, part of the very lowest, and most abandoned, orders of the people. To such a pitch of prevalence had it arrived in some particular parts, and was so much considered to give additional callosity to the minds of its cruel and inconsiderate abettors, that the more polished and humane classes of society made strong and repeated efforts for its total abolition, by endeavouring to obtain an act of the Legislature for that purpose; which, however, unluckily failed of the intentional effect; for the bill being rejected by a very trifling majority in the House of Commons, it left the sport at the full liberty of every subject to enjoy, who is not restrained by any more humane, sublime and manly sensations of his own, prompting him to believe it "more honoured in the breach than the observance." The towns of Stamford, in Lincolnshire, and Wokingham, in Berkshire, are now, perhaps, the only places of any note where the sport (as it is called) is obstinately persevered in, or enthusiastically and annually repeated by the clamours of those unfeeling advocates for custom, who, in the language of Shylock, claim "it as a right, and will not be deprived of it."

    The first bull-bait in this country is supposed to have been at Stamford, in the year 1209, in the reign of King John, and at Tutbury, Staffordshire, in 1374. The introduction of it at Stamford was as follows.

    "William, Earl Warren, Lord of this town, standing upon the walls of the castle, saw two bulls fighting for a cow in the castle meadow, till all the butchers' dogs pursued one of the bulls (madded with noise and multitude) clean through the town. This sight so pleased the Earl, that he gave the castle meadow, where the bull's duel began, for a common to the butchers of the town, after the first grass was mowed, on condition that they should find a mad bull, the day six weeks before Christmas-day, for the continuance of that sport for ever."

    "George Staverton, by will, dated May 15, 1661, gave the whole rent of his dwelling-house at Staines, after two lives, to buy a bull annually for ever; which bull he gave to the poor of the town of Wokingham, to be there baited, then killed, and properly divided; the offal, hide, and gift money, to be laid out in shoes and stockings to be distributed among the children of the poor. The alderman and one Staverton (if one of the name should be living in the town) to see the work done honestly, that one of the poor's piece did not exceed another in bigness."

    These seem to have been the principal donations upon which the practice was originally founded, and afterwards continued upon the plea of charity for its justification. To give it a degree of singularity {95} in the town of Wokingham, St. Thomas (21st. Dec.) is the day dedicated to the sport, and the market-place the spot destined to the sacrifice.

    Let the reflecting mind indulge one moment in awful rumination upon the dreadful scene and "note of preparation." On a day when every well informed mind, and duly disposed heart, must feel inclined to follow the dictates of religious inculcation; when a certain impressive silence pervades the whole; when the devout, the aged, and the infirm, await the signal by which they are summoned to receive every comfort and consolation from clerical benediction; it must be to all good hearts a mortifying circumstance, that the very bell which tolls to bring the moral and religious part of the inhabitants to their duty in the church, is also the signal for bringing a poor, harmless, unoffending animal (with his chain) to the stake. Incredible it must seem to those who have never witnessed the cruelty of the scene, that this very stake is fixed (and called the bull-ring) in the center of the market-place of a market town no more than twelve miles from the seat of Majesty, and thirty only from the metropolis of this great and enlightened kingdom.

    Without enlarging much upon the "hellish practice" of the sport itself, it cannot be inapplicable to advert one moment to the effect a scene of {96} so much insatiate cruelty must inevitably produce upon the growing offspring of the lower classes, in towns where a custom so generally execrated is so shamefully carried on. Previous to the commencement, "every heart beats high with the coming joy;" not a window but is crowded with women and children; not a street, or an avenue, but is crowded with brutes; the very scum and refuse of society from every part of the surrounding country; and then begins a scene of the most cruel and infernal practice that ever entered the heart of man, under the appellation of sporting mirth to the multitude. In the church of this town, on Sunday, the 20th day of December, (being the day previous to the baiting of the bull,) 1801, a sermon was preached by the Rev. Doctor Barry, which sermon is since published, and where the following passages may be found.

    "Gracious God! benevolent Parent of the universe, what a prodigy must he be in a Christian land, who could thus disgrace his nature by such gigantic infamy, at which the blood of a heathen, of a very Hottentot, might curdle! Two useful animals, the bull, who propagates our food, and the faithful dog, who protects our property, to be thus tormented! and for what purpose? Does it tend, as some have said, to keep alive the spirit of {97} the English character? In answer to this we must remark, that the barbarous sport (if sport it can be called) was unknown to the ancient bravery of our ancestors; was introduced into this country in the reign of a bad king; and earnestly do I pray to Almighty God, that in the reign of a most pious and benevolent Prince, it may be for ever set aside! Cowards, of all men the least unmoved, can both inflict and witness cruelties."

    "The heroes of a bull-bait, the patrons of mercenary pugilists, and the champions of a cock-fight, can produce, I should think, but few, if any, disciples brought up under their tuition, who have done service to their country either as warriors or as citizens; but abundant are the testimonies which have been registered at the gallows of her devoted victims, trained up to these pursuits of BULL BAITING!!!"

    Thus much upon its morality: now to a description of its practice. The bull being chained to the stake, which chain extends to about fifteen yards in length, and terminates in a very strong leather collar passing round the neck of the bull; and his horns having been previously muffled at the points (by the professional amateurs) with a composition of tow, tallow, and melted pitch, the ceremony thus commences. Those gentlemen best calculated to appear in the character of desperados begin the attack {98} by the most dreadful noises of different kinds, bellowings, hootings, and hissings, consisting of a complication horrid beyond description. Whilst the abandoned crew of raggamuffins are in this way, with their hats and huzzaings, endeavouring to irritate him before, if the poor animal, partially submissive to his fate, remains unmoved, seeming (in the "mind's eye" of rumination) to say "I stand here an object more sinned against than sinning," it rouses the infernal malice of the multitude to a certain degree of indignation, which is instantly displayed by the confederates behind, who being mostly provided with sharp-pointed sticks, proceed to those pleasing punctures, and provoking twists of the tail, which rouse him from his state of humiliation to a temporary madness; when, in the midst of this horror and confusion, the first dog is suddenly let loose: and this, to the treble refined and inexplicable sensations of a bull-baiter, is the most extatic moment of his life; his very existence is absorbed in the magnitude of the concern; his whole soul is engaged; the mind or memory is no longer itself, and the tormentor is as completely mad as the unfortunate object of his persecution.

    The scene now advances to a state of confusion exceeding all humane conception; the howling of the dogs, still in hand, anxious and eager to be let loose; the roaring and dreadful bellowings of the bull, (particularly if pinned by the nose to the ground;) the dangerous pressings, and incessant hollowing and huzzaings of the mob; the galloping tramplings of the enraged animal; all constitute a scene from which the thinking mind retreats with horror, and claims a chasm to renew the description. The first dog, perhaps, inadequate to the wishes of his adherents, and not being able to succeed farther than to increase the rage of the bull, is assisted by a second, which instantly rousing the victim at the stake to an encreased exertion of rage and self defence, as evidently increases the horrid happiness of the multitude to a degree beyond all power of imagination, and to which the descriptive pen must bow obedience, and acknowledge its inability.

    Should the poor persecuted animal, by every strenuous effort in its own defence, collect sufficient strength to keep its two inveterate foes at bay, and preserve its nostrils from the blood-thirsty fangs of its opponents, delay does but increase the determination of those previously determined; in which case resentment is seldom long without a remedy. Stimulated to a greater degree of cruelty by tedious disappointment, a third dog (should it be necessary) is let loose, as it were by accident, to assist the other two; when, under so severe a weight of accumulated oppression, exhausted nature sinks; the poor pitiable object is pinned to the ground by the most irritable and tender part about him, bleeding and bellowing amidst the shameless shouts of a shameful victory, where five hundred greater brutes have brought a lesser to the ground.

    Not to prolong so shocking a description beyond the length unavoidably necessary to its perfect comprehension, it must suffice to say, the cruelty is extended by every means that can possibly assist the cause. Prizes are annually advertised for the best dogs, thereby inducing the owners to bring them any distance, not only to increase and lengthen the sport, but that the object of misery may not die too easy a death! In the midst of his sufferings, if the minds of his hellish tormentors have not been sufficiently satiated with repetitions of what has past, collateral aids are called in to rouse his powers (already by an unwearied scene of persecution lulled to an apathy) of defence and resentment once more into action. Instances are common where fires have been made under the very body of the bull, when too much worn down, and exhausted by the jerks of the chain, longer to exert himself; patiently he stands, with the blood streaming from his nostrils, totally insensible to the twistings of his tail even to dislocation, the continued goring with sticks pointed with nails, and a long list of experiments equally to be abhorred, only tend to strengthen, most incontrovertibly, the dreadful effect such scenes (exultingly enjoyed) must have upon the rising generation, whose minds must, by a familiarity with the frequency of the scene, be rendered totally callous to every sensation of tenderness and humanity, even in the very hour of infantine infatuation.

    Mr. Windham in the House of Commons.
     
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  2. Great read as always F.W.K......true historian!
    Even tho it's the people who pushed for baiting sports to be ended who wrote that,it still gives a good insight to how horrid the sport actually was.it would be vile to witness.but it seems this sport shaped the dogs what eventually became the greatest dogs the world over..I mean from 1209-1820 is a very long time.and no doubt this amount of time resulted in a set type of dog that was the ideal ingredient for the future sport of dog fighting..I'm convinced some of the first strains of Pit dogs were more closer up in the blood to these old baiting dogs then writers of the time belived..I do think the crossing of Bulldogs and Terriers happend.but I believe it to be a bit over stated ..and if some terrier blood did enter into some pit strains,I believe it was not entered to "make"a pit fighting dog.I believe pit fighting dogs existed before terrier entered(may of entered)the gene pool..I could imagine some of these baits.and I could imagine some dogs would of been keen to fight with each other just as much as bull and bear..there for it would of been not so hard a task to select the ones with this inclination..and maybe the butchers and baiting men of the time were quick to spot that baiting would be banned soon,so used the selection process just mentiond.and dog fighting was born....maybe I'm wrong?.maybe it already existed thousands of years before?..and it seems there was most definitely strains of dogs that were bread purely for the pit long before the 1835 ban..as dog fighting was included in this ban...
    And even if terrier did enter the gene pool,the dogs are still more of a old baiting dog in type then a terrier.admittedly some strains today do look terrierish,or houndy..but I think even the baiting dogs may of had this variation in appearance....1209-1800 is a very long time.and I have no doubt whatsoever that dogs were baiting large animals thousands of years before 1209.dogs of a very similar type!..there's artefacts of big bull type dogs pulling down big beasts that predate the birth of Christ buy about 2000 years..and it's most definitely possible these dogs are as old if not older then the Greyhound..
    I suppose it's a bit far fetched..and Greyhound groupies reading this would strongly disagree buy saying the Greyhound is the most ancient of all breeds(and the Greyhound is very ancient)..but if one looks a bit deeper,(Maybe something for you to look into here F.W.K?)they will find im pretty right in what I'm saying here....
    Were did these ancient catch dogs originate tho???
    It's common believe that on conquering Britain,the Romans were so impressed by the monstrous dogs they found here .that they shipped them back to Rome for fighting in the arena's..I don't believe this.I think the Romans discovered not big monstrous catch type dogs.but big monstrous hairy wolf hound type dogs.so sent back to Rome for catch type dogs..I think the Romans may of first introduced this type of dog to Britain..werther it was bread here up till 1209 is questionable.as many different people ruled Britain after the Romans.but I do think it was first introduced to Britain with the Romans.....I believe they originated some were buy Asia about 5000 years before the birth of Christ.and spread West over the centuries with there mighty tribes through Greyhound country in the Middle East,right through into Europe...I don't think they were the first dogs domesticated.but I think they were the first type of dogs the early domesticated mighty tribes or rulers used..so yeah,,I believe the ancestors of Bull type dogs to be older then the Greyhound....but who cares what I think?.lol.I really don't no why I've just wrote all that..guess I just love the history side of things.....YIS.
     
  3. F.W.K.

    F.W.K. Retired Historican

    Bull-Baiting in Berkshire.

    By Rev. Canon Sturges.

    The character of a people is reflected in their amusements. The gradual decline of the popularity of rough and cruel sports is a sure indication that there has been corresponding improvement in the people themselves. The History of Sports will show how slowly and yet how continuously this improvement has gone on under the influence of Christian civilization.

    It was not until christian teaching had been leavening society for 400 years that public opinion was educated up to the point of abolishing the gladiatorial contests, and the wholesale massacres of the Roman amphitheatre. For nearly a thousand years more the lists, within which men-at-arms met in mortal combat to shew their skill or settle their quarrels, were the very chiefest places of amusement in our own land. There king and nobles would sit on seats raised above the crowd, and fairest ladies gave the signal to begin, and presented the reward to the victor when the games were over. The common people crowded round the enclosure, while all watched the armed men tilting at one another on horseback, or dealing mighty blows with sword and buckler, and when a spear's head penetrated a knight's corslet, and he fell from his horse, and his life's blood oozed out on the ground, or when a downward sweep of a great two-handed sword fell on a footman's helmet, cleaving it and the head beneath it in two, as sometimes happened, the men in the crowd did not turn sick, nor the women scream and faint, as would be the case now if such sights were seen, but the men clapped their hands and cheered, and the women waved their handkerchiefs, and put on their sweetest smiles for him who dealt the fatal blow. In time that class of exhibitions passed out of use, and another took its place, and survived to within the memory of living persons. No longer was the stake played for human life, but for the humbler one of the life of a brute. Sometimes, indeed, the highest in the land would mingle with the lowest, for the pleasure of seeing a couple of strong men battering one another's faces into shapeless mass with fists, until one of the two could no longer stand. But the commoner and more generally approved sport was that which transferred the duty of being done to death for the amusement of mankind, from man himself to the dumb helpless creatures that have been committed to man's care, and set apart for his lawful use. Bull-baiting, bear-baiting, cock-fighting, rat-killing, dog-fighting, and such like, were for several centuries his favourite amusements Queen Elizabeth was an enthusiastic patroness of baiting. The master of the bears, bulls, and dogs, was one of the officers of the Royal household during her reign, and in several subsequent reigns. She was wont to entertain ambassadors to her court, with bull and bear-baiting after a state dinner. In 1591 an order of the Privy council was issued forbidding plays to be acted on Thursdays, because "bear-baiting and such like pastimes had usually been practised on that day." Thus Shakespeare was silenced every Thursday, lest the bull-ring should be neglected.

    It was not until the beginning of the present century that the conscience of the nation began to revolt against the continuance of this barbarous sport. In 1802 an attempt was made in the House of Commons to pass a bill to suppress it. The question was argued with much warmth, and the bill was lost. In 1835 public opinion had so far advanced that a bill was passed without much difficulty, by which it became illegal henceforth to bait or worry any bear, bull, dog, or other animal. And thus after seven centuries of popularity, bull-baiting ceased to be a public amusement.

    We should like now to take our readers, as far as we can by a descriptive narrative, to one of the bull-baitings of Berkshire as they were conducted sixty years ago. There are plenty of places we might select for our visit. Every town in the county and every considerable village had its common or ground where the greensward was reddened at least once a year with the blood of bulls and dogs. Strangely enough the favourite day for the great bait of the year was Good Friday.

    The best place we can select for our visit will be Wokingham. It is a comfort to know that there at least the baiting will not be on Good Friday. St. Thomas's Day, Dec. 21st, has been the day there set apart for many generations for the sacrifice of bulls by dog-torture. And there the sport enjoys an endowment and so flourishes wonderfully, outdoing in the fame of its bull-baiting all other towns and parishes in the county of Berks. The endowment arose in this way. One, George Staverton, a lover of the sport, having himself, it is said, been gored by a bull, charged his estate with £6 a year to provide a bull for baiting. Whether he meant it as a revenge on the whole bull race for his injuries, or, as the expression of a good-natured wish, that others should enjoy the sport from which he had himself received so much pleasure, we are left to guess. But this we know, that the bequest increased in value, and soon was sufficient to buy two bulls at least every year; and in 1815, which is the year to which we are going to take our readers back to witness the Wokingham bull-baiting, anyone strolling through the streets of the town, any day of the year, would have had abundant evidence that the sport was held in great estimation by the inhabitants. At many a cottage door was to be seen a specimen of the true British bull-dog. Sometimes the animal had a silver collar, betokening past victories won over the bull. All were sleek, and evidently objects of much care and interest, often of much more than were bestowed on the children of the house.

    The 21st of December, 1815, was a cold, damp, dull day. Two hours before noon, a young fellow drove out of Reading with a companion to see the Wokingham bull-baiting. As they drew near the town, the road became crowded with carriages and pedestrians hurrying in the same direction. Arrived at the Market Place, the younger man found a place in a window overlooking the scene, while the elder, a tall fellow, evidently a habituè of the bull-ring, joined the crowd outside. The spectators filled every window, and in some cases had seated themselves on the roofs of the houses. Carriages, filled with occupants, were drawn up in front of the shops, and all available standing room on the footpaths and roadway was filled by visitors, towns-people, and parishioners. A cry arises "room for the Alderman and Burgesses." The Corporation of Wokingham dates from Saxon times, and the chief-magistrate[Pg 250] was still called "the Alderman," the town having refused steadily for eight centuries to adopt the new-fangled Norman title of "Mayor." The remaining members of the Corporation were "burgesses." Here they come, first pushing a way through the crowd, two "ale-tasters" with wands of office surmounted by the acorn, the Corporation crest; then two sergeants of the mace, the mace-bearer, the alderman, burgesses, town clerk, and others. The alderman takes his seat with his friends in the large window of the old "Red Lion Inn," and gives the signal that the sport is to begin. Shouts are heard and a commotion is evident in a corner of the crowd. Here he comes, the first bull, led by a dozen strong men, a rope round his horns and a chain fifteen feet long, into the middle of the market place, where the end of the chain is fastened to a strong staple in a post level with the ground. Away go his keepers. In a moment the bull has cleared a ring for the coming contest. With head down and tail erect, he sweeps round at the full extent of his chain, and is all alone in the centre of a circle thirty feet in diameter.

    "A lane! a lane!" and quickly the crowd has given way to form a narrow passage, at the end of which we see a man holding a dog between his knees. It is the first dog to be set on; his owner cries, "Set on!" and the dog loosed tears down the lane, through hoops held at regular intervals, right at the face of the bull, who has heard his yelp, and is waiting for him. The dog goes for the bull's nose; the animal keeps him off by always presenting a horn to his advance. We notice he does not prod at the dog, but tries to sweep the horn along the ground under the dog's belly. The dog, quite conscious of the meaning of these tactics, is never for a moment still, but dancing to and fro, tries to get through the bull's guard. It seems for a while that this game of attack and defence might go on for the whole day. But suddenly the bull has managed to get his horn beneath the dog, and up he goes into the air, some twenty or thirty feet high. "Catch the dog, quick. He'll be done for if he touches ground." And see our friend from Reading holding out a pair of long arms, and down comes the dog, bespattering, as he falls into them, the man's face and clothes with blood and mud. When the day is over, many, who came out in holiday clothes, will return home sorry spectacles from dog-catching,[Pg 252] covered with filth, and with torn and disordered clothes.

    Another dog is now ready. His fate is more speedily determined than that of his predecessor. The bull, almost immediately, sends him flying into the air, so high that he falls on the roof of the Town Hall, and in coming down is impaled on some spikes.

    This is a grand stroke by which the present bull has outdone all former bulls that have been fastened to that chain and stake for many a year. And while the poor dog is writhing and whining piteously, the crowd applauds vociferously. In one of the smaller carriages, two school boys occupy the back seat. These boys are now standing up, wildly clapping their hands and hurrahing, while the dog on the roof still writhes and cries out in its agony. One of those boys will live to be a farmer in Wokingham, and be well known for his love of animals. More than seventy years after the event he will often tell of this, his only visit to the bull-baiting, and express his wonder by what strange contagion he could have caught the spirit of that cruel crowd, and witnessed, with delirious delight, animal torture, which on any other day of his life would have brought tears to his eyes.

    And now a third dog is set on. Whether the bull is tired or demoralized by the applause he has just received we cannot tell; but certain it is that number three almost at once-succeeds in fastening his teeth in the cartilage of the bull's nose. "A pin! a pin!" "The dog has pinned the bull!" and the animal tosses its head up and down in a frenzy of wrath and terror, trying to shake off the dog. But he might as well try to shake off his own horns. A story is told of a man who made a bet, and won it, that he would cut off each of his dogs legs in succession without his letting go, when once he had got his teeth in the bull.

    The owner of the present dog with the assistance of other men forces the dog's mouth open with a stick, and so gets him away, but not without tearing the bull's nose and leaving a portion of the cartilage in the dog's mouth. A note is taken of the owner's name that his dog's success may be rewarded in due time at the distribution of prizes.



    Three or four more dogs are set on in turn, and the short winter afternoon is already half over. People begin to clamour for the second bull. But they are not destined to part with the first without a little more excitement. Some young men growing bold by familiarity with the scene, take an opportunity of tossing the loose chain over the animal's back. This makes him start forward with great impetuosity, and in doing so he tears the staple out of the post to which the chain is fastened. "The Bull is loose!" Away scampers the crowd in every direction. A woman who had been selling apples and cakes out of a large basket is upset in her flight, and her wares are scattered. Several others fall over her prostrate form, but before further mischief is done, the animal is again secured. A single tree grows in the middle of the market-place. In the boughs a number of small boys, early in the day, had taken up their position, and there witnessed all the fun. Not knowing how else to secure the bull while the staple in the post is undergoing repair, the men pass the chain round this tree. The bull, finding itself thus robbed of a liberty which just now had seemed to offer a prospect of escape from his tormentors, frantic with rage and terror, makes wild rushes forward, jerking and swaying the tree to the great alarm of the urchins in the boughs. The crowd enjoying their fright, cry out to increase it, "the tree is coming down." This is too much for the boys' courage, down they come like apples in a gale of wind, some on the bull's back, some in the slush and mud. The whole crowd except a few anxious parents, is convulsed with laughter. Luckily the boys are got out of the way of the bull, who seems fairly puzzled at this new form of attack, and no one is seriously hurt.

    It is now determined to dismiss the bull to the neighbouring slaughter-house. The poor creature is led away, covered with blood, and foam, and sweat, a very picture of distress and exhaustion, and of the madness that comes of fear, rage, and pain.

    The second bull is coming out fresh and strong, and good to keep up the sport for another hour or two. But we have seen enough, and may well return to Reading with our young friend who has been looking on from the window. The light is already failing. It is damp and chill, and will be dark before he reaches home. It is well, too, to escape the rough horse-play which grows rougher as the day closes. Already there have been several fights among the dog-owners and others, and before the night is over there will be many more, and not impossibly lives may be lost. Even the lives of women were not always safe after the passions of men had been roused by these scenes of cruelty, sustained by a free flow of the drink, which makes men "full of quarrel and offence." Witness the Parish Registers, where we find the entry, "Martha May, aged 55, (who was hurt by fighters after Bull-baiting) was buried Dec. 31st 1808." Poor Martha May! she must have been badly hurt, and only lived six days, as we reckon, (allowing four days for the interval between her death and burial), after her last bull-baiting on St. Thomas's Day in Wokingham Market Place in 1808.

    There remains one other point on which information is needed. The dogs were evidently highly trained. Knowing quite well what was expected of them, eager as grey-hounds with the quarry in view to escape from the master's hand, and to fly through the hoops at the bull's nose. Where and how did they get their training? There are still old inhabitants in Wokingham who can answer this question by word of mouth. For weeks before the baiting, on every moonlight night, it was common practice for a party of men with three or four dogs to visit some field or park, and there driving an ox, which they had before noted as suitable for their purpose, into a corner of the field, set on their dogs in order, according to the received rules of baiting. In the morning the owner would be furious at finding his best ox in a pitiable condition, and useless for the market for months to come. But so general was the interest in bull-baiting that he got no more pity than the farmer's wife, whose ducks are all killed by a fox, gets now from her neighbours.

    Looking back on bull-baiting and similar sports, that were contemporaneous with it, and comparing them with the scenes of violence that formed popular entertainments in the generations that went before, and with the sports and games of our own day, the conclusion cannot be escaped that the world's history shews a well-marked line at progress in the gentler virtues, and the growth of sympathy between man and his fellow, and between man and the animals around him, that tends to brand cruelty wherever found as a vice.

    It is the duty of every one to do what he can to further this progress to quicken this growth, and to practise and encourage only those amusements which seem suitable for the development of the best side in the character of the people.


    FOOTNOTES:
    Erasmus, the reformer, speaks of 'many herds' of bears which he saw being trained for baiting when he was in England in the reign of Henry VIII.

    This description is taken from "The Reminiscences of an Octogenarian," published in The Reading Observer. He describes a visit made by himself when a youth, to Wokingham, under the guidance of an elder companion, to see the bull-baiting. Other particulars have been derived from information given to the writer of this article by those, most of them now dead, who were spectators of the sports.

    The particulars of this scene were given to the writer by the farmer who had been one of the boys in the chaise.

    The description of this scene is taken partly from an old picture, and partly from the narrative of an eye-witness.
     
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  4. Wow..brilliant insight...the description of wich is quite graffic..you sir are a true historian,and I don't no how the hell you find this stuff??

    Great read.and it shows in that story that breaking sticks were around back then.it also indicates the dogs were extremely fit and probably better looked after then the children of that time!..it also shows Britain was the most cruelest of races.no wonder the cruelty to animals lobby was started in Britain!!.....

    Bulls,Bears,Dogs,Badgers,Rats,were not the only creatures treated cruelly....pigs were whipped to death,cats were rolled round in a barrel then beat to death by the spectators,and bizarly if it's true eat alive by man(must of been a brave/crazy man whoed try and eat a live cat for a bet),Salmon was crimped,tame pigions were shot to pieces(witch was the predecessor for clay shooting)...Geese had there heads chopped of by man on house back as a sort of training for war,Ducks were tied in a pond and dogs tried on them,Otters and Polecats were hunted ruthlessly,Sparrows were put in a small barrel and people were encouraged to dip there head in the barrel and try bite the head of the Sparrow....and I can't think of anymore bizar stuff of the top of my head...but there were many more crazy cruel events around back then...come to think of it man would even had a hard time.....

    I'm gonna stop rambling about weird cruel blood-sports now.I've probably wrote enough LOL...

    But yeah, keep the history coming F.W.K......if no one else on here don't like the history you put up...Well I do!.I enjoy reading whatever you post..

    I find history surrounding stuff like this truely fascinating as I think you can all tell.
    YIS.
     
  5. F.W.K.

    F.W.K. Retired Historican

  6. Lrs

    Lrs Big Dog

    This sounds like rspca propaganda lmao it would have been a bloody spectacle but the bull wasn’t killed by the dogs just had its nose blooded. I can think of worse...great research btw always like your threads.
     
  7. Lrs

    Lrs Big Dog

    Lol are you saying pigeon shooting is cruel? Hit one with a 12 gauge or 4/10 and it’s instantly dead crops have to be protected. And as for Britain being a cruel people have a look towards Eastern Europe and India it’ll make your toes curl.
     
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  8. Lrs

    Lrs Big Dog

    I think we’ve discussed this before mate? If you look at the pics of the rat pit the dog is a different type than one you’d send at the bull or even another dog. Pit bulls/staffs can kill the odd rat or two but the best rat killing pit bulls don’t even compare to average terriers but if you need abit more grit you can breed bulldogs in but then you need to breed it out until a quarter or less. I’ve done this myself ratting is the easiest dog sport to participate in.
     
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  9. Ok Lrs mate,I'll try answer your questions.....1:NO!.lol,I don't think pigeon shooting cruel.or I'll reword that...NO!.I don't think it's cruel to shoot pigeons to protect your crops.or to eat.I shoot them my self!.that said,I could not give to fucks about peoples crops..as Mr farmer or Mr game keeper would not not like me poaching there woodies:))........I meant the predecessor of clay shooting was cruel.as they used very tame birds.and it's more then unsporting to shoot tame birds just for fun.......
    2:I totally agree about how cruel Easten Europe is..but there's no denying Britain was cruel..as most "bloodsports" were practically created on the British isles.....
    3:I can totally agree that a shotgun will kill a pigeon very effectively..lol.I don't use shot guns mate.so I got a question.wouldn't a shotgun blow it to pieces?I mean wouldn't the meat be a little bruised?lol(there's not a lot of meat on a mick.it's basically only the breast I go for)...plus it's a bit noisy if your snooping through a private wood trying to not be seen or heard;)
    YIS
     
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  10. Lrs

    Lrs Big Dog

    4/10 is the best pigeon gun if you want to keep what’s shot but never more than a 20 bore. The 12 gauge is the one that’ll make him disappear in a puff of feathers depending on what cartridge you use. But if your shooting birds from the roost then you can’t beat a nice round pebble and a slingshot zero noise and easy to stash lol
     
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  11. Lrs

    Lrs Big Dog

    And I would argue that Britain may have refined blood sports but the concept is a Europe wide thing imo. See Spanish bullfighting for an example. It wasn’t to long ago they stopped using Spanish bulldogs that descend from imported English stock that mixed with native stock.
     
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  12. Lrs

    Lrs Big Dog

    Although an imported dog called big headed billy (I think) was bred into English stock to get the size back up.
     
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  13. Yeah,we've discussed something similar I think.....
    I agree.I've seen some rat hunting in abertwars when I was
    Ha,ha,ha,that's my method!.(not that I'm a good shot lol)
     
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  14. Sorry miss print.don't no what happend there
     
  15. What I was meant to say there was I agree.I've done some ratting round abertwars when I was a kid.with a few terriers.a sbt.and a ebt(a small one).even tho the bulls caught some rats.the Terriers were a lot better.way better infact.in a class of there own to be honest..(I've never seen a Bulldog work rats)....
    But years later this got me thinking..so I started looking into the history of the rat pits.not a lot of info available really...but it seems the rat pits were a hole lot different to general hunting of the rat..a hole,hole lot diffrent...i like what you say about putting a touch of bull in the ratting dogs Lrs.and you've probably got way more experience in this then me...rat hunting that is..
    So I'll presume you've done some rat hunting.well say of maybe forty to fifty rats are taken with about three dogs.well you'll of seen the bites.rats can bite.imagine a dog in a pit on its own surrounded by up to 200 rats.(some reports say thousands.but it seems a little far fetched)..200 rats mate.imagine how much the dogs face would swell of killing all them single handed?!.that picture above you said "Billy"....some reports say he was a full Bulldog.some say he was three quarter Bulldog one quarter terrier....but he was meant to have slain I think someone like a hundred rats in five minutes?!......crazy. but maybe that the reason people crossed Bull and Terrier???..it makes ya think.
     
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  16. All of Europe seemed to have this crazy blood lust for seeing animals torn to pieces my dogs.and your right.it was not just Britain that indulged...but Britain seemed a touch more fanatical about it all.and seemd to take it to extreme levels.....I'm convinced one on one dog fighting contests(with rules,in a pit,referee) are most definitely a British creation tho.and if it was common(wich it was)in other parts of Europe then I believe the idea first came from Britain..I think Cock fighting also has it's roots deeply involved with the British...........

    Big Headed Billy was imported by Bill George.George Alfred may of been his name??....Bill was around when Bull baiting was still legal just.and chances are he seen the last of the old baits,and baiting men..(there's a great story on this sight that mentions about this)...the dog "Billy"we just been talking about may of been named after Bill..or the author of the story maybe thinking of a dog from earlier times,the dog from the print "Wasp,Child,and Billy".perhaps?.....but anyway Bill never just witnessed the last Bull baits and that was it.oh no.one things certain.Bill seen the last baits but he also witnessed the beginning/early days of dog fighting...them things seem certain.......but years later Bill started a huge kennel of show bulldogs.and he fond the show Bulldogs were crippled beasts.and that's were he imports the Spanish dog just mentiond.....weird the way he would turn to show dogs though?...anyway he seems just as much a character as James Hinks if it's all true.......I'm gonna shut up now...but history fascinates me.
    YIS
     
  17. Lrs

    Lrs Big Dog

    When you have that many dogs you don’t want to lose that cash lol definitely a hinks style of thinking but seeing as though he went the show route it plays into my own theory that the breed was slightly different from those that won in the dog pit.
     
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  18. Slightly different?.totally different dogs mate...the show dogs Georges had were basicailly the Pit/baiting dogs crossed with Pugs...as you say lotta money from a huge kennel ,and George wernt soft.he would of been quick to note the market for crippled Pug type show Bulldogs.and he would of set to and bread and sold loads!..why he crossed the real old baiting dogs from Spain to these crippled mutts is anyone's guess??.the show Bulldog club was dead set against this show Bulldog getting crossed with Spanish baiting dog blood...and stud books were set up for the crippled show Bulldogs that were free of this Spanish bloodblood to be kept pure..witch is rather stupid and rather baffling.coz the show Bulldog was far from pure anyways.and as just been said was a cross of Bull and Pug...show people got wierd ideas especially in them days!

    Dose make me think tho...maybe George never crossed Spanish baiting blood in with his show dogs??...maybe he bread and sold show dogs but may be behind closed doors he still felt in Pit dogs
     
  19. Sorry my bad!!!!
    Maybe behind close doors he kept breeding Pitdogs??...witch seems likely as the man was very involved in his youth.and it's doubtful them desires are not you gonna just disapear with of age!...so maybe he used this Spanish blood in his Pitdogs?.as a sort of secret ingredient perhaps????.....makes ya think like.
    YIS
     
  20. Sorry for the spelling mistakes..my computer is fucking up
     

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