Royal Albert was a rich brown horse standing 17 hands 2 inches, with two white hind-legs and a blaze down the face.
He was bred by Mr. C. Marsden of Hatfield, near Doncaster, in 1872, and as a foal was purchased by Mr. Walter Johnson of the same place. In 1883 he was sold to Mr. G Naylor of Newhaven, Derbyshire, who, after travelling him one season, disposed of him to Mr. Cecil Salt of Willington, Burton-on-Trent, where he continued in service until the early part of 1890, when he died. He was a big, powerful, and commanding horse, with a lot of fine quality; somewhat narrow, perhaps, in front, but possessing a grand fore end, good feet and pasterns, and the most perfect hind limbs. His legs were full of beautiful silky hair, and big with flat bone.
Royal Albert was by Messrs. Johnson's Young John Bull, out of a big black cart mare, whose sire was Royal Albert by Abraham Newland. He distinguished himself more at the stud than in the show ring, although as a two- and three-year-old he won several prizes, notably 1st at Thorne, 1st at Snaith, 1st and silver cup at Doncaster as the "best stallion for getting agricultural and dray horses", and a prize of £5 at the great Yorkshire show.
During the eleven years he was in Mr. Johnson's possession he served at a stud fee of £2, and finished up at Mr. Cecil Salt's, where in his later days he was well patronized at a fee of ten guineas. He left many good mares in Yorkshire, but, says Mr. Johnson, "He seems to have done better among the old-fashioned Derbyshire matrons".
It has been said that King Charming, 3166, and The Beau, 3357, were the first to bring him into prominence in 1884, but it was more particularly in the hands of Mr. Cecil Salt that he really distinguished himself as a sire. Here he got Albert Edward, 5167; Willington Roan Boy, 10,792; Fear None, 4391; Calthorpe Conqueror, 9106; Albert II, 5466; Majestic, 3208; and Dunsmore Al, 9221.
Among the many good mares which have desended from him, and distinguished themselves in the show ring and at the stud, may be mentioned Lord Ellesmere's Princess Louisa, Mr. Hanson's Flower, Mr. M'Gibbon's Bonny Jean, Lord Wantage's Forest Queen, Mr. J. Brook's Champion, and many others so curious as the great lords and great gentry were heretofore, neither would they be at the cost". The noble author has, however, a word of praise for English horses, for he supplements his former observations by saying of them: "There are none like them in the world to breed on, but then you must choose them fit for such horses as you would breed" a piece of advice which must have been obvious to most of his readers. In the course of his work, the Duke of Newcastle appears to be a little hard on Blundeville upon one or two occasions, and unnecessarily so, he being particularly unfortunate in his sneer at the drawing capacity of the heavy horses, as he had evidently not taken into consideration the weight of the vehicles and the badness of the roads which have been referred to above. He denies the existence of the similarity that the earlier writer notices between the Flemish, Almaine, and English animals, and in fact appears to have written with some degree of hostility towards Blundeville, for the justification of which no good reason is forthcoming.
CHAMPION SHIRE MARE, ROKEBY FUCHSIA.
By Lincolnshire Boy; dam, Lady Grey by. Noble Devonshire, The Property of A. J. Hollington, Esq., Enfield. Winner of Numerous Prizes'
At a still more recent period it is related that the state coach of Queen Anne was drawn by a team of long-tailed mares of large proportions; and then there occurs another hiatus in the history of the heavy horse; though in the year 1796 an article in the Sporting Magazine refers to "a large and strong breed in the more fertile and luxuriant part of the island", and to the fact of there being no country that could produce their equal for strength and size, "as there are instances of single horses that are able to draw the weight of three tons". Sir Walter Gilbey notices a writer, the well-known Arthur Young, who, in describing a tour he made through England, alludes to there being only two varieties of Cart-horses as deserving attention - "the large, black, old English-born, the produce, principally, of the Shire counties in the heart of England, and the sorrel-coloured Suffolk Punch, for which the sandy tract of country near Woodleigh is famous".
Another rather important link in the chain that connects the present Shire horse with his remote ancestors is to be found in the contribution supplied by John Scott to the Sportsman's Repository in the year 1820. This writer commences his observations by a description which is as follows: "A capital Cart-horse should not be more than 15 hands in height, with a brisk sparkling eye, a light well-shaped head, and short prickled ears, full chest and shoulder, but somewhat forelow, that is to say, heavier in his rump than his forehand. He should have sufficient general length, but be by no means leggy, large and swelling fillets, and flat bones. He should stand wide all-fours, but widest behind, bend his knees well, and have a brisk action walk."From some of his expressions, notably those referring to being lower in front and the bending of the knee, to say nothing of height, it appears probable that John Scott had the Suffolk mare more in his eye than the Shire at the time he wrote. This impression is confirmed by some of his subsequent remarks, as for instance his admission that one or two of his points were not in accord with opinions of "late years ", as many Cart-horses, he observes, "that realized the highest prices, stood 17 hands at the shoulder, and also showed the lofty forehand with the flat shoulder of the Coach-horse".
John Scott refers to the "large blacks" of the Midland counties and the Suffolk as the chief breeds of heavy horse, and states that the great Cart-horses of the Midlands were principally bred in Derbyshire, Warwickshire, Nottinghamshire, Lincolnshire, and Leicestershire, and that this variety has been reared in the lowland pastures of these shires from Flemish and Dutch stock. He admits, however, that in "distant" times only Belgic stallions were imported, but later, through the "systematic activity "of Bakewell of Dishley, mares of the first size were also brought from Flanders, and a breed of Thoroughbred horses with foreign blood on both sides was formed. These, he further states, were so improved that Bakewell, "about thirty years since", sent a black Cart stallion up for the king to see, recommending him for a sire of saddle horses; but though the horse had a light head well set on, deep shoulders, flat bone, and the action of a pony, his majesty declined the offer thus made him - and no doubt acted wisely. Very probably the extract thus made as to the opinions of John Scott may be in accord with the views of many persons who have devoted their time to the investigation of the ancestry of the Shire horse; but whether his statements are reliable or not, so far as the importation of foreign mares is concerned, they may nevertheless be interesting to many. It is of importance also to learn from Scott that the object of the breeders of the Bakewell era was to produce horses of 17 hands, and of proportionate bulk and weight, whilst the chief and most favoured colour was black. The larger-proportioned horses were, of course, for agricultural and heavy draught, whilst Scott adds that the inferior-sized ones were utilized for cavalry purposes and funerals.