No. 5: Kings of the Cockpit

Today, we’ll be exploring the lives of some of the all-time-great cockers of England and the world up to that time, including Edward Smith-Stanley, The 12th Earl of Derby and some of his contemporaries, including William Tregonwell Frampton, William “Bill” Gilliver, Joe Gilliver and Paul Potter.

Tregonwell Frampton (1641-1727), ‘Father of the Turf’; National Trust, Anglesey Abbey.

Previously on BLOODLINE, we’d discussed how the British began modernizing cocking just before the 18th century began, partly out of necessity, but also due to changes in the world around them. A generation or so later—in the late-1700s and early 1800s—men like Derby and his contemporaries lived in a golden age of cocking where the competition was dominated by tradesmen, some professional or full-time. The attraction of the cockpit had changed for many, from an opportunity to gamble, to a place to watch skilled contest and gamefowl.

The 12th Earl of Derby, Lord Edward Smith Stanley bred and fought his family of Black-breasted reds for almost 100 years. Derby is said to have fought around 3,000 cocks per year. In his most famous mains, he employed professional feeder Paul Potter.

Bibliography for all episodes.