Bull Baiting and Cock Fighting

Bull Baiting

Bull baiting was a popular sport in this area until it was banned by Parliament in 1835.

A bull was tied to a strong stake with a chin that allowed it limited movement.

Dogs were then set on the bull with the intent of biting the bulls nose.

Onlyb one dog was allowed to attack at any time.

The nose was the most sensitive part of a bull and caused great outrage.

Dogs that seized on a bills nose were often tossed off and killed or seriously injured.

The sport brought about breeding dogs able to crouch low, thus avoiding the bulls horns, and with great power in their jaws for clamping those bulls.

These dogs remain with us today - they are of course Bulldogs.


An 1850 book, The Illustrated London Reading Book,  provided the illustration above and the below narrative

Of all dogs, none surpass in obstinacy and ferocity the Bull-dog. The head is broad and thick, the lower jaw generally projects so that the under teeth advance beyond the upper, the eyes are scowling, and the whole expression calculated to inspire terror. It is remarkable for the pertinacity with which it maintains its hold of any animal it may have seized, and is, therefore, much used in the barbarous practice of bull-baiting, so common in some countries, and but lately abolished in England.

Gambling of the results were very common and baiting could draw a large crowd.

One of the local centres was the Bell Inn at Purleigh where occasional bull baiting contests were held.

The main centre locally was Maldon where support for bull baiting was very strong and weekly contests were held on Sunday evenings at the town bull stake in Market Square..

Maldon Town records for 1732 include payments of 1  5 shillings to John Hance for a rope and collar and a similar amount to John Payn for keeping the bull rope.

By 1784 the baiting had moved to the White Hart Inn where it took place on most Wednesdays.

Maldon local historian E A FITCH collected the below advertisment for bull baiting

Dec 30 1784


That there is a bull to be baited at Mr Talladay's at the White Hart, at Maldon, for a silver spoon of fourteen shillings value(the dog that runs the best of three heats, to be entitled to the spoon) on Wednesday, Old Christmas Day, the 5th January, and the second best dog to be entitled to half a crown. The Bull to be at the stake at ten o'clock. Dinner on the table at one o'clock.


Cock Fighting

Bull baiting took place in other parts of Eastern Essex although Cock Fighting appears to have proved more popular in Burnham

A venue for cock fighting took place at the Kings Arms in High Street, Burnham on Crouch.

The below advertisement appeared in the Chelmsford Chronicle Newspaper in May 1787

This is to acquaint all gentlemen cockers, that there will be  main of cocks fought at the Kings Arms at Burnham on the 21st May, between the gentlemen of the Dengie Hundred and the gentlemen of the Rochford Hundred-.

To fight eleven battles for two guineas a battle and five the main.

Dinner at one o'clock.

By John King

cock fighting Cock fighting taking place in London in the 1700's

Cockfighting took place in a enclosed arena where cocks were forced to fight.

Birds were fitted with blades on their legs and sharpened beaks to maximise the injuries.

There was no escape for a wounded bird but the death of both was common given the ferocity of the fights.

Once again serious betting took place on the results.


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