FULMER PRINCE OF THANET (1901)
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Until very recently, no photographs had been found of 'Fulmer Prince of Thanet', but we are fortunate to have this image of him painted by W. Luker (Jnr), who was a popular amongst fanciers for his renditions of cats in oils. This portrait is from a piece he submitted for exhibition with the Royal Society of British Artists. Frances Simpson also chose Mr. Luker to portray many of the breeds in her epic work, The Book of The Cat which features an impressive number of his lovely paintings, printed in colour for the first time.
'Prince of Thanet' does not hold any particular place of fame as either a breeding or show cat, but he was the son and grandson of two relatively well-known sires, 'Blue Noble', and via his dam, the early winner, 'Patrick Blue'.
His main claim to fame appears to be solely that he was owned by Lady Decies (formerly Miss Gertude Willoughby) who, as an avid cattist, was well-known among cat fanciers for her selections of some of the finest bloodstock to be had. Among the numerous 'stars' of her cattery, was the famous Chinchilla long-hair, 'Fulmer Zaida', who had a stellar, almost unmatched, career as a show cat. She was also a great supporter of short-haired breeds and ranked amongst her numerous notables was the immortal English brown tabby, 'Ch. Xenophon'.
While researching for this article, an early photo of 'Prince of Thanet' was located and is now included in this history file. It shows him as a very young cat, in a grouping with some of the other 'pets' at Beresford Lodge!
Starlight, Blue Blue Noble, Blue | Blue Stella, Blue Fulmer Prince of Thanet, Jul-22-1901, Blue, M | Eng Ch Patrick Blue, Blue Sussex True Blue, Blue Maraschino, Blue (Shorthair)
'Prince of Thanet' was born 22nd July, 1901. He was bred by Miss Hilda Patterson and originally owned by Lady Decies, from whence his name was changed to 'Fulmer Prince of Thanet'. In time, he would eventually become the property of Mrs. Bennet of 'Rokeles' cattery fame and revert to his original birth name of 'Prince of Thanet'.
His sire was the reknown 'Blue Noble', who was a third tier solid blue, from a background of predominantly blue to blue breedings. 'Blue Noble's' sire was 'Starlight' making him a sire-sibling to Mrs. Ransome's 'Darius'. Whereas the dam of 'Blue Noble' was a daughter of 'Ch. Glaucus', the dam of 'Darius' was a daughter of 'Ch. Bundle'. Both 'Ch. Glaucus' and 'Ch.Bundle' were critical second tier blue males in the ongoing development of the Blue Persian. It was from cats such as 'Blue Noble' and 'Darius', that the next generation of Blues were being established. These were among the most highly sought after 'pure-blue' bloodlines available in their day.
The concept of blue to blue breeding to create a pure-blue pedigree was well underway but, of course, none of these cats were technically pure blue. All their pedigrees contained originating stock that included smoke, silver, black and tabby lines. Many errors can be found even in early stud books relating to colour, errors which have continued to be passed on to this day in modern pedigree databases. A classic example of that, is Miss Simpson's 'Rajah', who in the USR, where, in the entry for 'Blue Noble' (USR:52) in the extension of the pedigree for his dam 'Blue Stella', we find 'Rajah' and 'Mater' both clearly listed as Blues. One only has to read the opening paragraphs of the chapter on Brown Tabbies in Miss Simpson's classic work The Book of The Cat(1903) to find that 'Rajah' was a brown tabby, so named after the recent visit of an Indian Prince! Miss Simpson makes no bones about how proud she was of the combination of 'Rajah' to 'Mater'. It is a combination that is found repeatedly behind most blue Persian lines and is repeated behind 'Starlight', as sire of both 'Blue Noble' and 'Darius', through 'Starlight's' sire 'Frisk', who according to the register of the National Cat Club, just also happens to be the sire of 'Ch. Wooloomooloo'
The dam of 'Prince of Thanet' was 'Sussex True Blue', owned by Miss Hilda Patterson. 'True Blue' was a daughter of the reknown 'Patrick Blue'. The combination of 'Blue Noble' and 'Sussex True Blue' had been done before and in 1900, the result to 'Sussex Tinker', a full older sibling to 'Prince of Thanet' who went to become a prize-winning, light and unmarked blue male, owned by Mrs. Herbert Ransome and Mrs. E.G. Gregory; two very well-respected breeders of blues.
By the time 'Prince of Thanet' came along, his pedigree and his predecessors alone would have made him an attractive prospect, so it comes as no surprise that he was subsequently purchased by the new Lady Decies.
Miss 'Gertrude' Willoughby was already a well-known figure in the world of cats, having successfully campaigned a number of top show winners. When she married Lord Decies in March 1901, many of her friends in the world of cats wondered whether he would be willing to support her in this hobby interest. The wedding was reported in 'The Sketch', the short but illuminating article of which is reproduced herewith:-
Any fears that the new Lady Decies' hobby might be curtailed in any way by her marriage were soon dispelled. Lord Decies had been appointed 'Master of the Harriers' and in fact was also a judge of dogs. Like many aristocrats, his taste in pets included the exotic. An interesting and informative article about the 'Cats at Beresford Lodge' appeared in the 13th December issue of 'Our Cats', from which we have reproduced a few pertinent paragraphs, relevant to the subject:-
"When the Fulmer cattery removed from Slough to Birchington-on-Sea, on the occasion of the marriage of Miss Gertrude Willoughby with Lord Decies, there was just a question in the minds of those interested in the beautiful cats bearing this prefix as to whether they would maintain their ascendancy in the show world! But, fortunately for all those concerned, Lord Decies takes quite as warm an interest in the cats as does his wife. He has been all his life as keen a fancier as he is a sportsman, and the fact of his being master of the harriers, and greatly attached to his stables and kennels, does not make him look down upon the cat as an inferior animal. Lord Decies has bred cats himself for 15 years, and owns to an interest in even smaller animals of the furry type. At the moment at Birchington, there is a 'bird room' containing some very choice specimens. (One cockatoo has really the sense and affection of a child!). A tame mongoose, which will go through a series of tricks at the bidding of its mistress, and one or two valuable and rare Toy Bull-terriers, which have the run of the house. But the cats are very prime favourites both with Lord and Lady Decies, and the pretty and tasteful rooms at Beresford Lodge are full of the signs of their presence and the trophies they have won. Several beautiful portraits by Luker stand about on easels, and in the middle of one long room is a gilded show pen on a polished table, for the convenience of showing off any cat which may be brought in for inspection.
"No, Since its removal to Birchington the Fulmer cattery has most certainly added to its laurels, and at our shows we now welcome two enthusiastic and popular fanciers in the persons of both Lord and Lady Decies.
"And yet two of the best known of Lady Decies' cats have this year died, Ch.Xenophon, who cannot be replaced, and the noted Lord Southampton, whose purchase price of £60 constitutes a record in this country. Shall we speak first of the cats or of their comfortable quarters? Various quarters to suit various tastes are provided in the grounds of Beresford Lodge. There is a cosy cottage, where Mrs. Casson, the invaluable cat attendant, reigns supreme. Here we saw Ch.Zaida, resting after the Palace Show, looking perfectly lovely in a pink-lined nest.
"There are also several outdoor catteries at Birchington, beautifully built, airy, dry, and warm, and so sensibly arranged that it is an easy matter to keep them clean and sweet. Here we saw Fulmer Prince of Thanet, a fine pale blue, whose home name is 'Foxey'. It is a treat to see him in the ring class, he looks so thoroughly happy on his lead, and responds to the least sound of his mistress' voice. We must not forget Fulmer Bee Bee, the exquisite blue female, who has taken so many judges hearts by storm this season. She is a most completely finished little cat. All her points are about perfect, and she gives the idea of having just come out of a bandbox. Fulmer Natalie, another lovely blue queen, was in the comfortable quarters in the cottage devoted to 'hospital'. She had a touch of bronchitis, and, wrapped in a flannel jacket, was sitting by the fire, a steam kettle singing and keeping the atmosphere moist. Mrs. Casson had been sitting up all night with the patient, but the latter was showing every sign of convalescence when we paid our respects to her.
"It is perhaps, superfluous to say that all the many animals at Birchington are so thoroughly well looked after, so petted, and so very obviously happy, that a visit to them is a very real pleasure. They are intended to win at shows, and they do win at shows! But the dear things have no idea that this is the be-all and end-all of their existence! They are not merely surrounded by all the necessaries to keep them in show form, but with love and sympathy, and their pleasure is considered equally with their health. When the weather is too strong to allow of outdoor exercise, a large room with glass front and roof is at their service for romps and play.
"We have no sympathy with those who cast black looks upon money spent on the care and comfort of animals, and who say, 'How much better to spend the same amount on human beings!' It is a case of 'This ought ye to have done, and not have left the other undone'. Our 'little brothers and sisters' deserve all our love and care, and often reward it better than those who ought to be, but surely are not always, higher in the scale of creation."
The progeny list of 'Blue Noble' is extensive. So we will only list and make note of most noteworthy 'full', 'sire' and 'dam' siblings of 'Fulmer Prince of Thanet'. As to his name, it is likely that it is taken from the District of Thanet, which just happens to incorporate all the lands surrounding Beresford Lodge at 'Birchington-on-Sea, in the north-western corner of Kent. It also happens to have been the home of The Thanet Harriers, which would have come under the jurisdiction of Lord Decies. As 'Prince of Thanet' was born in July, four months after the marriage of Miss Willoughby to Lord Decies, it raises the possibility that Lord Decies himself may have had a hand in the naming of this newly acquired blue Persian male.
Miss Patterson, whose 'Sussex' cattery name comes from her address at 15 Sussex Mansions, W.C., had bred successfully her 'Sussex True Blue' to Mrs. W. Well's popular 'Blue Noble' before. In an earlier litter from the same parentage, born 19th February, 1900; were the prize-winning blue male 'Sussex Tinker' (USR:56) (CCRv4), and a blue female 'Branscombe Pitti Sing'.(CCRv4)(OC:26/Apr/02).
It is the writers belief that another female, from the same parentage and erroneously entered into the Beresford Cat Club Register with the birthdate of 1st March, 1900, was 'Madison Blue Flash', (formerly 'Sussex Blue Flash') was in fact a litter-mate and full sibling to the former two cats.(BCC:224). Her breeder is listed as Miss Patterson, and she was imported into the United States by Mrs. Clinton Locke, becoming the property of Lucy C. Johnstone of Chicago. This sibling won 1st in Novice, Special and 2nd Best Female in Show, at Chicago in 1901. She went on to win 1st and Special at Detroit 1901, 1st and Best Cat in Show at Cleveland 1901, and 1st and Special at Chicago, in January 1902. Only her date of birth is unreconciled, being only two weeks apart!
In a repeat breeding, in a litter born 22nd July 1901, came along 'Fulmer Prince of Thanet', as well as his litter mates, the males 'Sussex Blue Fox' and 'Sussex Tinker II', and the females 'Sussex Girlie' and 'Bunch' (MCCC:1902), the latter being sold to Miss A.J. Terrill.
Sire siblings of 'Fulmer Prince of Thanet':
There were of course, innumerable sire siblings by 'Blue Noble', but among the most notable, were those produced by the Rev.P.L.Cosway in the combination between 'Blue Noble' and Rev.Cosway's 'Angela'. From this mating were produced, both 'Blue Knight' and 'Imperial Blue', shown below. Other blues from this combination included 'Ashbrittle Superba',a blue female owned by Mrs. E.A. Clark, 'Windyate Blue Mist', a blue female owned by Mrs. Brough, 'Windsor Blue Gift', a blue female owned by Lady Marcus Beresford, as well as 'Rupert', 'Saracenesca' and 'Lurline', all initially retained by Rev. Cosway. Another half-sibling by 'Blue Noble' was Mrs. Hastings Lee's well-known blue Persian neuter 'Lingmoor Dick'.
'Imperial Blue' was ultimately imported into the United States by Mrs. Frank.L. Norton of Cazenovia, New York. His former owner and agent in the sale, was Miss Frances Simpson. 'Saracenesca' was similarly owned and agented by Miss Simpson, and original exported to Mrs. Mary B. Thurston, of Newport, Rhode Island. She was subsequently registered as 'Oasis Hoar Frost'(BCC:372), later changing hands into the ownership of Miss Adeline T. Lincoln, with her name also being amended to 'Worcester Saracenesca'. (BCC: 588). Her wins included 1st and Special at Worcester, 1902; 2nd in New York, 1903; and 1st at Boston in 1903.
Dam siblings of 'Fulmer Prince of Thanet':
'Sussex True Blue' was Miss Patterson's most reliable and most prolific blue female. Among her alternative successful breedings, those to 'Don Juan II' in 1899, 1900 and 1901 appear to have produced notable results. A son 'Sussex Timkins' (BCC:313) gained a first in the kitten class at the Crystal Palace Show of 1900, and was subsequently exported to Mrs. Florence I. Vivell, of Hot Springs, Arkansas. He was later owned by Mrs. Frank L. Norton of Cazenovia, New York.
'True Blue' also appears to have been bred back to her son 'Sussex Tinker', and from this breeding she produced 'Sussex Dolly Blue' born 20th February, 1901. This female was exported similarly exported to Mrs. F.I. Vivell, of Hot Springs, Arkansas. Her name was changed to 'Dolly Bluett' (BCC:444), and like her half brother 'Sussex Timkins' she went from Mrs. Vivell to Mrs. F.L. Norton in New York.
Of note, are a blue male, 'Don Blu'un', born 20th May, 1899, sired by 'Don Juan II'. He was owned initially by E.M.de Morgan, then later by Miss Bartlett, appearing in a stud advertisement in 'Our Cats' in 1904; also a blue female, 'Windsor Juanita', born 11th June, 1900, (CCRv4) was also sired by 'Don Juan II' and owned by Lady Marcus Beresford.
'Fulmer Prince of Thanet' does not appear to have done much winning, which may explain why he was moved on from Lady Decies to Miss Bennet. No doubt there was a lot of competition at the time from his full and half siblings, many of whom were show prize-winners. In the National Cat Club stud book we find two entries, a 2nd prize at the Botanic Show, 1902; and another 2nd at Harrogate in 1902.
Most, if not all recorded progeny to be found for 'Prince of Thanet' appear to have been born after he moved into the ownership of Mrs. Bennet of 'Rokeles' Hall. These include, in date of birth order:
'Fulmer Prince of Thanet' was not a high flier like some of his full and half siblings. He was merely representative of the great work done by breeders of Blue Persians to create and maintain a consistency of form for their colour variety, an aim in which they were ultimately highly successful in achieving, giving as it did, the Persian breed an extremely competitive advantage for many decades.
As a sire, he was not prolific but was very carefully integrated into Mrs. Bennet's lines and I believe she used him wisely and beneficially in building her pedigrees. The best breeding appears to have been that to 'Rokeles Kissi', to produce 'Rokeles Mirari'.
His life at Beresford Lodge, and in particular, his painting by Luker; all help to put the rise of the Blue Persian into historical context. In the painting we view the silent 'imperative', to produce top quality blues, grand in appearance and bearing, well coated in a sound but even soft shade of grey/blue, with deeply coloured gold to copper eyes, giving an expressive and overall pleasing expression. These were the early foundations of the developing breed, which would ultimately give rise to the blue Persian becoming a 'tour de force' in the growing fancy.
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).
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