There is a lot more information on the Llewellin. This is just a starter. these Llewellins are an amazing dog with a very rich history dating back to the 1800s
What is a Llewellin Setter?
The Llewellin descends directly from the longest existing breed of Setters in the world. The Laverack base of the breed goes back to the 1500's. By the early 1900's in the USA there were no lines of English Setters that did not have the Llewellin bred into them. The Llewellin blood proved to be so superior in competition that there were no strains of Native or English Setters left pure. The Llewellin was recognized as a breed on its own. All other strains were recognized as English Setters. From the beginning a Llewellin and English Setter bred together resulted in the registration of the pups as English Setters. For years the Llewellin was the dominate dog in competitions. The changes in the format of trials and the use of Pointers are the factors which resulted in the change of opinion of what Setters truly are. The Llewellin, a pure bred strain of English Setter is I believe superior to all other breeds of Setters, both recent imports and continental breeds, for bird hunting in the US. I do try not to be prejudiced BUT I have hunted the Llewellin for 35 years and have hunted against pretty much all other setting-pointing dogs. I honestly can't remember when my dogs have been 2nd best. They have been bred for over one hundred years to hunt our type of Game Birds and cover and terrain. More and more dedicated foot hunting sportsmen will contest that they have the best nose of any dog. Truly their sense of smell is the most important factor in their breeding. Their single-minded ability to find gamebirds is as good today as it was over one hundred years ago. Bird hunting for centuries was for sport and food. For me that is what it has always been. Competition first began as a medium to make available the best of the best. Because of the change of direction of the Trials the wider running dogs became prevalent.
The Llewellin Setter - Origin and Historical Development
The first setting dogs were introduced in England and the British Isles for the art and sport of Falconry by Royalty. The art of Falconry was quite a popular thing in those days. The Setters of that time, known as Land Spaniels, went with the hawking party to the field, they quartered the hunting area, as dogs do today, and would show the group where the birds were. Then the Hawks hood was removed and he was unleashed to circle above whereupon the birds were flushed to be caught and killed by the Hawk. The actions of Falconry are shown in the writings of Richard Suflet, in 1600, by his description of his dog setting birds; as quoted in THE AMERICAN BOOK OF THE DOG, in 1891, "Warning of what he scenteth, and to prepare himself and his hawke for the pleasure he seeketh, and when he is assured of his game, then to quest out loudly and freely." "The hawker trained his Spaniel to set; then he cast off his hawks, which ascended in circles, and 'waited on' until his master roused the quarry from its concealment, when she pounced upon it like a pistol-shot." LOUIS XVIII of France loved to hunt with his Falcons and had an extensive kennel. It is said he was a great breeder of dogs. The old writers mention his dogs as being speckled all over with White and Black, with mingled colours inclined to a marble blewe which was used to point gamebirds which were then flushed to be killed by Falcons waiting overhead. This "MARBLE BLEWE" is what we call the Blue Belton color. This coloring is seen in Llewellin Setters. In 1624, Louis XVIII, King of France sent England's King James I, (1603-1625), some of his setters and one of his servants to instruct King James the French method of Falconry. Mr James Hay, the Earl of Carlisle, was a personal friend and keeper of the royal kennels of King James at this time. This is undoubtedly where he acquired his "Blue Belton" strain. Mr. Hay played a major role in developing a portion of the Llewellin blood. You will learn more about him and his castle's line later on. As mentioned before the art of Falconry was strictly a sport of royalty and titled men. In those days the common man was not allowed to hunt or kill any game whatsoever. All the land belonged to the King, as you probably remember in the old English novels. In the statutes of King James 's law it is interesting to see how highly he valued his setting dogs and was determined to keep them from being mongrelized by the common man. It is recorded in CLASSIC ENCYCLOPEDIA in 1880, "That no person shall be deemed qualified to keep setting dogs who is not possessed of an inheritance of the value of Pounds 10 per annum, a lease for life of Pounds 30 per annum, or who is worth Pounds 200 per annum, unless he be the son of a Baron or Knight or Heir-apparent to an Esquire." When netting birds replaced the hawk in England in latter years, the use of Falcons declined and the art of Falconry, for a period, was just about lost. Netting required the same type and style of dog. Dr. John Caius describes the procedure used in his 1570 writings, ENGLISH DOGGES; as recorded in CLASSIC ENCYCLOPEDIA, "The place being knowne by the means of the dogge, the fowler immediately openeth and spreadeth his net, intending to take them, which being done the dogge at the accustomed becke or visuall signe of his master ryseth up by and by, and draweth neerer to the fowle that by his presence they might be the authours or their owne insnaring, and be ready intangled in the prepared net." A quote from THE TWENTIETH CENTURY DOG, under the heading SPORTING, in 1904 gives a more detail description how they netted the birds. "Subsequently the use of a net was brought into practice, being sometimes drawn towards the place when the Setting dog marked the game, and at other times cast, like a fishing-net by some of the skillful handlers in the east, over the suspected spot." THE BOOK OF THE DOG, written in 1880, by Mr. Bernard Shaw, talks about netting and the Setter; and sates "It is, of course, perfectly well knew that the modern Setter usually points his game standing up as a Pointer does, and the abandonment of netting is unquestionably responsible for this alteration in the method of a Setter carrying out his work, before, when the sportsman was anxious to net as many birds as he could, it was most essential that they should be as undisturbed as possible, and the presence of a dog would, increase the chances of their being frightened away before the net was fired for their capture, the chances of the dog being seen by the game were naturally lessened when he would lay down, and this, no doubt, was the reason for his being broken to do so. Now things are much altered, and the sportsman only wants the whereabouts of the game to be indicated, so that he may walk them up. There is, however A PALPABLE TENANCY TO CROUCH STILL OBSERVABLE IN MANY OF THE BEST BRED SETTERS , which is unquestionably accounted for by the former of the breed." Dr. Johannes Caius's writings of 1570 titled ENGLISH DOGGES, contains one of my favorite descriptions of a setter with the same distinct characteristics of the Llewellin Setter of today. The Llewellin still retains this instinct to crouch and sometimes freeze on point at whatever angle the fowl is first discovered, then advancing further to discern the exact current location of the birds. The act of laying his belly to the ground was for the use of the net. In this document his use of the word "Setter" was the first time the "Setter" name was given as a generic name. Dr. Caius wrote, "Another sort of dog be serviceable for fowling making no noise either with tongue or foot whilst they follow the game. These attend diligently upon their masters, and frame their conditions to such becks, motions and gestures as it shall please him to exhibit, inclining to the right hand or yielding to the left. In making mention of fowl my meaning here is of partridge or quail. When he hath found the bird he keepeth sure and fast silence, and stayeth his steps, and will proceed no farther, and with close, covert, watching ere, layeth his belly to the ground, and so creepeth forward like a worm. When he approacheth near to the place where the bird is, he lays down, and with a mark of his paws betrayeth the place of the bird's last abode, whereby it is supposed that this kind of dog is called index (meaning recorded as to record) Setter; being a name both consonant and agreeable with his quality." Doesn't that sound like that old Llewellin you once owned or someone you knew owned. "These attend diligently upon their masters and frame their conditions to such becks, motions, and gestures as it shall please him to exhibit, (for you), with a mark of his paws betrayeth the birds, last abode." Haven't you ever watched an old Llewelin; when he points game as you approach him casually. His old eyes roll over toward your direction and looks up at you and seems to be saying, "Careful they're right here". I believe these old bird-dogs were the main foundation for the Llewellins. In an the old writings giving characteristics of a "Setter" they coincide with the characteristics of a Llewellin. I want to reiterate that I try not to be to prejudiced with my writing, but facts are facts. Another good description of a Setter of this same period is shown in Richard Suflet 1600 writings, as recorded in THE AMERICAN BOOK OF THE DOG. He is, "Gentle, loving, and courteous to man, more than any other sort of dog whatsoever; he loved to hunt the wing of any bird, especially Partridge, Pheasant, Quail and such. You choose him by his shape, beauty, mettle, and cunning hunting, good composition, round, thick head; short nose; broad breast; short and well-knit joints; round feet; a short, broad backe. His beauty is discerned in his colour, of which the Motleys or Pied", (Belton Colored), "are the best. His mettle is discerned by his free, untiring, laboursome ranging, beating a field over and over, and not leaving a furrow untrodden, or one unsearched, where any is likely hidden; and when he doth it, most courageously with a wanton, playing tail, and a busie labouring nose, neither desisting nor showing less delight in his labour at night than he did in the morning. The Land Spaniel called the "Setter" must neither hunt, range, nor retaine, more or less that as his master appointeth, taking the whole limit of whatsoever they do from the eye or hand of the instructor.", (No whistle necessary). "They must never quest (bark) at any time, what occasion soever may happen, must hunt close and mute," (When they find game), "they shall suddenly stop. Then shall your Setter stick, and by no persuasion go farther till you yourself come in and use your pleasure." Again here, allow me to say, these dogs definitely had the same characteristics of today's devoted Llewellins. There are enough written sources and documents to prove their origin. They originated from the Kennel of James Hay the Earl of Carlisle, who was noted for having Beltons. His was a excellent breed of Setter. As I mentioned, each Castle, that was interested in Gamebird hunting developed their own breed or line of Setter. They kept extensive records. If you have read many Edwardian and Victorian novels you will understand the extent to which each Titled Gentry kept tabs on every detail of life on their estates. This procedure served to establish, record and improve each of the strains, before Kennel Clubs existed. The Setters that France's Louis XVIII sent to England's King James I in 1624 were "SPECKLED ALL OVER WITH WHITE AND BLACK, WITH MINGLED COLOURS INCLINED TO A MARBLE BLEWE". This is what we can a "Blue Belton" today. As you may remember he sent some of these Blue Setters to the care of James Hay the Earl of Carlisle, in Northern England. Mr. Edward Laverack in his book THE SETTER, writes under the heading of, "THE NAWORTH CASTLE, AND FEATHERSTONE CASTLE BREED OF SETTERS. There is a very fine old breed of setters, of present but little known. It has been, and still is, in the possession of the Earl of Carlisle, Narworth Castle, Brampton, Cumberland.
Edward Laverack, ESQ.,
This breed of setters I remember fifty years ago, when I rented the moors belonging to the late Earl of Carlisle, in the vicinity of Gillesland, ... "This rare old breed has probably been retained in the mentioned families as long as any other strain has." In 1825 Mr. Edward Laverack went to Carlisle to meet Rev. A. Harrison, who was noted for his Beltons. He had been told from a number of sources that Rev. Harrison had some excellent Field Setters. In 1880, the CLASSIC ENCYCLOPEDIA also comments on these dogs, "The Beltons, famous in the Northern Counties, are a superb race, and form the great base of the now famous Laverack Setter, on which again is founded the majority of the great kennels so favorably known throughout the Country, and which has an immense popularity with American Sportsmen". Stories were told about Rev. Harrison's dogs uncanny pointing ability. At this time THE English people bred more for show than hunting ability. Most of Rev. Harrison's dogs were "Marble Blue". On this trip to Carlisle, Mr. Laverack bought OLD MOLL, a Sliver Gray Belton. Mr. Laverack wrote in his book THE SETTER, "The MOST PERFECT specimen of Setter I have ever seen (was) the Rev. A. Harrison's Blue Belton "Old Moll" (she was particularly strong, powerful, and compacted in build." He liked her so well that when she came in season, he took here back to be breed to her full brother, PONTO a Black Gray Belton, even knowing there was great many other dogs in this area supposedly just as good. As it turned out he was glad he made this choice. The pups turned out to be such superb dogs that he returned to Rev. Harrison and purchased PONTO from him. Mr. Laverack's purchase of Ponto and Old Moll are the foundation for what we know today as a LLEWELLIN SETTER. A lengthy and documented detail of Mr. Laverack's breeding program may be found in my book. The author of THE TWENTIETH CENTURY DOG, in 1904, confirms that Mr. Laverack was, "The greatest authority on the Setter." He was renowned for his knowledge of the Setter and for his breeding program. Mr. Edward Laverack's book THE SETTER, written in 1872, was the first authentic record of Setters. The complete title of his book is "THE SETTER: WITH NOTICES OF THE MOST EMINENT BREEDS NOW EXTANT." His was the first written record of any breeds given at the time of their existence. Mr. James Watson in his book, THE DOG BOOK, written in 1912, makes this comment concerning Mr. Laverack's book, "But for Mr. Laverack we should know nothing of the various strains kept by sporting gentlemen of prominence throughout England and Scotland, and in his book, 'THE SETTER,' is to be found all that later writers knew about the various strains and which they made use of without compunction as original. The first Kennel Club Calendar and Stud Book of England in existence was based on his documentation of each breed. Mr. Laverack's Ponto and Old Moll were found to be two of the finest specimens that the Rev. Harrison had bred. They were said by many to be what we call today a 'Natural'. Mr. Laverack traveled back to Carlisle numerous times on hunting trips. Rev. Harrison had been breeding this line for over 35 years. As mentioned earlier, King James I bred these same dogs in 1624 as Louis XVIII had bred them for a number of years prior to this. Mr. Laverack, in his book, says "From these two he continued the strain without the admixture of other blood." He also shows a pedigree to substantiate it. Showing how he had bred his dogs for over fifty years. Prior to this time, this line has been in existence for well over 200 years. Mr. Laverack, in his book, The SETTER, says "Many years before the 'Field' was in existence, our Dog Shows or Field Trials thought of, my breed or Setters had made their mark, and were well known and appreciated by hundreds of sportsmen in England, Ireland and the highlands of Scotland, where I have shot ever since I was eighteen years of age." Later in his book he states, "I can say with truth it has taken me a lifetime (beings, as I have said, over Seventy-three years of age) to retain and keep perfect this breed." Mr. Edward Laverack was a man ahead of his own time with his breeding program. He states in his book, "If I may so term it, it is the force..... .of constantly breeding from the same good strain I that has made all sporting dogs what they are. To make my meaning clearer, it is my opinion that a breed of dogs carefully tutored, generation after generation, acquire from habit and usage an innate predisposition to hunt intuitively, which causes them to be superior to dogs whose faculties have not been so developed and cultivated, or in other words, imparted an inborn goodness. It is a fact that I have run dogs of this breed for `three' weeks daily, from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.; and others possessing the same blood have done the same." Llewellins are still "all day hunters". Now we see his opinion of, "Breeding, and the necessity of pure blood." He continues by saying, "Perhaps nothing is so generally little studied and understood, or properly attended to, as breeding, which requires not only great experience, observation, and knowledge of back ancestry, but also great patience and perseverance." Mr. Laverack bred for a natural birddog. You can tell this from the following quote. "The most paramount, or of as much importance as physical form, is an innate predisposition to hunt, and point `naturally' in search of game." Mr. Arnold Burgess in THE AMERlCAN KENNEL AND SPORTING FIELD, of 1876, writes this about Laverack's dogs, "Many of the English words (writings) say that a whelp will seldom hunt or point before fifteen months: for myself, I would not own a breed like this. Laverack on the contrary says his dogs will 'hunt, range, point, and back intuitively at six months,' and in my own comparatively very limited experience, I have had many similar to his in this aspect." (This is why I can guarantee my dogs to point, back, and retrieve at one year of age.) THE TWENTIETH CENTURY DOG, in 1904 says, "to Mr. Laverack in the beginning and middle of the last century, and to Mr. Purcell-Llewellin in latter half of it, the breed of English Setters owes its chief development."
R.L. Purcelle Llewellin - The Father of the English Setter
With all this information gathered one can no doubt form a number of opinions. Without any doubt Mr. Laverack's dogs were of great beauty and form. Indeed this seems to have been the main objective. In my personal opinion, I do not believe his main objective was beauty and form strictly for the purpose of 'winning at bench' but beauty and form in the field as well. For to him no dog was a Setter without this 'possession of beauty and form'. A point which is stressed many times in his writings. Please remember how often in his own writings he stressed and emphasized the great importance of NATURAL capabilities, sagacity, and adaptability for finding game. He also stressed that his dogs proved out in the field at an early age. My book details much more concerning Mr. Laverack's goals - reputation - breeding program - descriptions of dogs - the necessity of pure blood - natural ability - pups hunting at 6 months - interbreeding not in-bred. In the central chapter of my book I attempted to show how Mr. Llewellin took the basis of the Laverack dogs and developed them into a phenomenal breed of Field Dog, ultimately the Llewellin Setter. First of all I will give you a brief background on Mr. Richard Llewellin Purcell Llewellin, Esq.. He was an unusual gentlemen. You will more fully understand what I mean as we continue. A few later called him eccentric. He was certainly a dedicated man in whatever he attempted to do. In other words he was very strong willed. He was of royal decent and owned a large amount of land, including an estate in England as well as another in Whales. With this enormous amount of wealth in land, he also had a "great sum of money in banks". In other words he was financially able to do as he pleased. He was an avid hunter; but game bird hunting was his weakness, as it is with a lot of us. He also preferred Setters over Pointers. He like most Englishmen considered beauty a must. He favored the art of Falconry. For this purpose he preferred the use of a pointing dog over that of a flushing dog, which was more common at that time because of the abundance of game. Mr. C. B. Whitford in 1907 had the following strong statement to say about Mr. Llewellin's breeding program in an article presented to FIELD AND FANCY, a magazine publication, "Mr. Llewellin was the most enthusiastic breeder in England, if we were to judge him fairly by his works. He wanted to create the best group of Setters possible and failures did not frighten him. He studied crosses, and having decided in his own mind that they would prove good proceeded to try them, and when they failed he discarded them." He knew what he wanted but was not quickly successful in accomplishing his goals. He did not at first set out to create a new breed, he simply could not find the dog to fulfill all his expectations. The Llewellin Setter was described by Mr. C. B. Whitford in another of the series of articles written for FIELD AND FANCY magazine in 1907, "That they form a district group, and may be said to be the only true breed of setters in existence today anywhere in the world. These dogs have had true breed qualifications for about a quarter of a century." He goes on to say that Mr. Llewellin, "Has done more for the Setter in America today than any man living." Mr. Whitford further states that Mr. Llewellin, "Created and developed" the dominant breed of Setters in America for many years. It has practically driven all other varieties of breeds or strains of Setters from our (American) Field Trials. In fact, it is a very rare thing to see any other than a pure Llewellin or high grade Llewellin Setter (which is a Llewellin-English cross) at our Field Trials, the so-called (straight bred) English Setters there are none to compete. Our Field Setters an practically all Llewellins or high grade LIewellins." Mr. Whitford is recognized as one of the most renowned Sports writers of his day. He followed all the Field Trials in his work as a highly qualified trainer and as an individual enthusiast. Over the years he wrote many articles concerning various aspects of trials. (You must understand the first field trials were not like our horse-back trials of today. It was a gun-dog competition in a hunting situation.) Mr. Whitford in the same article goes on to praise Mr. Llewellin's breeding program, "Now, it must not be supposed that Mr. Llewellin bought a few good Setters, bred them together and thus created his breed. Nor did he have a streak of luck in mating a few good dogs. Neither did he have someone create his breed for him. On the contrary, he went about it in a methodical way, and by dint of much hard work, skillful crossing and selection produced a group of Setters distinct in blood lines and field qualities. During the years he was actively engaged in forming his breed Mr. Llewellin spent a small fortune on his Kennel, and he spent his money liberally without any further hope of reward than of having the satisfaction that might come to any enthusiastic breeder who was successful. Few people realize how great was the expense of conducting the Llewellin Kennels. Setters were bred by the hundreds, and out of the great number bred comparatively few selections from a large number of young dogs that Mr. Llewellin was able to lay well the foundation of his breed and by the same process he was able to carry it on and improve it. This method of breeding a large number of setters from which few selections were made was employed by Mr. Llewellin for years, so that it is no wonder having good blood to begin with, he was able to create a breed of Setters that were pre-eminent for years at the English Field Trials and won more at American Field Trials than all other varieties of field dogs combined." At the time of the writing of Mr. Laverack's book he dedicated it to Mr. Llewellin. At that time Mr. Llewellin was running the first of the Laveracks he had purchased. He was still not satisfied as they were not consistent. He had already tried the Irish and Gordon strains available as well as crosses of each of the three breeds. Mr. A. F. Hochwalt author of THE MODERN SETTER, in 1923 writes, "It was but natural that Mr. Llewellin was still unsatisfied and when the Duke-Rhoebe-Laverack dogs began to have a vogue, his investigating turn of mind led him in that direction, with the result that he gave the matter serious attention." After the Irish and Irish-Laveracks, Mr, Llewellin went to the straight bred Laveracks. These dogs were gorgeous animals and could win any bench show. The first ones he bought were Prince, Countess and Nellie. They had done exceptionally well in field trials. The problem with these dogs was they had their off days when their bad traits would show through. Mr. L. H. Smith (who imported the first Llewellins to America) refers to meeting Mr. Llewellin in 1873 at the same dog show where he met Mr. Laverack. In his article published in OUTING in 1896 he states, "He purchased Prince and his beautiful sisters, Countess and Nellie, all pure Laverack. Countess and Nellie were splendid specimens of the breed. Mr. Llewellin spent much time and money on their training and won many prizes at field trials with them, but they were unreliable. They could and did do brilliant work, bur at times, and often too, were completely uncontrollable, when their willful and reckless behavior would have disgraced untrained puppies." This fault was NOT found in the earlier dogs bred by Mr. Laverack but was attributed to the inbreeding he practiced for too long a period without an out-cross. Other Laveracks bought at first were Lill II, Phantom, Princess, Puzzle, Daisy, and Rock. It was thought that the females were better than the males. At this time he still had not bred any Duke-Rhoebe-Laveracks. These first two Laverack bitches were much liked by Mr. Llewellin because of the reason Mr. Hochwalt quoted in his book, of 1923, THE MODERN SETTER, as follows, "They bred along lines, mostly blue or lemon beltons, were silky in coat, beautiful in expression and generally well balanced." Hochwalt concludes saying in reference to Laverack dogs, "The bitches, it was stated, were shiftier than the dogs, and taking the sexes collectively, there were more good dogs among the gentler sex than the other. Their uniformity in breeding to type is evidence that whatever 'secrets' Mr. Laverack possessed, he was able to breed true." Please remember this statement is in reference to Mr. Laverack's dogs at the end of his breeding era. In his book THE SETTER, Mr. Laverack, in 1872 says himself the only two of his dogs good enough to compete were, Mr. R. Ll. Purcell Llewellin's Countess or Mr. Garth's Daisy; these are the only two pure specimens of the Laverack Setters that ever contested at the trials, and I think I may say their performances have satisfied everyone." Mr. Hockwalt also confirms this in his book THE MODERN SETTER, in 1923, "But with the exception of Countess and Nellie none of these Laveracks could be termed Field dogs." Mr. C. B. Whitford agrees with this in his series of articles for. FIELD AND FANCY magazine, written in 1906 thru 1907 "Laverack Setters were making no headway in the English Field Trials after Countess and Nellie ran." This statement shows that Mr. Llewellin picked the best to start from. Mr. Whitford also writes, in another article for FIELD AND FANCY , "However out of all the Laveracks Mr. Llewellin owned and had broken Countess and Nellie were the only two fit for, competition. Others who were quite as fond of the Laverack as Mr. Llewellin was, had no better success with them. Still, when these closely inbred dogs were crossed on other Setters the progeny were a success. After Countess's and Nellie's work in the early 1870's no Laverack Setter accomplished much in the English Field Trials. Up until the mid 1870's none had competed in the American trials. The TWENTIETH CENTURY DOG states that Mr. Llewellin was accredited with the development of the Laverack. Laverack had gotten old and would not conform to adding new strains to further develop his breed of dog. At this point Mr. Llewellin took over using all the knowledge he had acquired while breeding the Irish and Gordon. You can see that Mr. Laverack approved of Mr. Llewellins breeding program because his book, THE SETTER, written in 1872, was dedicated to Mr. Llewellin. He wrote, "To R. Ll. Purcell Llewellin, Esq. of Tregwynt, Letterstone. Pembrokeshire, South Wales. Who has endeavored, and is still endeavoring, by sparing neither expense nor trouble, to bring to perfection the 'Setter'. This little volume is dedicated by his sincere friend and admirer, Edward Laverack." Mr, Laverack also writes in his book, "Visiting Mr. Purcell Llewellin some short time ago.....From a conversation I had with Mr. Llewellin (quite approve of the system he is adopting in endeavoring to rectify the defects of the male and female by judicious breeding. This gentleman is evidently a great enthusiast, and deserves success and the warmest thanks of setter breeders for his great energy and perseverance in endeavoring to bring the setter to the highest state of perfection." Mr. Hochwalt states in his book, BIRD DOGS, in 1922, that, "The Laverack strain was evolved later (after Mr. Laverack wrote his book) and many years after they had a great vogue, the `Field Trial Breed' subsequently called the Llewellin, was founded." Mr. Llewellin himself always refereed to his dogs as "The Field Trial Breed". It is said he was never comfortable with the breed being named "Llewellins". Mr. Whitford in his FIELD AND FANCY articles, writes, "Mr. Llewellin decided that the best blood with which to found a breed was the blood of Duke, Rhoebe, and the Laveracks. Where upon he proceeded to buy pretty much all of the blood there was to be had." Mr. Llewellin sent his earlier kennel manager, Mr. G. Teasdale Bucknel, out scouring the country and told him to buy them all at any cost. By 1871, at the same time Countess and Nellie were running in trials, he had acquired almost an the Duke-Laverack, Rhoebe-Laverack and Duke-Rhoebe-Laverack blood that was in England. He quickly became the only place for the American sportsman to buy this blood combination. At this time they were still not established as a breed (Llewellins), because they were the first crosses of this blood. They were nevertheless the foundation of his breed. Some of the first Duke-Rhoebe-Laverack crosses Mr. Llewellin encountered, bred by others, were Mr. Statter's Bruce, by Laverack's Dash out of old Rhoebe. Also Rob Roy, a Field Trial winner, who was by Laverack's Fred II, out of Rhoebe. He also saw others bred this way. He realized that the fine Laverack dogs bred to coarse dogs made good field dogs. Mr. Llewellin then went for the source of all these excellent crosses and introduced into his breeding program Mr. Barclay Field's Duke and Mr. Thomas Statter's Rhoebe. Isn't it interesting to realize that it only took one man to, first at the right place and the right time, and secondly, with both the desire and means, to see the potential and forever alter the course of the Setter breed. Mr. Whitford goes on to say, "Mr. Llewellin therefore abandoned the pure Laveracks as Field Trial dogs and looked about for the best old English strains for a cross." These turned out to be the Duke and Rhoebe blood. Mr. Hochwalt, in 1923, in THE MODERN SETTER, writes "Duke and Rhoebe are such important factors in the early breeding of our present day field trial setters." Mr. Whitford, in his FIELD AND FANCY articles, praised Duke's abilities, stating, "Duke was at that time counted one of the best Setters in England." Rhoebe was where the coarse blood was introduced. She was large, long and low, with very few characteristics of what would be called a Setter type, character or quality of Modern Setters. S he was a very heavily marked black dog with white and tan. Her body was almost solid black, with white on her legs and heavy tan on cheeks, insides her hind legs and breaching. Rhoebe's dam, Statter's Psyche, was thought to be her greatest influence. Psyche was half Gordon and half South Esk (now extinct breed). Rhoebe never made a name for herself as a Hall of Fame Winners but she produced the greatest number of winners in the history of Field Trialing in the late 1800's. She whelped the great field dogs Dan, Dick and Dora. TWENTIETH CENTURY DOG, in 1904 tells us that Mr. Randon Lee says even among the top Laveracks Mr, Llewellin purchased he discarded some of them. "But even amongst these he found many) unsatisfactory and inconvenient peculiarities of mind, habit, and instinct to fit them for attaining his ideal. So he once more set to work experimenting, and the result was the strain of setters that bears his name (Llewellin Setters) a blend of the pure Laverack, with blood from Mr. Barclay Field's and Mr. Statter's Kennels and the characteristic of size with quality. That they possess quality and beauty of appearance their show-bench achievements have proved, whilst at the same time their Field Trial record as a Setter Kennel has never been approached. This was in the 'Eighties (1880), when Mr. Purcell-Llewellin carried all before him-when he refused 1200 Franks for a dog and 1000 Franks for a couple of bitches of his own breeding. Having once established a strain to his fancy, no cross of any sort was allowed to invade it, and the various families in his kennel preserved and transmuted to their progeny their likeness, habits, and methods of working. Mr. Hochwalt states in another of his book THE MODERN SETTER, in 1923, "To sum up this Duke-Rhoebe breeding, we find it is a Sort o mixtry', as the Scotchman said, but undoubtedly it was just this assortment of violent outcrosses gotten together in the proper combination that was needed to bring forth the latent qualities of the effete Laverack." Mr. Llewellin certainly realized that this was just what he was looking for to accomplish his goals. The over-bred blood of the Laverack needed stimulation and that stimulation was the coarse blood of Duke and Rhoebe. This coarse blood did not produce a high quality show dog as most of the Englishman preferred, therefore few English breeders liked this type of 'Field Dog' that couldn't also win at shows. By our present day standards they were still classy, good looking dogs. "THE LLEWELLIN SETTER", my book of 170 pages, goes into greater detail on these dogs, their characteristics, performances and what each contributed along with more detail on Mr. Llewellins breeding program In 1871 Mr. Llewellin bought his first pure Duke-Rhoebe dogs which would become the foundation stock of his Llewellin Setters, Their names were Dan and Dick. He also went back shortly and bought their sister Dora. She was the third Duke-Rhoebe cross he bought. It was written in THE NEW HUNTERS ENCYCLOPEDIA in the early 1900' that "Llewellin's Dan was a dog of great prepotency and when he was crossed with the flighty Laverack bitches he seemed to add just what was needed and his offspring were dog's of sterling qualities. The finest example of his offspring was the great and notable GLADSTONE, whelped in 1876. Gladstone is considered to be the fountain head of the six pillars of the American Llewellins. To give you an idea of how quickly the Llewellin line developed let us note here the whelp of this 'family'. Dan's year of birth was 1871, Gladstone's year of birth was 1876, Gladstone IV's year of birth was 1896. Gladstone IV was the winner of the first American Grand National Championship ever held. Mr. Hochwalt opinion of Dan, in his book THE MODERN SETTER in 1923, was, "Dan seemed to nick remarkably well with all the Larverack bitches and no matter what their quality or individuality, he seemed to be able to produce good puppies. The erratic and gun-shy Lill II, bred to him brought forth Lincoln, which come to America in later years and was the foundation of the Gleam blood (which I will tell you more about later in this book), through other combinations. Petrel was another bitch of little individual value, but she was bred to Dan and then sold to L. H. Smith, of Strathroy, Ontario. Coming to America in whelp she brought forth a litter from which was born the great Gladstone (a I have said, one of the greatest of all our early American Llewellins and the beginning of the American-LlewelIins, as they became know). Mr. Llewellin had great success with this cross, at Field Trials. As a consequence, it was not long until a great demand ensued for this wonderful field trial breed (Llewellins), from sportsman in America, and so it came about that dogs from the Llewellin Kennels began coming over about as early, or nearly so, as they did from the kennels of Edward Laverack." Immediate success came his way. After all his years of perseverance he was satisfied with a consistent line. He was not the originator of this strain because he had watched Mr. Statter, Mr. Field and the elder Armstrong breed these crosses. Why these gentlemen did not carry the strain further has always been puzzle. This seems to substantiate that Mr. Llewellin truly did buy up the majority of the lines. After Mr. Llewellin had such success with these Duke-Rhoebe-Laveracks others of course followed him. As mentioned before the Dan-Laverack, which in the writings of Stonehenge was considered to be the first "Llewellyns" Mr Llewellin bred, pups were bold and aggressive while the Dora pups were more docile and gentle, some people even thought timid. Llewellins are not timid, they just aren't hard headed and stubborn. They are an understanding dog that know what you tell them without any force. The combination of these bloods in subsequent generations made the perfect combination. Her type of blood is what made the Llewellins evolve into such a pet and loving companion, along with excellent field qualities. Mr. Whitford states in his articles for FIELD AND FANCY, in 1907, "After the first cross-dogs had passed away and their progeny had been bred together then was more evens of temperament although the Dan quality would assert itself now and again in high couraged dogs, while the Dora disposition would crop out occasionally as shown in the more docile dogs. He goes on to say, "Of course the most desirable type of temperament was a blend of the two. That is, the ideal in this respect was a dog of the Dan style and boldness coupled with the gentleness of Dora." The eveness quickly developed with subsequent generations into they type we now have today. Mr. Hochwalt, in 1922, in his book BIRDOGS, writes, "At the suggestion of Teasdale Bucknell to several of the importers of the 'Field Trial Breed' in American the name was changed to `Llewellin" and since that time usage has given it definite sanction hence....they have since been known in American as Llewellins. To this today they are still not recognized in England as a Llewellin Setter; the English maintained that they should retain the name of English Setters.
" Alfred O. King Sr."
More history from another source about William Humphrey.
The great sportsman William Humphrey was born in Yorkshire in September 1883. He grew up with a keen interest in rural pursuits and attended his first dog trial as a 9 year old. He was in his younger years a successful trainer of pointers, springers, foxhounds and was an excellent falconer. He was also training and flying hawks and eagles. He met and befriended the world famous Richard Llewellin Purcell Llewellin and soon started gathering dogs from Llewellin’s breeding. However, Mr Llewellin asked for a “gentleman’s agreement” that Mr Humphrey should not compete against him in field trials. So in the early years of William Humphrey’s setters, they were purely kept within his kennel and for his own shooting.
In the 1920s William Humphrey spent some years in America, where he hunted foxhounds and showed the Americans how to train and hunt falcons. He is credited as being one of those who introduced falconry to America. When Mr Llewellin died in 1925, Humphrey cabled his wife in England and instructed her to buy all the dogs left in Llewellin’s kennel. In the book “Pointer og Setter” by Corn. Schilbred, published in Norway in 1927, it is stated that Humphrey paid £1400 for twelve dogs, two of them bred in America from his lines. From then on Humphrey was free to compete in England on equal terms. He started off by making the first dog he had received from Llewellin a FTCh.
William Humphrey described that he kept three families of setters:
DASHING were over 80% Laverack and with no American blood
WINDEM were one family drawing from Llewellin’s Ch Countess (by Laverack’s Dash ii also called “Old Blue Dash”) and Count Windem (by Llewellin’s Count Dick – Ch Phantom)
BONDHU were from FTCh Dash ii by Blue Prince (Pride of the Border - Nellie) out of Old Kate (by “Old Blue Dash”)
(There were multiple dogs involved called Dash ii and Countess in the setter breeding those days, so not to get them confused.)
In 1960 Humphrey also wrote “Despite the greatness of my old friend Llewellin, the greatest producers of all were Law Turner and H.C. Hartley, had it not been for these two, we would have no Laverack blood in the world today.”
Law Turner and H.C. Hartley were not part of the field trialling scene and only occasionally let close friends have a dog or use one of their stud dogs. Humphrey had spent time with Law Turner deer stalking, salmon fishing and grouse shooting. Mr Turner had got his hands on the Llewellin bred dog Jubilee and Humphrey trained the dog for him. In 1897 Mr Turner gifted Humphrey with Jubilee’s daughter Countess (80% Laverack), who Humphrey later bred with the 85% Laverack Royal Windem (Hartley’s Bravo – Llewellin’s Lill Windem). In 1899 Law Turner went and settled in British Columbia and left some of his dogs to Humphrey. When Turner died in 1932, Humphrey received five more dogs, who had over 90% Laverack breeding. William Humphrey stated that the last two 100% pure Laveracks to be born were Law Turner’s Dashing Fan, born 1911, and Blue Prince ii, whelped in 1913. (Edward Laverack, who remodelled the English setter breed, died in 1877.)
In 1937 another shooting friend of Humphrey died a mysterious death when he fell 3000 ft from an airliner destined for Germany. Max Wenner was of Austrian-German-Italian descent, from a wealthy industrialist family. He was one of three owners of Long Mynd, the high moor that forms the border between Wales and England in Shropshire. Max Wenner had put in a lot of effort to develop the moor for sport, fishing for trout and shooting grouse. He was well connected in the highest political circles both in England and Germany, and it was believed his death might have had connection with espionage in the times before World War II. Wenner was found in a Belgian forest outside Genk. He had bequeathed part of his estate and the grouse moor to William Humphrey, who went on to settle in Shropshire.
William Humphrey had a remarkable success as breeder of top English setters for nearly forty years. He sold most of his winners while still young, to countries all over the world. He still kept bringing out new talent and kept winning at trials. His lines have had a significant impact on setter lines everywhere. Humphrey produced more Kennel Club Derby winners than any other, with six wins (1950, 1951, 1952, 1953, 1954, 1958) and two runner-ups (1950, 1961). The other most successful English setter breeders in The Derby were R. Ll. P. Llewellin and B.J. Warwick (both with 4 wins), H. Mitchell, F.C. Lowe, I. Sharpe and G. Blaine (all with 3 wins) and H.H. Heywood-Lonsdale and W. Parlour (both with 2 wins). Only seven months before Humphrey’s death he placed 3rd in the 1963 Derby with Dashing Flame Bondhu (Dashing Fiction Bondhu – Dashing Sally Bondhu). After his 1958 win with Dashing Mars Bondhu (Dashing Cocky Bondhu – Dashing Sadie Bondhu), the English setters next won the Derby in 1967 when Captain Parlour won with Sharnberry Pat and placed 3rd with Sharnberry Jill, both from a litter sired by Irish FTCh Dashing Stubble Bondhu (Dashing Mac Bondhu – Dashing Star Bondhu) .
William Humphrey died at Lake Cottage, Lydbury North, Shropshire on November 22nd 1963. His ashes were scattered at Long Mynd Moor.