FRANCES A. SIMPSON (1857-1926)


There is little doubt that whatever notoriety Frances enjoyed up to this point in time, was greatly enhanced by the final publication of The Book of The Cat, which catapulted her into the realm of 'feline expert' and 'historian extraordinaire'. She was in constant demand as a judge, and her opinion was sought by cat fanciers around the world, many of whom personally asked her to look for potential cats to enhance their respective breeding programs.

By 1909, when Cats and All About Them was revised and republished under the new name of Cats for Pleasure and Profit , Frances and her brother had long since moved to 9 Leonard Place, Kensington. This new and revised edition was published by Sir Isaac Pitman and Sons. In the preface to this edition Frances states:

"When it was suggested to me that I should write a handbook on cats, I had no idea that my little work would be so popular, or that I should be asked in so short a time to bring out a second edition. It is very gratifying to find that 'Cats and All About Them' has given such satisfaction to so many, for I have received hundreds of letter from all parts expressing great appreciation of the little book"... "I trust, however, the same success will follow the little yellow book, and that still more cat lovers will become cat fanciers through the medium of its pages."3

Cats for Pleasure and Profit
New and Revised Edition 1909
Published by Sir Isaac Pitman & Sons Ltd
Courtesy of The Harrison Weir Collection

More exports followed, which included a blue Persian male bred by Frances, originally named 'Bonnie Billy' born 29th March, 1909. His sire was 'Blue Baron' and his dam was 'Beloved'. He was duly sold to Mrs. J.B. Smith, in Cleveland, Ohio, where he was registered with ACA as 'Coventry Medindie'. Such exports, give us an unexpected retrospective insight, into what cats Frances was breeding with at this point in time.8

A second export, was a black Persian male, bred by Frances, named 'Egyptus', born 14th April, 1909. His sire is listed as 'Hamilton Reou' and his dam as 'Zeida' (by Black Boy out of Dinah). Little is known about these lines. But this black male was sold to Mrs. H.L. Pickett of Minneapolis, Minnesota, and duly registered in ACA as 'Delphinium Egyptus'.8

Another exportation, coming close on the heels of both 'Bonnie Billy', and 'Egyptus',was a pair of blue Persian kittens, littermates, bred by Frances, a male named 'Little Ben' and a female, interestingly named 'Lady Frances'. These were born 4th July, 1909, sired by 'Big Ben' and out of 'Blue Weenie'. These both became the property of a Miss Ada Rhodes.8

On the home front, the blue Persian had made considerable strides, with cats such as 'Eng.Ch. Sir Archie II of Arrandale', bred and owned by Mrs. George Wilson, sweeping the show bench, and carrying the torch for the Persian standard to new heights. And, just as Frances had hoped, new breeders and fanciers were flooding the ranks of the Blue Persian Cat Society and swelling the membership of the various clubs. The 'Fancy', by this time, appeared to be growing from strength to strength.

In 1910 the British Fancy became united and the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy was born.

However, also by this time, another division had taken place. 'The Cat Club' which had been set up by Lady Marcus Beresford in direct opposition to the National Cat Club in 1898, was wound up in 1904. From then until 1908, the National Cat Club again reigned supreme, when another split came about, with eight clubs breaking away to form the Incorporated Cat Fanciers Association. But in 1910 came a breakthrough, and at a meeting of all the parties at Westminster, a decision was taken to form a new Council, to be called the 'Governing Council of the Cat Fancy' or 'GCCF'. The National Cat Club, at this juncture agreed to hand over all its governing powers to the new council in return for four delegate seats on the council as opposed to the one or two delegate seats relegated to the other participating clubs. And thus again, the British Fancy became united, and the Governing Council was born, with one single register in operation from that point in time. To this day, historians, when researching the ancestry of cats, have to delve into the records of the GCCF, the NCC, the CCR and the ICFA to cover all bases in the United Kingdom, and then to the Beresford Cat Club, the ACA and CFA to cover their bases on the American continent.9

As Secretary and/or Delegate for the Blue Persian Cat Society, Frances Simpson would have had a seat on the newly formed Governing Council.

Miss Frances Simpson, judging a white kitten
at the Crystal Palace Show of 1910

Photo: 'Every Woman's Encyclopaedia' Vol.1 18
Image courtesy of The Harrison Weir Collection

Also around this time, between 1910 and 1912, Frances penned a series of articles for the publishers of Every Woman's Encyclopaedia. These included short dialogues about the various specialist colour varieties within Longhairs, such as Black and White, Blue, Cream and Orange, Tabbies, and Chinchillas, but also included separate articles on Shorthairs, including Manx, various colour varieties of early English (British) shorthaired cats and a memorable one on Siamese. In one very rare and humorous instance, her article on Siamese contained a passage about their two seemingly distinct types, comparing the popularity of one against the other. In it, she takes a very personal stance and makes a pointed prediction about them, which over time would be proven to be very wrong. It stated:

There are two types of Siamese cats in England.

"There are two types of Siamese cats in England. The one is compactly built, short in body, low on the legs, and round in head, with rather thick and not very closely lying coat. The other type is longer in body, with a wedge-shaped head and face, and the coat is more glossy and the limbs more lithe and sinuous. This is the foreign variety, which, however, does not find so much favour with fanciers as the cobby type of Siamese."19

And as history has shown us, it was the foreign variety, more lithe and sinuous, with a wedge shaped head and glossy close-lying coat that eventually won the day! But her very apt description of both styles, and the terminology chosen to describe their varying features, was supremely accurate! Here was yet more evidence of an expert, with keen powers of observation.

We now take a snapshot of a major show in which Frances Simpson officiated in her capacity as a Judge, including a segment of her show report. This was the ever popular Southern Counties Cat Club's annual show, held in the Royal Horticultural Society Hall at Westminster, on January 16th and 17th, 1913. The show was ably run by the popular President of Committee, Mrs. Lena Sinkins, assisted by the Hon. Sec, Mrs. P. Millar. and a hard working show committee comprised of Mrs. Maturin, Mrs. Watson, Mrs. Owen, Miss Lea, Miss Hill Shaw, and Messrs W.H. Powell and T. Watson.

The event was well covered by Fur and Feather, from which we have drawn the following quotations:16

Oaklands Steadfast secures Special for Best in Show

"This important and popular fixture was held on Thursday and Friday of last week, Jan 16th & 17th, and was a great success. The hall of the Royal Horticultural Society at Westminster could not be improved upon for the purpose, the space, light, and ventilation being perfect, whilst the adjacent rooms and offices are admirably adapted for Club meeting etc….

"The total entry was 770, in 100 classes, as against 792 in 99 classes last year, but there was a greater number of Cats. In blues perhaps, the greatest falling-off was noticeable, as last year, it will be remembered, there was the remarkable entry of 233 in 17 classes, against 170 this year in one class less…..

"Quality throughout, however, was exceptionally good, as most of the best Cats of the day were on view. The judging for best Cat in show during the afternoon of the first day was followed with great interest, the award eventually going to Miss Cheetham's grand blue male, Oaklands Steadfast, which held a similar position at Birmingham. Mrs. Sedgewick's chinchilla queen, Thelma Lenora, was adjudged the best female. She is a beautiful exhibit, and was in grand coat and condition. This exhibit also secured Mr. Mason's Appreciation Bowl for Best Longhair bred by exhibitor."

A view of the Show Hall at Westminster, January 16th, 1913.
Published in 'Fur and Feather', January 24th, 1913 16
Image courtesy of The Harrison Weir Collection

In the published Judges' commentaries that followed we find:

Mr. Mason's Classes: Longhair
"….Team: 1.Miss Cheetham, the winning Blues, Steadfast, Seabreeze and Sheila, three of the very best blues seen this year, in rare order:"16

Miss Simpson's Classes:
"LONGHAIRS: BLUE MALE, 14: 1,ch, ch.cup, and spls, best Cat in Show, Miss Cheetham, Oaklands Steadfast, beautiful eyes, A1 shape, rare head and bone, good coat, level colour, and in fine trim; 2, Mrs. G.Wilson, Sir Archie of Arrandale, massive cat, strong in bone, with great wealth of coat, not as cobbily built as leader, and loses in eye and soundness of colour underneath, in perfect condition; 3, Miss Cheetham, Oaklands Silvio, nice head and bone, big frame, loses eye and coat, the latter being inclined to lay flat; r. Mrs. Finch, >Sir Reginald Samson, paler in eye and not as sound in colour, good coat, grand size and bone…..

... doubt if a trio of better blue queens was ever penned at the same time ...

"FEMALE, 19: 1, Ch, spls, 2, 3, Miss Cheetham, we doubt if a trio of better blue queens was ever penned at the same time, by one exhibitor; they were Oaklands Sheila, Sceptre, and Seabreeze, three wonderful Cats, and penned in magnificent coat and condition; I rather liked Sceptre as leader, though on the day, the leader carried a bit more bloom, whilst those wide-awake eyes are very fascinating. Nevertheless, they are three truly wonderful Cats, and need no further description."16

What a totally amazing tribute to Miss Cheetham's beautiful cats, both males and females by an exceptional judge and authority on Blues and the founding Secretary of the Blue Persian Cat Society! The below historic photo, which was also published in Fur and Feather is taken from an original photo once the property of Miss Gladys Cheetham. It is now forms a part of the permanent cat fancy memorabilia housed in 'The Harrison Weir Collection'. The inimitable Miss Frances Simpson is standing at the extreme right.

Some of the Visitors at Westminster - (a proud day for Miss Cheetham, seated centre)
(Left to right): Mr. Oliver, Mr. Mason, Mr. Wardell, Mr. Norris, Mr. Cheetham, Miss Cheetham, Mr. Miles, Mrs. Watson, Miss New, Mr. Watson, Mr. Ambrose and Miss Simpson
Photo: T H Everitt, from the Estate of Gladys Cheetham24
Courtesy of The Harrison Weir Collection

Miss Gladys Cheetham with 'Oaklands Steadfast'
Photo: T.H.Everitt. (1913)24
Courtesy of The Harrison Weir Collection

A little over a year later, in February 1914, an article appeared in The Queen - The Ladies Newspaper describing in detail, a visit to the Oaklands Cattery, and containing a very in depth description of most of the inhabitants. That record, is clearly the work of a professional in assessing the cats and the claims that are made in it, point somewhat definitively to the penmanship being that of Frances Simpson.

"I was invited to accompany Miss Gladys Cheetham on her morning feeding round. She carried a large deep can of steaming cooked meat, and with wooden spoon distributed it in clean earthenware dishes placed ready in each cattery.

"We came first to the large enclosure where Steadfast, the superb stud cat, lives, disporting himself. He was told 'to roll for the missus,'whereupon the big fluffy fellow threw himself down and turned over and over. Then having earned his meal he quickly set to work on the well-filled dish of meat.

"This grand male has been Miss Cheetham's property for a little over a year, and has won five championships. His eyes are so deep in colour as to be startling………"17

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  1. Historical Overview
  2. The Early Years
  3. Working, Breeding & Exhibiting
  4. The 'Mater' Dynasty
  5. Show Management & Judging
  6. Old & New Interests
  7. Of Blue Persian & New Societies
  8. Export Agent, Author & Historian
  9. More Writing, GCCF & Judging
  10. The Latter Years, with Editor Note and References

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