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The History of the Linlithgow and Stirlingshire Hunt 1775-1910
Chapter X.
Captasin George Clerk Cheape of Wellfield, Mr Adam Paterson Cross


1887-1895.

To hunt the country two days a-week, to become resident in the district and take an active interest in the well-being of the Hunt, to purchase the pack, keep it up to a proper standard and, finally, give the refusal of it to the hunt committee, were the principal conditions on which the management was entrusted to Captain Cheape upon the retirement of Mr Menzies in 1887.

Captain Cheape, who had served with the 11th Hussars, was master of the West of Fife Hounds from 1878, when Sir Arthur Halkett retired, to 1882, and again from 1885, when Mr H. E. Wemyss' management expired, to 1887. Throughout these seasons he had hunted hounds himself, —Jack Shepherd being his kennel-huntsman and first whipper-in during the earlier period, and James Beavan during the later. Beavan, who had formerly been with the East Kent, Lord Fitzwilliam's, the Morpeth and the Cattistock, now accompanied his master to West Lothian, as huntsman, while Edward Cotesworth, who had gained six years' experience with the Old Berkeley (West), the Aibrighton and the Goodwood packs, was en- gaged as first whipper-in.

When arrangements with the hunt committee had been concluded, Captain Cheape leased Gogar House near the kennels, and made that his home for a time. During the three years in which he was in office, the strength of the pack was largely maintained by drafts, the most important of which, in point of numbers, were got from Sir Bache Cunard and the Fitzwilliam, and the most useful from the Blankney, the Atherstone, and Captain Johnstone. In the summer of 1887 the kennels at Golfhall held over eighty couples of hounds, including the drafts then purchased, and from these Captain Cheape and Beavan formed the pack for the following season. Among the draft hounds got from Sir Bache Cunard were Dislocate (1887) by the Oakley Rhymer (1882)— his Dimple (1883); his Beauty (1888) by Belvoir Forecast—his Bertha (1882); and Rompish (1888) by his Racer (1883)—his Rosslyn (1885), all of which were afterwards bred from. The Blankuey bitches, although few in number, were noted for their work, and their Fairy (1883) by Belvoir Fencer (1880)—Blankney Beauty (1877), became the dam of Grateful (1891), and thus a forebear of the Genitor (1896) family, so much valued by Cotesworth at a later period. The Atherstone draft included their Trusty (1881), by their Traitor (1876)—their Ladybird (1878), an old but reliable hound and the sire of the four sisters Fallacy, Fanciful, Forcible, and Frantic (1888), two of which distinguished themselves in the field in their first season. But no greater good was accomplished than through using the dog-hounds got from Captain Johnstone,—Trueman (1884), and Templar (1888) in particular,—whose blood ran strong in the pack between the years 1890 and 1900, and is still to be found in nearly all the home-bred hounds at the present day.

The harvest of 1887 having been comparatively an early one, cub-hunting was begun on the 1st of September, and by the end of the following month the pack had been well blooded and the country fairly overtaken. During that time Captain Cheape had given satisfaction to landlord and tenant alike, and when regular hunting commenced he was in the proud position of being able to say that there was not a farmer in the district who was not well disposed towards the Hunt.' Having gained the good opinion of the agriculturist, he was at some pains to retain it, and with the view of preventing all avoidable damage in the field, he addressed those who met him at Riccarton House on the 12th of November. Speaking in the interest of the farmer, he desired them to remember that in following his hounds they were riding over land which was valuable—land to which damage was more easily done and perhaps less easily repaired than in other districts—and asked them to help him by doing as little injury as possible to crops and fences. He also stated that if injury were done to these, he would repair it, and would send in the bills to those who caused it. Then, wishing every one good sport, he gave Beavan the order to put hounds into covert. An hour or two later one of the field, Mr F. C. Grey, riding all timber-Jumper, was caught in the act of breaking a gate, and was there and then fined half-a-sovereign. But in exacting this penalty Captain Cheape had no motive beyond the prevention of damage, and when Christmas came round the offender received from the master the present of a pair of spurs, accompanied by the kindly wish that with their help he would be able to jump over gates and not through them.

From now until the time when he was promoted to the buntsman's place two years later, Cotesworth, who wrote, as indeed he also spoke, extremely well and fluently, was the most regular chronicler of the work of the pack. The articles which he as "Croppie Boy" contributed to the columns of 'Horse and Hound' are bright and pleasant to read, and from them and other sources of information a few instances of the sport shown may be given. On the 22nd of November, hounds ran nicely from the coverts on the Braes o' Mar by Longmuir and B'orinie to Lochcote,—a point of some five miles,—Beavan and the first whipper-in lying well with them, Miss Mackenzie, the late Mr W. J. Drybrough, and Mr C. T. Menzies a field or so behind, and the rest " nowhere " ; while, on the 6th of the following month, much patient work on the part of hounds and huntsman was displayed in a slow hunt from the same coverts, the line taken lying by Little Ochiltree, Longmuir, and Wairdlaw to the Witch craig, and thence to Bangour. After the coming of the new year, on the 10th of January, there was "a bright thirty minutes from Ormiston gorse"; on the 10th of March, sixty minutes of the best, from Cairnpapple to Longmuir and from that nearly straight to Walihouse craigs, with as good a cry as there had been all season; and on the 21st of January and the 24th of March, two hard days from fixtures at Uphall inn. Thus the season of 1887 passed as many others have, without any real "red-letter" days, but nevertheless with much genuine sport, sometimes in a good country, sometimes in a bad, and often in a rough one.

On the 17th of June 1888, just four years from the time when the Hunt had been deprived of the services of Mr Home, it received another serious blow through the death of Colonel Gillon, whose zeal in every matter which pertained to the hunting of the country has to some extent been described in these pages. When next the committee met they took the opportunity of recording "their deep sense of the very great loss which they as well as all those interested in the Hunt have sustained owing to the death of Colonel Gillon of Wall- house, who, since the year 1844, has been, from his genial manner and sound judgment, one of the most popular and prominent supporters of the Hunt."

During the period in which Colonel Gillon and afterwards his son Captain Gillon were in possession of the estate, the coverts at Wallhouse seldom failed to hold, and were generally full of foxes; nor were they drawn in vain when hounds met there on the 8th of December 1888. Still it was not until B'orinie was reached that the sport of the day really began, and that the old fox which provided it, and which it is said had outwitted Atkinson as well as Beavan on several occasions, was put on his legs. Breaking covert to the east, hounds picked out the line, with a somewhat too eager field behind them, and with anything but a good scent, as far as Broomieknowes. There they were at fault, but Beavan put them right and they hunted up to Longmuir, and thence back to B'ormie. Leaving this a second time they went on under Cockleroi with Belsyde on their left and by Williamscraig to Preston, where, getting on better terms with their fox, they began to run as if they meant it, and continued to do so by Nether Parkley and Parkley craigs to Nancy's hill. From that point to the finish it was best pace all the way and hard work to live with them as they raced by Ochilti'ee Castle, Riccarton, and Broomieknowes back once more to B'ormie, close to which, at the end of a good hunt of two hours and a half, they marked their fox to ground. By candle - light he was dug down to, bolted and killed, his brush being bestowed on Mrs Shanks, the farmer's wife who had holloaed him away in the morning, and who stayed to see the finish.' It was in this run that Mr W. J. Drybrough, riding his horse The Dream, leaped the Preston march-wall, a performance so remarkable that it deserves description, and "Croppie Boy" shall tell the tale as he told it at the time. "But what is this in front? The Preston march-dyke, a wall like the side of a house, built with mortar and with square, uncompromising coping stones on top. There is no disgrace in turning from this obstacle, for it is all but utterly unjumpable, so we go round. But the well-known rider of the grey means to have a whet at it, and with three mighty bounds the horse, with 16 st. on top of him, launched clear over nearly six feet of solid masonry. On the other side is a drop, measured next day, of fourteen feet some odd inches, so of course they fall—in fact, the horse's hind legs never touched the ground, but he landed on his fore legs and head and rolled over, sending his rider prospecting, but on the right side of the fence—no mean feat early in the day before the first gloss is off horse and man, and when the performance is towards the close of a hard day [as this was], the merit is enhanced, and is, any way, early or late, on a jar with the celebrated jump of Squire Tom Smith of Hambledon fame, who, when master of the Craven, rode his horse General over a park wall six feet two inches in height, the rest of the field riding under when they got the postern gate open. In both cases the horse fell on landing, but the squire was hurt and our man was not, beyond a shaking, and in both cases the performer was chary of speaking of his deed; but this will be spoken of and received with incredulity, long after we have been ferried over the unjumpable Styx to hunt in pastures Elysian."

It should be added perhaps, that when coming down to the wall, Mr Drybrough called out to a man who was sitting or standing upon it, "What's on the other side?", that The Dream, who never hesitated an instant, was in the air before his owner received the reply, "Ye canna jump here," and that after their fall horse and rider picked themselves up at once, and went on to the finish.

Before the season ended, however, there was a harder day than the one just described—perhaps the hardest in Captain Cheape's mastership up to the date on which it took place, the 9th of March (1 889)—since hounds ran almost continuously, and never slowly, for the space of three hours and ten minutes, although they changed foxes more than once. Cathiaw was the fixture, and the hunt began at Lougmuir, whence hounds ran by Bangour, Diuincross, Craigs and Limefield to Ballencrieffe which they reached in thirty-five minutes time. There they flashed over the line, but recovering it, carried it through Cairnpapple, and after a turn by the Bishopbrae strips, ran back to within a couple of fields of West Bangour, many of the field having ere this had to cry "Enough" Turning back through Bangour, the fox was viewed repeatedly as he led hounds by the Silvermines, Craig- mauling, and Walrdlaw to B'orrnie, from which, finding no shelter, he was pursued to Longmuir, and from that again, with the pace undiminished, by the Wilderness strip and over much of the line taken in the morning to Druincross, where hounds were stopped.

It was about this time that the golden or Three- mile-town fox came upon the scene in the full vigour of life, and well does he deserve particular mention, inasmuch as no other, it may safely be stated, provided such sport as he did. Born in the earths on the canal-banks near Three-mile-town in 1886, he is said to have been hunted by Atkinson, Beavan, Cotesworth, R. Cotesworth, and Mr Cross, in turn, and since, because of his colour,—always "bright as a new guinea when he first broke cover," he could not easily be mistaken, it is probable that such was the case. When first hunted by Cotes- worth, who got the horn on Beavan's accepting service under Lord Eglinton in 1889, he had not as yet attained much notoriety, and it was, perhaps, only after the run of the 28th of January 1890, that his reputation was fully established. On that occasion, as on many others this season, R. Cotes- worth, who was then living at Golfhall, hunted hounds, for Cotesworth had had the misfortune to break his collar-bone when jumping a fence near Dalmahoy some weeks before. Hopetoun House was the fixture, and it was late in the afternoon when hounds were put into the coverts at Threemile-town. Finding at once, they broke across the Linlithgow road towards Lampinsdub, but turning left-handed, recrossed the road and went on by Auldcathie and the earths which the fox knew so well, to Fawnspark. Then they went away, crossed the Linlithgow road for the third time, and passing the farms of Waterstone and Drumfortli, reached the policies at Binny. To the south of the park, Cotesworth, on wheels and with his arm in a sling, viewed the fox as he crossed the road and waved the field onwards as hounds took the line over and carried it by East Broadlaw towards Forkneuk close to the village of Uphall. From that they turned right-handed and, skirting The Law, ran on by Burnbrae and through the roundels at Craigbinning pointing for the coverts at Bangour. Turning again, however, they crossed the Bathgate road, and racing over the old grass on Dechmont bill, entered the strips below the mansion-house. This was the furthest point touched, for hounds now swung back, recrossed the Batbgate road, and brushing through the Moss covert, ran up to Prumcross where, at ten minutes past five, in moonlight, they were whipped off the line.' The distance as the crow flies from Auldcathie to Dechmont is not much over five miles, but as hounds ran it was probably little short of twelve, while as the pace was very fast throughout, the field was considerably tailed. Mr Blackwood, who was acting as master in Captain Cheape's absence, and was riding a son of his old mare Lady Emma, previously mentioned, had a bad fall which prevented him going on. Mr C. T. Menzies, Mr Hugh Mosman and many others got no further than the Bath- gate road where hounds first crossed it, and Mr Robert Usher saw no more of the hunt after his mare Constance stopped with him on Dechmont bill, where, in spite of all his efforts to save her, she died a few hours afterwards. But it was a fine hunt for all that, and although hounds and bunts- man had again been defeated, there was consolation if not actual joy in the thought that the golden fox lived to run another day.

Turning from the sport to one or two other matters deserving of mention—the terms upon which Captain Cheape had continued in office this season (1889) differed somewhat from those originally arranged. Instead of receiving all subscriptions, and defraying all expenses as before, it was agreed that a sum of 1000 should be paid over to him towards meeting the cost of maintaining the establishment, and that any surplus over that sum should be handed to a special committee, to be administered in defraying the expenses connected with coverts and in settling claims for damage. This committee, which was guaranteed a sum of 300 by Lord Hopetoun and several other subscribers, consisted, as originally formed, of Mr G. F. Melville, Mr Blackwood, Mr Drybrough, Mr A. Dudgeon, Easter Dalmeny; Mr G. B. Glendinning, Hatton Mains; Mr Lesslie, Boghall; Mr A. Reid, The Raining; Mr R. Stark, New Farm; Mr Usher, and Mr George Younger; and although contributions came in readily enough, the fund was materially increased through the help of Mr C. T. Menzies and Mr Hugh Mosman, who got many a sovereign and half-sovereign as well as sums of smaller amount from their friends in the hunting field. By the autumn of 1889, Lord Hopetoun had received the appointment of Governor of Victoria. This necessitated his resignation as chairman of the Hunt committee, a position which he had held since the year 1880, and Colonel Shairp of Houstoun was unanimously chosen as his successor, while Lord Torphichen's name was added to the list of members. A few months later, Captain Cheape tendered his resignation, and early in February (1890) vent to America on business, leaving Mrs Cheape, with the help of' Colonel Anstruther Thomson, to take charge of affairs until such time as hunting should come to an end. Meantime the committee was occupied with the filling up of the vacancy created by his retirement, and although Mr G. F. Melville might have had the honour of being master had he so chosen, and Mr Usher and Mr George Younger had indicated their willingness to come forward jointly, the matter was set at rest by the coin- mission of the management to Mr Cross on terms similar to those upon which it had first been entrusted to Captain Cheape. But whereas Captain Cheape had been owner of the pack in toto, Mr Cross was so only to the extent of one- third; for the committee, using the reserve fund which had accumulated in their hands since the beginning of Mr Russel's second season, now purchased the other two-thirds on behalf of the country.

The area overtaken at this time was very much the same as the present one, except that it extended on the east rather farther into Mid-Lothian. Thus foxes are known to have been killed in Barnton park as late as in Mr Cross's mastership; but what were coverts in 1895 are not so now, and the place is no longer hunted. In the autumn of 1907, however, Barnton received a visit from the hounds, for Morgan, the present huntsman, took them there one morning when at exercise, and after seeing the old house, kennels, and riding-school, woke the echoes with his horn. During Mr Cross's first season, Cotesworth hunted the hounds as he had in Captain Cheap's last, but sport was much interfered with by frost, and Colonel Shairp's death, on the 30th of January 1891, necessitated a short period of inactivity. From the beginning of his second season until the end of his mastership in 1895, Mr Cross carried the horn himself, and in Cotesworth lie had an excellent kennel-huntsman and first whipper-in, and in Harry Naiden  an able second. It was then that home-breeding on a more extensive scale than formerly was resorted to, and although some drafts were got, and notably one from the Grafton in 1893, these were comparatively few, and the entry each year consisted mainly of hounds bred at Golfhall. In this, Mr Cross and Cotesworth worked together, and although the former was always fond of hounds, and spent much of his spare time in the kennel, the greater part of the credit for any good which was accomplished should be given to Cotesworth. Of the matrons of the pack, those most deserving of mention were Sybil (1887), the sisters Fallacy, Fanciful, and Forcible (1888), Speedwell (1889), Relish (1890), Grateful (1891), Tranquil (1891), and Blissful (1894) ; while the principal sires were Captain Johnstone's Trueman (1884) and his Templar (1888) before referred to, the Lanarkshire and Renfrewshire Playmate (1884), the Duke of Buccleuch's General (1886), and last, but only so because they were used least, Belvoir Gordon (1886) and their Nominal (1888).

With the country as full of foxes as it was then, it was often impossible to prevent hounds when in chase changing from the line of one fox to that of another, and some long, although necessarily rather unsatisfactory, hunts were the result. One of these took place on the the 19th of December 1891 when, after meeting at Uphall inn, a fixture generally attended with sport, hounds ran almost without interruption for over four hours. During that time at least three foxes were hunted, and the country between West Bangour and Carribber was crossed, recrossed, and crossed again before hounds were stopped at Cairnpapple at dark, and the large field which had met in the morning was reduced to two besides the master and Hunt servants.' If Mr Cross had not hunted the golden fox before the 13th of February 1892, he had the good fortune to (10 so on that date, with no indifferent scent and with an open country before him from Champfleurie. But it was not in "the laurels," rendered famous in consequence of the number of good runs which had taken place from them in the past, and the mention made of them by The Druid, that he was found, for he waited not for that. Hounds got his line near the shale works to the south of the Liulithgow road, and at once beginning to race, streamed away past Ochiltree, over the Oatridge country with its double fences to Binny Craig and thence towards the Uphall road. Before reaching it they turned short back by Binny to Hangingside where, owing to more than one fresh fox having crossed the line, they had to be handled before they again settled down to run the one they had been hunting which, with back up and brush trailing, now led them by Waterstone and Lampinsdub to time familiar earths on the banks of the canal at Three-mile-town. These being closed against him, he was forced on by Mounthoolie and Philpstoun moor to Whitequarries, at the west end of Hopetoun big wood, and although hounds divided at this point, they subsequently worked out the line towards Winchburgh and from that back to the coverts at Three-mile-town, where further pursuit was abandoned.1 In the following season, one of the largest fields ever seen in the country assembled at Dundas Castle on the morning of the 17th of December after the Hunt ball, and again the golden fox provided the run which, if shorter than usual, was none the less sweet while it lasted. With its valour suppressed—the result of an unsatisfactory morning's sport—the field was as full of dash and drive as the pack it followed from the coverts at Three-mile-town; and of grief there was plenty as hounds sped over the Braes o' Mar and across the Oatridge steeplechase course to Binny craig and thence, after a check, to Craigbinning, where darkness put an end to the hunt. But the days of this good fox were numbered, and only once more did he cross the country with hounds on his line. This befell on the 28th of the following month (January 1893) when after a frost of some three weeks, Bridge Castle happened to be the fixture. About mid-day hounds were put into Longmuir, from which two foxes were holloaed away simultaneously, one to the east, and the other —the golden fox—to the south. Hounds came quickly out of covert, and there was life in the chase as, crossing the Stank, they ran UI) to Bank- head and from that by the Wilderness at Blackcraig towards Craigbinning. Bearing right-handed they went on by the Bangour strips, the Silvermines and Cairnpapple to Bishopbrae, before they were brought to a check. Recovering the line almost at once, they carried it through Cathlaw, over the Torphichen hills, past the old church—in early times the preceptory of the Knights of St John—and down to Walibouse policies, where the fox was viewed almost dead-heat. Nevertheless, he struggled on as far as the banks of the Avon, but his strength failed him as he went, and he was pulled down in the open outside the Desert and close to the bridge across the river. Who-whoop! and all was over although when set upon his legs by Mr Cross he seemed to laugh at hounds as they bayed around him, just as he may be supposed to have done on previous occasions, when the victory had been on his side. His brush was presented to Miss Aitken, now Mrs C. T. Menzies, who, as usual, rode well all through the run, and his mask to Mr Stark by whom he was holloaed away from Longmuir.

One other instance of the sport which took place during Mr Cross's mastership may be given. A stormy morning saw hounds at Alderstone on the 14th of March in the same year (1893), and it seemed as if a scent were impossible. But that was not wanting when, in the afternoon, Dechmont moss came to be drawn, and the Wallhouse fox which that covert held set his mask for home. When hounds went away there was no time to lose, for they were soon racing, heads up and sterns down, over "the galloping pastures of green Dechmont hill," and even after the Bathgate road had been crossed and Drumcross reached, the pace was as before, and those who rode the line had to do their best to keep in touch with the pack. From Drum- cross they went on to the strips at Bangour, from these in a bee-line to Cairnpapple, and so to Wallhouse craigs where an open earth saved the life of a good fox.' Few saw this hunt, perhaps not more than a dozen, but among the number were Mr Cross, Captain Day, and Mr William Younger, the last of whom had bidden some friends to dine with him before going to a ball that evening. Between the dinner hour appointed and the return of their host at 9.30, the waiting guests had the comforting assurance of the butler that his master must certainly have been "fatally injured," since he had never before been known to be so late in getting home from hunting. But this good run had its rough as well as its smooth side, for The Dream, the horse which had so gallantly leaped the Preston march-wall, broke down and was never really hunted again, although his owner kept him for over a year rather than destroy him. When eventually he did so, he had his hide, which was as white as snow, perserved, and although, through the lapse of time, it has since become discoloured, it is still cared for by an ardent admirer of the old horse.

Of the sport shown at this period Mr Alexander Dudgeon, Humbie, had his share, for he was a good man to hounds and hunted regularly in spite of advancing years. In Paddy, a horse which as a four-year-old had fetched 400 guineas, but which owing to a slight blemish had become his property for a comparatively small sum, he had as good a hunter as any man could wish for, and it is probable that some of the happiest hours of his life were passed on the back of this four-footed friend. But no day could ever have been more completely his than the 10th of March 1893, on which, when sixty-three years of age, he won the Hunt point-to-point race for the third time in succession, riding the same good animal in a field of twenty-one.1 So thoroughly did his friends appreciate him as a horseman and good sportsman, and so much were they gratified by his success, that they presented him with a memento of his performance in the shape of a silver bowl which, it must have pleased him to know, had been subscribed for chiefly by those who had ridden against him.

Through the generous conduct of two of the members of his field, Mr Cross was guaranteed a subscription of 1600 in the second last, and again in the last, season of his mastership. The matter was arranged informally, and it is therefore alluded to here only with the view of giving to the guarantors, Mr Usher and Mr William Younger, the credit they deserved; for had it not been for their kindly offices iii this respect there might have been some difficulty in inducing Mr Cross to remain in office.' The first of these seasons,2 although it passed pleasantly enough, was not productive of any hunt equal to that which compassed the death of the golden fox, or the one from Dechmont to Wallhouse, but the second began brightly, and the sport which resulted from the fixture at the Binns on the 30th of October 1894 was set down as the best which any opening day had brought forth for several seasons. Other good hunts followed, including one on the 3rd of November over an unusual line—from Cairnpapple to The Haining,—but as the last days of the old year flickered out there set in a frost so keen and so enduring, that hounds were unable to take the field until the 9th of March following. Thus Mr Cross's mastership was robbed of the satisfactory finish which it deserved, for his had been a good reign, and none can gainsay time statement that he was one of the best masters which the Hunt has had in the later days of its existence. On his resignation in 1895, he was presented with a piece of silver plate by the members of his field, and was unanimously appointed a permanent member of the Hunt committee,' an honour which had never before and has not since been conferred on any master who was only an ex officio member of that body while the greeting which he still receives from the farmers and others in the country whose friendship or acquaintance he made iii the course of his term of office, speak of a regard duly formed and not to be lost through absence or the lapse of years.


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