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Cock-Fighting, New South Wales.

Journal by janilye

Any article or series of articles on the "Good Old Days" that
did not treat the sports of that-period would be like a
meat pie without, the meat. I have attempted to give a complete
and comprehensive digest of the manners and customs of the people
of the times of which I write, and as cock fighting was almost an
institution in those days, some attention must be given to it.

Not many will regret the fact this kind of sport is now a thing of
the past, so far as this district is concernedand has been allowed to
fall into oblivion along with other relics of barbarism.

From the 1840s cock-fighting was one of the most popular sports
in the Hawkesbury district of New South Wales, and in those days unless you had a
game rooster that could masacre twenty of your neighbours' domestic chooks in as
many minutes, you might as well be dead, for you were considered nobody.

But now things have changed, the cock-fighting instincts of the people
are dead, though the sleek bird still retains all the combative instincts
of the olden leaven, and would even now fight till he dropped on his own or
some other party's dung-hill. Many residents well remember the old rendezvous
of the enthusiasts of this branch of sportin Holland's paddock,(Windsor)
facing the banks, In this paddock, where there is now a large pond, a pit
existed for many years, and at the trysting-ground large crowds of people
assembled nearly every Saturday to witness a good encounter between two
game cocks.
An edifying spectacle it must have been, truly, yet amongst the votaries of
the sport were many men who were then leading lights of the district.

For years cock-fighting was carried on in public, and was reckoned a legitimate
sport. Then the State stepped in and dubbed it unlawful; yet it was carried on,
almost with impunity, for yearsbut those who participated in the sport met in
some sequestered nook to hold their meetings, the ti-tree swamp on Ham Common
(Richmond) being a favourite resort.

A man named " Jacky" Carr was among the first to introduce cock-fighting into
the Hawkesbury district. He was an Englishman, and always managed to get hold of
some fine imported birds.

Amongst those who followed the game also were Frank Norris, now residing on the
Brickfields,and one of the best pugilists of his day. Also his brothers Paddy and Jim, (sons of Richard NORRIS 1779-1843)
George Cupitt 1808-1875, Charlie Eather, The Charkers,
Gaudry's and Kable's. William Hopkins 1798-1862,
Joseph and William Onus, (sons of Joseph Onus 1782-1835). Ben Richards 1818-1898, and George Bushell were
also admirers of the game-cock, and they all owned good
fighting birds. The second-named is said to have had a magnificent button-comb
bird, which ended the career of many another good one.

The Dargins, Cornwells, Dan Mayne and Jack Cribb also followed the sport.
W. Hopkins was a great breeder of these birds, and he once owned a cookoo-game,
a very rare bird which was responsible for the death of more than one man's pet.

Jim Norris also had a bird which, after winning. fourteen or fifteen successive
battles met its doom when pitted against "Daddy" Baine's in the Richmond Lane,
close to the residence of Mrs. Onus. The birds always fought with steel spurs,
and a small black red bird weighing 6½ lbs, owned by George Cupitt, on one occasion
slaughtered three oponents without having his heels (as the spurs were termed) taken off.

James 'Jack' Cribb 1785-1841 always had a lot of birds, and used to spare no
expense in getting hold of good fighters to take his friends down.
He had been known to pay as much as £10 apiece for them, and once paid that
sum for a big light-grey bird, of which everybody was afraid.

Birds weighing from 6½lbs to 7lbs were always very strong and fast fighters, whilst
they varied in weight from 5½lbs to 8½lbs. The principal breeds were black red,
duck-wing, hen-feather, and the pile. The latter breed was the progeny of two good
distinct strains, and was considered one of the gamest of the game birds.

The fighting generally carried out in what was termed "mains," i.e.,
a number (say 5 or 7) birds of dififerent weights on either side.
The birds of the opposing forces were pitted on as equal terms as possible as
regards weight, and if the result of the " main" was equal, the contest would be
decided by a "turn-out"that is, a match between the heaviest bird of both sides.
The :mains" Comprised a party from Parramatta or Sydney on the one side, and
Windsor on the other.

Phil Williams (Sydney), the Waterhouses (Parramatta), and W. Sparks (Cook's River)
frequently brought their birds to Windsor, and were met in the fray by
Cupitt, Norris and Hopkins.
Matches for £50 or to £100 aside were often made, while a good deal of out
side money was also wagered

Sources:
Windsor and Richmond Gazette
(NSW : 1888 - 1954)
The Good Old Days
Yeldap.
Research and Transcription, Janilye
20 June 2012

by janilye Profile | Research | Contact | Subscribe | Block this user
on 2012-06-20 09:25:06

janilye - 7th generation, Convict stock. Born in New South Wales now living in Victoria, carrying, with pride 'The Birthstain'.

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