Sunday, July 27, 2014

Garden Menageries from

Garden Menageries… 

 ―The Feather‘d Fair in a Fright‖ Hand-coloured mezzotint, 1777 Carrington Bowles after John Collet (publisher) British Museum

The Feather‘d Fair in a Fright Hand-coloured mezzotint, 1777 Carrington Bowles after John Collet (publisher) British Museum from

We are used to hearing about the discovery, trade and cultivation of non-native plants. We know that as western Europeans discovered, then traded with and finally conquered much of the rest of the world plant hunters were not far behind the explorers, the merchants,  the generals and admirals.  Indeed sometimes they were the same people.  What we probably do not think about quite as often is the way that the animal and bird kingdoms were plundered as much as the plant world, with exotic specimens transported round the world  for the pleasure, curiosity and potential economic benefit they could bring to their new homes and owners.
The reconstrcution of Robert Dudley's garden at Kenilworth, with the aviary on the left. from
The reconstrcution of Robert Dudley’s garden at Kenilworth, with the aviary on the left.
With the ‘discovery’ of the Americas and the opening up of trade routes to Asia via the Cape this passion for collecting the new, the unusual and the exotic developed rapidly. Even England, a late starter in the whole business, was affected.  In 1575, Robert Langham wrote a  detailed description of Robert Dudley’s garden at Kenilworth including the massive Italianate aviary. This was used as part of the evidence for the recent recreation by English Heritage.  Langham admired the top cornice painted and gilded to look as though it had been ‘beautified with great diamonds, emeralds, rubies and sapphires’ as well as the varied songs and colours of the ‘lively birds, English, French, Spanish, Canarian, and I am deceived if I saw not some African’.  These were likely to have been the canary and other new introductions such as guinea fowl.  Much of Langham’s lengthy description can be found at
William Brooke, 10th Lord of Cobham and his Family by an artist of the British School, 1567 (Longleat House collection)
William Brooke, 10th Lord of Cobham and his Family
by an artist of the British School, 1567
(Longleat House collection)
There are also several Elizabethan portraits which include rare birds such as parrots as signs of the owner’s wealth.
By the 17th century Louis XIV wanting, as always, to outdo the rest of Europe built an extraordinarily large and elaborate menagerie in the park at Versailles to contain his growing collection of unusual creatures. And of course where Louis led other monarchs followed…and where monarchs went their aristocratic elites followed too.
England was no exception. Although Charles II was stony broke in comparison with his French cousin, he still managed to create an aviary and small menagerie in his revamped St James Park.  Such creatures were written about, painted and then made more popular as the subject of prints.  

Many Georgian aristocrats constructed special buildings in their parks and gardens to house newly imported creatures, observe them, breed them and display them to their friends.  “Exotic animals were … present in the residences of the aristocracy and gentry in meaningful numbers [but] despite substantial scholarship on the Georgian home, there is a conspicuous absence” of research about them.  [See Christopher Plumb's Ph.D thesis, p.20%5D x

As more of the world was explored so more animals and birds were brought back to western Europe and to new homes in menageries and collections, and since western empires expanded much more rapidly from the mid-18C onwards, when we see the appearance of a large number of private menageries.

It’s important to point out that these creatures were not ‘pets’ – a term that according to the Oxford Dictionary doesn’t even appear in English until 1710 - but luxury commodities which could be bought, sold, exchanged, displayed and exploited.
Coombe Abbey and its parkland from Google Maps
Coombe Abbey and its parkland from Google Maps
Coombe Abbey, 1909 Country Life Images|coombe%20abbey||1|20|10|150
Coombe Abbey, 1909
Country Life Images|coombe%20abbey||1|20|10|150
Amongst those listed on our database is the menagerie at Coombe Abbey in Warwickshire.    The park was laid out by  by Capability Brown for the Earl of Craven in 1770. Brown was given a pretty free hand as a letter from the earl shows:  “I desire you to exert your utmost abilities to improve the place and shall leave everything else to you.”  The menagerie  is tucked away in woodland at the extreme eastern end of the parkland, [to the left on the image] and close to the lake. The various new outbuildings around the estate were designed either by Brown himself or more probably his son-in-law Henry Holland. It is likely that the inspiration for the design came from Versailles which Holland had almost certainly visited.
menagerie closeup
The Menagerie pavilion, with the associated buildings to the north from Google maps
The  Menagerie, 2009 after major restoration
The Menagerie, 2009 after major restoration
The central building was not for the animals themselves but designed for the owner.

Lord Craven’s menagerie was not the first on the site…and indeed was probably not as grand or unusual as the earlier one.
A  previous owner, Sir John, later Lord, Harrington of Exton was a courtier who was entrusted with the education of James I’s daughter, Princess Elisabeth – later famous as Elizabeth of Bohemia or the Winter Queen – shortly after the king came to the throne in 1603.  She came to live at Coombe Abbey with an entire court in miniature.
Princess Elizabeth  by Robert Peake, 1603 National Maritime Museum
Princess Elizabeth
by Robert Peake, 1603
National Maritime Museum.   The picture was probably commissioned by Harrington and may well show the gardens at Coombe
Harrington had clearly created a wonderful garden at Coombe and it, and the princess’s stay, are described in a book by one of her ladies in waiting, Lady Frances Erskine, which were published in 1770  as Memoirs relating to the Queen of Bohemia. It is available as a free download at:
Flora: flowers fruicts beastes birds and flies exactly drawne, With their true colours lively described, by John Payne, 1620 but compiledfrom earlier continental printed sources. © Copyright The Trustees of The British Museum
Flora: flowers fruicts beastes birds and flies exactly drawne, With their true colours lively described, by John Payne, 1620 but compiled from earlier continental printed sources.
© Copyright The Trustees of The British Museum
Marcus Geheeraerts the elder, Avium Vivae Icones, published in Antwerp before 1590
Elizabeth was apparently “extremely fond of all the feathered Tribe, and never read or heard of any beautiful or uncommon Bird, or Fowl, but she wanted to see it; and she now formed the Design of collecting, in this, little Paradise, all the different Kinds that are in Nature; which, though she could not accomplish, yet she soon had a greater Variety than I ever saw” [p.113]  She managed this by asking everyone she knew “who ever had any Thing curious, or could procure it from any of their Acquaintances, in other Parts of the World” and “they hastened to present it to the little Princess.” [p.114].  As a result “her Garden and Green house, were as well stored with Curiosities, and exotic Plants, as her Minagerie, with Creatures.” [p.114].
Harrington was clearly a highly educated and inquisitive man who was at the cutting edge of advances in science and technology.  He and the princess used his  microscope “which had been very lately discovered by Dribill, a Dutchman”, for studying insects, and this became “a frequent and favourite Entertainment”. [p.117-8]

Lady Frances also reports that “There was one of the best Telescopes at Lord Harrington’s, that had yet been made, (it was not above fifty-two Years that they had been first invented) and the looking through it at the moon and other Planets was always an Entertainment to us.” [p.109]
Exotic Birds by Adriaen Collaert [d.1618] published in Amsterdam, c. 1640
Exotic Birds by Adriaen Collaert [d.1618] from Avium Vivium Icones, published in Amsterdam, c. 1640
Elizabeth was given “an island” on the estate, and there she ordered “a little thatched cottage” to be built for “a poor widow and her children” to live in, “take care of  the different sort of Fowls that were-to be kept there; the out-side of this House was to have some Alteration made in it, to give it the Appearance of an Hermitage, and near it a Grotto, the Adorning of which with Shells and Moss, was the Amusement of many of her leisure Hours” [p.111]
She also ordered an aviary “like that she had heard Queen Elizabeth had admired so much, at the late Earl Of Leicester’s in Imitation of which, the Top of this was round, with coloured Glais, that looked, at a little Distance, like rough Emeralds and Rubies, seemingly the Produce of a Rock, overgrown with Moss, which formed the Back and Roof of the Aviary ; the rest was inclosed with a Net of gilt Wire: Within were many Bushes, for the Birds to perch upon, and Water falling continually from the artificial Rock, into a shallow Marble Bason, in which the pretty little feathered Inhabitants drank and bathed at Pleasure, and Recesses were made in the Rock for them to build their Nests in.” [p.112]
Parrots by Adriaen Collaert [d.1618] c.1617 from Avium Vivae Icones
Parrots by Adriaen Collaert [d.1618] c.1617 from Avium Vivae Icones
“NEAR this, a Cottage was repaired for an old Man, who had the care of the Birds; and as there are many beautiful ones in other Countries, which cannot live in this, such as the Bird of Paradise, and humming Birds, their Feathers and Skins were stuffed, and hung about the Aviary. Representations of several other Creatures were placed in different Parts of the Wood, and the Pictures of such, whose Skins could not easily be had, adorned the little wooden Buildings.” [p.113]
Animalum quadrapedum omnis generis verae et artificiosissimae, by Adriaen Collaert, [d.1618]
Animalum quadrapedum omnis generis verae et artificiosissimae, by Adriaen Collaert, [d.1618]
from Animalum quadrapedum , by Adriaen Collaert, [d.1618]
 Most of the exotic ceatures Elizabeth was collecting were birds.  Presumably this is because their diet, living space, and even simple size made it much easier to transport birds around the world than any animal, but particularly large ones.  Nor are exotic fish of any sort ever mentioned. Transporting them would have been even harder, as the need for fresh water, correct temperature and oxygen would have been almost impossible. The easy display of fish would also have posed problems before the invention of plate glass enabled aquaria to be made, and only goldfish from China seem to have survived the perils of long sea journeys to become  the exotic element in garden pools. Coombe’s two remarkable menageries are just the tip of the iceberg.   Check out our database, the Bartlett Society, Sally Festing’s article or Christopher Plumb’s thesis [and forthcoming book] for more information:
A camel, giraffe, chameleon in a tree, flying dragon, ichneumon, spider, and various insects and flowers,  1663, from Animalium, ferarum et bestiarum issued by Hollar and Stent
A camel, giraffe, chameleon in a tree, flying dragon, ichneumon, spider, and various insects and flowers, fromAnimalium, ferarum et bestiary , engraved by Hollar and published by Stent, 1663

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Elephants and the royal menagerie in the garden from

Elephants and the royal menagerie…

Henry I from BL Royal 20 A. ii, f. 6v.
Henry I
from British Library, Royal Ms 20 A. ii, f. 6v., c.1300
Garden menageries have a long history: the earliest recorded in Britain from the early 12th century in the grounds of what is now Blenheim Palace. The chronicler, William of Malmesbury, writing around 1130, noted that Henry I “was extremely fond of the wonders of distant countries, begging with great delight, as I have observed, from foreign kings, lions, leopards, lynxes or camels – animals which England does not produce. He had a park called Woodstock in which he used to place the favourites of this kind.”
Porcupine, from Historia Animalium by Conrad Gesner, 1551
Porcupine, from Historia Animalium by Conrad Gesner, 1551
Sadly no elephants but instead in 1110 Henry walled in part of the grounds to contain his collection and  “he had placed there also a creature called the porcupine, sent to him by William of Montpellier… covered with bristly hairs which it naturally darts against the dogs when pursuing it; moreover these are, as I have seen, more than a span long, sharp at each extremity, like the quills of a  goose where the feather ceases, but rather thicker and speckled, as it were with back and white.”
The Old Palace of Woodstock from The Mirror of Literature, Amusement, and Instruction Vol. VII. 1826.
The Old Palace of Woodstock from The Mirror of Literature, Amusement, and Instruction Vol. VII. 1826.
Unfortunately there is no trace of Henry’s private zoo since the decaying medieval palace was pulled down and all its the gardens obliterated when Blenheim was built for the Duke of Marlborough in the early 18thc.
Henry I’s royal menagerie was later moved to the Tower of London, and it was there in 1255 that Matthew Paris, a monk from St Albans Abbey, was able to draw from life a “beast about ten years old, possessing a rough hide rather than fur”.  The creature had “small eyes at the top of its head, and eats and drinks with a trunk.”
Henry III's elephant from Matthew Paris, Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, Parker Ms 16.
Henry III’s elephant from Matthew Paris, Chronica maiora, Parker Ms 16., Corpus Christi College, Cambridge
A gift to Henry III from the king of France, and probably captured during his time on crusade, it was “a beast most strange and woonderfull to the English people, sith most seldome or neuer any of that kind had béene séene in England before that time.” (Raphael Holinshed Chronicles, vol. 3, 1586]  It was housed a specially built wooden house, some 20 ft by 40ft, at a cost of £22.  Its spacious surroundings were no guarantee of longevity though and the poor animal died within a couple of years. Its skeleton was later disinterred although no-one knows quite why.  It may have been put on display as the bones of a biblical giant like Goliath or more probably used to make fake saints relics and ivory reliquaries to house them!
Elephant from Matthew Paris, Chronica maiora, Part II, Parker Library, MS 16, fol. 151v
Elephant from Matthew Paris, Chronica maiora,               Parker MS 16, Corpus Christi College Cambridge
You can discover more about Matthew Paris and his elephant drawings and descriptions at  the blog page of the Parker Library in Cambridge:
The silver yale of the Beauforts in the reconstructed Tudor garden at Hampton Court
The silver yale of the Beauforts in the reconstructed Tudor garden at Hampton Court
Even as late as the Tudor period, the elephant must have seemed as mysterious and strange as many of the mythical creatures in medieval bestiaries – dragons, cyclops, mermaids and, of course, unicorns.  But strangely, unlike many other exotic or legendary animals  it was never adopted as an heraldic symbol  by the crown or any other leading families in England.   These heraldic beasts were an important element of elite Tudor gardens and I’m going to return to them at some point in the future.
Commentators still  depended mainly on classical or scriptural sources for their knowledge. The very word elephant must have formed a vivid mental image even though they had hardly ever been seen in this country.
Miniature of an elephant and castle; from a bestiary, England, mid 13th century, Harley MS 4751
Miniature of an elephant and castle; from a mid-13thc English bestiary, British Library, Harley MS 4751

As a result the animal is often portrayed as a military weapon which it had been in the west since the time of Alexander the Great : “the stronge & mighty elephaunte With a castell on his backe” [William Nevill, The Castell of Pleasure, 1530], or associated with the biblical Behemoth: “the greatest beast on earth” [John Meerbecke, A booke of notes and common places, 1581].
Perhaps because of these associations elephants were clearly popular royal gifts.
Henry VIII was given an elephant together with its keepers, although we don’t know who gave it to him.  It might have been one of the few living things to disobey his royal wishes: “There is an elephant given to the king, but none can guide him but they that came with the present.” [Thomas Horton,Vulgaria, 1519, f.192v].
one of the Oxburgh Hangings, made by Bess of Hardwick and Mary Queen of Scots and their circle, c.1
one of the Oxburgh Hangings, made by Bess of Hardwick and Mary Queen of Scots and their circle, c.1
Elizabeth I received her elephant from France.  It had been sent to Henri IV by sea from India but apparently when the king discovered the cost of feeding it he had it forwarded to “madame ma bonne suer” over the channel.  What happened to it I have been unable to find out, so if you have any information do let me know.
James I also received a pachydermous gift, along with 5 camels, this time from the King of Spain in 1623.  However it didn’t last long  since its keepers were told to give it nothing but wine to drink to help ward off the cold!
silk and silver thread embroidery panel of a camel, c.1600-1625 V&A
silk and silver thread embroidery panel of a camel, c.1600-1625
silk and silver thread embroidery panel of an elephant, c.1600-1625 V&A
silk and silver thread embroidery panel of an elephant, c.1600-1625

All in all, I suspect that Wilfrid Blunt was right when he remarked: “Interfauna is always a less satisfactory service than Interflora.” [Blunt, The Ark in the Park, 1976, p.161]
The Tower of London, 1597 by Haiward and gascoyne  from
The Tower of London, 1597 by Haiward and gascoyne The Lion Tower is the isolated projection into the moat, reached by its own bridge, on the bottom left hand side of the plan.
Despite forcing his elephant to become a dipsomaniac,  James rated his collection of animals very highly and had the  Lion Tower extended  to provide a large viewing platform for guests. This was, however, was not so that the animals could be better observed out of scientific interest, but in order to allow viewers  to watch them being baited by dogs in the pit below.  Exotic beasts might have been extremely rare and expensive but they were still disposable toys.   James not only maintained the menagerie in the Tower of London but set up a second one in St James’ Park, which contained many varieties of exotic birds, particularly from North America, as well a beaver and, believe it or not, an American Indian.
―The Great White Elephant‖ (Printed between 1702 and 1714) Bodleian Library, University of Oxford
The Great White Elephant‖ (Between 1702 and 1714) Bodleian Library,, p.243
By the mid 18thc and the establishment of British rule in India elephants had become a slightly more common sight in Britain, as had many other exotic animals.  A menagerie  became a ‘must-have’ feature on many landed estates the length and breadth of the country, although I have only found evidence of an elephant being kept in one of them.

A quick look at our database suggests that at least 21 sites had menageries associated with them, while Sally Festing’s research, (“Menageries and the landscape garden“, Journal of Garden History 1988, 8:4, p104-117)  names 43, with a strong suspicion that many more examples have been lost without record. 
John Clarke,Keeper of the menagerie at Windsor, by John Lewis, 1828 Royal Collection
John Clarke,Keeper of the menagerie at Windsor, by John Lawrence, 1828
Royal Collection
The royal menagerie in the Tower was open to the public, with an admission fee of threepence at the beginning of the 18thc rising to a shilling by the end.  There was, however,an  alternative way of paying: with a dog or a cat which could be fed to the lions!
By the time George IV came to the throne the collection had dwindled down to almost nothing: a grizzly bear, assorted birds and surprisingly an elephant.  George rebuilt the collection and opened another private menagerie in the Great Park at Windsor Castle which was soon full of exotic animals from the ever-growing empire, including a giraffe, wapiti,  zebus, gnus, quaggas,  llamas,  emus, ostriches and parrots
However, his brother and successor, William IV, was not interested in the collections and both the Windsor and Tower menageries were quickly closed down after he came to throne.  In 1831 the surviving 150 animals, including kangaroos, camels, bears, and llamas, but by now no elephant, were transferred to the care of the newly formed Zoological Society in Regents Park.
The new zoological gardens in Regent’s Park, from The Mirror of Literature, Amusement and Instruction, Vol. 12. No. 330, 6 September, 1828
As The Mirror of Literature said: “The gardens, independent of their zoological attractions, are a delightful promenade, being laid out with great taste, and the parterres boasting a beautiful display of flowers. The animals, too, are seen to much greater advantage than when shut up in a menagerie, and have the luxury of fresh air, instead of unwholesome respiration in a room or caravan.”
The elephant in his bath at Regent's Park, from
The elephant in his bath at Regent’s Park, from The Mirror of Literature, Amusement and Instruction, Vol.20, No. 530 4 August 1832
Elephants were clearly seen as a desirable and necessary requirement for a menagerie and two were quickly acquired by the Zoological Society for Regent’s Park. They lived in what was claimed to be “luxurious accommodation” of “capacious dimensions”, but  “built in a style of inappropriate rusticity”.   They also had  “a  little park or paddock. The fence is of iron, and light but substantial. Within the area are a few lime-trees, the lower branches of which are thinned by the Elephant repeatedly twisting off their foliage with his trunk, as adroitly as a gardener would gather fruit.”  But it was a large pool where “In hot weather he enjoys his ablutions …with great gusto, exhibiting the liveliest tokens of satisfaction and delight. Our artist has endeavoured to represent the noble creature in his bath, though the pencil can afford but an imperfect idea of the extasy of the animal on this occasion.” (The Mirror of Literature, 4 August 1832].
The full story of the royal menagerie can be found in Daniel Hahn’s  The Tower Menagerie (2003). If you are interested in knowing more go to the Bartlett Society, named in honour of Abraham Bartlett, the great nineteenth-century superintendent of the Zoological Society - London’s gardens at Regent’s park:
Also see a recent PhD thesis (Manchester 2010) by Christopher Plumb on exotic animals in 18thc England.   It’s erudite, fascinating and rather macabre by turns, and amazingly, Dr Plumb has made it freely available on the web, although he is also turning it into a book.  If you are interested in man’s evolving relationship with animals such as “The Queen’s Ass”, “Exotic animals as luxury ingredients”, or “Eroticising the eel” then take a look.  And there’s a whole chapter on elephants in Britain 1675-1830!  
from  Regents Park July 2008
from Regents Park July 2008

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Hunting, fowling, & shooting in America & Britain at both public & private gardens & grounds

In early colonial America, gentlemen with a little time on their hands enjoyed plenty of hunting & fowling in season.  Less wealthy professional hunters searched for skins to sell or trade.  And even common farmers hunted to augment their family's food supply.  As cities expanded at the end of the 18C, townsfolk, most of whom had moved to the city from the countryside, searched for nearby venues for hunting and shooting.

Early American Hunting, Fowling, & Shooting History

The sheer quantities of wildlife available for the taking in the early British American colonies, at first without legal restrictions of any sort, must have seemed like paradise to Englishmen arriving on the Atlantic coast of America. In England, hunting was severely restricted, both because wildlife was scarcer, and because hunting was a traditional privilege of the upper classes. 

1773 Mr. and Mrs. Robert Crafton by Benjamin West (American painter, 1738-1820 This image painted, after he had left Pennsylvania for England)

In early America, it was not easy to acquire a firearm.  While many arms were supplied from abroad, those created or repaired by Americans often used a mixture of parts from prior guns. There were only a handful of true gunsmiths in America in its first 150 years.  But gun ownership grew steadily up to the American Revolution.  An examination of household estate inventories taken during the period show several trends in gun ownership in colonial British America before 1776. There were high numbers of guns in mid18C America. Guns were much more common than swords or other edged weapons.  Women owned guns.  The guns listed in the inventories were not old or broken guns.  Scholars estimate that at least 50% of male & female wealthholders owned guns in 1774 colonial America.

Rural settlers sometimes depended on arms to help feed their large families, as well as to provide personal, physical protection, & to fulfill local militia demands. The heavily wooded terrain of the New World provided a bounty of game ranging from turkeys, geese, ducks and game birds to the larger deer, bear, elk and moose. In England, only the wealthy were allowed to trap game. In the American colonies nearly everyone could trap, and most free white landowners could hunt with firearms. There were few restrictive rules, although  most colonies banned hunting at night for fear of wounding precious cows and horses.

1776 North Carolina Half Dollar Hit or Miss

1623 In colonial America, the vast flocks overhead must have seemed even more amazing than the liberty to hunt. Emmanuel Altham’s 1623 description of Plymouth Colony declared, “that one man at six shoots hath killed 400.” 

1640s There was a smith named John Dandy who appears in the Maryland records at the Maryland State Archives during the 1640s. In 1644, he may have made the first gun in the American colonies. In 1647, he claimed to have made a gunlock 8 years earlier, probably in England, since he arrived in Maryland in 1642.

1650 In 1650, Lord Baltimore appointed Robert Brooke to a position in the Province of Maryland.  Brook arrived from England on June 30, 1650, with his wife, 8 sons, 2 daughter, 28 servants and his hounds.

1656 John Hammond’s description of 1656 Virginia describes “Water-fowl of all sorts are… plentiful and easy to be killed…. Deer all over the country, and in many places so many that venison is accounted a tiresome meat; wild turkeys are frequent, and so large that I have seen weigh near threescore pounds.”

1679 At a plantation on Chesapeake Bay, Jasper Danckaerts, visiting America 1679-80, noted,   “There was a boy about twelve years old who took aim at them from the shore, not being able to get within good shooting distance of them, but nevertheless shot loosely before they flew away, and hit only three or four, complained of his shot, as they are accustomed to shoot from six to twelve and even eighteen or more at one shot.”

1782 Colonel John Onslow by Ralph Earl (American painter, 1751-1801)

1705 Robert Beverley’s 1705 description of Virginia declared that: “I am but a small Sports-man, yet with a Fowling-Piece, have kill’d above Twenty [wild fowl] at a Shot.”

1710 When explorer John Lawson sailed to the Carolinas in 1701, he noted that even "the meanest Planter" in America could enjoy hunting.  "A poor Labourer, that is Master of his Gun" might hunt under the law.

1769 Gilbert Stuart (American artist, 1755-1828) The Hunter Dogs

1710-50 German and Swiss riflemakers in Pennsylvania began producing flintlocks suitable for use on the American frontier around 1710.  Settlers soon began "shooting at a mark" to sharpen their skills. The mark was usually a knot on a tree or an "x" marked on a slab of wood.  Villages and settlements had a shooting matches on weekends and holidays, often attracting a hundred or more marksmen. A common target was a piece of board, blackened in the smoke of a fire or charred, on which an X was slashed with a knife, the intersection marking the centre. Shooting at a wooden figure of a bird atop a pole, as crossbowmen had in the Middle Ages, was also a popular target. Live turkey shooting—the bird tethered behind a box or rock so that only the neck and head showed—was a standard event. The first forms of these public competitions were "rifle frolics" or "turkey shoots," offering prizes of beef, turkey, or other food items. Matches were usually one-shot affairs fired from a distance of 250-330 feet from either the standing or rest shooting positions.

18C English woodcut

1732 Dr. Thomas Walker  of Albemarle County in Virginia founded a neighborhood pack of hounds called Castle Hill Hounds.

1747 The earliest surviving record of American fox hunting in the modern manner, by what is now known as an organized hunt, maintained for the benefit of a group of foxhunters rather than for a single owner, is instituted by Thomas, Sixth Lord Fairfax in 1747, in northern Virginia.

1750-1776 Prominent colonials who maintained foxhound packs included Maryland’s Charles Carroll and George Calvert and Virginia’s Charles Lee and George Washington. Washington's diaries indicate a great enthusiasm for the sport. He was first introduced to fox hunting, while in his teens by Lord Thomas Fairfax, who settled in Virginia in 1746. Fairfax was a devoted fox hunter who brought his horses and hounds with him from England.

Unknown American artist, The Start of the Hunt 1780

Between 1759 and 1774, Washington spent a great deal of time breeding his own hounds, giving them such romantic names as Musick, Countess, and Truelove. He inspected his kennels twice daily and hunted the dogs several days a week from September until May. Often he would hunt with his neighbors’ packs as well. Mount Vernon was frequently aswarm with guests from near and far, who rode with him to the hounds. They would take the field at dawn after a candlelight breakfast of corncakes and milk. A typical Washington diary entry of the time is one of January 1, 1768: “Fox Hunting in my own Neck with Mr. Robt. Alexander and Mr. Colvill. Catched nothing.” And February 12 of the same year: “Went fox-hunting with Colonel Fair-fax, Capn. McCarty, Mr. Chichester, Posey, Ellzey and Manley, who dined here with Mrs. Fairfax and Miss Nicholas—catched two foxes.”

1783 Reclining Hunter by Ralph Earl (American painter, 1751-1801)

1757 Charles Lee was reputed to be so fond of his pack that he allowed the hounds to follow him everywhere, even to his host’s dining table when visiting. Little is recorded about Thomas Jefferson’s taste for the sport, although it was reported, that while in his teens (1757), “attending the Reverend Mr. Maury’s School in Virginia,” Jefferson fox-hunted on foot with his classmates. “A little later, however, he rode to hounds and was both enthusiastic and capable.”

Unknown American artist, The End of the Hunt 1780

1766 One of the 1st the organized hunting clubs was established near Philadelphia on October 29, 1766: the Gloucester Foxhunting Club. Its initial meet of 27 members was held on the grounds of the Philadelphia Coffee House on the corner of Front and Market streets. From then on, hunts were held regularly on Tuesdays and Fridays. Philadelphia gentry hastened to join: Benjamin Chew, one-time chief justice of the Pennsylvania supreme court; James Wharton and John Cadwallader, from distinguished Philadelphia families; Thomas Mifflin, later a Revolutionary general and member of the First Continental Congress; and Robert Morris, financier and later United States senator from Pennsylvania, among others. Articles were drawn up including a call for dues of 5 pounds “current money” to be paid for the upkeep of the pack.  In 1774, the members decided to add an air of elegance to their sport, adopting a uniform of a dark-brown coat with “lapelled dragoon pockets, white buttons and frock sleeves, buff waistcoat and breeches, and a black velvet cap.”

1768 On Long Island in New York, fox hunting was introduced shortly after the Gloucester Hunt began, when an Englishman named John Evers began to hunt his own hounds near Hempstead in 1768. He imported dogs, horses, and huntsmen from the British Isles.

18C English woodcut

1774 James Yeomen and John Collins, watchmakers, advertised their ability to repair guns for "Gentlemen." All the advertisements targeted gentlemen and promised guns "as neat as in England." New-York Gazette (September 18 1769, November 7, 1774)

1776 The new Pennsylvania constitution spoke to hunting in that state, "The inhabitants of this state shall have liberty to fowl and hunt in seasonable times on the lands they hold, and on all other lands therein not inclosed; and in like manner to fish in all boatable waters, and others not private property."

1781 Hunting was enjoyed in Brooklyn as early as 1781, although no formally organized hunt existed there until 1856. A notice appeared in the Royal Gazette on November 14, 1781, reading: “Hounds will throw off at Denyse’s Ferry, on the estate of Denyse Denyse, Esq., at the Narrows [now Fort Hamilton] at 9 o’clock, Thursday morning, and a guinea will be given for a good, strong, bag fox.” (A bag fox is one brought to the hunt in a sack and turned loose to give the horses chase.)

1783  A subscription hunt (one where the members subscribe by paying dues), the St. George Hunt, was formed on Long Island in 1783. It listed active members as Henry Astor, Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, Charles Lee, and George Washington.

 1784 Gentleman by Ralph Earl (American painter, 1751-1801)

1805 Benjamin Waldron also opened a sports garden in New York City in 1805.  He erected a target range in the field adjoining his garden and offered free use of the field pluse target to "gentlemen, civil or military" to whom he would sell powder, balls, flints, and liquors of the best kinds.

1814 Even New York City, on the island of Manhattan, produced a hunting club, the Belvidere, shortly after the War of 1812. Edward Prime was the founder, and he called the meets in front of Cato’s Inn, situated at what is now Sixty-seventh Street and Third Avenue. Cato’s took its name from the owner, Cato Alexander, a popular black man who catered to the foxhunter trade.

1822 William N. Blane, an Englishman traveling through America in 1822 and 1823, described the astonishment when he informed Americans that British game laws prohibited hunting deer in public lands, and even limited hunting on one’s own land to the wealthy. “Such flagrant injustice appeared to them impossible….”

British 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 (Scottish 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 finding

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