A brown horse, bred by Mr. Barrs of Repton Park, Nottinghamshire. He was foaled in 1862, and was by Leicestershire (Bomber's) out of a mare also bred by Mr. Bans, but whose pedigree is not known.
He remained in the possession of his breeder until about 1875, when he passed into the hands of Mr. Kyte of Smalley, Derbyshire, who travelled him for a season or two and then sold him to Lord Ellesmere. He was subsequently repurchased by Mr. Kyte, in whose hands he died in 1883 at the age of twenty years.
Special attention was first directed to him as a sire by the success of two of his sons (geldings) in the show ring, but it was not until he became advanced in years that his merit as a stock horse became generally recognized. He was not a big horse, but had some wonderful legs and feet, and when mated with sizy Derbyshire mares he produced some excellent stock.
At the London Show in 1883 his son Esquire, sire of Shrewsbury, Knight of the Shire, and other good horses, took first prize as a yearling. In 1884 that good horse Prince William, 3956, another of his get, occupied a similar position in the one-year-old division, and Esquire again took first in his class. Prince William was afterwards sold to Mr. John Rowell for 240 guineas. As a three-year-old he continued his success at London and elsewhere, and was purchased by Lord Wantage for 1500 guineas. Since that time he has proved as successful at the stud as he was in the show ring.
William the Conqueror was also the sire of Staunton Hero, 2918; Endymion, 3073; Blyth William, 4260; Royal William, 4661; Carlton William: Hengest, 4452; Hitchin Conqueror, 4458; and many others who have distinguished themselves both at the stud and in the ring have pledged themselves. As a result of their exertions, the annual show in the early spring of each year has come to be regarded as one of the most popular exhibitions of its kind that is held in London, and it is, moreover, the means of attracting the attention of many persons to the merits of the Shire who would otherwise have been ignorant of, or indifferent to, the value of this class of horse. As a proof of the higher estimation in which Shire horses are held compared with that of only a few years ago, and the increased value now set upon them, a little information concerning the prices paid for some of the most representative animals of their respective generations may be referred to. Amongst them are the following: - Sweet William, a noted horse, was sold in 1778 for 350 guineas, whilst a few years later a horse called Marston changed hands at 500 guineas. These figures may be regarded as exceptionally high ones for the times, but they offer a striking contrast to those of a more recent period. In 1882 Sir Walter Gilbey paid 800 guineas for Spark, with which horse he won the Challenge Cup at the Society's show in 1883; whilst three years later Lord Wantage was content to give Mr. John Rowell 1500 guineas for his champion colt Prince William, when only two years old. These long figures were, however, far exceeded when the Earl of Ellesmere paid 2000 guineas for the black Vulcan, which had never been seen in a show-ring at the time, though the judgment displayed in selecting the horse was fully vindicated by his taking the championship at the Shire Horse Society's show in the years 1889 and 1891. Even then, however, the highest price to be paid for a Shire stallion was not reached, as a year later Mr. Joseph Wainwright purchased of Mr. John Rowell the black colt Bury Victor Chief, which had achieved supreme honours at the above national show in 1892, for the hitherto record price of 2500 guineas, after the youngster had added to his London triumph by securing the leading honours at the Doncaster show of the Royal Agricultural Society of England; and everyone was pleased when Bury Victor Chief repaid his new owner for his enterprise by securing for him the Challenge Cup of the Society in 1894. Such figures as the above cannot fail to impress upon readers the enhanced value of the Shire horse of the present day, and the important position he now occupies in the equine world. That his popularity is likely to be still further increased is absolutely certain, and the success which the Shire Horse Society has achieved should stimulate the supporters of other breeds to unite together and work amicably for the furtherance of the common object which they have in view - namely, the development of the horse upon which they have centred their interest, and in which their capital is invested.