Llewellin Setter History
|Llewellin Setters–Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q: What is a Llewellin Setter?It’s a very specific, pure strain of “English Setter with bloodline’s tracing back to the breeding program of nineteenth century sportsman R. L. Purcell Llewellin. Llewellin and Edward Laverack played a key role in the development of the breed. Llewellin’s name has been irrevocably associated with those English Setters bred for field work.” It should be noted that not all field-type English Setters are FDSB Registered Llewellin Setters, and “Llewellin-type” setters are not FDSB registered Llewellin Setters.
The generic use of the term ‘Llewellin’ for all field-type English Setters does NOT mean that the dog is a registered Llewellin. If the dog is not registered as Llewellin with the Field Dog Stud Book (FDSB) of Chicago, then, it is not technically a Llewellin in an historic sense. I, personally, don’t have a problem with folks using “Llewellin” as a generic term to describe field English Setters as long as they know that there is difference. Llewellin bloodline’s include Dashing Bondhu (= Scinn Amach = Luathas), Wind’em (= Machad = Cloncurragh = Advie (but >90% Dashing)), Bomber, Gladstone, Tony-O, Royacelle and Blizzard.
“In the mid-1860s, R.L. Purcell Llewellin of Pembrokeshire, South Wales, began his breeding program utilizing dogs obtained from Laverack. Llewellin was primarily interested in developing dogs for field work, and he experimented with various crosses before discovering the nick that would ultimately establish his name as a synonym for topnotch field-bred English Setters.” As an aside, confusion also stems from the fact that the AKC does not recognise the Llewellin separately from English, and they refer to all “field-type” English setters as “Llewellin” which is technically incorrect….but we all know what the AKC has done for field dogs 🙂
“Llewellin’s breakthrough occurred when he purchased two dogs, Dan and Dick, while attending a field trial at Shewbury in 1871. Dan and Dick were sons of a dog named Duke, owned by Barclay Field, and a bitch named Rhoebe (Rhoebe’s dam was half Gordon and half South Esk, a now extinct breed), owned by Thomas Statter; both of these dogs were out of northern England stock noted for outstanding field work. Llewellin bred Dan and Dick to his Laverack females, and a new era in bird dog history was begun.”“The Duke, Rhoebe, and Laverack crossing produced exactly what Llewellin was looking for, and the offspring quickly attracted the notice of sportsmen in both England and North America. Dan proved to be especially preponent, and it was he who sired Gladstone, one of the most important Llewellin’s of all time. Gladstone quickly established himself as a top field performer and sire. His achievements contributed greatly to the surge of popularity the Llewellin’s were soon to enjoy.”
“Today, only the Field Dog Stud Book (FDSB) of Chicago, published by American Field, recognizes Llewellin’s as those English Setters whose ancestry traces back to the Original Duke-Rhoebe-Laverack Cross.” Hence, all Llewellin’s are currently registered via the FDSB separately from English. Although some do breed English to Llewellin, in such cases, the litter must be registered as English Setter with the FDSB and NOT Llewellin. Any such outcrossing of Llewellin lines disqualifies the resulting litters registration as Llewellin with the FDSB.
The above text is taken with permission from Troy Sparks Llewellin Setter Page
William Humphrey is considered to be one of the most influential and successful breeders of Llewellin Setters of all time. He was born in in the county of Yorkshire near Bingley in 1883. His Kennel was located at Lake Cottage, Lydbury North, Shropshire. Mr. Humphrey was a true Sportsman and extraordinary talented; he was a Falconer, and was frequently seen and photographed with his Golden Eagle he trained. Excerpts are from William Humphrey’s personal notes.
As a young man in 1897, he trained a Llewellin Setter owned by Mr. Laws Turner (bred by Mr. Llewellin), by the name of “Jubilee”. Humphrey noted, “In my opinion he is the most remarkable Bird Dog I have ever saw, he had more intelligence and endurance than any dog I have known”. Jubilee was the son of “Satin Bondhu” (Satin Bondhu was out of Dashing Bondhu & Duchess Placid) and “Rhoebe Wind’em” (Rhoebe Wind’em was the granddaughter of “Count Wind’em” and the champion “Novel”). Mr. Laws Turner later bred “Jubilee” to his “Hatfield Jill” and gave a Puppy from that litter to Mr. Humprey, which he named “Countess Bondhu”!
It is important to note that Purcel Llewellin allowed William Humphrey to breed his Countess Bondhu with his “Royal Wind’em and “Lill Wind’em”. Mr. Humphrey kept these bloodlines of this great breeding in his kennel.
Mr. Humphrey, already accomplished as a breeder, hunter, and trainer acquired Purcel Llewellin’s kennel of Setters following Mr. Llewellins death in 1925. The “Torch” was now passed to him. In his own words (1926 letter to Capt. Iain Ramsay of Kilda ton) Humphrey wrote, “I had known Mr. Llewellin all my life and have endless advice and training under him, and knowing his methods of breeding I feel I can carry on his great work”.
In 1941 Mr. Humphrey acquired all Mr. H.C. Hartley’s dogs in his Kennel following his death. Humphrey considered Mr. Hartley having “the finest kennel of both Laverack and Llewellin blood in the world”.
Mr. Humphrey also acquired the “last of the great setters owned and bred by Mr. Laws Turner in 1932”. These dogs became, “Some of the best Field Trial Setters ever bred; Horsford’s Dashing Drake, Dan, Bravo and Roselind”. William Humphrey passed away at Lake Cottage in 1963.
William Humphrey writes, “Meeting Purcel Llewellin for the first time”!
“My first meeting with Mr. Llewellin was at the National Field Trials 1892, and I well remember seeing the final between his “Satin Bondhu” and the great setter Field Trial champion “Fred Wind’em”. I went with my father who was running one of his pointers, I noticed a tall upright man, always alone and away from other people; this aroused my sympathy. I made my way to this lonesome, and I believed poor, person and entered into conversation with him. To my surprise he knew my name and said how pleased he was that I had come along to talk to him. During our chat I enquired if he could sell me a setter puppy cheaply, and if he had any luck, pointing out how important it was that both he and my father should win, as the money would be much more useful to them than to the better-off competitors. With this he agreed. He told me that the dogs that he and his breakers were holding were “Belle Bondhu”, “Coquet Bondhu”, and “Satin Bondhu”.Until he had told me that I was not aware that I was talking to the great Mr. Llewellin that I had heard so much about. He enquired which I preferred, Setters or Pointers.
I replied that I love Setters but did not like Pointers as they were usually headstrong and needed a lot of whip. He replied, yes, that was due to their having foxhound blood, and that hounds need the whip. From that period to the time of his death we enjoyed each other’s friendship and trust, so much so it was his wish that I should have all his breeding records and write the history of his breed.
This I have done to the best of my humble ability. Even as a boy of nine years of age I knew a good dog when I saw it in action, and I was greatly interested in the final between these two dogs, “Fred Wind’em” and “Satin Bondhu”.
I had heard so much praise of the former who was the ultimate winner. They were a grand brace, and possessed immense boldness and independence, with that true Setter Merry Style”.
Mr. Laverack’s breed of Setters (named after his name; “Laverack Setter”) were much sought after and highly admired by sportsman and Royalty in England, Ireland, United States and the Highlands of Scotland (where he hunted since 1816 at the age of 16 years old).
In his own words, penned in the year of 1872, “I can say with truth it has taken me a lifetime (being, over seventy-three years of age) to retain and keep perfect this breed. Purity of Blood, is breeding from ancestry of known and tested goodness, which is only discoverable by having actually worked them yourself, or seen them worked, thereby enabling you to judge of the natural dispositions, capabilities, sagacity,and adaptability for finding game”.
The developmental history of the Llewellin Setter goes back to the early 1800’s, to Edward Laverack, and his magnificent breed of Field Setters, and in the later 1800’s, to his collaboration with Mr. R. LL. Purcell Llewellin who became his understudy, dear friend and benefactor. Mr. Laverack wrote about Mr. Llewellin (1872) the following, “He has endeavored, and is still endeavoring, by sparing neither expense nor trouble, to bring to perfection the Setter”. That quote, from Laverack reflects on his own life’s passion; “dedicating his life to the study of Field Setters, and the perfection of breeding”.
Mr. Laverack was highly respected in upper circles and had a reputation as great sportsman and remarkable shot. Shooting over his dogs, he once killed 80 Grouse with 80 shots hunting in the Moors of the United Kingdom. In 1825, on another hunting venture near Carlisle, he visited Rev. Harrison, whose working Setters had a very high reputation (For 35 years, Rev. Harrison bred a “Pure Blood” strain of Field Setters, dating back to 1790). Mr. Laverack procured of 2 of these Setters from Rev. Harrison; Old Moll, a Silver & Grey (Blue Belton) Bitch, and a Male by the name of Ponto, who’s color was a dark Black & Grey.
Mr. Laverack inter-bred the Sons, Daughters, Grandsons, and Granddaughters of Old Moll and Ponto for over 44 years without outcross, keeping this continuous blood “Pure” for over 80 years! Mr. Laverack’s successful breeding program focused on; “Perfection of form, as best adapted to speed, nose, and endurance, and the innate predisposition to hunt, and point naturally in search of game”. Mr. Laverack’s original brace by Ponto and Old Moll (whelped about 1825) bred two offspring; Dash i, a black and white Male, and his sister Belle i, who’s color is notated as orange and white. “This brother and sister mated together, bred; Laverack’s B,W Pilot, his Orange Moll ii, and his B,W Cora i (the Dam of Cora ii Dam of Champion Dash ii).
Laverack/Llewellin breeding: While attending Field Trials in Shrewsbury in 1871, Purcell Llewellin purchased Ch. Dan and Ch. Dick, 2 brothers and their sister Dora (Non-Laveracks). They were out of: Barclay Field’s F.T.Ch. Duke and T. Statter’s Rhoebe. Barclay Field’s F.T.Ch. Duke, 1361 B,W whelped 1864 was out of Sir Graham’s Duke and Sir Vincent Corbett’s Slut. T. Statter’s Rhoebe 1546 W,B,T was out of Hackett’s Rake (1403 B,W,T “contained much Gordon Setter breeding”) and Statter’s Psyche (1537 B,W,T ½ Lord Gordons breed and ½ Lord Southesk’s Breed (now an extinct breed).
It was widely known, that Mr. Llewellin’s purchase of Dan and Dick came at a “very high” price for breeding them to Laverack’s bitches. This is the beginning of the llewellin Setter Breed! Dan was bred to Laverack’s Ch. Countess (this pairing can be found in the Pedigree’s of Count Wind’em and Dashing Bondhu). Dan bred to Nellie (this pairing can be found in the Pedigree of Champion Nora (Dam of Count Noble), Dan bred to Lill ii, she produced Lincoln, through combinations of breeding (was the founder of the “Gleam Blood” in America). Dan and Petrel; after Petrel was bred, she was sold to L.H. Smith, Ontario. Petrel arrived in Canada in whelp, and produced the famous Gladstone from this litter!
Mr. Laverack was born in Keswick, Cumberland on June 4th, 1800. He spent his lifetime hunting the British Isles with his Setters. As Breeder, he bred to perfection. He died April 4th, 1877. A monument was erected at his gravesite, engraved with the following; “To the memory of Edward Laverack, born 1800; died 1877 at Broughall Cottage. This monument is erected by admirers in England and America”. On the back engraved; “His great love for the lower animals made him many friends. He was specially fond of dogs and by careful selection remodeled the English Setter, the best of which are known by his name”.
The following, are some of the many, early documented Champions (circa 1800’s) of the Laverack Setter bloodlines (Note: Many of the Laverack blood is not included on this list, and many achieved great success in the Field and were Highly Regarded but never entered organized Field events):
Ch. Dash ii (B,W whelped 1862) out of Sting & Cora ii, Champion Prizes 1870(2), 1871, 1872, 1874 (owned & bred by E. Laverack).