Thursday, December 29, 2016

Sports & Games - General History Hunting, Fowling, & Shooting in Britain

British Hunting, Fowling & Shooting History

In Britain, hunting with hounds was popular in Celtic Britain, before the Romans arrived, using the Agassaei breed. The use of running hounds to track prey dates back to ancient times.
David Teniers the Younger (1610-1690) Landscape with Huntsmen

When the Romans brought their dogs to Britain in the 1st century, Britons were already hunting with Agassaei hounds.
England 1680 John Poulett, 1st Earl Poulett by John Closterman (British artist, 1660-1711)

The Romans brought their Castorian and Fulpine hound breeds to England, along with importing the brown hare (the mountain hare is native) and fallow deer as quarry. Wild boar were also hunted.  The most dangerous prey was the wild boar, which was hunted only by men, usually on foot, with dogs and spears. 
England 1732 Huntsman with Horse by John Wootton (British artist, 1686-1765)

Norman hunting traditions were brought to Britain when William the Conqueror arrived in 1066, along with the Gascon &Talbot hounds.  The earliest known attempt to specifically hunt a fox with hounds was in Norfolk, in the East of England, in 1534, where farmers began chasing down foxes with their dogs as a form of pest control.
England 1733-36 Viscount Weymouth's Hunt - Mr Jackson, the Hon. Henry Villiers and the Hon. Thomas Villiers, by John Wootton (British artist, 1686-1765)

Packs of hounds were first trained specifically to hunt foxes in the late 17C, with the oldest such fox hunt likely to be the Bilsdale Hunt in Yorkshire. 
Wenceslaus Hollar (European-born English artist, 1607-1677) Fox Hunting with dogs

In 1660, after the restoration of the monarchy, hunting grew as a sport: the first dedicated foxhound packs emerge but the game remained prime quarry (the hunted).  
Wenceslaus Hollar (European-born English artist, 1607-1677) Coursing Fallow Deere with dogs

In England, a forest was not defined as wild, impenetrable woodland, but rather royal property managed by officials called foresters. Their job was to protect the "vert and venison" - the deer and the plants they rely on for food and cover.  
Wenceslaus Hollar (European-born English artist, 1607-1677) Otter Hunting with dogs

John Manwood wrote in 1598 Treatise on the Lawe of the Forests, "A forest must always have beasts of venery abiding in it, otherwise it is no forest: and if there be no beasts of forest, nor beasts of chase in the same, then may men fell their woods that they have within the forest and destroy their covers" 
Wenceslaus Hollar (European-born English artist, 1607-1677) Stag Hunting with dogs

Wenceslaus Hollar (European-born English artist, 1607-1677) Hare Hunting with dogs


Wenceslaus Hollar (European-born English artist, 1607-1677) Cony Catching with dogs


England 1733-36 Viscount Weymouth's Hunt - Thomas, 2nd Viscount Weymouth, with a Black Page and other Huntsmenby John Wootton (British artist, 1686-1765)

The Bilsdale Hunt was established in 1668, by George Villiers, the Duke of Buckingham.  By the end of the 17C, many organized packs were hunting both hare & fox in Britain.  Sight hounds, (sometimes called gazehounds) including greyhounds and Irish wolfhounds, were prized for visual acuity & speed, crucial when coursing, in which the prey is sighted, stalked silently, pursued, and taken down.
England 1740 The Shooting Party by John Wootton (British artist, 1686-1765)

The Quorn Hunt was founded in 1696, by Mr Thomas Boothby of Tooley Park, Leicestershire. Tooley Park lies about eight miles southwest of Leicester, just to the north of the Hinckley road. The hunt takes its name from the village of Quorn, where the hounds were kenneled from 1753 to 1904.
Wenceslaus Hollar (European-born English artist, 1607-1677) Pheasant Hawking


Wenceslaus Hollar (European-born English artist, 1607-1677) Partridge Hawking


Wenceslaus Hollar (European-born English artist, 1607-1677) Herrin Hawking

Shotguns were improved during the 18C and 19C, and game shooting became more popular. 
England 1744 Clotworthy Skeffington, 1st Earl of Massereene by Sir Joshua Reynolds (English painter, 1723-1792)

To protect the pheasants for the shooters, gamekeepers culled vermin such as foxes and birds of prey almost to extirpation in popular areas, and landowners improved their habitats for game.
England 1744 The Honorable John Spencer & His Son, the 1st Earl Spencer with their Servant, Caesar Shaw by George Knapton (English painter, 1698-1778)

British Game Laws were relaxed in 1831, which then allowed anyone to obtain a permit to take rabbits, hares and gamebirds.
England 1748 George Rogers and His Wife, Margaret, and His Sister, Margaret Rogers by Francis Hayman (English painter, 1708-1776)

The practice of hunting in England, at the time the American Colonies were settled, was legally restricted to the gentry.
England 1748 Thomas Nuthall (1715-1775) and Hambleton Custace (1715-1757)  with a very small bird by Francis Hayman (English painter, 1708-1776)  c. 1748

Virtually all of the land was owned in large parcels by the wealthy, who preserved them from generation to generation by bequeathing their entire estates intact to the oldest son through the law of primogeniture.
Britain 1749 Windham Quin of Adare, Co. Limerick, Ireland by Stephen Slaughter (English painter, 1697-1765)

Though hunting was primarily a masculine activity, women also participated as spectators and hunters. Elizabeth I of England (ruled 1558–1603) hunted avidly. On one occasion her hunt consisted of repeatedly firing a crossbow into a paddock filled with deer, killing three or four of them. The slaughter was accompanied by tunes played by the queen's musicians one of whom reportedly placed the crossbow into her hands.
England 1750 Mr. & Mrs. Andrews by Thomas Gainsborough (English artist, 1727-1788)

Royal gamekeepers made sure that royal forests were continuously stocked.  Sometimes deer had to be imported to maintain population levels. One hundred head were sent from Haughton Forest to Windsor Forest in 1711, for example.
England 1750 Richard Gwynne of Taliaris and Tregib

Over on the continet, in densely populated parts of Europe, game reserves were walled or fenced off to keep game in and poachers out. Palaces served as hunting lodges for monarchs.
England 1752 A Sportsman by Edward Haytley (British painter, fl 1740-c1762)

Commoners were usually prohibited from owning hunting dogs of their own. Instead, some were required to board a European nobleman's dogs & make them available whenever the owner wanted to hunt, with only part of the costs defrayed by the owner.  Scent hounds were valued for their sense of smell. They were generally used in a pack, known as a cry of hounds. Some breeds have a bell-like bark or yell; others are known for deep, booming barks.  Gervase (or Jervis) Markham (c 1568-1637) suggested a method for making a cry of hounds have more pleasant music, "If you would have your kennel for sweetness of cry, you must compound it of some large dogs that have deep solemn mouths, and are swift in spending, which must as it were bear the base of the consort. Then a double number of roaring and loud ringing mouths which must bear the counter tenor. Then some hollow, plain sweet mouths, which must bear the mean or middle part. ... Amongst these you may cast in a couple or two of small, single beagles, which as small trebles may warble amongst them. The cry will be a deal more sweet."
England 1754 John Orde, His Wife Anne, and His Eldest Son William by Arthur Devis (English artist, 1712-1787)

In Europe, peasants might also be called on to perform during the hunt as beaters or carters of slaughtered animals. They could only watch as the privileged hunters ran their horses through the fields, destroying the peasants' own crops.
England 1755 Major John Dade, of Tannington, Suuffolk by Thomas Gainsborough (English artist, 1727-1788)

Hunting retained its aristocratic character at the end of the 18C in Europe, and would only be opened to commoners with the French Revolution.
England 1760-70 The Death of the Hare” by Unknown

For commoners, there were few restrictions on catching marginally edible fare such as badgers or starlings, but they were usually barred from hunting prime edible game animals such as wild boar & deer. Some resorted to poaching to provide meat for their diet or to sell at market.
England 1761 Sir Humphrey Morice by Pompeo Girolamo Batoni (Italian-born artist, 1708-1787)

Poaching was illegal in early modern Europe, but it was not uncommon.  Account books show numerous fines for illegal capture or killing of game.
England 1762 Francis Noel Clarke Mundy of the Markeaton Hunt by Joseph Wright of Derby (English painter, 1734-1797)

In rare cases, poaching was a capital offense, but in most of Europe, the most widespread punishment was a stiff fine.
England 1763 Jacob Morland of Capplethwaite by George Romney (English painter, 1734-1802)

In 17C England, it was not at all rare for gentry to poach on the lands of their neighbors. Most historians assume that forest officials were often bribed to look the other way.
England 1763 Self Portrait with His Father & Brother by John Hamilton Mortimer (British painter, 1740-1779)

The Black Act in England in 1724, among other things, made deer-stalking in royal forests a capital crime. The numbers of animals taken in the areas affected by the Black Act were small.
England 1764 Alexander Gordon, 4th Duke of Gordon by Pompeo Girolamo Batoni (Italian-born artist, 1708-1787)

It is impossible to say how frequently poachers were caught in early modern Europe or how important game was for the livelihoods of villagers in the vicinity of forests.
England 1764 James and Mary Shuttleworth with One of Their Daughters by Joseph Wright of Derby (English painter, 1734-1797)

To protect fields and woodlands from poachers, gamekeepers were employed who patrolled noblemen's properties and provided selective hunting for the owners.
England 1765 Charles IV as Prince

By law, no one was allowed to own a gun, unless he possessed substantial freehold property or was given special permission.
England 1765 The Third Duke of Richmond Out Shooting with his Servant by Johann Zoffany (German-born painter, 1733-1810)

Legal shooting was not even a choice for the average citizen. By the 1740s, this restrictive practice led to hunting being considered a symbol of wealth, and field shooting “on the wing” had become a popular sport for the well-to-do.
England 1765 Thomas Nuthallby Sir Nathaniel Dance-Holland (English painter, 1735-1811)


England 1768 The Repose After Shooting by George Stubbs (English painter, 1724-1806)


England 1768 Two Gentlemen Going Shooting by George Stubbs (English painter, 1724-1806)


England 1768 Two Gentlemen Shooting by George Stubbs (English painter, 1724-1806)


Britain 1769 Thomas Graham, Baron Lyendoch by David Allen or Allan (Scottish artist, 1744-1796)


England 1769 William Hulton with Gun-Dog and Shotgun by Henry Pickering (British artist, fl 1740-c 1771)


England 1770 A Sportsman, by Henry Walton (British painter, 1746-1813)


England 1770 Hunter


England 1774 Sir Edward Hales, Baronet, of Hales Place, Hackington, Kent by Philip Mercier (German-born painter, c 1689-1760)


England 1776 Sir John Nelthorpe, 6th Baronet, Lincolnshire by George Stubbs (English painter, 1724-1806)


England 1779 A Sportsman & His Son by Francis Wheatley (English painter, 1747-1801)


England 1780 Carrow Abby Hunt by Philip Reinagle (British painter, 1749-1833)


England 1780 Gilbert McHutchin by William Williams (British & American artist, 1727-1791)


Britain 1780 John, 4th Duke of Atholl, and his Family by David Allen or Allan (Scot artist, 1744-1796)


England 1780s attributed to Thomas William Coke (English painter, 1752-1842)


England 1782 Sir William Elford, by James Northcote (English painter, 1746-1831)


England 1784 Joshua Walker, of Clifton House by John Russell (English artist, 1745-1806)


Britain1785 John Cockburn Ross by Alexander Nasmyth (Scottish artist, 1758-1840)


England 1785 Sir Thomas Gascoigne and Sir Walter Vavasour with a Priest and Servants


England 1786 Mr. and Mrs. John Custance of Norwich by Sir William Beechey (British painter, 1753-1839)

You might be interested in reading:

George Turberville, The Noble Art of Venerie Or Hunting: Wherein is Handled and Set Out the Vertues, Nature, and Properties of Fifteene Sundry Chaces : Together with the Order and Manner how to Hunt and Kill Euery One of Them, 1575

Gervase Markham, Country Contentments  Or, The Husbandmans Recreations: Containing the Wholesome Experience, in which Any Ought to Recreate Himself, After the Toyl of More Serious Business. As Namely, Hunting, Hawking, Coursing with Grey-hounds, and the Laws of Leash, Shooting in the Long-bow Or Cross-bow, Bowling, Tennis, Baloon; the Whole Art of Angling; and the Use of the Fighting Cock. 1611