This article displays in one automatically-generated column. View the full page to see article in its original form.


We have to record the death, on the 9th October, at Streatlam Castle, in Durham, of a famous north-country sportsman^ who shares with the last Earl of Egremont, the fifth Earl of Jersey, and Sir Joseph Hawley in the present century; and with Lord Archibald Hamilton, subsequently ninth Duke of Hamilton, and with Francis fifth Duke of Bedford, in the last ; the distinction of having won more classic races than any living supporter of the turf, with the sole exception of Lord Falmouth. Mr John Bowes was bora at Streatlam, near Barnard Ca«tle, Durham, in 1811, and died there on Friday, the 9th inst. The still living Earl of Stradbroke, who was born in 1794, was elected a member of the Jockey Club before he succeeded to his father's title in 1827 : and the Earl of Strafford, who was born in 1807, was, we believe, admitted to. it as Captain George Byng in or about 1834, the year which saw the election of Mr Bowes. It will thus be obvious that the racing career, extending from 1832 tp 1835, of the oldest member of the Jockey Club with one single exception, affords an admirable subject for treatment by some skilled and experienced writer, who is well versed in the history of the British turf since the accession of William IV to the throne. To do justice to such a theme far greater space would, however, be required than we can now command, and the chief difficulty to be encountered in attempting to pourtray Mr Bowes, even in outline, is that the central figure of our sketch escapes continually from our grasp, and is as hard to catch as the shadowy Proteus of Virgil'n fourth Georgic.

The circumstances surrounding the birth of John Bowes in 1811 occurred far more frequently towards the close of last and the commencement of this century than they do at present. The late Lord Houghton used to run off upon his fingers the names of a score of noblemen of high degree who, in his youth, could not be said, as St. Paul demands of bishops, to be " the husbands of one wife.'' A famous "Viceroy of Ireland, when the century, was young, went over to Dublin to assume the reins of government, accompanied by his wife in one ship, and followed by the lady to whom, in French phrase, he was married au treizicmc arrondissement in another. It was, in short, a lax and easy-going age, and public opinion, as we now understand the term, had no existence when George 111 was king. The tenth Earl of Strathmore, like the Duke of Cleveland, his neighbour at Kaby Castle (which is about three miles from Streatlam), did very much what seemed good in his own eyes. The Duke of Cleveland, who was Lord Barnard at the time when Mr Bowes was born, bore the reputation of being the most unprincipled racing man of his day. There is a sketch of him in " The Bye-Lanes and Downs of England," which, apart from the descriptions of his character which some readers of these words may have heard from General Peel, suffices to show what he was. Its author, " Sylvanus," alias Captain J. W. Carleton, of the 2nd Dragoon Guards — whom, by the way, Mr Wyndham Smith, commonly called the "Assassin," .could never forgive for publishing books and writing in the Sporting Magazine when he owed him £100 all the while — tells us that " the most astute and not the safest customer in the Red Book to deal with of late years upon the turf was the Duke of Cleveland, the very Jesuit of the Ring, and the Confucius of gambling in all its branches." His cotemporary, the tenth Earl of Strathmore, was of much the same kidney. About the morality of tho two Durham castles at Raby and Streatlam, some seventy or eighty years since, and indeed at a later date, the less said the better. We may mention, however, that round the paddocks at both places an unsavoury aroma hung, in days when the arts of " ringing in " horses with a year in hand were understood to perfection in Yorkshire and other northern counties. By how many " old 'uns," in fact, the Derby and St. Leger were won prior to the memorable year 1844, which sounded the knoll of Running Rein and " Goody "' Levy, of Julia and tho Messrs Litebwald, will never bo known until all other secrets are likewihe given up.

Towards fcho commencement of the century the tenth Earl of Strathmore spent most of his life at his two English seats — Gibside House in Northumberland and Streatlam Castle in Dur-

ham. Upon the first he lavished many thou 1 sands of pounds in making the house which his mother, Mary Bowes, brought into the Strath more family, worthy of its beautiful position Gibside is seated in a part of singular beauty Groves of fine forest trees overtop a rich undergrowth of yew and holly, and the silver Derwent cuts its way through grassy slopes, bristling with rocks, and opened up by glades which afford romantic views of the distant moorlands. The gardens are laid out in the style of Versailles, and the fine old Jacobean mansion, built by Sir William Blackiston in the reign of James I, was restored by the tenth Earl of Strathmore the father of the much-respected member of the Jockey Club, who has just passed away. It was little foreseen by Lord Strathmore, when he left Gibside to his' natural son, John Bowes, that, before many years, the rocky ledges of the park would be found to overlie a rich deposit of the finest Wallsend coal. Mr Bowes was a wealthy man from the products of his broad acres alone ; but within a few years his Gibside coal mines yielded him royalties which, according to his old and intimate friend, Mr Robert Duncombe Shafto, late member for North Durham, amounted long before Mr Bowes* death to a total of one million pounds.

Great, however, as were the attractions of Gibside, it was at Streatlam Castle that most of the tenth Lord Strathmore's life was spent. Nor can his partiality for the place awaken surprise in those who have seen Streatlam. With the exception that, like Hurstmonceux Castle in Sussex, it lies very low, evidently with the object of having the moat which surrounded it always full of water, Streatlam Castle is one of the most delightful old country houses in the north of England. The existing castle was new-fronted and modernised by Sir William Bowes in 1708-10, and has a stately appearance. Its southern front, deliciously warmed and irradiated by the noonday sun, rises from a terrace, and the interior of the house gives many evidences of the French and Italian tastes of its last owner. Taking to heart {the well-known Tuscan proverb, "Dove non viene il sole, viene il medico " (" Where the sun comes not, the doctor comes ") Mr Bowes established his bedroom hi the southern front of his ancient . home, and there he passed many hours of the day when -the weather was bad. How old the kernel of the castle at Streatlam may be it is not easy to ascertain. It was probably built by the Baliols, who lorded it in the adjoining keep of Barnard Castle, and passed into the hands of the Bowes family early in the fourteenth century. How large a part the members of this ancient house, sprung originally from the bow-bearer of William the Conqueror, borne in the troubled history of the middle ages, let Rapin, Sharon Turner, and Froude proclaim for themselves. We know, however, that when the throne of Queen Elizabeth and the Protestant religion were threatened in 1569 by the rebellion called " The Rising of the North," Sir George Bowes, the staunchest of the lion-hearted Queen's supporters, threw himself into Barnard Castle and held it for eleven days, until the Earls of Sussex and Warwick had time to arrive from the south and to crush the rebellion. In the meantime, however, the insurgents took and gutted Sir George Bowes' mansion at Streatlam, where they also burnt his charters and ravaged his lands. As there is no house boasting an antiquity of four or five centuries in this or in any other country without its haunted chamber, we need hardly add that the room at Streatlam in which Sir George Bowes died is said to be still troubled by his nocturnal visitations. His portrait may be seen in the drawing-room below, together with those of many other members of the Bowes and Strathmore families. But the picture at Streatlam — and their name is legion— which, above all others, will interest modern connoisseurs, is Sir Joshua's matchless portrait of Mrs Thrale, which, together with all the othe s paintings belonging to Mr Bowes and which are not heirlooms, will be transferred by his will to the Josephine and John Bowes Museum at Barnard Castle.

It was natural that the tenth Lord Strath* more— a man of notoriously lax morals— should find even Streatlam dull without " one fair spirit for his minster." He found such a companion in Miss Mary Milner, of Staindrop, who in 1811 presented him with a son. Nine years later it was evident that Lord Strathmore's last hour was near at hand, and, in order to justify his purpose of leaving to his son as much as possible of his large possessions in England, he married Miss Milner upon July 3, 1820, and died upon the following day. By his will he bequeathed to certain trustees the properties at Gibside and Streatlam, to be managed by them till his son, John Bowes, attained his majority in 1832, when they were to be handed over to him for life. The boy, who was nine years old at his father's death, entered into a goodly heritage. In addition to the rentals of Gibside and Streatlam, he succeeded to a good sum of ready money, which was greatly augmented during his minority ; and before many years had passed the Gibside coal mines made him one of the richest commoners in the north. After matriculating at Cambridge University, Mr Bowes entered Parliament for South Durham as a Liberal in 1833 — a seat which, after three hot contests, he held until 1847. Born with the racing blood of the houseof Strathmore in his veins, and with some of best brood mares in the world installed in the paddocks to the rear of his house in Durham, Mr Bowes took naturally to the turf ; and, although he seldom visited a racecourse and never attended a meeting of the Jockey Club, he had the credit accorded to him by such old friends as Mr Rudston Read and the late Mr George Fit zRoy, of being an excellent judge of blood stock. Constitutionally inert and retiring, and with little dispdsition " to put his foot down," however grave the occasion, Mr Bowes virtually surrendered the management of his horses to John Scott, and after his death to Mr Peart, of Malton, and to James P^rrin. Upon one point, however, he was extremely tenacious. He insisted that his horses should always be heavily engaged; and there, was no large produce stake, no old-fashioned weight-for-age engagement, in which three or four entries in his name were not invariably to be found. With him. indeed, the last and most steadfast contributoi to the races which found such favour with th old school may be said to have passed away.

The history of the Streatlam paddocks, treate < : by the hand of a " Druid," would furnish a boo! capable, in Sir Philip Sidney's words, "of holding children from play, sind old men from the chimney corner." When Mr Bowes attained man's estate, Streatlam was in possession of twe strains of blood, which at this moment are reproduced in CardinalWolseley, The Devil to Pa." . and Jacobite — the three two-year-olds whicL. had their owners been spared, might have carried the famous black and gold jocket, o* which Frank Butler was so proud, triumphantb upon many a field during the coming year. As ;• rule, Mr John Murray's Handbooks of Englisj counties are conspicuously inaccurate in tbei. allusions to famous racehorses, if fwhat seldorc happens) they allude to them at all. We finr" however, in his " Handbook of Durham," the Streatlam is correctly credited with havir given birth to many great racehorses, " most r them being descendants; of Queen Mab am.

Beatrice, two mares which were bought there in 1795." With them came John Smith, who had previously trained Lord Strathmore's horses at Esher, in Surrey; and from 1795 to 1808 (when he moved to Middleham, in Yorkshire, as a public trainer, and afterwards to Mickleham, in Surrey, as a private trainer to the Duke of Cleveland) he was in charge of the Streatlam Stud, the junior members of which he trained in the park. " The Druid " tells us that Queen Mab, by Eclipse, walked all the way from E&her to Streatlam, and well repaid the care bestowed 'upon her during the journey. Queen Mab, although she could never be trained, was a fine constitutioned mare, and continued to breed until she was 21 years old. From her and her companion Beatrice, by Sir Peter, are deduced almost all- the glories of the Streatlam haras. Queen Mab was bred by Col. O'Kelly in 1785, and was the daughter of Eclipse and a Tartar mare. Lord Strathmore bought her for £296, and sent her at ten years old to the north. " The Druid " adds that, according to Isaac Walker, who for 40 years was stud groom at Streatlam, and had been Mr Bowes' servant at Cambridge, Queen Mab "was a thick and lengthy 14*3 chestnut, with white maiie and tail, and wide drooping ears." Her bay son, Remembrancer, by Pipator, won the St Leger for Lord Strathmore in 1803, while Cassio, by Sir Peter, ran second for the same race to Fyldener in 1806, and performed brilliantly in the following year. It was, however, through her daughter Remembrance, by Sir Solomon, that Queen Mab's blood descends to Forget-me-not, the dam of Daniel O'Rourke. The three other blue ribbon winners of Streatlam — Mundig, Cotherstone, and West Australian — have a dash of the same strain through Queen Mab's nephew, Hermes, by Mercury, but they are lineally descended from Beatrice, the granddam of Gibside Fairy, who, in 1824, gave birth to Emma, by Whisker, and Emma was the dam of Mundig and Cotherstone, the granddam of West Australian. There is, if we mistake not, no other instance on record of a mare who bred two Derby winners, and was the granddam of a third, although Barbelle produced two colts, Van Tromp and Flying Duchnian, and Pocahantas two others, Stockwell and King Tom, which were undoubtedly the best of their respective years. It is worthy of remark that, like many others of Mr Bowes' mares, Queen Mab, and Beatrice, the tap-roots of his stud, and Emma, their most illustrious descendant, attained a remarkable longevity. Queen Mab was born in 1785, and died in 1807, having given birth to foals every year from 1790 to 1806 inclusive, without intermission. Beatrice, by Sir Peter out of a Matchem mare, was bred by Mr Fenwick of Bywell Hall, in 1791, and produced a foal every year, with two exceptions, from 1797 to 1815 inclusive. Emma, by Whisker, great-granddaughter to Beatrice, was bred by the trustees of Lord Sfcrathmore in 1824, and produced her first foal, Trustee (who was sold -to go to Virginia), in 1829, and her last foal, Ipsus by Epirus, in 1848. Among her progeny were numbered Trustee, Mundig, Mickle Fell, Cotherstone, As You Like It, Mowerina, and Jennala; aud a prouder j record no brood mare in the Stud Book can show. From 1795 to 1808 John Smith trained the Streatlam racehorses in Lord Strathmore's park, and was succeeded in 1808 by Dunn, who had been Smith's head lad, and then by Charles Marson, until Lord Strathmore died in 1820. After that date ao more honses were trained in Streatlam Park; and with the attainment by Mr Bowes of his majority, in 1832, the curtain risesupon the most brilliant epoch of Whitewall and its illustrious trainer, John Scott. And here we may pause to observe that upon each of Mr Bowes' four Derby winners, and upon the salient incidents of their careers, a volume might be written which, if credit were done to the subject.'would nob lightly be thrown aside by racing men. We must compress what we have to say into brief compass. There are few meu still living who saw Mundig win the Derby in 1835, and not too many who saw West Australian wiu in 1853. Of the Mundigiles we can recall . none but Lord Stradbroke, Lord Straff ord, Mr Frederic ßarne, Mr Rudston Read, Col. George Thompson, Mr James Weatherby, Mr Francis Fulller, and Mr Joseph Osborne ; while of men still in the land of the living who witnessed West Australian's triumph in 1853 the roll is already becoming very short. Between the two horses there was as much difference as between chalk and cheese. The legend still runs in Yorkshire that, in pursuance of the dishonest tactics with which Streatlam was supposed to be tainted before Mr Bowes' day, Mundig was a four-year-old when he won the Derby. He had never been seen on a racecourse until that, day, and his dam had produced another colt to Catton in 1831, as well as Muudig to the same horse in 1832. Be that, however, as it jnay — and, for aught we know, Mr Bowes may never even have heard that such a legend existed — Mundig's appearance was such as to justify .suspicions of that kind. He was a stout, slow, hunter-like, mealy chestnut horse, with two big ends, and very high action. John Scott always said that no jockey would ever have won the Derby upon him except " Brother Bill," and the amount of punishment inflicted upon Mundig in the last hundred yards of the race would have provoked appeals- to Mr Colam and his humane society in modern times. It was Nat's first Derby, and the way in which he rode Lord Orford's Ascot, who was beaten a neck by Mundig, made the fortune of the tiny boy who had found his way from Holton St. Mary, iv Suffolk, to Newmarket in 1825, and been admitted to a berth in William Cooper's stables, who trained first for the Duke of York and Mr Greville, aud then for General Peel, Lord Strafford, General Yates, and Captain Gardner. We come next to Emma's other son, Cotherstone, by Touchstone, uporiwhose Derby a gleam of unexpected light has been thrown by the second instalment of "Mr Greville's Memoirs," which has just appeared : " Nothing written for a long time (says Mr Greville in 1843), and for the old reason — the Derby and the racecourse. ... I have been very slightly concerned in this great speculation, but larger sums have been wagered on it than ever were heard of before. George Bentick backed a horse of his called Gaper (and not a good one) to win about £120,000. On the morning of the race the people came to hedge with him, when he laid the odds against him to £7000 — 47,000 to 7000, 1 believe, in all. He had three bets with Kelburne of unexampled amount. He laid Kelburne 13,000 to 7000 on Cotherstoae (the winner) against the British Yeoman, and Kelbourne laid him £16,000 to £2000 against Gaper^The result, I believe, was, to these two noble lords, that George Ben tic won about £9000 and the other lost £6000 or £7000. I have never much inclination to record racing details, though these particulars may not be unamusing or •uninteresting many years hence." This glimpse at the heavy wagers which pushed in 1843 between Lord George Bentick and Lord Kelbourne (afterwards Lord Glasgow) is, refreshing at a moment when all speculation upon horse races seems about to be reduced to " post betting." It vas different in the clays of Lord George Bentinck's prime, when it was easier to

win £100,000 upon the Derby than it is now to laud a tenth of that amount. Wo believe that Lord George stood a heavier stake ux)on Gaper, iv 1843, than was over booked by one man ; although, in 1850, Mr R. M. Jaques and Capt. Bastard — both of them still living — stood £170,000 between them upon Mildew, and in 1853 (West Australian's year) Mr Henry Curzon was understood to have backed Cineas to win £ISO,OOO for the Danebury stable. When in 1843, Sam Rogers, upon Gaper, came first round Tattenham Corner, there were as many quickbeating hearts in the grand stand as ever palpitated upon an English racecourse ; but their agony of suspense was not long protracted. Sweeping down tke hill with giaut strides, Cotherstone soon showed his heels to the twenty-two competitors behind him, and went in first, with Gorhambury, who started at 66 to 1, ami Siriool, at 50 to 1, second and third. A length behind Siricol came Gaper. Tt was the last race that Bill Scott won iv Mr Bowes' colours. When the St. Leger came round Frank Butler was upon Cotherhtone's back, and Jack Holmes upon that of Cotherstone's stable companion, Lord Chesterfield's Prizefighter. At York, Prizefighter had beaten Nutwith by a short head for the Great Yorkshire Stakes, and it was hoped that, with Cotherstone out of the way, Prizefighter might win the St. Leger. Lord Glasgow had laid some heavy bets against him to Lord Chesterfield and Colonel Auson, and Frank Butler received orders to ride Cotherstone so as to let Prizefighter win if possible. But for the resolute riding and dauntless nerve of Job Marson upon Nutwith, the plot would probably ha ?e succeeded. Marson rode his horse — a very game animal — so as to divide Cotherstone and Prizefighter. Frauk Butler came too late upon the former, and Marsden defeated him by a head, Prizefighter being a neck behind Cotherstone. It was one of the best races that Lord Glasgow ever had,, and was additionally noticeable as showing the easy-going nonchalant disposition of Mr Bowes. The St. Leger was undoubtedly lost to him by the stable chicanery which sought to win it with Prizefighter, and Mr Bowes would have been abundantly justified if he had followed the course pursued, without any reason, by the Marquis of Westminster when he won the St. Leger of 1841 with Satirist, and immediately removed his horses from John Scott's stable. In 1843 Mr Bowes took no such step, and from 1832 until 1871, when John Scott died, there never was the slightest misunderstanding between them. Eventful and sensational as was the Derby of 1843, it was far surpassed by that of 1852. With tha exception of the. extraordinarily stormy day which saw Mr Thornhill's Sailor win the Derby of IS3O, no such temps tie chien ever came out of the heavens as saluted the visitors tv Epsom upon the occasion of Daniel O'Rourke's Derby victory. The ocean of mud was fatal to Mr Padwick's Little Harry, a much better horse than Daniel upon dry ground ; and the words of undeserved rebuke addressed by Mr Merry to his jockey Sharpe are popularly believed to have disposed of Hobbie Noble's chance. Lord Exeter's magnificent colt Stockwell had been gravely amiss between the Two Thousand and Derby, and what Kingston was about upon that memorable day has never transpired. Suffice it to say, that when the race at the distance was seen to lie between bhree outsiders — Daniel O'Rourke, Barbarian, and Chief Baron Nicholson — the astonishment was as great as when, in 1834, Touchstone dropped from the clouds and ran away with the St. Leger. When Daniel O'Rourke passed the winning post al ong aud anxious pause intervened before the numbers went up. During that brief agony of suspense it was generally believed that Barbarian, the Iribh horse, had won. He was bred by Mr Bradshaw, a distiller, who lived just outside of the Marquis of Downshire's park in county Down. Convinced that Barbarian, had won; the warm-hearted marquis kicked his white napless hat into the air, and when it came down " Number 10 " apprised him that Daniel O'Roifrke, not Barbarian, had secured the prize. It was the last Derby ever judged by the father of Mr J. F. Clark, who now fills the responsible position of " man in the box," and a more exciting finish for the Derby was certainly never witnessed.

A few words must now be bestowed by us, in conclusion, upon West Australian, the grandest horse ever trained at Whitewall, except Velocipedo. At Doncaster in 1852 Lord Derby's Longbow, aged three years, met Lord Clifden'b Pelion, aged two, in the Eglinton Stakes, and gave him 321b. With the greatest difficulty Pelion — beautifully ridden by John Charlton — beat Frank Butler upon Longbow by a head. The latter was then 'taken back to Whitevvall, and in a few weeks was tried thrice with West Australian, then two years old. The first trial was at 2Slb, and the young horse won ; the second at 211b, and he won again ; the third at 161b, and he won easier than ever. No wonder that Frank Butler's face grew long when he heard that John Scott had brought Mr Bowes' big bay to Newmarket to run for the Criterion. Thinking that West Australian would not run at all as a two-year-old, Butler had backed Mr Gratwicke's Sittingbourne, trained by William Butler, for £300, for the Criterion, and he knew that his money was gone. With a very ill grace he resigned his mount upon Sittingbourne to Sam Rogers, and got into the saddle to ride West Australian, upon whom he finished a bad third. What happened in the race it is not for us to say, except that Sittingbourne was not able to beat Mr Payne's Speed the Plough, who was served by the heavy ground. Upon the following Thursday West Australian had his revenge. In the Glasgow Stakes — again ridden by Frank Butler, who backed him heavily — he made an example of the winner of the Criterion. Next year he carried away the Two Thousand, Derby, and St. Leger, and although Mr Bowes was naturally proud of one of the best horses that ever looked through a bridle, he never took enough interest in him to see him run for a single race. The incidents which happened before the St. Leger of 1853, when Frank Butler, by the advice of Fred Swindell, was carpeted before Lord Derby and Gen. Anson, have often been told.

We have no space to follow Mr Bowes' many other winners into detail, beyond saying that with the exception of Hetrnan, Platof, and Epirus, every good horse that ever carried the black and gold jacket was bred at Streatlam. Neither is it in our power to describe the wonderful building — which, partly with a view to spite his successor, the present Earl of Strathmore — Mr Bowes has erected at Barnard Castle as a mausoleum, in which he and his first wife, the Countess of Montalbo, are to lie. The chapel connected with the Bowes Museum is not yet completed, and in the interim the remains of the Countess of Montalbo repose at Gibside. She died in 1874, and two years later Mr Bowes, aged 65, married another French lady, with whom his matrimonial alliance has not been .so fortunate as in the case of his first wife. For tho last two years, which he passed entirely in France, his health had been obviously declining, and he resolved at last to repair to Streatlam, in order to die in the home where he had fii\>fc seen the light. lie leaver behind him the reputation of having been one of the most

princely and upright supporters that the turf has ever boasted ; and when visitors to Streatlam walk along the north passage and survey the long gallery of great racehorses, chiefly from the brushes of Herring and Harry Hall, suspended upon its wells, they will have little difficulty in understand that it will be long before the memory of John Bowes fades away in these sporting islands.

This article text was automatically generated and may include errors. View the full page to see article in its original form.
Permanent link to this item
Bibliographic details
Word Count

DEATH OF MR JOHN BOWES. (The Field.) Otago Witness, Issue 1778, 19 December 1885

  1. New formats

    Papers Past now contains more than just newspapers. Use these links to navigate to other kinds of materials.

  2. Hierarchy

    These links will always show you how deep you are in the collection. Click them to get a broader view of the items you're currently viewing.

  3. Search

    Enter names, places, or other keywords that you're curious about here. We'll look for them in the fulltext of millions of articles.

  4. Search

    Browsed to an interesting page? Click here to search within the item you're currently viewing, or start a new search.

  5. Search facets

    Use these buttons to limit your searches to particular dates, titles, and more.

  6. View selection

    Switch between images of the original document and text transcriptions and outlines you can cut and paste.

  7. Tools

    Print, save, zoom in and more.

  8. Explore

    If you'd rather just browse through documents, click here to find titles and issues from particular dates and geographic regions.

  9. Need more help?

    The "Help" link will show you different tips for each page on the site, so click here often as you explore the site.