In his book, The Dog, second edition, 1972, page 98, "Idstone" (Rev. Mr. T. Pearce) says: "Without doubt these formed only a part of the kennel, for I have heard that a brace of black and tans, with white frills, went to the Duke of Abercorn, and that nine others went to the Duke of Argyll and Viscount Bolingbroke, the latter of whom received one which was given to the Duke of Argyll as a present, just before the time of the Duke of Gordon's death."
Among the purchasers we find the Duke of Richmond. He bought Juno, and Mr. Jubb again reconstructed the setter strain. If any were left at Gordon Castle, we find nothing about them. But at all events there was sufficient breeding material to be found of the same blood.
In his book, Field and Fern or Scottish Flocks and Herds, North "The Druid" (Mr. H.H. Dixon), gives a very interesting description of his journey in 1862 to the Border and Scotland where he visited the estates and breeders of livestock, and he has a very interesting narrative about the setters at Gordon Castle. They are light in frame and merry workers, and as Jubb says: "better put up half-a-dozen birds than make a false point."
The Rev. Mr. Pearce says there has been much written as to the color of these famous setters, but no dispute has ever been raised as to their quality, and dogs with any trace of descent from the Duke's blood command the highest prices. To trace back to his "Regent," "Old Bang," "Old Don," or to Mr. Coke's "Pan" or "Fan" --- for Mr. Coke and the Duke bred from the same stock --- is ample warrant for purity of lineage.
It was in the time of the fourth Duke, Alexander, that the setters became so famed. Let us remember Alexander died in 1827 --- aged 84. Then he was born in 1743, and about thirty years old in 1773, We are not able to fix the age of his strain but it is very probable that they date so far back as before 1800 by some decades.
The first dog show was held at Newcastle on the 28th and 29th of June, 1859, in the Town Hall. Only pointers and setters were exhibited. There were sixty entries. Mr. J. Jobling's Gordon Setter, Dandie, K.C.S.B. 1581, was placed first.
At these early shows there was only one class for setters. At Birmingham in 1860 the Irish setters got their own classes, and from 1861 on there were seperate classes also for black and tans.
The first field trial was held at Southill on the eighteenth of April, 1863. Also on this occasion the Gordon Setters were in the front rank. They took all the prizes: 1st, Mr. J. N. Fleming's Dandy, K.C.S.B. 1583 (by Malcolm's Milo ex Lord Rosslyn's Ruin). Mr. Jobling's Dandie was the sire of Milo. 2nd Prize, Champion Moll l, (Old Moll), K.C.S.B. 1663, owner, Mr. J. A. Handy, and bred by Mr. Jobling. She was by Jobling's Dandie nr. 1581 out of his Jessie (Tramy-Garry). 3rd Prize, Major Elwon's Rowland, K.C.S.B. 1623, (by Lord Loughborough's Rap (or Ross), ex Lord Lovat's Rosa).
Mr. Josh Jobling's Gordon Setters were among the best both at field trials and shows in this period. "Idstone" is full of praise of these Gordons. Especially in color and coat. Dandie was about the best specimen he had hitherto seen. Champion Moll--also bred by Mr. Jobling--had the same fine straight coat. "But," says Mr. Pearce, "his breed did not 'nick' with mine."
The best blood at this time Mr. Pearce claims for those with relationship to Lord Bolingbroke's kennel.
The pedigrees of Lord Bolingbroke's Gordon setters go back to the old strains: The Duke of Gordon's and Mr. Coke's. They also have a line to Lord Angslesey's, Beaudesert Setters. These were also tri-colored and a light, active, very narrow breed of setter with sparse chest capacity, though deep in ribs. These dogs were somewhat leggy and had the habit of standing with their forelegs and feet close together. These Beaudesert Setters hsve also been material of the Llewellin Setter later on.
The Rev. Mr. Pearce also had a black and tan setter from Wemyss Castle, and he says she was one of the cleverest and staunchest gamefinders he ever had, but she showed a good deal of collie character in her form and collie nature in her habits of going round her game as a Scotch sheep dog would gallop around a flock, and from first to last always determined to put the birds between herself and the gun. Her tail and coat were of the true Gordon type. Her head and her mind alone showed (as Mr. Pearce thought) that she was crossded as above mentioned. At another place Mr. Pearce says: "If the old Duke did cross with a Scottish collie bitch the stain (for stain it was, and a most impolite step to take), is gradually fading out."
Mr. Pearce was also owner of the famous Champion Kent, K.C.S.B. 1600 (Old Kent). This setter first appeared at the show at Ashburnham Hall, Chelsea, 1863. Kent had a large stature and very rich color. He went to the top, and Argyll ll, another famous Gordon of Mr. Pearce's, was placed after him. Mr. Rawdon B. Lee tells in his Modern Dogs that Kent was purchased by Mr. Pearce for about 30 pounds sterling, notwithstanding the fact of his being without pedigree. Old Kent won innumerable prizes at the shows and the great gold medal at Paris in 1865. Pains were taken to find out that he had a pedigree. Sir Edward Hoare had obtained this dog from a rabbit catcher on the Hothfield estate, and it was said he had been suckled on a cat. The result of the investigations was that Sir R. Crofton's keeper, Kenyon, was the breeder, and he had obtained some setters from Mr. Jobling.
Kent had weak hind-quarters and thick, heavy shoulders. Mr. Pearce says his progeny were not satisfactory. He propagated his own faults and introduced others, as some of his offspring were nervous and feared the gun.
Part lll tomorrow...