ASHBRITTLE PETER THE GREAT (1902)
PHOTOS | SOCIAL MEDIA | REFERENCES
Most of the early English cat fanciers, with some notable exceptions, did not confine their breeding interests to one breed. Diversity, combined with specialization was widespread, and it was very common for breeders of for instance, Blue Persians, to also breed Chinchilla or Silver Persians.
Many Longhair breeders supported at least one shorthair breed, be it Siamese, Manx, English Shorthair or Abyssinian. But a smaller select number had very eclectic and widespread tastes across multiple breed disciplines among them being, for example, the likes of Mrs. McLaren Morrison, who bred Persians in multiple colours, Siamese, English Shorthairs, Russian Blue, Chinese, Japanese etc, and Lady Marcus Beresford, who bred Persians in most colours, Siamese, Manx, and Russian Blues and so on.
Among this elite number, we find Mrs. E.A. Clark of Ashbrittle Cattery fame, who passionately supported Blue Persians and Chinchillas, but also, Russian Blues and Abyssinians.
Where she stands out in particular, is on her ability to acquire some of the choicest bloodstock in Britain in her respective breed interests. When Blue Persians were in the ascendancy, she successfully acquired 'Skellingthorpe Patrick', who was the premier show specimen in his day.
In Chinchillas, she acquired 'The Absent-Minded Beggar', a double son of the leading and lightest-coated male Chinchilla of the era, 'Lord Southampton' (a son of 'Ch. Silver Lambkin'). When she parted with this cat, in a master stroke of planning, she replaced him with 'His Majesty of Whitehall', a son of the outstanding chinchilla female 'The Seraph' (aka 'Whitehall The Seraph), who on her own account was the most famous daughter of 'Lord Southampton' and due to her line-breeding, closer than a half-sister to 'The Absent-Minded Beggar'.
In a sad twist of fate, she also acquired the stunning Silver Tabby Persian, 'The Marquis of Dingley' which represented, at that time, the culmination and epitome of Miss Leake's famous bloodlines, but sadly lost him in an untimely and freakish accident.
In shorthairs, she was equally careful in her selections, owning and exhibiting the renowned Abyssinian male, 'Ras Dashan', a core stud male in the ongoing establishment of this rarer breed, while in Russian Shorthairs, she acquired from Mrs. Constance Carew-Cox, 'Ashbrittle Peter The Great' who, in his time, became another cornerstone male in the establishment of the Russian Blue!
So, this wise and resourceful lady was clearly adept not only at ascertaining which cats were key to the success of her breeding programs, but at relentlessly targeting and pursuing those specimens that she deemed were critical to her ongoing success.
The Russian Blue, or 'Archangel Cat' as it was originally called, was for many years the subject of deep and prolonged controversy in the early cat fancy especially during the years of division between the National Cat Club and The Cat Club, which were both vying for domination of the cat fancy in Britain. But even without division between the registering bodies, there was division amongst fanciers as to whether a blue shorthair cat could claim to be Russian when so many blue shorthaired cats were to be found in all corners of the world.
The counter argument was that if Siamese cats came from Siam and were called Siamese, and ticked shorthair cats coming out of Abyssinia were allowed to be called Abyssinians, then why should Blue Shorthair cats out of northern Russia not be called Russians. The problem was exacerbated by the fact that local breeders were also producing fine looking solid blue English shorthairs, with broad rounded heads, and deep orange eyes. In this respect, the English cats followed the convention of the longhair breeders, whose Blue cats were respectively winning honors at shows if they sported classically deep orange eyes.
The serious breeders of the Russian Blue short-hair recognised that their cats were of foreign extraction and were, therefore, generally more foreign in conformation than their English counterparts. The heads were usually longer, more wedge shaped, with larger, pricked ears which were wide at the base; the bodies were also longer, more lithe and graceful in movement, more sinuous, and the Russians had longer legs than their British Blue cousins. The imported cats out of northern Europe generally had large, green eyes and the most desirable coat colour was a pale, blue-ish lilac tint.12
With both registries only offering a single class for blue shorthairs, and only one standard against which they could be judged, the true fancier of the foreign blue shorthair was literally given no chance to compete on a level playing field. The judges were likewise caught in a trap, where they had to award according to the single standard, although confronted with two differing conformations which were at variance with one another.
The answer was obvious, - to create a second show class for foreign shorthairs and to give it its own standard; unfortunately, no side made any serious attempt to do so for a number of years, causing at times volatile debate between fanciers through the columns of 'Our Cats' magazine and other fancier journals. Eventually, of course, such a separation did take place, but in hindsight one cannot but wonder why the fanciers of the Russian blue did not band together to form a 'Foreign Shorthair Cat Club' and to use that as a forum for promoting the adoption of separate standards for all the foreign shorthaired cat breeds.
Even though Harrison Weir was not personally in favour in the early years of ascribing a breed name to blue short-haired cats; in 1889, this very wise, capable, and reasonable naturalist nevertheless carefully observed:
"I feel duty bound, however, to admit that those that came from Archangel were of a deeper, purer tint than the English cross-breeds; and on reference to my notes, I find they had larger ears and eyes, and were larger and longer in the head."7
In the drawing by him, entitled 'Archangel Blue Cat', many a Russian breeder will recognise the distinctive and emerging qualities of the breed, and it is significant to note that the image was a real and observational record of a winning Blue Foreign short-haired cat from as far back as 1873!
'Peter The Great' was born 29th June, 1902. He was bred by Mrs. Constance Carew-Cox, who was without question the most experienced breeder and authority on Russian Shorthair cats living at that time. She was widely travelled and had imported literally dozens of blue shorthaired cats from many corners of the northern hemisphere. Peter's sire was her beloved 'Muchacho' (ACA:226), himself sired by Mrs. Herring's imported Russian Blue male 'Champion Roguey' (NCC: 1104) and out of Mrs. Carew-Cox's 'Lingpopo' (NCC:1155).
Roguey Muchacho | Lingpopo (IMP) Ashbrittle Peter the Great, Jun-29-1902, Blue Russian, M | Blue Gown Odessa Fashoda (IMP)
In the letters to the Editor column, of 28th November 1903 issue of Our Cats magazine, Mrs. Carew- Cox notifies readers of the death of 'Peter The Great's' sire, 'Muchacho', and in so doing throws some light on the paternal grandparents of 'Peter':
"My dear old Muchacho has joined the great majority at the age of eleven years. He was the sire of many winning kittens, and claimed as his sire Mrs. Herring's late Roguey, one of the grandest Russians ever imported. His mother was my Lingpopo, a cat that was very well known on the show bench eleven years ago, winning amongst many other prizes firsts and specials at the Crystal Palace in 1892 and 1893. As a kitten Muchacho was sold to Mrs. Addison, but re-purchased from her in 1896. Mrs. Tottie shortly afterwards became his owner, but only for a short time, as he took to the woods and refused to be comforted. After several weeks he was captured with great difficulty and returned to me. Yet another home was found for him, but he would not settle down, and finally he returned again to his own old home, and to the only one to whom he ever attached himself, his great devotion to me being quite pathetic."6
From The Book of The Cat we gain an even deeper insight on the dam of 'Muchacho', Mrs. Carew-Cox's 'Lingpopo':
"Lingpopo, an extremely beautiful blue - was imported from Archangel , very sound in colour, rather long in face and legs, sleek, sinuous, and graceful, peculiarly lethargic in her movements, and dainty in her deportment. I bought her in 1893, when she was seven months old. Unfortunately a disease of the kidneys carried her off when in the flower of her existence."1
The dam of 'Ashbrittle Peter The Great' was Mrs. Carew-Cox's 'Odessa' (ACA:233). Through her, his maternal grandparents were 'Blue Gown' (NCC:1773), an imported blue male owned by Mr. W. Richardson, a significant winner during the 1893/1894 show seasons; and Mrs. Carew-Cox's 'Fashoda', also imported. Mrs. Carew-Cox says of 'Fashoda':
"Fashoda was born in 1896 and was imported; she is a large, strong cat, and a winner of many prizes. 'Odessa' is a daughter of Fashoda, by Blue Gown."1
So from the various sources available to us we have deduced that 'Asbrittle Peter The Great', although a second generation Russian on both sides of his pedigree, was none-the-less bred from purely IMPORTED lines.
Moving from his breeder to his owner, we now touch upon the subject of the arrangement of Mrs. Clark's cattery, for which we have to hand a report from Mrs. Clark herself, who gives a personal opinion on what she considered suited her and her cats:
"For an ideal Cattery, I incline to the isolation system, generally speaking, in preference to one large building. In our grounds I have six of Boulton and Paul's capital little houses (No.98) dotted about amongst flower beds and shrubberies. Besides these I have several large brick house built, with very long wired-in runs, also a 'home cattery' adjoining the conservatory and house for queens with kittens, or for a cat needing attention in any way.
"My stud cats as a rule, have each a daily walk on a lead when fine, and keep wonderfully well and healthy in their outdoor houses, with no heat even in winter, but a very warm, snug sleeping box for cold weather retirement. Most of my queens are very friendly together, and have a certain amount of liberty in the day time, my own special pet, Fai, a favourite neuter, and sometimes more, sleeping in the house, the others in various catteries. I have also, a large attic, an ideal place for queens at the 'interesting event' period; and they appear to quite enjoy each other's society at that time, and also inspecting their friends' families, some cats being so kind that whilst the kittens' real mother is taking a short airing, these devoted ones develop a desire to 'mother them all' in their friends' absence from the nursery!
"As regards rearing kittens I think if the parents are strong and healthy there is no great difficulty, but common sense is needed, and a little careful thought, such as keeping the new arrivals quietly in a dark corner until they can run about, then they wander out by themselves! I think four or five weeks' old quite soon enough to go out of doors, and then only in fine, settled weather at first, above all not letting them remain on wet grass. I like the mother's food put well out of reach of the kittens, and prefer letting her nurse them as long as she can or will, and until they are weaned I am careful they should have no other sort of milk given them - I mean by itself. I find porridge, (Provost oats), made not too sloppy, also Spratt's kitten food, agrees with them well, also some of the foods provided for human babies; and then, as they get older, just a taste each of perfectly fresh raw minced lean beef, but care must be taken not to overload the little stomachs, or leave stale food within their reach. Cleanliness is everything as regards their welfare. I always use Richardson's peat moss litter dust for their earth pans, and it is wonderful how soon the little things learn how to use them!"
Mrs. Clark then reviews her breeding cats and each of her breeding programs in turn, finally turning her attention to the Russian Blues:
"Lastly, come my short-haired blues. Ashbrittle Peter The Great is a grand young stud of Mrs. Carew-Cox's well-known strain, but alas! I had this spring a great misfortune and grief in having lost my dear little queen Ashbrittle Pitti Sing, who won with him at Bath, and also wherever shown elsewhere previously - a terrible loss, but what pleasure is without pain in this world? Certainly not that most entrancing of hobbies, the breeding and rearing of cats!"2
Although there appear to be no known full or dam-siblings of 'Ashbrittle Peter The Great', there are a number of notable sire-siblings, by 'Muchacho' and out of a variety of queens. Some of these, but not all, include:
'BALLOCHMYLE BELL BURNS', Blue Female, born 2th April, 1897. (CCR). By 'Muchacho' out of 'Durma'. Bred by Mrs. Carew-Cox and owned by Lady Claud Alexander.
'LOCKEHAVEN SCHUYLA', Blue Female, born 28th, April, 1899. (BCC: 239) By 'Muchacho' out of 'Paulina Topsey'. Topsey was owned by Mrs. M.L. Evans, but her kitten, originally known as 'Kitten Pauline' was purchased by Mrs. Clinton Locke (Chicago, direct from Mrs. Carew-Cox.) She was shown successfully as a kitten, gaining a 2nd in a very strong class at Narbeth in 1899, before being exported to the United States.
'SINGSING', Blue female, born c.1899. By 'Muchacho' out of 'Fashoda'. Bred by Mrs. Carew-Cox, 'Singsing' was a younger dam-sibling to 'Odessa', (born in 1898), also out of 'Fashoda', and the dam of 'Peter The Great'. In essence, this makes 'Singsing' a three-quarter sister to 'Peter' as well as being his aunt!
'PUE PUE II', Blue female, born 7th July, 1899. By 'Muchacho' out of 'Pue Pue I'. Breeder/Owner: Mrs. C.Emmett.
'PUE PUE III', Blue female, born May, 1900. By 'Muchacho' out of 'Pue Pue I'. Breeder/Owner: Mrs. C. Emmett.
'BLUE MINX', Blue female, born 22nd January, 1901. (ACA: 229) By 'Muchacho' out of 'Lady Blue Ruin'. Breeder/Owner: Mrs. R.M. Middleton. 'Blue Minx' was the dam of 'Olivette', (born 1905), who was sired by 'Bayard'. 'Olivette' was subsequently bred to 'Peter The Great' and exported in kitten to Miss Jane Cathcart, of Oradell, New Jersey.
'SILVIE', Blue female, born May, 1901. (CCR). By 'Muchacho' out of 'Fashoda'. Bred by Mrs. Carew-Cox and owned by Mrs. F. Walker. A full younger sibling to 'Singsing'.
Few official records exist for wins by 'Ashbrittle Peter The Great' and those that have come down to us are those in the Register of The National Cat Club and the Supplement to GCCF Studbook Vol.1. These are: 2nd at Southampton, in 1903 and then much later, 3rd at Hounslow in 1912, and 2nd at Newbury in 1913! By this time he was quite an elderly gentleman!
Progeny of record for 'Ashbrittle Peter The Great' include, but are not limited to, the following cats, which are listed in chronological order by date of birth:
'VIKING', Blue Male, born 24th March, 1904. By 'Peter The Great' out of 'Bete'. Bred by Mrs. Bailey and owned by Rev. Henry Staveley. (Our Cats: 10.12.1904)
'THE MUSCOVITE', Blue Male, born pre-1905. By 'Peter The Great' out of 'Bete'. Likely to have been a litter brother to 'Viking', or a younger full sibling.
'GROVE JACK', Blue Male, born 17th September, 1904. By 'Peter The Great' out of 'Blue Minx'. Bred by Mrs. Middleton and owned by Mr. Burton Heaps. (Our Cats:28.01.1905)
'GROVE JOHN', Blue Male, born 17th September, 1904. By 'Peter The Great' out of 'Blue Minx'. Bred by Mrs. Middleton and owned by Mr. Burton Heaps.
'BELLINA OF BATH', Blue Female, born 10th May, 1905. By 'Peter The Great' out of 'Blue Belle of Bath'. Bred by Mrs. E.A. Clark, and exported to Miss Jane Cathcart (USA). (ACA:236 v1)
'LUCKY DROP', Blue female?, born 13th September, 1905. By 'Peter The Great' out of 'Madre Mia'. Bred by Mrs. Bailey and owned by Miss A.M. Burton. (Our Cats: 04.02.1911)
'RUSTY', Blue female, born 13th September, 1905. By 'Peter The Great' out of 'Madre Mia'. Bred by Mrs. Bailey and owned by Dr. James Prior. (Our Cats:22.02.1908)
'JIM', Blue Male, born 17th June, 1907. By 'Peter The Great' out of 'Olivette'. Breeder/Owner: Miss J. Cathcart. (possibly imported in dam) (Our Cats: 26.10.1907)
'LICKS-'EM-ALL', Blue Male, born 15th July, 1907. By 'Peter The Great' out of 'Deva'. Bred by Mrs. Harpur and owned by Miss A.M. Burton. (Our Cats:22.02.1908)
'RUDDINGTON PETERBELLE', Blue Female, born 24th March,1908. By 'Peter The Great' out of 'Blue Belle of Bath'. Bred by Mrs. E.A. Clark and owned by Miss E. Marquand. (Our Cats:14.11.1908)
'BABS II', Blue Female, born 2nd May, 1908. By 'Peter The Great' out of 'Deva'. Bred by Mrs. Harpur and owned by Miss Burton. (Our Cats: 08.05.1909)
'YOUNG BELLE OF BATH', Blue Female, born 1st April, 1909. By 'Peter The Great' out of 'Blue Belle of Bath'. Breeder/Owner: Mrs. E.A. Clark.
'NICHOLAIEVITCH', Blue Male, born 25th April, 1910. By 'Peter The Great' out of 'Ritza'. Breeder/Owner: Mrs. E.A. Clark. (Our Cats:25.02.1911)
'SOUTHAMPTON NICOLAIFFE', Blue Male, born 26th June, 1911. By 'Peter The Great' out of 'Southampton Romanoff'. Breeder/Owner: Mrs. Allen Maturin. (Our Cats:06.01.1912)
'SOUTHAMPTON VELMA', Blue Female, bor 26th June, 1911, By 'Peter The Great' out of 'Southampton Romanoff'. Breeder/Owner: Mrs. Allen Maturin.
'MICHAEL MORDKIN', Blue Male, born 29th June, 1910. By 'Peter The Great' out of 'Deva'. Bred by Mrs. E.A. Clark (presumably on loan from Mrs. Harpur), and owned by Miss W. Voules. (Our Cats:25.02.1911)
'CHORT', Blue female, born 30th March,1913. By 'Peter The Great' out of 'Mousmee', Breeder/Owner: Mrs. George Livesay. (Supp.SB 1)
'COCKIEOLLY BIRD O'MENDIP', Blue Female, born 2nd February, 1915. By 'Peter The Great' out of 'Rocca'. Breeder/Owner: Mrs. F.H. Stevens. (GCCF SB2)
The last word on the "Russian Blue", however, must surely come from the one person whose wide experience with, and observations of, the foreign blue shorthair far exceeded that of anyone else living at the time. From the pen of Mrs. Constance Carew-Cox, we proffer this well-written excerpt of a letter to the editor of 'Our Cats', published in January 1904:
"I quite endorse 'Archangel's' remarks concerning Russian cats, in 'Our Cats' of January 2nd, and share his regret at the fact that half-bred blues are usurping the places formerly awarded to pure-bred specimens, simply because it is far easier to breed them with orange eyes, when crossed with English cats. As a matter of fact, the orange eye, although it is so attractive, is by no means symbolical of the foreign variety. Many dozens of imported cats have during the past twenty years passed through my hands, and, as a rule, their eyes were green. It is quite exceptional to come across an orange-eyed imported Russian, although I have from time to time owned imported cats with yellow eyes. Many beautiful short-haired blues do not come from Russia at all. They have frequently been imported from Norway and Iceland, and are occasionally to be seen in the United States, Canada, and Australia. One of the best I ever saw came from Iceland. I now have one that was imported from the borders of the Black Sea. She has a beautiful coat of a soft shade of blue, and large wondering eyes of Emerald....
"So it appears to be very difficult, if not quite impossible, to locate these cats, but, at any rate, they are not English cats - and never will be."10
Registers associated with this article include The Incorporated Cat Fanciers Association of Great Britain (TICFAGB), National Cat Club (NCC), The Cat Club (CCR), Beresford Cat Club (BCC), Feline Federation Francaise (FFF), Siamese Cat Registry (SCR), US Register & Studbook for Cats (USR)including Supplement(USRS), The Studbook of the American Cat Association (ACA), and the Studbook & Register of the Cat Fanciers' Association (CFA).
Home | Cats | Gallery | Clubs | People | Artifacts | Articles | Updates | Contact Us
©The CFA Foundation, Inc and The Harrison Weir Collection