Did You Know?

A collection of historical hound and hunt related incidents and oddities recorded in Baily’s


Merkin, a fox-hound bitch bred by Colonel Thornton ran a trail of four miles in seven minutes and half a second [about 34mph]. This bitch was sold for four hogsheads of claret,  the agreement included a provision that seller was to have two couple of her whelps.


A fox-hunt took place near Dilston, by the Shyley hounds near the ancient remains of Dilston Castle. It took first a westerly direction through the low part of Hexhamshire, by West Dipton to Hayden Bridge; then crossing the Tyne went north to Sewingshiel Crags, and then west to Barkham; but being turned southward, he crossed the river again at Bardon Mill, and was killed near Coanwood, after a run of not less than fifty miles.


Sir Watkin Williams Wynn is recorded as voting in the Commons after midnight on Friday and hunting in Denbighshire before 12 o’clock Saturday morning. A visitor had an appointment at Wynnstay to see Sir Watkin at three in the afternoon. When he arrived a few minutes early he was told that the master of the hounds would be a few minutes late as had crossed from Kingstown Holyhead during the night, slept for a couple of hours in Chester, and departed for Wynnstay, where he ate a hasty breakfast and went cubhunting.
Sir Watkin was known to hunt all day in Denbighshire, and ride to Ruabon station, in hunting dress, in time for the five o’clock express for London. He would get changed on the train journey, and vote with his party in a division the same night.


A curious incident happened with the Blackmore Vale Hounds. They found a fox at Deadmoor Common, then ran towards Elcombe Wood, where they clashed with Lord Portman’s hounds, who were out for a bye-day. The two packs of hounds, two Huntsmen, four whips, two Masters, and the united field ran together towards Shillingstone, where the fox went to ground.


When the Duke of Bedford kept what are now the Oakley Hounds, the hunted fox first made his way into a school kept by a clergyman, and, being routed from there by a willing pack of pupils, took himself to the vicarage, and ran into the library. A young maid who was engaged in dusting the apartment was so terrified, that she was taken with a fit, and a couple of doctors, who happened to be out, had their day cut short as the young woman required their incessant attention for several hours.


A presentation of a silver hunting horn was presented to Will Griffiths, huntsman of the North Herefordshire Hounds, by a few friends, in recognition of his abilities as 1st Whipper-in with the Worcestershire hounds.


During a fast run with Sir Watkin William Wynn’s hounds, an extraordinary incident occurred, when the hunted fox with hounds in close pursuit suddenly darted amongst a lot of fowls, snatched one up, and went with it his mouth right to the end of the run.


The  West-street Harriers were chasing a hare across country near St. Margaret’s when puss gave them the slip. Just at that time, a fox was started, and the hounds gave chase. An exciting run ensued, the fox leading the hunt across country at a rattling pace. He was headed by some football players, and, changing his course, he struck off to the grounds of Walmer Castle skimming round by the moat. At this time Earl Granville and some of the occupants of the castle came out to witness the sport, when the fox made straight for the castle, crossed the drawbridge and passed through the open door running through the corridor as far as the Drawing room. Here it was brought to bay by some of the hounds which had followed him into the castle.


That a hound is able to kill a fox single-handed, has often been demonstrated but seldom under circumstances so curious and patent as a week or so ago with the Pytchley. They had hunted their fox for an hour and-a-half from Billing, and had apparently lost him somewhere about Overstone Park when suddenly an uproar was heard, as it were, from the bowels of the earth. The baying and growling of a hound were found to proceed through an iron grating opening into a culvert, and, hurrying to the spot, the huntsman found a single hound, Royal (by the Bramham Sailor), was plainly to be seen with a fox he had followed up the drain. The pack clustered around the opening and flung their voices in fierce encouragement while the strife went on. Pickaxes and spades were brought, and the grating forced up. But before he could be reached Royal had shaken out his fox’s life, and he emerged, bloodstained and well pleased.


A very curious incident with the Linlithgow and Stirlingshire foxhounds. The reporter believes it to be almost unparalleled in the annals of foxhunting.  It seems that from one of the Hopetoun coverts hounds ran their fox down to a long rocky breakwater that runs some 400 yards out to sea, near Queensferry, and killed him the extreme end. This was curious in itself, but stranger thing was to happen. Alongside the breakwater an empty steamer was moored. Passing this on the way back after killing their fox another fox had gone on board the steamer. One hound evidently winded the fox and jumped on board, finding his fox below decks, forced him on deck, when the body of the pack joined in. The fox bolted over the stern of the vessel into the sea, followed by the pack, and then dodged his pursuers in the water reaching land.


During a run of the Cattistock an incident occurred. While the hounds were in full cry near Toller. A local boy was driving baker’s cart along the road from Maiden Newton. The cart was drawn an old horse that had often been at the covert side and had mean reputation as fencer. Directly the horse caught sight the hunt and heard the familiar music of the chase he became very excited, and bolted off after the bounds. The baker’s cart was overturned on the rough ground, and the wheels passed over the boy, but happily did him no harm. Released from the restraining hand of its driver, the brave old steed joined at its fullest speed in the chase, but, in attempting to jump a gate got hung up. The cart, which was the wrong side of the grate, proving effective bar to the old hunter’s further progress. With some difficulty normality was restored, and the boy was able continue his round. The veteran, despite the incident, was completely unhurt.


A meet of the North Stafford Hounds took place at the home of Mr. and Coghill. The hosts provided a cold luncheon for the followers in one of their large summer houses. But when the guests entered the pavilion, they found that the hounds had already entered and entirely demolished the contents.


The Ystrad foxhounds were or the track of Reynard early in the day, and after a good hunt, it was supposed that the fox had somehow dodged the hounds and he was given up as lost. It afterwards transpired that three of the best hounds got separated from the rest of the pack and fallowed the fox to Cefncarfan Farm, near Bryncethin. The fox was seen by a farm boy on a potato field going at a very slow pace with the three hounds about a field’s length behind him. Both fox and hounds were looking quite worn out and going at a crawling pace. At this point the boy gave chase and easily overtook them.  With no more to give, Reynard laid down in a ditch at the top of the field, and the three hounds laid down close to him, but they were too exhausted to attack him. Eventually, the fox was easily captured alive by the farmer, who fed both him and the three plucky hounds, before allowing the fox on his way.


Mr. Lewin, master of the Tuam Foxhounds, whose entire pack had to be destroyed recently owing to an outbreak of rabies, has been presented with all entirely new and better pack, consisting of 46 and a half couples. Hounds were contributed by a number of masters of hounds in England and Ireland, including the Duke of Leeds, the Duke of Sutherland, the Marquis of Zetland, the Earl of Huntingdon, the Hon. G. W. Fitzwilliam, and Mr. Albert Brassey.


The Cottesmore Hounds were invited to a lawn meet at Cold Overton Hall, the seat of Lord Manners. Soon after the hounds arrived, a fox, which had presumably been lying beside the carriage drive, jumped up right under their noses, and the pack started off in hot pursuit, running some distance at great pace before they could be stopped.


George Gillson retired huntsman of the Cottesmore Hounds was presented with splendid testimonial recognition of his twelve years’ service with the pack. The award consisted of a cheque for £750, accompanied by a handsome timepiece and illuminated address. The timepiece is a handsome one of French pattern, with an oak frame, brass and inlaid work, two of the illustrations recall incidents with the Cottesmore pack. The timepiece bears the inscription, ” Presented to George Gillson, with £750, on his retirement huntsman of the Cottesmore Hounds, May 1st, 1900.”
Mr. Gillson started his career with the York and Ainsty pack, when he acted as Second horseman, he then went to the Old Berkeley where he was second whipper-in. From here he proceeded to the North of England, having obtained the position of whipper-in to the Cumberland and Kildare hounds after which he came southwards again, being engaged by Lord Yarborough with the Brocklesby. From here he accepted the engagement of whipper-in to the Quorn Hounds, where he remained for three seasons.
Upon Lord Ferrers taking over the Forest side of the Quorn country Mr. Gillson went be his huntsman for four years. Mr. Gillson next went back his old love, York and Ainsty, but this time as huntsman for a period of seven years, before accepting a similar engagement with the South Durham Hounds where he stayed a season before the position of huntsman at the Cottesmore fell vacant.



Lincolnshire fens. It is reported that Reynard successfully evaded his pursuers for over four hours, though he was kept in sight nearly all the time. As he was hard pressed he sought escape by entering the town of Louth. There he was met with a warm reception, the townspeople chasing and hurling every available missile at him. The fugitive, having run the gauntlet through several streets, entered an unoccupied house through the open window, and sought a hasty exit up the chimney. He was subsequently captured on the roof by the hounds.

1901 Cairo

Mr. J. Redmond asked the Secretary for War in the House of Commons whether the officer commanding the 11th Hussars, with six other officers and one private of the 11th Hussars and other regiments of the British garrison at Cairo, while fox-hunting at 5 o’clock on Sunday morning, July 21, in a walled-in garden, in the absence of the owner and without his leave, were assaulted and beaten with sticks by the owner’s servants and the native guards in charge of the place:-
Viscount Cranhorne: “The information which we have received is to the following effect. The officer commanding the 11th Hussars and others were out fox hunting on July 21. A fox was found on the outskirts of Mr. Blunt’s property, and was followed by the pack into an enclosure. The master and whips galloped to a hole in the wall in order to get to the hounds and prevent any damage being done when Mr. Blunt’s stud manager ordered to them to stop and struck at them with his stick. The other officers remained outside, but hearing shouting inside went back inside the enclosure. Two of the officers who had first entered were attacked by a number of men. They were repeatedly struck, their hats knocked off and their horses beaten. The officer in command did his best to restore order, and called on his officers to fall back, and ordered them not to strike their assailants.
The men who instigated the attack were prosecuted for assault in the ordinary courts of law before the native courts. The stud manager was sentenced to six months’ imprisonment, and two other defendants to four and three months’ respectively. It is understood that the defendants will appeal. The officers have expressed their regret to Mr. Blunt for the trespass, but it appears that practically no damage has been done to his property. The general officer commanding the British troops in Egypt will be requested to prevent the occurrence of incidents of this nature. The decision of any question as to the remission of sentences is left for the Court of Appeal and the Egyptian authorities.”


Atherstone Foxhounds. A young dog fox who had been bustled out of the Sutton woodlands made off in the direction of Market Bosworth. Near the rear of the Black Horse Inn, he made his way to some outbuildings to escape the attention of a crowd of villagers, and, as an enterprising tradesman climbed after him, retreated on to a higher roof.
Just before the arrival of the hounds, the fox came down, crossed the street, jumped the school wall, and went to earth in a sand-pit where he was given best.


Ten couples of Belvoir Hounds appeared on stage at Grantham Theatre when a play called “Dorothy”  was being performed for the benefit of the Farmers’ Royal Benevolent Institution. The hounds were brought in the second act by Ben Capel, their huntsman.  The hounds played their parts admirably and were greeted with tremendous enthusiasm.


Mr Richard Dillow, of Leighton Hall, Carnforth. who has been called the ‘Father of the Vale of Lune Hunt’, hunted up to the age of ninety-eight.


Huntsman George Leaf left the Cottesmore at the end of the season after 6 years and was presented with a cheque for £466 10s 9d by subscribers.


Lord Dalmeny MFH of the Whaddon Chase stopped the hunt because a great following of motorcars had headed the fox near Newton Longville, close to Bletchley.


Hunt stables near Lensdale Bucks occupied by Lord Carnarvon and Lord Stanhope for hunting with the Whaddon Chase Hounds were burned out. Luckily most of the horses were out for exercise when the fire occurred, but seven hunters needed rescue.


Frank  Backhouse retired after 33 seasons with the Burton. He was presented with a Silver tea service and £178 8 shillings and 5 pence  [Equivalent to £44,320.00]


Whilst a Cotswold groom was returning from the hunting field his horse was struck on the head with considerable force by a partridge blown over a hedge by the wind. The stunned bird dropped the ground, and the groom, dismounting, was able to pick it up, and put it in his pocket. When it recovered it was set free.


Dick Shaw Huntsman of the Farndale relinquished the horn after years as Huntsman. The presentation took the form of an oil painting, which he had himself chosen, depicting him on his old mare, which had carried him over many a long moorland hunt.


The Quorn Hounds and the Thorpe Satchville Beagles were involved in an unusual mixup following the Quorn’s after-the-ball meet at Rearsby, and the Beagles meet at Great Dalby station. Somehow the respective pilots, the Quorn’s fox and the beagles’ hare, met near Ashby Pastures, and promptly the medley field comprising mounted Society celebrities and the hare hunters on shanks’ were mixed up. The foxhounds and the diminutive beagles joined forces. Whilst efforts were in progress to sort out the two packs a number of the beagles slipped away. Half an hour later a tired fox was seen fleeing for its life at Eye Kettleby some three miles away, and close behind him were the beagles, sailing along in full cry as fast as their little legs could carry them. It was late on Saturday night when the rebel fox hunters were brought back to kennels.


During a performance of Dr. Joseph Parry’s Welsh opera, “Blodwen” at the Machynlleth Town Hall  Huntsman Harry Roberts and foxhounds from the Plas Machynlleth took part in the key hunting scene.
The huntsman in costume took part in a hunting chorus, while the hounds strained at the leash. The performance was in aid of Machynlleth and Corris Hospital, which Capt. Ralph Beaumont MFH  is chairman of the management board.