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Blood Sports in Victorian Cumbria: policing cultural change Guy Woolnough

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1 Blood Sports in Victorian Cumbria: policing cultural change Guy Woolnough

2 The Cock Fight, English (anon) c.1850 Compton Verney Heenan/Sayers match, April Cock-fighting supported by eminent Westmorland gentry, Lancaster Gazette 1885 Many respectable citizens, including magistrates, support and attend cock fights. Humber, R.D., Game Cock & Countryman, 1966 Peachey, B. F., The Cockfighters: A Survey and Analysis of the Sport of Cockfighting in Britain, (1993) Hugh Lowther, Lord Lonsdale, ‘the sporting earl’ keen supporter of boxing,, Sutherland Yellow Earl, 1965.

3 Cumberland and Westmorland Wrestling Large crowds and gambling, but no bloodshed Georg Steadman wrestles Richard Wright, 1872.

4 Mace defeats Tom King The Illustrated Sporting News Jem Mace heavyweight champion, boxing promoter, showman Mace brings fights to Westmorland Apr 1865, fight completed, fighters summonsed afterwards, bound over £20 Mar 1867, police stop the fight, fighters sentenced to one month and three months.

5 Respectable, manly. Wrestling Foot-racing Disreputable, blackguards and blockheads Prize-fighting Dog fighting Rev. Hugh Stowell Brown speaking to young working men, Carlisle 1858, reported in Carlisle Journal

6 Respectable, manly. Wrestling Foot-racing Hunting Disreputable, blackguards and blockheads Prize-fighting Dog fighting Cock throwing Animal cruelty was in a dubious area. Many cases were brought by the RSPCA. Dubious Cock-fighting Cruelty to animals

7 South Cumberland and Furness Cock-fighting Club, had a successful main on Saturday last, in the neighbourhood of Whitbeck. It is to be regretted that your contemporary was not in a position to publish the names of the hardened law breakers, who took part in this disgraceful affair. Westmorland Gazette, 10 May 1890 p8 Favourable to cock-fighting: Westmorland Gazette Carlisle Journal Hostile to cock-fighting:Kendal Mercury Whitehaven News

8 Petty Sessions, Kendal 1864: One defendant said to “PC Currie ‘If they [those at the main] were all of my mind you (the police) should not go home with whole bones (Laughter)’” Defendants admitted owning the cocks, fitting them with spurs, fighting them. The defence: the police had presented no evidence that cruelty had taken place only that the cocks had been fighting. “the bench ‘did not consider the case sufficiently strong against the defendants to convict them upon the evidence. They were sorry they could do no more.’” The Difficulties of Policing Cock-fights.

9 Summary Cock-fightingPrize-fighting Orders from the chief constable NoneMust be stopped Behaviour of defendants in court Insolent, disruptiveCompliant Penalties Fines, 10shillings to £5 Bound over, 3 months. AcquittalsFrequentNone Status of the ‘sport’ Cumbrian, traditional Alien, brought in by outsiders Actions of ordinary policemen. Police made determined efforts to stop matches.

10 Wrestling was respectable in Cumbria, prize fighting was alien and unacceptable. Cock-fighting was supported by all classes. Some magistrates were sympathetic, some gentlemen attended cock-fights. Cock-fighting was entrenched in local culture. But the respectable working class were strongly opposed. Successful prosecution of these sports depended on the determination, initiative and discretionary action of ordinary policemen.

11 2001: 14 arrested at a cockfight, Lancaster October Two arrested for organising cockfights in Sussex January Four arrested at a cockfight in Kent


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