The Mystery of The North Durham & Northumberland Hunt. (Solved!)


Posted on Sunday, May 3, 2020
In: Hunt Button Collecting
Written by: Firebrand

Recently an ancient hunt coat turned up for auction featuring a most interesting set of buttons bearing the letters NDN in ‘Acanthus script’.   Until the coat itself appeared, the only reference I had found to this particular button had been in a Firmin maker’s pattern book dating from the late 19th century that was sold to an American in the 1950s.  (later reproduced by Neil McShane in his book) It is clearly annotated as ‘North Durham & Northumberland Hunt’

In the pattern book, the button has the note:  ? Regl which, reading ‘The Story of the Firmin Pattern Books‘, tells me that Firmin & Sons were unsure whether this is the ‘Regulation’ button for that hunt, or a private one.  It is noted that buttons either side of the sample are dated 1856 and 1877.

Based on the tailoring and construction, the coat could be from anywhere between 1790 and 1860 (approx), and it has an interesting full breast pocket, rather than a small whistle pocket.  The buttons carry two different backmarks:  P&S Firmin and C&F Bullivant.  The Firmin mark dates it around the 1830s.  The Bullivant mark is one I have not been able to date, but must assume is from around the same period or earlier.

Here are a few images of the coat.

The coat’s poor condition has meant that it has not been able to date it properly, or identify it’s previous owner.

As far as I can find (so far at least) the long list of known packs of fox hounds that hunted the North Durham / Northumberland borderlands does not include one of this name.  Geographically, it must’ve existed somewhere in-between The Berwickshire & Northumberland, and the Wynyard & South Durham hunts respective countries

I wondered if it might be a stag hunt.  Early packs of stag hounds that appear to have hunted that country were Lord Elcho’s – before they changed to fox, and The Tindale, but it could be a private pack of stag hounds along similar lines as Sir Thomas Jones-Parry’s.

Alternatively, it could be a hunt club for gentlemen of the numerous hunts in the region, in the same vein as The Holywell Hunt in Cymru/Wales, The Royal Leamington Hunt in England, The Royal Caledonian Hunt in Scotland, or The Northern Rangers in Ireland.

It’s a mystery that may well remain unsolved unless someone can find documentary references to an active pack of hounds bearing that nomenclature.

‘Firebrand’

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3 responses to “The Mystery of The North Durham & Northumberland Hunt. (Solved!)”

  1. Peter Brook says:

    The reference to the Lambton can be found in the 1835 listing- viz This report from 1839.
    “Mr. Robertson, of Lees, has bought Lord Suffield’s hounds for a thousand guineas, formerly belonging to that excellent sportsman. Mr. Ralph Lambton, Who was thirty years in perfecting them, and for which he received three thousand guineas. Mr. Robertson will hunt this fine country from Warder to the Tweed. and all north of the Cheviot. and from Wooler to Belford. Stator St. Paul, we understand, takes the country from Wooler to the Coquet. Mr. R. intends to hunt four or five days a week, and as there are plenty of foxes in the country, we hope he has country enough for his so couple of hounds. We believe the hunt will be called The North Durham and Northumberland Fox Hunt, or else the Glendale. The kennel is to be either at Etal-house or Ford. We understand In the last four years nearly twenty covers have been made by the exertions of gentlemen in the country.”
    So could it be Mr Robertson’s hunt coat?

  2. Firebrand says:

    What a result! Thank you Peter. Where does that 1839 report appear please. For clarification. Mr George Grey of Millfield created a pack under his own name and later The Glendale in 1882, so it was not the same pack, as postulated above.

  3. Peter Brook says:

    from Bell’s (1843) the following adds some further context “The splendid hounds, known as the Northumberland and North Durham Fox hounds formerly the Lambton Pack, and which have hunted the Northern portion of this county during the last few years, have just been given up by their owner, Mr Robertson, Esq, of Lees near Coldstream. The worthy gentleman’s extensive stud of hunters are also announced for sale.”

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