James Hutchings

James Hutchings  of Exeter [ 1853 - 1902 ]  Solicitor & insurance agent

Maybe James Hutchings had business contacts with the ultimate breed enthousiast Harry De Spencer Kingdon  [1816 - 1904] , both being insurance agents and living in the neighbourhood of Exeter .

In 1873 this HD Kingdon wrote a long pamphlet about the ‘ The Old English Mastiff ’ wherein he exalted the Lyme Hall race and despising most of the other  specimens as  foul crossings p. ex. between the foreign boarhound and the Bulldog . Two years later J Hutchings’ first litter was born out of Storm         [ Cromwell x Countess ] sired by Brindled Pluto , bred & owned by HD Kingdon’ arch-enemy MB Wynn  ! Also his next two litters were sired by MB Wynn’ Brindled Pluto .

James Hutchings’ office adress , 25 Gandy street Exeter [ a small shopping street ] was very near the huge cathedral , but he also took up residence a mile south of Exeter at his Laurel Cottage , Alphington . Many literary figures have had associations with the city . Charles Dickens [1812-1870] visited Exeter regularly , and rented Mile End Cottage - Alphington from 1839 until 1843 for his parents . He thought the area to be ‘ the most beautiful in this most beautiful of English counties ’ . He wrote the opening chapters of Nicholas Nickleby at Mile End Cottage .

Until June 1894 , James Hutchings bred some forty KCSB Mastiff litters , more than any other breeder in those hey-day of the breed , using a/o home studs Prince Charlie  [ full brother to champions Crown Prince & Prince Regent ] & Gwalior [ brindle brother to ch Pontiff ] ; he also used Mark H Beaufoy’ studs  ch’s Nero & Beau and WK Taunton’ ch Beaufort ; nevertheless on the whole , he wasn’t very successful at the major yearly shows of Birmingham & London [Crystal Palace & Alexandra Palace] , a/o because quite a number of Mastiffs from his kennels were brindles , a then not so commonly favoured colour .

One of them was ‘Heavitree Turk’ b Jan 1890  out of Beaumaris’ dau Exeter Donna sired by Prince Charlie’ grandson E- Brigadier (Prince Charlie brother to ch Crown Prince) . Heavitree Turk got a 3rd prize at Exeter ’95 beaten by by Mr FF Mason’ Wallenstein (by ch Hotspur & Mr James Hutchings’ Exeter Pompey) , the latter grandsired by Hutchings’ front dog Prince Charlie' son Admiral . That Heavitree Turk was owned by Mr C H Edmonds of Mote Lodge , Heavitree - Exeter , his wife Mrs C (E) Edmonds is recorded as a ‘painter’and  Royal Academy Exhibitor' , one of her works being No 1344 'Cottages at St Minver, North Cornwall' .

One of the best results by one of his ‘Exeter’ kennels was  his dark brindle Admiral [ ch Prince Regent’ brother Prince Charlie x Exeter Dulce] winning a 1st prize at Birmingham December 1887 under the all-rounder judge Major Harding-Cox [Newick~Sussex]  who wrote ~ The dog class was moderate in quality but there were many entries . After some consideration , I placed James Hutchings’ Admiral first ; he is a good dog , but has a somewhat sour expression .’

 Some months earlier at Ranelagh [July 1887] MB Wynn reported as  ~ ‘ Admiral [Beaufort excepted] , the heaviest and best bodied dog in the show , seems a trifle weak in one of his hocks, and is spoilt by his pointed [but not long] muzzle , in line of profile looking wedge-shaped rather than square , and possessing no pendulosity of lip to cover it . In fact , what with his capital skull, he possesses a type of head far too common in low bred pug dogs , a type of head that cannot be too well guarded against in a Mastiff dog .’ At Birmingham 1888 it was James Hutchings himself awarding the prizes to ch and his dam ch The Lady Isabel . In conclusion he wrote a/o ~ ‘ We must also try and get rid of large thick ears , which prove disfiguring to many heads that are good . As an old breeder of brindles I rejoice to see that Mastiffs of that colour hold their own with the hitherto more fashionable fawns.’

His last litter was in June 1894 out of Beatrice sired by Boanerges, resulting in a/o Boss  [owned by CA Rowe , Canons Marsh , Bristol] who got back to Mark H Beaufoy’ illustrious champion Beau along all his grandparents , namely Beaufort f 1 , Bura   f 3  , Noble f 3  and ‘an unnamed bitch’ by Babrius f2 & f 4 out of Fuchsia f4 , certainly an unequalled record of Beau’ linebreeding .

His last litter was in June 1894 out of Beatrice sired by Boanerges , resulting in a/o Boss  [owned by CA Rowe , Canons Marsh , Bristol] who got back to Mark H Beaufoy’ illustrious champion Beau along all his grandparents , namely Beaufort f 1 , Bura   f 3  , Noble f 3  and ‘an unnamed bitch’ by Babrius f2 & f 4 out of Fuchsia f4 , certainly an unequalled record of Beau’ linebreeding . James Hutchings’ last KCSB entries were in 1896 at the yearly Exeter Dog Show with Exeter Columbine & Exeter Marchioness .

James Hutchings may have been an enthusiastic exhibitor as in 1886 he entered his Admiral  b '84 at the Nimrod  show 1886 at Rotterdam - The Netherlands , but perhaps , like others , also enticed by the many and valuable prizes [ 6500 fl equal to £500 ]  , so for the first time really good specimens from England came over .  Admiral [together with Richard Cook’ Imperial Chancellor b '83 & Joseph Evans' Brahma b '83] was chosen by the canine journal ‘ The Stock-Keeper ‘ [see issue February 1898] under the editorship of George Krehl as an example for a breed portrait which certainly was an honour to his ‘ Exeter ‘ kennels , also famous for breeding ducks ...

A Goose Plaque in Ide Lane - Alphington , quite near to Laurel Cottage N° 47 resided by Exeter Mastiff breeder & solicitor Mr James Hutchings who bred also ducks so perhaps there’s a connection vs the Goose Plaque ; thatched ‘Laurel Cottage’ is Listed Grade II and the English Heritage notes state it dates from the early 19th Century ;  the brick garden wall is also Listed in its own right & dates from a similar age . The property has a wealth of period features , befitting a quality house of this era .

The house has over 2,000 sq ft of accommodation . Off the hall is a fine sitting room with open fireplace and French windows to the garden . The dining room has a sash window and fine slate floor . Both these rooms enjoy a wonderful outlook out to the secluded walled garden. Beyond is a kitchen with quarry tiled floor and doorway out to the attractive cobbled courtyard at the end of the house . At the rear is a utility room and cloakroom . At the other end of the house is a study and beyond that a family room with French windows to the main garden plus side window . On the first floor , off the landing  , is the master bedroom suite with French windows with Juliette balcony, an interesting curved wall and steps down to a nursery/dressing room and off this an ensuite bathroom .

A pedestrian gate leads from the quiet Ide Lane into the front garden . Draped over the front of the house is a fine Wisteria . There is a large sweeping lawn with specimen shrubs and trees including fine Magnolias .

Based upon the KC Stud Books Mr Hutchings was the most prolific breeder of the Victorian era , ie he bred thirty-nine Mastiff litters between May ’75 and June ’94 or about two per year . Zooming in one particular period , June – August ‘87  , the KCSB mention four Hutchings’ litters but the Kennel Gazette of September ’87 data covering that same lapse of time present an entry of not less than ten Hutchings’ litters born, numbering 114 (mainly brindle) pups , that within only eighty-three days . Not sure , but this seems to be an outstanding feature in all time Mastiff breeding .

1887 was the year of Queen Victoria’ Golden Jubilee who acceded to the throne on 20 June ‘37. So perhaps it was his way of ‘contributing’ to the celebrations by the Exeter people who created decorated arches at different places in Exeter city , held swimming matches , Cathedral services , tea & entertainment for elementary children and a fireworks display in Belmont Park .

If one theoretically presumes an identical proportion of litters between KCSB - vs Kennel Gazette registrations , then the outcome may be Mr Hutchings bred a total of some hundred litters , that in the knowledge Mastiffs of the brindle coloring weren’t that fashionable in Hutchings' days wherein only proportionally few brindles were made up champion, that opposite to the following decade mastered by the brindles going back to that splendid ch Ogilvie , a/o his grandson ch Peter Piper & many others .

From the Stock-Keeper May 96 - 'Mr James Hutchings is gradually dispersing the few remaining representatives of his once large kennel of Mastiffs. Time was when forty or fifty specimens of the English Mastiff could be seen at the Exeter kennels; now all are gone, with the exception of three or four brood bitches. The latest to leave the Exeter kennels was the prize-winning brood bitch Exeter Prude who has gone to join Mr Fred McKril' stud at Manchester -. Mr McKrill bred Stafford Belle b '92 and her son ch Marc Antony b '93, and ch Clarice b'98 - ch Beauforts Black Prince' dau Cynesca ex ch Marcella' brother The Cadet -.