The Douglas Archives

A collection of historical and genalogical records

Two of our members are researching the descendants - and seeking the ancestors of - Donald Douglas and Jean Haswell.

Their grandson, James, was a noted cattle breeder.

Among the finest judges and cleverest feeders who have been distinguished among the Shorthorn breeders of Scotland was Mr. James Douglas, of Athelstaneford, near Drem, East Lothian.

He had a rare eye for form, did not like great size, but preferred a type which may be described as wide and low; he would not have leggy animals, and a rather mul/um in parvo style suited his taste cattle which were near the ground, but wide and of great weight. He was a consummate trainer for show purposes, and his spirited contests at the great shows of the three kingdoms were highly interesting to frequenters of the show yards, and to the lovers of Shorthorns in general.

Though but a tenant farmer, competing as he did against men of wealth, his pluck never failed; indeed, he fought his battles with undaunted courage, and occasional defeats did not damp his ardour or his spirits. From time to time he made judicious purchases of cows and heifers, from which he bred animals which became well known to fame. In the county of Kildare, in Ireland, he bought at Mr. La Touches sale a fine cow, Rose of Autumn. She was a daughter of the Mantalini heifer Pelerine by the celebrated sire Buckingham, which Mr. Thomas Robertson, agent to Mr. La Touche, had purchased from Mr. John Booth, of Killerby. Rose of Autumn produced a heifer called Ladylike, which won a prize at the Royal Irish Show at Killarney, in 1853. There Mr. Douglas sold her to Mr. Rowland Campion, of co. Cork, from whom she passed to Mr. Richard Welsted, of Ballywalter, in whose herd she founded a numerous and valuable family. Another daughter of hers was Rose of Summer, a heifer of extraordinary beauty, which won the 2H three National firstprizes as a two-year-old. As a cow, she went to the International Show atParis, in 18?6, and won first prize. There Mr. Douglas had the pluck to refuse an offer of 6oo gs. for her, and it turned out fortunate for him that he did so, for she bred, to that excellent sire Captain Balco, the noted bull Sir James the Rose, who got a number of heifers of uncommon beauty.

Mr.Douglas published a catalogue which was illustrated by photographs taken from paintings of many of his famous animals, among which were those of Rose of Summer, Sir James the Rose, Maid of Athelstane, and others. Rose of Autumn also produced Rose of Primrose, which went into Mr. Mark Stewarts and Lady Pigots herds successively. From her were descended Mr.T. E. Pawletts Mantalinis, which sold for very high prices, one of them,Rose of Warlaby, having been purchased by the Rev. Thomas Staniforthfor 5 o gs. Mr. John Unthank, of Netherscales, bought the noted cow Old Cherry by Pirate in her old age, from her breeder, Colonel Cradock, and bred from her a heifer called Queen of Trumps. Mr. Douglas was most anxious to get a descendant of Old Cherry, and he succeeded in procuringa heifer of the blood from Mr. Unthank. From her he bred another Queenof Trumps, and she was of such merit that she won the three National firstprizes, completing her triumphs at the Royal Irish Show at Londonderry, where she was sold to the Americans for 450 gs., but she unfortunately died when just in sight of New Orleans.

From Mr. J. G. Grove, of Castlegrove,co. Donegal, Mr. Douglas bought one of the Fame tribe, and from her he bred Clarionet, which became quite a show yard celebrity and beat Colonel Gunters Duchess twins, never previously defeated, at the Highland Society's meeting at Dumfries. A big price did not alarm Mr. Douglas if he made up his mind to buy an animal, and, being very anxious to have a female of the Killerby Bracelet tribe, he did not hesitate to pay Colonel Towneley 500 gs. for Ringlet of that blood. She bred Maid of Athelstane, winner of the three National first prizes, as well as a host of other honours ; shealso produced Queen of Athelstane, a heifer perhaps as nearly perfect aspossible, which Lady Pigot bought for 500 gs., with a view to beating the Duchess twins and Mr. Booths Soldiers Bride at the Royal Show at Leeds. The beautiful Queen, however, died before that show, and a post-mortem showed that she had too much fat around her heart, which, therefore, ceased to beat.

Another lucky purchase made by Mr. Douglas was that of the cow Isabella Hopewell, bred at Warlaby. Her dam was by Lord Spencers Exquisite, and the result of that outcross not having satisfied Mr. Richard Booth, he sold the females having the cross. In Mr. Douglas hands she, however, bred Lamp of Lothian 16,356, which won the gold medal at the Royal Dublin Show, and was sold to Mr. Talbot-Crosbie for 250 gs. This famous bull was by Hymen, a son of the Bates sire Second Duke of Cambridge,from a Bracelet cow. He had, therefore, Bates blood as well as the bloodof Exquisite, yet he proved an extraordinary sire. He got his stock good all round, and Mr. Crosbie won many first prizes with his sons and daughters at the leading Irish shows. From a Bates cow, Playful, Mr. Douglas alsobred several animals of show yard renown, includ- ing Pride of Athelstane, awinner at the Battersea Royal meeting, and many others of much note.

At the sale of Mr. John Booths herd at Killerby, in 1852, Mr. Douglas bought, at a low price, a heifer-calf named Officious, by Hopewell. He showed her at the Royal Irish Societys Exhibition at Killarney, in 1853, when she was in the prize list, and was sold to Colonel Kane Bunbury, of Moyle, co. Carlow. This heifer was the ancestress of the bulk of the Bracelet tribe now in existence.

Mr. Douglas was a man of taste, and his loose boxes for those famous heifers, of which he was naturally so proud, were beautifully fitted up. In each was a panel, surrounded with gilt moulding, which contained a list of the prizes won by the occupant. His innate love of Shorthorns was great, and he often travelled in the same train with them on their journey to the shows. He spent anxious nights and weary days in his many travels and voyages; but the excitement of the contests was very great. He went forth to meet and do battle with the cracks of Warlaby and Towneley, and always exhibited skilful generalship against the efforts of Joe Culshaw and the Warlaby Cuddy. These contests, oft repeated, came to have an intense fascination, not unlike that attaching to the Turf, and these great show cattle were known as the racing Shorthorns.

Occasionally Mr. Douglas would act as judge at a show. He and his colleagues made a sensation when, at the Great Yorkshire Show, they reversed the decision at the Leicester Royal, and placed Knight of Knowlmere before Commander-in-Chief.

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