59 Names for your Regency dog

James Hobson ( twitter @about1816)

I sampled ninety-eight DOG LOST advertisements in the British Newspapers between 1811 and 1820, partly so you don’t have too (even if you wanted to) and partly because I enjoy the small details of Regency life, including dogs and their names.

I know what question you are asking!

The winner with 3 votes from 80 is NELSON.  There were two, ROVERS, PRINCES, HECTORS and two dogs called CARLOS  ( all different dogs, although some people advertise in more than one newspaper so I had to be careful!) . There were two BLUCHERs after 1815, showing a healthy respect for the vital Prussian contribution at Waterloo.

Named Nelson, but not much like him

As well as discovering the most famous name was Nelson, I also discovered new colours.‘ Liver’ was a colour. I only every saw the word ‘brown’ used   twice. Two greyhounds were ‘blue’ ; some dogs were ‘lemon’

What else do the names tell you about Regency society? Well, it’s hard to be definitive, but here we go. The names were quite ambitious; we do have Ben, Bob, Tom and Sam, but these were often farmers’ dogs; but some from classical literature, some from current affairs, and some clearly designed to show the character of the dog. We can all see Wasp the terrier in our imagination,  and for than matter Smooch the brown curly setter, stolen when a puppy.

A number(c 25) of  the advertisements do not  mention the dog’s name at all. This is normally because they had a collar with the name of the owner on, or a very detailed description of the dog and its character was given. It’s hard to say if the named dogs also had collars, but from the amount of time spent describing collars, it suggests that they might have been a novelty.  All of the advertisements used the expression   ‘he answers to the name of x’   and never ‘his name is x’. Perhaps this shows a lack of sentimental anthropomorphism; people seemed to understand that dogs were responding the sound only and did not know their name.

Those who believe that their dog ran away usually say so-five percent say this explicitly. The vast majority know that their dog has either been stolen, or that somebody is holding on to it for the reward. The advertisement therefore have a dual function – a reward for the dog, no questions asked, AND a warning that failure to hand over the dog after the notification would led to a prosecution. This would have to be a private prosecution- the state only paid the bills for murder and treason trials. You would have to be rich to advertise for a lost dog.

If an exact sum of money was offered, it would normally be a guinea or half guinea, usually via a third party or with the offer of a third party to avoid the social embarrassment of  meeting the person whose dog you stole both theirs and yours. Sometimes there is a promise of a handsome reward, or that the finder will be handsomely rewarded, which suggests that there would have to be some more negotiation. My guess is that, if no fixed sum was mentioned, and then it would be unwise to bring the dog along to the first meeting.

What breeds of dog did people lose, and were prepared to pay for to get back?. It’s very limited.  They are mostly Pointers, Setters, Newfoundlands and Greyhounds, with the occasional coach dogs, mostly Dalmatians. There are few cross-breeds; the reason why may need investigation. Perhaps such dogs were not owned by people who could afford to advertise in newspapers.

Below are a list of 50 dogs, with their breeds and names, with the reward and whether the finders were also threatened with the law. All advertisements are 1810- 1820

  1. TIPPO a pug (unusually)- five shillings reward
  2. DASH- a small stout cocker –two pounds reward
  3. TRURO – a setter from CORNWALL, of course-  ‘handsome reward’
  4. BUZZ- a terrier- one pound ; no incentive offered
  5. CAPTAIN- a mastiff – half guinea   
  6. PRINCE- a spaniel-  ‘handsomely rewarded’ or ‘ the full force of the law’ if you hold on to him  
  7. PRINCE- a Danish coach dog- one guinea.
  8. FANNY- a pointer bitch June 1816  one pound reward or ‘full force of the law’
  9. THUNDER – ‘of very little use to anybody but the owner’ Newfoundland, One pound or the law
  10. RAG- a water dog – half a guinea.
  11. A greyhound called BLUEMAN, handsome reward.
  12. A mastiff called TYGER, half a guinea or the law.
  13. FOP, a cocker/ king Charles  cross, ‘found of putting his head in the banisters to see if anybody is following him –handsome reward.
  14. NERO- a brown pointer – ‘well rewarded’.
  15. CARLO- a lemon and white English Setter – shall be rewarded or the law.
  16. Another white Setter called CARLO, ‘with curled hair’  half a guinea or the law August 1819
  17. A leopard-spotted dog ( A Dalmatian)  by the name of LEOPARD, half a guinea or the law
  18. BRUSHER, a pointer with remarkably long ears, half a guinea or the law
  19. HECTOR, a  fine Greyhound, ‘his face grey with age, feet much broken from running’  two pounds.
  20. PERO, a remarkably handsome, yet fat  Pointer, yellow and white, handsomely rewarded.
  21. DRIVER, a bloodhound, with a small blemish on each elbow- one guinea and reasonable expenses
  22. GELERT, a Greyhound, one guinea or the law.
  23. A tick- marked white setter called TOPPER, one guinea or the law.
  24. BRAZEN, a blue mottled beagle bitch. Half a guinea
  25. A water dog appropriately called DIVER, half a guinea
  26. DASH, a ‘stout yet handsome’ Spaniel . Handsome rewarded
  27. At the port at Newcastle, PILOT, a white setter. Sept 19, one guinea or the law
  28. MARY, ‘a bitch of the French breed’, dirty liver coloured ears. Five shillings only; that’s Mary missing forever.
  29. A white greyhound called DART, owned by Mr Grimes, a man with no imagination -one guinea
  30. Another greyhound, a grey one that was lame in a back leg due to running, yet still called COMET -well rewarded or the law
  31. BEVENE, a White Setter with one black ear; a massive five guineas or the same to whoever informs on the robbers.
  32. A  Spotted Coach Dog ( Dalmatian)  called BLUCHER, with an even bigger spot on his head than elsewhere-handsomely rewarded or the law.
  33.  Another one named after a war hero- NELSON, yellow and white greyhound, handsomely rewarded or the law.
  34.  A black Greyhound- SMOKER- reward ‘available'( not handsome or even ‘well’)
  35. A red and white BEAGLE who obviously likes a drink, TOPER, handsome reward
  36. A white pointer, one brown ear, called CRAB, one guinea or the law
  37. JUPE, a large ‘rough dog’, half a guinea
  38. MOSCOW
Memories of 1812, perhaps?

39 A white and liver coloured dog called CATO, a pointer, half a guinea or the law

40 VIXEN is a cross terrier/ pug, brown and fat and worth half a guinea if returned, or the law if not

41 RULER

Owned by somebody whose surname starts with ‘l’ ?

42- A large water dog with two names BLUNDER or POSTASH (the latter is its French name). It ‘can beg, walk upright, shake hands’; despite that, the reward is half a guinea

43   SABO, a large liver called Setter, who twitches because he has distemper, five guineas to the ‘finder’ or for anybody who informs on the kidnappers.

44 A Greyhound, unusually described as ‘brown’  called DUSTER. Handsome reward  or the law.

45   A sandy  and white  spaniel called ROVER , worth a guinea to the owner. ‘No greater reward will be offered’.

46 A seventeen inch high hound dog called, democratically, PRESIDENT ; handsomely rewarded  or the law.

47 SMOOCH,  a brown curly dog of the Russian Setter Breed. ‘The dog had not been broke in, nor shot prior to his having been stolen.’

48 A Pointer called BOB, with a ‘fine stern’ –reasonable expenses.

49 Another pointer called BEN- it has a broken hind leg- handsome/law.

50 A black greyhound, called CLINKER, who followed a gentlemen home. Expenses only, as it is implied that a gentleman would not take reward.

Also featured;

TOPPER (Setter)   BRUSH ( Terrier)  PONTO ( Spaniel)  PRIM ( a shock dog, whatever that is)  ROVER again ( another Spaniel)  another BLUCHER ( a Setter)  LION  (a Newfoundland)  GROUSE ( a Pointer)   another NELSON ( Dalmatian)  GROG ( a Pointer)  another BOB ( another Pointer)  DANGER ( a red Setter)  SAM ( a white Pointer)  WASP ( a Terrier)  another HECTOR ( Newfoundland)  TOM ( a white Setter)  Harman ( Terrier)  SANCHO (Pointer)

And finally, from the Saunders News Letter 1817.

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You’re rich in the Regency and your dog is missing. What happens next?

By James Hobson

Twitter @about 1816

Regency newspapers regularly carried advertisements for ‘lost’ items of property- clothes, banknotes, watches, horses and poneys (as they used to spell it), legal documents and dogs. In the case of dogs, ‘lost’ was often a euphemism. They had had been kidnapped, or found in the street and kept by somebody who would not wish to hand it over without a reward. The distinction between a reward for a finder and a ransom for a thief was not always clear.

These were not working dogs- the occasional advertisement for strayed foxhounds was probably genuine. There were the only two types of canine that had a resale value- the working animals of farmers and the landed gentry, and the pets of the metropolitan rich. Both were advertised in the newspaper. Lost dog advertisements- for spaniels, pointers, poodles ,greyhounds, setters and pugs appeared mostly in the London newspapers from people living in Portman Place, Manchester Square, and Parliament Street and less often for the rich families in the provinces.

This example, from the up- market Morning Post of January 1810 was from Old Bond Street.

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Some typical characteristics include the use of the word ‘lost’. Most of them used this word only; some opted for ‘lost or strayed’ and a few went for a direct ‘ lost or stolen’, but the latter were different in tone and tended to come from different kind of people. Given the draconian punishment for theft, many advertisers avoided the word if they wanted to get the dog back.

Another common feature was the use of an intermediary to collect the dog. It may be that the Bond Street gentleman did not want to see the person, but it also made it easier to hand it over the beloved pet without too many awkward questions. Less typical here is the vague nature of the reward; most lost dog advertisements offer a half a guinea- which would feed a modest family for a week. Another difference is that Doll has the owner’s name and address on her collar, which would make it easy for the pet to be returned even without an advertisement in the paper. What the advertisement is actually saying is that ‘a wealthy person has lost his dog-whether you stole it or found it, it’s your lucky day’

It was assumed that dogs that ended up by accident in the hands of poor would not be handed over voluntarily. This example is from 1810;

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Rattle had ended up ‘in the arms of a man in a smock-frock’. A terrible fate for the dog of the Reverend Cotton, who, though he did not know it at the time, was to become a major establishment figure in the established Church in Ireland. He had clearly had the dog during his time at Christ Church College, Oxford, according to the collar. By offering the chance to pass the dog to him personally, he was absolving the rustic peasant of any blame; but he was still offered the chance to hand it over to a landlord in a pub.

Most of the advertisers knew that they were in negotiation with the people who had their dog. Some common phrases include – ‘Not to be repeated’- meaning that there would be no better offer, and the more strident ‘any person detaining him, after this notice, will be prosecuted as the law directs’. This comment would be largely seen as an empty threat; the owners would have to locate the thief themselves, pay for the prosecution privately .Some ask for intelligence about the location of the dog- invitation to inform on the thief.

The lost spaniel (below)  with no name is an interesting example of a more robust approach. Mr Scott is as interested in justice as he is in the return of the dog, as the reward for information about the thief is five times higher than the reward for the dog.

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This type of advertisement was relatively uncommon but appeared occasionally. Mr Scott is probably a member of his local Society for the Apprehension of Felons, groups of farmers or businessman who protected their property by offering rewards for informers as a replacement for a lamentable bad law enforcement system, especially outside of London. It did not normally cover pets.
This one is similar. Mr Hunnings had the weight of the Boston Association for the Prosecution of Felons behind him;

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The next advertisement says explicitly what many advertisements merely hinted at- that if a gentleman had his dog, it would be handed back gratis; but a poor person would require payment.

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The owner clearly loved his dog, but was still prepared to sack his servant if he was not returned. As did  the owners of Rufus, Ponto, Poodle (who was a poodle), Tippoo, Buzz, Truro (owned by an unimaginative Cornishmen). Captain, Fanny, Rag, Turpin (who was lost when he chased a coach) Rover, Prince, Nero, Jupe, Basto (who went missing/ was stolen from the Castle Inn Warminster) Lion (owned by the Bishop of Winchester) Rough, David, Brush and Sancho.
And then there was Pug the pug, with an excessive reward, the same as the Bishop of Winchester offered for the return of Lion the Newfoundland dog, and echoing down the centuries the cries and lamentations of the dog’s owner.

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