The issue of hunting has once again whipped up a country storm. No great surprise there.
The following (genuine) letters appeared in the Autumn 2003 issue of Nobbut Torver:
An acquaintance, knowing that I collect hounds and hunting dogs for pleasure, has kindly drawn my attention to the most interesting article on nobbut hunting in your recent newsletter. I was aware, of course, that some areas of the country maintain unusual hunting traditions and breed dedications but I have to confess to being ignorant of the nobbut hound’s peculiar and surprising attributes. I would be most obliged to be placed in contact with a reputable kennel from which I might purchase a breeding pair.
T. K. Foreyde KCB, Wynndrup,Surrey.
I feel obliged to point out the factual omission in your article on Nobbut Hunting. The original Nobbut Hunt was a faction of the Pytchley, born out of the frustration felt by Lord Albert Harringey Wilson.
Having spent many years perfecting the art of cropper swagging from the left of the forelock he was unable to use the technique to full effect until, "on a visit to Cumberland in 1746 he was introduced to the possibility of the full use of such a skilful manoeuvre by a Mr Nathaniel Wilkes - a tricky man of some renown, who, having met the aforementioned Lord in a field adjacent to a public house promised to introduce him to the very best nobbut habitat for a small consideration." ¹
The Noble Lord, fuelled by the thrill of a full cropper swag and the prospect of some fairly racy grim shuffling, duly invited several of the best known members of the Pytchley to join him on what was the first and last Nobbut Hunt attended, as far as we know, by some seventeen Peers of the Realm. Unfortunately, due to very poor weather - there were no clouds and it did not rain at all - not a single Nobbut was sighted, despite the best efforts of Mr Nathaniel Wilkes, seven of his brothers and a large crowd of bemused onlookers.
The lack of a kill, the steep gradients and the complete inability of the two parties to understand a single word of each others' conversation led several of the Hunt to declare the event a non calendar event to which they would not subscribe in the future.
Lord Wilson, however, with the ever faithful and increasingly wealthy Wilkes, persisted in the pursuit of the Nobbut on a regular basis until the spectacular if somewhat terminally unfortunate "Tree incident" ² of May 1753.
¹ "Yoicks and Away!" a History of the Pytchley. The Rev Walter Beurke (Faber and Faber 1953).
² "The Cumberland Courier 1753"
A. Fletcher, Milton Keynes.
I refer Mr Fletcher to Samuel Hardwicke’s ‘A History of Hunting’ 1884 (Chap. 13) in which he quotes Lord Effingham’s famous comment of 1578: “Sayeth men not that he the whyche dothe practiffe the swagge of the croper be it off the fayrelocke at ayther hande dothe so difpose himfelf as to mimyck the witleff soules whyche dothe bye Bethlem’s gaytes abyde.” Enough said, I think. Mr Fletcher should also be aware that Nat Wilkes, accompanied, I believe, by several of his brothers, was imprisoned by the Hawkshead Assizes in 1762 following "an unpleasantness with a lady" and was subsequently blackballed by the Torver Hunt for conduct unbecoming a gentleman. (Ref: Cumberland Courier - Aug.1762)