WN Higgs

Teadealer William Norman Higgs - son of  William Alpheus Higgs , Sheriff of London in 1887

Successive London' residences - Willenhall Park  New Barnet , 52  Clifton Hill , 39 High Street Islington , 148 Highbury New Park  .

To give another idea about the vividness in this particular Victorian family - According to the  Census Returns William Norman Higgs' wife  Minnie Mary Ann Cameron Beard had an older sis Alice Susan Beard who married Francis Shepherd and they had two daughters Elsie Mary Shepherd b '86 and Kathleen Daisy Shepherd b '93 . Tragedy struck this Shepherd family as in '94 father Francis died and three years later also their mother Alice but nevertheless such immense tribulations it went well for both Shepherd sisters  . The census return of 1901 mentions Kathleen Shepherd as niece in the household of William Norman & Minnie  Higgs whereas Kathleen' older sis Elsie was mentioned in the CR of 1901 as a boarder & pupil at Eastbourne near the southcoast of England .  The census of 1911 mentions Elsie & her sis Kathleen Shepherd ,  both single & both for occupation : private means ,  and  residing at 34 Leyland road Lewisham-London . Noticed is that a certain 'E. Shepherd'  bred West Highland Terriers (Westies) in the  1910s under the prefix 'Lesdon' , perhaps a portmanteau for LEwiSham LonDON  . Kathleen D Shepherd married at Lewisham in '16 Philip Lionel Lincoln , a future Air Commodore and they got two children , ie daughter Aubrey Graham Passmore Lincoln & son Guy Philip Lincoln ;  also at Lewisham but in 1920 (20th June) , her sis Elsie Maria Shepherd married Robert William Pearson Roberts  and they got a daughter called Elizabeth Joan - Q1 '24 - d Thursday 9th Feb ‘17 .

Elizabeth Joan' grandfather Gervase Henry Roberts  1871-1944 was Superintendent of the Mechanical Engineering Department - Woolwich Arsenal ;  her grandfather Gervase H Roberts died   and is buried at a Devon village nearby Bideford , namely  Northam  , some 230 mls away from Woolwich - London , that at the Western outskirts of England ,  far away from the World-War II German bombings  . Elizabeth Joan Roberts married Peter F A Bensley and moved from Greater London to that very same Devon village called Northam nr Bideford where she  started up her Farnaby Mastiff kennels in the mid-1960s , later on relocated to Fourways Eggesford nr Chulmleigh  and after marrying Mr Denis Baxter the Farnaby-'Lesdon'   Mastiff strain became a fact . Mr William Norman Higgs died in 1939 and therefore  never been able to experience  that Elizabeth Joan aka 'Betty'    Baxter née Roberts, the granddaughter of his early in life deceased sister-in-law Alice Susan Beard , should become famous in Mastiff circles  ...

Now back to WN Higgs' Mastiffs . He was the breeder of champion Ha Ha (see bottom page) b 13 September 1894 out of Stella III [Peter Piper’ aunt] sired by Dynevor  resulting from a father/daughter combination  [Sir Stafford ex ch. Frigga II] Crufts’ cc’s  1899 , 1900 & 1901 under following judges   WN Higgs , Dr Sidney Turner & Luke Crabtree . W. Norman Higgs appeared on the Mastiff scene in 1889 , the year he bred his first KC registered litter . Only 3 years later he judged Crufts ; he was the only one who did the job again  [1895 & 1899] within the Victorian era .

His foundation brood was Ilford Christine [by ch Ilford Chancellor ex  Ilford Constance by ch Prince of Wales out of Crown Prince’ sis Queen of Liberty] whom he mated to ch Cardinazl' son Commodore which gave Chrystabelle & Lady Cavendish ; other broods were ch Lady Florida [bred by Albert Andrews] , ch Coombe Baroness & Coombe Biddy  [bred by Mark Beaufoy] ; the sisters ch. Brampton Beauty and Stella III & their half sis Lord Stafford’ Seend Beauty [all bred by Captain  Piddocke] ;  a daughter of Lady Cavendish , Lady Lena [bred by Mann] and at last an unregistered ‘Quenie’.

He mainly used studs belonging to Walter Kelsey Taunton as Cardinal ’ inbred son Commodore , Lord Hatton and Dick Constable . Other studs were Rev Van Doorne’ ch Jack Thyr , Albert Andrews’ ch Lord Stafford [whom he mated to his sis ch. Lady Florida] , ch Beaufort’ Black Prince & ch Ilford County Member [both once owned by himself]  , Captain Piddocke’ ch Plutarch , Court Rice’ Dynevor   [brother to ch Frigga Secunda & Cruft’s winner Osburga II] and finally his own bred Hidalgo.

WN Higgs’ stock was also behind four outstanding specimens bred by others ; ie Hidalgo’ sis Honeysuckle [ch Plutarch ex Stellla III] became the dam of ch Marcella  [sired by ch. Mark Anthony & bred by Satchell Hopkins ]; Silverdale Lady Evelyn whom produced Blondin (see illustration at left) , a famous & highly typical winner [ sired by ch. Mark Anthony & bred by Mr AJ Thorpe]  ; he sold Lady Lena  [bred by Mann] to Court Rice whom bred from her ch Elgiva [ sired by Ethelred & half sis to Lady Evelyn] ; Dalston Benedict [ by Hidalgo out of unr. Quenie ] sired ch Marchioness [out of Lyndhurst Jenny & bred by Lucas] . Some of WN Higgs’ stock were also exported to the States ; Ilford Cameo to Mr Bunn , Illinois ; Maggie Murphy to Dr Lougest , an Englishman who lived at Liverpool where WN Higgs had several estates from where he did his business [international trade to a/o  Canada].

In 1894 the Secretary of the OEMC was requested to write a letter to the Secretary of a club calling itself the ‘Northern Old English Mastiff Club’ suggesting that the words ‘Old English' be omitted as they could give rise to confusion . WN Higgs is mentioned by de Bylandt , publ in 1904 , as the President of that Northern Club , its demise was recorded in 1929 .

October 14 , 1932 A letter of WN Higgs published in ‘Our Dogs' ’ .

Sir ,~ I was very interested in reading Mr Crabtree’ remarks last week , and claim that they tend to bear out my contention , that the present-day breeder and exhibitor is something far removed from the standard and when the breed is adjudicated upon by one who really tries to follow the standard , and has the experience of the breed when and since that standard was adopted , he or she is accused of trying to alter it , whereas the          ‘ boot is on the other leg’. Take many of the leading winning animals to-day , and how many nearly conform to the standard in head ? A number are undershot , but in all the old books the Mastiff is stated to be level-mouthed . This short muzzle is apt to produce a false impression of squareness , and if the underjaw is examined it will be often be found to be narrow ; besides , an undershot jaw produces an appearance of ‘dish face’ even if the dog is not actually up-faced. This leads to one of the worst faults which accompanies the very undershot – viz a definite ‘lay back’  which is forbidden by the present standard . The standard says of the muzzle ‘ short and cut off square , thus forming a right angle with the upper part of the face ’. This absolutely excludes the up-face altogether . We should work to get back the level mouth which will take time , but which can be done , and to which we must allow a little more latitude in length of muzzle , and for which judges must pass the slightly undershot mouth for the present .I have not time to write upon certain other points that have been mentioned , but , in conclusion , I say that I am in hearty agreement with Mr Crabtree’ remark when he says that if the modern breeders think that they have improved the breed the standard should be revised , and quickly . It must be remembered that the standard was fixed when Mastiffs were getting very long and snipy in face , and just about that time Crown Prince loomed large , and was hailed as a ‘corrector’, and there is no doubt that is was more or less built up round him . This so-called amendment was simply the addition of numerical values – undoubtedly there is room for one or two slight alterations now , as a number of those faults have been corrected at the expense of others which have arisen . ~ Yours , &c  W Norman Higgs .

March 17 , 1933 . Another letter of WN Higgs to the editor of ‘Our Dogs’ concerning the ‘old English Mastiff type ‘ .

Sir , ~ It was very interesting to me to read the letter published in your issue of March 10 from my quondam fellow breeder , Mr C. Court Rice . I cannot quite agree with him that Hotspur 18.509 was the most perfect headed Mastiff of his day . Certainly , I admit that he had a good head ; but , in my opinion , he was inclined to be puggy . He was a big winner truly , but this is far from proving his head was perfect .

Ethelred was bred by Mr Beanland by Iron Duke 34.105 , out of Vistala II 31.615 , and was whelped in December 1892 . Iron Duke bred by Captain Piddocke was by Ogilvie 29.233 , out of Jubilee Beauty 24.949. Vistala II bred by Mr Albert Andrews was by Kaiser Frederick 27.127 , out of Lady Dora 27.145 . Moreover , both my Brampton Beauty 31.114 and Lord Clive were very similar in colour to Ethelred , doubtless due to their common inheritance : Brampton Beauty was litter sister to Iron Duke , the father of Ethelred and Lord Clive [by Don Juan II 27122 , out of Zillah III] was also bred by Capt. Piddocke , and was of his strain on both sides .

Ethelred , certainly coarse in coat , but he was a fine big strong dog . He did a bit of winning , but nothing remarkable , and most of it when he was in poor company . While he belonged to Mr Rice he won 2nd  Limit Dog and 3rd Open Dog at the Kennel Club Show in October , 1894 . After he came to me he won 2nd and 3rd Open at the Kennel Club Show in October , 1896 under W.K. Taunton , when Black Peter 1358A was 1st  Limit Dog and 2nd Open Dog , and ch. Mark Anthony 38.772 was first in Open .

Ethelred also won 1st Limit Dog and 2nd Open Dog at Birmingham in December , 1896 , under Dr Sidney Turner where there was a very poor entry of only two dogs in Limit class , and Peter Piper 38.775 got the only award in Open Dogs .

The only other wins I can trace to his credit are 2nd Limit and 3rd Open Dog under Monsieur L Dobbelman at Northampton , also in December 1896 . His value was getting strong and sound stock rather than for exhibition . Of course , I quite agree with Mr Rice’ recollection that nearly all the dogs of our time were descended from Crown Prince or Beau .

In my opinion Beau (note - see above at left) was the correct type and he proved the sire of a far better strain  ; and even  Dr Turner and Mr Taunton were driven to admit in the end that Crown Prince was the cause of most of the trouble in the breed . The same differences in type exist to-day and I greatly dislike the heavy wrinkled head and the Pug foreface . ~ Yours &c ,  W Norman Higgs .

Early January 1939 it was Mr Edmund Oliver of Hellingly who wrote the epitaph of W Norman Higgs and then exactly a week later Oliver also died [January 17th  , 1939]  at London .