Harry De Spencer Kingdon [1816 - 1903] 

- FIRE AND LIFE OFFICE AGENT   ,   SUN FIRE  [ source - White' Devonshire Directory of 1850 ]

‘ Of late years the champion of the Lyme Hall Mastiff has been Mr HD Kingdon , of Wilhayne cottage , Colyton ~ Axminster [ twenty miles east of Exeter &  240 miles south of Lyme Hall ] , who obtained the breed from Lyme Hall by the courtesy of the present Mr. Legh , and who insists on their superiority over all others with a tenacity , and , I might say , dogged obstinacy , thoroughly English , and worthy of the breed he admires . I cannot say , however , that I agree with him in his absolute worship of what he calls purity ; when that term is applied to dogs of any breed , my scepticism is aroused , and , indeed , even could absolute purity be proved , I would not put the high value on it that many do . Beyond a certain point , I consider this ‘purity’ positively hurtful ; I prefer , as a breeder of dogs , to look forward rather than back , and like ‘The grand old gardener and his wife , Smile at the claims of long descent ’ .

The good old dogs , like the good old times , possessed many advantages over the present , now that distance lends enchantment to the view ; but in my opinion, the present dogs are the best , and will as certainly be excelled by those of the future . To think otherwise would be to admit that the English, who have succeeded so unquestionably in the improvement of so many other animals , have failed with the dog . ‘  Excerpt from British dogs’ by Hugh Dalziel , 1889 . Mr Kingdon as a strong advocate for the purity of the Lyme Hall strain was countered by a writing of ‘Observer’ [MB Wynn ?] who knew that the Lyme dogs had been crossed .

Mr Kingdon came into contact with Mr Legh who stated that he had for some years had Lord Stamford’ breed for night-dogs [ancestors of the Bullmastiff] for his game keepers , but had never allowed them to be crossed with his own , nor used for breeding ; family honour precluded this … Unfortunately an entry of the 1st KCSB [1874] , namely No 2308 , mentions a  ‘Lion’ owned by Ben Booth of Thurlestone near Sheffield ~ pedigree ‘by Wamba [Lyme Hall breed] out of Lord Stamford’ Duchess by Leigh’ Tiger ~chief performance Manchester Belle Vue , 4th prize 1869 . A disaster for Kingdon’ credibility ! Truth obliges to mention  the KCSB 1873 data were compiled by MB Wynn .  More info about Lord Stamford to be found in the last alinea of this page .

Fr l to r - Lyme Hall ‘ Wamba  born  ± 1865      , Kingdon’ Barry ± 1870  by George  Earl [1824-1908]           & photograph of Barry bred by HD Kingdom [Duke ex Lady] .

‘In determining the points which are desired in any individual of a particular breed , it is idle to go back for centuries and select some strain of which we have no reliable record , and which  , if obtained , would be probably prove to be very different from what we want . According to Mr. Kingdon  , we ought to take the old type and reject the modern one . Instead of proceeding this illogical way , one tries to improve upon the old type by every possible means , and the result is a dog which does what is asked from him , in a manner which would be far beyond the powers of his ancestors . So with the Mastiff . We want a large and handsome dog, possessed of a temperament which will bear restraint under provocation , and , at the same time , of courage to defend his master till the death . These mental properties ware carefully attended to by Mr. Lukey , who may be considered to be the founder of the modern Mastiff’ . ‘ from ‘The Dogs of the British Islands’ by Stonehenge [Dr John Henry Walsh] .

In Henry Webb’ book ‘Dogs’ , new edition published in 1873 , HD Kingdon wrote an extensive chapter, condensed by the editor [still some twenty pages...] stating a/o  ‘Perhaps the finest Mastiff dog of this breed in the kingdom is  at Lyme Hall , a magnificent fellow called Wamba , comprising Mastiff qualities in their essential purity , an example not to be matched  . ~ This noble dog is seldom met with now in its pure state , having been crossed with other dogs '.

Some truly historical pictures from Webb’ book ‘Dogs’ 1873  ~  19  ch Turk bred by Miss Aglionby [ch King ex Hilda]   21  ch Hale’ Lion bred by Edwin Nichols [Nichols Quaker ex Venus]  22 King II bred by MB Wynn [ch King ex Norah]   23  Monarch bred by MB Wynn [ch King ex  Norah]   24 Hero bred by  Nichols [ch.Turk ex  Duchess]  25  Monarch bred by E. Nichols [ch. King ex Brenda]   26 Alp reputed as Lyme Hall breeding and granddam of ch Hodge’ Empress owned by MB Wynn;  Empress was ch Peeress’ dam  ~  20 ch Juno bred by E. Nichols [ch Turk ex Bathurst Juno]  .

HD Kingdon , ‘so well known for his enthousiasm about Mastiffs and his eccentric style of costume’ , judged probably at Nottingham 1873 ~ 1st Green’ ch Monarch   2nd Granby  3rd Major Elms’ Turk by Lord Nelson ; in bitches 1st’ Martorell’ Empress  owned by  Miss Aglionby 2nd Weller’ Empress 3rd Rev Rowe’ Stella. At Nottingham 1874 he divided 1st Russell’ Lion [ pedigree witheld from the public ] & Major Elms’ Turk  ,   2nd Nichols’ Duchess , .3rd Cunliffe Lee’ Vril .

With this quotation , we enter on the topic of our grand national dog – most interesting to all patriots – with the assertion , for the honour of Old England and the genuine Old English dog , that the Mastiff proper is , in my opinion , a specific race , indigenous to Britain as much as the elm-tree ; that he was in the days of Caractacus and Boadicea ;  and that , therefore , the modern theory that he is a cross between the Bulldog and the talbot is merely hypothesis [founded on personal appearances artificially produced] in the very teeth of fact , arising from necessities of breeders & dealers .

They have promulgated this idea or fallacy , as I opine , to account for the vast variety of conflicting types manifested by dog of the same litters . The rapid increase of our Mastiffs is one of the wonders of the dog world , recollecting the meagre materials which were at hand . According to Idstone the breed was four years ago so well ‘established’ [clearly meaning the modern cross as limited to four years] that Miss Aglionby bred five celebrated dogs – Wolf , Turk , Knight , Templar and Emperor – from one litter  ; but Idstone does not add that they were each of a different and opposing type  , indicating thery were indeed not pure Mastiffs , but the cross-bred dogs which Idstone calls  ‘the modern Mastiff’ . Had they been pure , or of pure parentage , could this antagonistic difference have occurred in one litter ? But they were descended from Lord Darnley’ Nell , alleged to me , on the high authority of one who knew her , to be a Bull terrier bitch ; and that solves the problem .

~ A true built Mastiff is of considerable size , and STOUTLY built ; the whole aspect noble . ~ I now breed from the original kennels with the consent of Mr Legh ; and I have at the time a stud quite equal to, if not surpassing, the Lyme kennel . This Barry Mr. George Earl , the celebrated animal painter , no sooner saw than he begged leave to paint him as a study of Mastiff purity .  I preserve the breed in its purity , though I have crossed some members of it with the strains of Mr. Hanbury’ Prince , Mr. Lukey’ Governor and Bill George’ Tiger ; and have , in some instances  , incorporated all these strains into one channel on the basis of my Lyme Hall bitches .~ The fancy breed now in vogue , is too much cut up in flank , is not massive enough , and is deficient in bone – the pure Mastiff is more thickset , with a barrel nearly straight underneath , and with shorter and larger legs , bone being of consequence in the Mastiff proper ; we do not believe in the purity of Mastiffs over thirty inches ; nor with small cat-like paws – they savour of a cross with deerhound , giving height and small bone . 

~ My Lyme dog , Lord , which I refused to show at Birmingham , was said by the general inhabitants who saw him in the streets , to be the finest Mastiff ever brought into their town and at the Birmingham show of 1870 , I again refused to exhibit unless the judging was in public , though I had with me my celebrated Lyme Hall Mastiff , Barry ‘ [162 lbs]  , the champion prize winner ; 300 guineas were offered for him in the Pavilion Gardens , at Brighton , but I refused to part with him …’

The mentioned damnosa hereditas of HD Kingdon , ‘Lord Darnley’ Nell ‘ , the bull terrier and great grandam of a/o champion King , was owned by the 6th Earl of Darnley ,  John Stuart Bligh [ 1827 - 1896 ] of the Kentish’ Cobham Hall , some twenty miles east of London . The Earl was a top cricketeer and probably related to Admiral William Bligh [1754-1817]  , captain of HMS The Bounty , known from the mutiny … THV Lukey [1804 -1882] , being son of a Kentish squire , was maybe involved in the Lord Darnley’ Nell  affair ; Lukey’ brother was captain on sea and one of THV Lukey’ bitches [Governor’ aunt] was called ‘Bounty’…

Henry Webb’ chapter XI following HD Kingdon’ chapter about the ‘Old English Mastiff ‘ mentions ‘Desirous of being impartial , we have inserted the foregoing , the contribution of a gentlemen , who argues in defence of the Mastiff in his unmixed purity , but we must state that many well-known breeders hold different opinions  and advocate crossing the Mastiff with the Bulldog to give him greater courage and strength . ‘ The new edition of Henry Webb’ book contains also a statement from MB Wynn [only 21 years old !] concerning the ‘British Mastiff ‘ . ‘Defensio non offensio . - 'On the publication of Mr Webb’ first edition of his ‘Book on Dogs’ having been asked my opinion of its merits , I do not only expressed my disapprobation of the chapter written by Mr Kingdon , but added that , in my judgment , that part of it was altogether one sided , prejudiced , in many parts incorrect , weakly written ; and while it was not calculated to serve the Mastiff world , the book would never approach that standard of excellence with the other parts displayed , if the other side met with no advocate . On this I was requested to write some pages myself on the subject [16 pages] . First , I feel how little information really remains to be given , after that admirable letter appearing in the Field of 1871 , by the breeder of Governor’ sire    [ Colonel  J Garnier ] . ~ Whether the grand Mastiff head of champion Field’ King & relations came from the Bulldog , or , as Colonel John Garnier suggests , from King’great granddam Lukey’ Countess [vide pic below at left] , it matters little …

To conclude , I have now stated what I consider true Mastiff’ points are ; to obtain which , I shall follow the letter of the breeder of Governor’ sire . I have pointed out a few of Mr. Kingdon’ me judice distorted facts , and all that remains is to ‘let every man follow the fashion of his clan’and we shall see in a few years, who will produce the largest , heaviest , and biggest headed dogs , with all the muscular power of the Darnley strain , combining the bone of Hanbury’ Prince and Lindoe’ Druid . I have all along been unconsciously breeding in the way recommended by the breeder of Governor’ sire , and have at last bred and collected a kennel of bitches from nearly all the best strains , whose progeny will be dangerous rivals to any or all .’

Note about Lord Stamford , William Earl Warren of Lincolnshire town [some hundred miles East of Lyme Hall] in the reign of King John [1209] , standing upon the walls of his castle at Stamford , saw two bulls fighting for a cow in the castle meadow , till a butcher of the town , who owned one of the bulls , accidentally set one of his Mastiffs upon his own bull which forced it into the town and all the dogs ran after it , which was maddened by the noise and multitude , through the town . A man in a barrel with both ends removed was rolled up to the animal to taunt it , and the bull would usually toss it . This so pleased the Earl that he gave the castle meadow where the bulls combat began , for a common to the butchers of the town after the first grass was mowed , on condition that they should find a ‘mad bull’ on a day six weeks before Christmas for the continuance of that sport forever . The mysterious ‘Observer’ stated that the Legh family of Lyme Hall should have owned specimens of Lord Stamford’ breed [ancestors of the Bullmastiff ?] during the Victorian era .