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Letter NEWHM:1996.H57.707

Francis Henry Salvin to John Hancock (25 January 1878)

Salvin discusses a Peregrine Falcon he thinks may belong to the Maharajah Duleep Singh, asks about Thomas Bewick’s ‘Memoir’ and refers to a group of Laplanders he met in London. He updates Hancock on the latest news from the ‘Old Hawking Club’ and bemoans the activities of the maverick Falconer, Captain Dugmore




Capt: Salvin   [Hancock’s hand]

Whitmoor House


Jany 25th 1878

Dear Hancock

As it’s “never too late to mend” I hope you will forgive me for being so long in writing.  I have just found a letter of yours dated Novr. 10th. 1869 in which you say that a mature female Peregrine was caught in the rigging of a ship somewhere between Holland and Sunderland, with a bell on like this [sketch inserted in ink].  I forget what my answer was, as well as whether I tried to get the Hawk &c.  That bell is the Indian bell now so much used, for they are light, & good.  I have no doubt the Falcon escaped [p.2] from Elveden in Norfolk which would be opposite to where it was taken & that it came from H. H. The Maharajah Duleep Singh’s.  I wonder what became of it eventually.

I am sorry to say I have failed in getting you the birds you wanted[.] I see in the list you name the six as wanted of the Raven, Jay & Magpie.  Excepting in size I always thought they had the same plumage.  You name 16 figures of fish executed by Robt. Bewick the son of Thomas in “the Memoir“.  Is this a memoir of Robert, & if so where is it to be had?  I fancy you mean his Father’s life which I shall get –

There are some Laplanders in London at the Aquarium.  I have been to see them & found them a very interesting people & I enclose you an article I have written about them [p.3] in Land & Water which please return.  If all’s well I must pay you a visit in the summer & then we may make an arrangement about The Falcon & Raven.

The members of the N.H.S. signed a document at the time saying it was only “a deposit” and that it should be given up when required, so I am all right as I have it.

Pray tell me what you are now doing, & I shall wind up with hawking news which I know always interests you.

There are about 7 or 8 good Falconers & “The Old Hawking Club” which has about 7 members but should have amongst these Major Hawkins Fisher had a wonderfully good game = hawking season.  I think he killed about 100 partridges in a few weeks.  Mr Oswald had also a good season in Scotland with his old Falconer Ballatine now 76!  Major Brookshank [p.4] and son had very good sport.  “The Old Hawking Club” only meet in the spring in Wiltshire on Salisbury Plain — last spring the Club had excellent sport & during last year the old Goshawk they of the Club killed 200 Rabbits — I have a Rabbit’s head it killed which has the most curious teeth you ever saw.  Every autumn the Falconer to the Club goes to Holland to catch hawks on the passage.  Last autumn he caught a mature male Gyr which is a great beauty.  The records there say that it’s about 60 years since the last was taken on the passage.  Now I must tell you of one who has, & is doing Falconry no end of harm, & this is a Capt. Dugmore. He has had most of our Eyries (which from long taking we looked upon as our own) robbed & that too before the birds were ready.  This was effected by his offering a very high price which made a scramble for them.  30 died of cramp.  One fellow took the eggs & tried to hatch & rear them under a Hen!

[p.1 – vertical]

Now Capt.  D is getting up a Hawking Club which is to be called The International but as he quarrells [sic]  with every one & cannot trust the Falconer who imbibes largely I think it will fall thro’, & I hope it may as he is just the man to incroach [sic] upon our hawking country &c[.]  We had great difficulty in getting young hawks this year on account of him.

Yrs sincerely | F. H.  Salvin

PS. I am not living at Sutton Place as you thought, but at the same House. I have got a good Tenant for S. P. & you will find I greatly improved by restorations. 8 Terra Cotta windows have been put in.





1.  Bewick, Thomas (1862) A Memoir of Thomas Bewick written by himself.

An autobiography of Thomas Bewick (1753-1828) published posthumously by his daughter Jane Bewick, it contained a collection of sixteen wood engravings of fish by his son Robert Bewick.

2.  ‘The Laplanders’ an article in the Victorian shooting magazine ‘Land & Water’ (1866 – 1914).

3.  Major Charles Hawkins Fisher (died 1901) a leading falconer from “The Castle”, Stroud, Gloucester who published his memoir Reminiscences of a Falconer i3.  n 1901.

4. The Old Hawking Club (1864 -1925)

It was a Subscription Members Club which provided a service for people who were too busy to be able to successfully train and fly a falcon on a daily basis. Professional falconers were employed to source and train the birds. The members of the Club could then hunt their falcons when they had time to do so without having to spend time taming or training the birds.

For more information on falconry and the ‘Old Hawking Club’, please click here

5.  Captain Francis Sandys Dugmore (d.1898) a Captain in Her Majesty’s 64th Regiment of Foot stationed at Portsmouth in the County of Southampton. He had previously served in the Royal Canadian Rifle Regiment where his hawking exploits were highly regarded.

Captain Dugmore was a proficient in the mystery of hawking, and used often to ride forth, hawk on wrist, over Barriefield Common, after the fashion of ” ye olden time.”

Pelham Mulvany, C. (1884) Toronto: Past and Present. A Handbook of the City.