WK Taunton

Walter Kelsey Taunton  1844 - 1927 


One of the London’ stalwarts of the Old English Mastiff Club and foremost a promoter of the brindle colour . According to the Kennel Club Stud Book records , his address was given as No 86 at Hatton Garden , a diamond & jewelry centre where also several pawn shops were settled . In the London Post Office Directory for 1884 and 1886 for this address Walter Kelsey Taunton , son to John Colley Taunton , surgeon & Isabella Jones  , was listed as a bottle manufacturer . There were also a number of other firms using those premises . In the Censuses for 1881 and 1891 he was not residing there on the night of the Censuses . Indeed it may not have been his residence as on both occasions two servants were living there . They were recorded as caretaker and assistant caretaker . The census of 1901 mentions him as a ‘hardware agent and according to the Street Directories and Electoral Registers he resided nearby Watneys Brewery in the 'Acacia House ' 115 Mortlake High street , during the period from 1899 till 1909 .

An historical Georgian house dating 1729 , enjoying an exceptional position with its beautiful garden leading directly onto the river Thames and overlooking the Duke’ Meadows on the opposite bank . The celebrated Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race [since 1829] finished just opposite , a race between 18 young men from the two most famous universities of the world , a sport event  only comparable in the public mind with the Grand National , the Derby and the Wembley Cup final.

In 1876 Acacia house , 115 High Street , was occupied by Captain Fitzgerald whom could have been the breeder of Githa KCSB 1057, bred by Mr Fitzgerald . Githa was a younger sis of Crown Prince ‘ dam  Merlin sired by ch The Shah , bred by WH Balleston , Palewell villa - East Sheen only half a mile removed from Taunton’ residence at Mortlake .

One of his best friends , Fred Hawkings of Goldhawk , wrote some interesting notes about Mr Taunton  - ‘ He explained that there was a time when he knew very little of Mastiffs and when he made his first purchase thought the 10 pounds 10 shillings asked by the breeder for a bitch puppy was an exorbitant price . He eventually succeeded in beating him down tot 5 pounds 5 shillings , on the condition that he exhibit and breed from the bitch ( champion King’ daughter Nell ), his original  intentional being merely to buy a watch dog for his premises . Mr Taunton made a special study of the laws of breeding which he applied successfully , not only to breeds of dogs , but also to goats , cows and horses . Mastiffs , however , remained his favourite breed of dogs up to the end  , and it was with the greatest pride that he used to relate how at one period he owned five champions at the same time . It may be of some interest to relate how Mr Taunton became possessed of Beaufort . He bought the dog from Dr Sidney Turner for an American who , after giving the order , backed out his bargain . Mr Taunton was far too much of a gentleman to ask Dr Turner to release him from his obligation , and although the price paid (he never told me the actual price) was a great deal more than he felt justified in spending at the time , he kept the dog himself . On learning the facts , Dr Turner , who was also a gentleman , tried to make amends by allowing Mr Taunton to select any puppy of a subsequent litter for himself free of charge . But Mr Turner never bred another puppy like Beaufort . As luck had it , Beaufort remained in Mr Taunton’ possession till his death at ten years of age in 1894.’

WK Taunton’ kennels , called ‘Kelsey’ were situated at Forest Gate , some 7 miles east of Hatton Garden – London City , 1.2 mile away railway station , Manor Park an one mile from telegraph Forest Gate , his kennelman being J Powling . Tarquinius , 29 inches height at shoulder , was one of the dogs presented by Mr WK Taunton at the Zoological Museum of Tring , a branch of the British Museum .

Mr WK Taunton bred approximately twenty Mastiff litters between 1873 and 1894 . His well known brindle champion Cardinal was bred by Fred George Banbury, 1st Baron of Southam while his first important brood bitch, champion Gwendolen , was  a sis to Mr Mark Beaufoy’ champion Nero , sired by the important stud pillar ch. Green’ Monarch [ great size , size and excellent legs & feet , main faults ~ rough coat & high carriage of tail ] .  He exercised strong line breeding until he acquired Dr Sidney Turner’ champion Hotspur and both lines became mixed up in matching strong & symmetrical balanced female bodies with characteristic male heads .

‘The colour is sometimes deceptive and what appears to a novice as a brindle puppy turns out to be a very dark fawn which gradually gets lighter as the puppy grows . It has occurred that puppies bred from dark rich brindles have been whelped of a blue or slate colour . In course of time , the stripes of the brindle appear , but puppies of this colour , which are very rare , generally retain a blue mask and have light eyes . Many such puppies have been destroyed ; but it this practice is a mistake ; for although it is not a colour to be desired , some of our best Mastiffs have been bred through dogs or bitches of this shade . As an instance, I may mention my own dog , Constable . His grandam , Columbine , was a blue brindle . I parted with her as a puppy to a well-known breeder who afterwards offered her back to me on account of her colour . Knowing how she was bred , I readily accepted the offer . She was by Cardinal , out of Cleopatra by Cardinal out of Gwendolen by Green’ Monarch .Putting her to her sire , I obtained Empress of Tring , a capital brindle of good size . Just at this time I wanted a cross-out and Dr Turner offered to let me have , at quite a nominal price , Hotspur , a son of Crown Prince and a dog for which he had refused 100 pounds as a puppy . Mating Empress of Tring with him I got many good Mastiffs , one of the best being Constable, who made his debut at the Barn Elms’ Kennel Club show in 1887 , where he caused a sensation among Mastiff breeders .'

Mr WK Taunton was also acquainted with superintendant Abraham Dee Bartlett of the Zoological Gardens in Regent' Park , some three miles away 86 Hatton Garden , London city . AD Bartlet owned the magnificent brindle bitch Tayra bred by WK Taunton out of ch Gwendolen sired by ch Cardinal . The judge report of Bristol August 1882 says about Tayra ~ ‘A capital bitch . She won at the Alexandra Palace and it will take a very good one to beat her ‘. She was a full sis to ch Lily  II and ch Griselda’ dam Phoebe .

The Zoological Gardens were established in 1828 and according to the Penny Magazine , 1832 March 31  : ' which now comprise the finest menagerie in the world , if we regard the number and variety of animals . The expense of the establishment , which amounts to many thousand pounds a year , is maintained by the annual subscriptions of the Fellows of the Zoological Society , and the payment [a shilling]  by each person who is recommended by the ticket of a proprietor . The Penny Magazine had the intention to notice from time to time any remarkable  circumstance that occurs , as illustrative of their habits ; or to mention any new curiosity which is purchased by the Society , or presented to it.' The Brown Bear of the Northern parts of Europe is not so ferocious as the Grizzly Bear, but of prodigious strength . Mr Lloyd , in his Northern Field Sports , say ' he walks with facility on his hindlegs, and in that position can bear the heaviest burdens . ' Indeed Mr Neilson ( a Swede ) says : ' a bear has been seen walking on his hinder feet along a small tree that stretched across a river , bearing a dead horse in his fore-paws .'

WK Taunton’ foundation stud ch Cardinal sired a/o his homebred champion Lily II , her aunt Cleopatra was the dam of Ilford Cromwell while her other aunt Nell III was owned by Walter F Jefferies of Woodbridge [Suffolk], the owner of a/o the world famous Bulldog champion Rodney Stone and in 1901 sold to the American Richard Croker, the first Bulldog ever to command a price of $5000 ; he a/o won the Grand Trophy . 

Afterwards he bred champion Griselda out of another Lilly II’ aunt , Phoebe , sired by ch Crown Prince’ son ch Orlando ; his last two champions were sired by ch Orlando’ brother ch Hotspur ,  namely Constable & Carshalton Prince , the latter out of ch Griselda’ sis Lady Doughty .

When comparing ch Cardinal’ inbred son Cromwell & ch Hotspur , one can consider them as representants of respectively the ‘houndy’ & ‘bulldog-like’ Mastiff strains ; it seems that WK Taunton sought after the go-between , assimilating ‘the goods of both worlds’ ! He always shall be remembered as the owner of champion Beaufort , also campaigned successfully in the States and placed there at stud for  a time .     

WK Taunton wrote many articles concerning the Mastiff , a/o  issued  within  ‘ The New Book of the Dog’  by Robert Leighton . An excerpt ~  ‘ Crown Prince [ bred in Mr Woolmore’ kennels ] was a fawn dog with a Dudley nose and light eye , pale in muzzle and whilst full credit must be given to him for having sired many good Mastiffs, he must be held responsible for the faults in many specimens of more recent years . Unfortunately he was indiscrimately bred from with the result that in a very short time breeders found it impossible to find a Mastiff unrelated to him. The registered pedigree of Crown Prince is by Young Prince by Prince , but the correctness of this pedigree was disputed at the time . Mr Beaufoy’ Beau proved his claim to be considered a pillar of the stud book by siring Beaufort , unquestionably one of the best Mastiffs of the past twenty years . Cardinal was a rich , dark brindle inherited from his dam , a daughter of Wolsey . He deserves special mention , as it is mainly due to him that the brindle colour in Mastiffs has been preserved , for I believe that every prize winning brindle of recent years is a direct descendant of this dog .’ At the Crystal Palace show in 1871 there were as sixty-three Mastiffs on show , forming a line of benches two hundred yards long , and not a bad one among them ; whereas at a dog show held twenty-five years later , where more than twelve hundred dogs were entered , not a single Mastiff was benched .

Note the apparent likeness between ~ at left ~ best Mastiff dog  at the Crystal Palace show 1871  Miss Hales’ ch Lion [born 1866] bred by Mr Edwin Nichols  and ~ at right ~ an engraving claimed to be from a book by Gordon Stables in 1884 and representing WK Taunton' ch Cardinal (Miss Hales' ch Lion'  great-grand nephew) but there's an engraving of WK Taunton'  ch Cardinal drawn by the reputed Richard Hewitt Moore which shows an almost completely different phenotype , ie overall more sturdy , a head more square annex a shorter muzzle . A possibility is that the engraving at the right represents ch Cardinal' son Ilford Cromwell (see pic  at left next to WF Jefferies & ch Hotspur) . 

Size is a quality very desirable  in this breed . The height of many dogs of olden days was from thirty-two to thirty-three inches and it should be obtained rather from great depth than length of leg . A leggy Mastiff is very undesirable .Thirty inches may be taken as a fair average for dogs and bitches somewhat less . Many of Mr Lukey’ dogs stood thirty-two inches and over. Mr Green’ Monarch  was over 33 inches , The Shah 32 inches and Cardinal 32 inches . The method of rearing a Mastiff has much to do with its ultimate size but it is perhaps needless to say that selection of the breeding stock has still more to do with this . It is therefore essential to select a dog and bitch of a large strain to obtain large Mastiffs.

It is not necessary that the dogs themselves should be large as that they come from a large  strain . I am not an advocate for forcing young stock , and I have frequently noticed that in the case of puppies of extraordinary size , we have seldom heard of any of them attaining any unusual size when fully grown . The fact is that these puppies make their growth early in life and stop growing just at the time other puppies are beginning to fill out and develop . There are of course exceptions to this . For instance Orlando weighed 140 lb.  when only eight months old. ‘   

At left ~ ‘The culprit finds a protector’ from Anecdotes of Dogs ‘ Touch him if you dare !  written by Dr John Brown and illustrated by Harrison Weir .