Byerley Turk

Courtesy of Fores Gallery, by John Wootton

This portrait of the Byerley Turk appears in
Volume 1 of A History of the English Turf by
Theodore Andrea Cook. It is said to be from
an original contemporary painting in the
collection of Lord Rosebery at the Durdans,

Byerley Turk, portrayed with Hagia
Sophia in the background




Sire Line

Byerley Turk



Byerley Turk bbr c 1680c. Sire Line Byerley Turk.

Described as a fiery Arabian stallion, a horse of elegance, courage and speed, he was the earliest of three Oriental stallions who between them would become the progenitors of every living thoroughbred. The Byerley Turk was the great great grandsire of King Herod (b c 1758), the Darley Arabian the great great grandsire of Eclipse (ch c 1764) and the Godolphin Arabian the grandsire of Matchem (b c 1748).

His name is recorded in the General Stud Book as the Byerly Turk, however, the correct spelling is Byerley Turk, after the name of his owner, Colonel Robert Byerley (1660-1714).

There is considerable speculation about the origin of the Byerley Turk, however, there is no evidence to support either his importation or the notion that he was foaled in England.

C M Prior speculates that his origin was probably similar to that of the Lister Turk. "The Lister Turk was brought to England about 1687, by the young Duke of Berwick, who had joined Charles of Lorraine's forces in wresting Buda from the invaders. It is quite probable that the Byerley Turk came from the same seige, as his owner was at that date a free lance as regards the army, being only the Captain of a small irreguluar force of his own raising in the North, which was not incorporated with the Sixth Dragoon Guards (the Carabiniers) till 1688" [Royal Studs:83].

While both the General Stud Book and Roger Upton state that the Lister Turk was captured at the seige of Buda, neither mention that place in the history of the Byerley Turk [GSB 1:389, Newmarket and Arabia]. Others have suggested that the Byerley Turk was captured at the seige of Vienna in 1683. The eminent Swedish authority, C G Wrangel, stated that "three turkish stallions were captured at the siege of Vienna, among those the Byerly Turk" [Handbok for hastvanner:34]. In such a case, the Byerley Turk may well have been one of the three horses, the "browne," that so captivated John Evelyn that he wrote of them in his Diary. "They trotted like does as if they did not feel the ground. Five hundred guineas was demanded for the first ; three hundred for the second and two hundred for the third, which was browne. All of them were choicely shaped but the last two not altogether so perfect as the first. It was judged by the spectators among whom was the King, the Prince of Denmark, Duke of Yorke and several of the Court, noble persons skill'd in horses, especially M. Faubert and his sonn (provost master of the Academie and esteemed of the best in Europe) that there were never seene any horses in these parts to be compare'd with them" [Diary of John Evelyn, 17th December, 1684].

Without revealing the origin of the horse, all the early versions of the General Stud Book specifically note that both man and horse were in Ireland: "BYERLY TURK, was Captain Byerly's charger in Ireland, in King William's wars (1689, &c.)" [GSB 1:389]. His presence in Ireland is further alluded to by the Down Royal Corporation of Horse Breeders, (created by King James II in a Royal Charter of 1685), Ireland, who state that the Byerley Turk raced at Downpatrick on his way to the Battle of the Boyne in 1690.

Mr Prior further notes that the military records of the recently promoted Lieutenant Colonel Byerley show that he "served with distinction in Ireland, and having taken with him the Turk who bears his name, rode him as a charger in the campaign of 1689-90. At the Battle of the Boyne he was so far ahead reconnoitering the enemy that he narrowly escaped capture, owing his safety to the superior speed of his horse" [Early Records:143].

When Colonel Byerley retired from military service, the Byerley Turk went to stud, first at Midridge Grange, then, from 1697, at Goldsborough Hall, near Knaresborough, North Yorkshire.

Although he did not cover many well-bred mares, he did well with his opportunities. While his best sons were Basto and Jigg, his other offspring included a number of good runners, such as the Duke of Rutland's Archer, the Duke of Kingston's Sprite and Lord Godolphin's Byerley Gelding.

Byerley Turk Mares
1. Bowes' Byerley Turk Mare, taproot of Family 3, dam of the brothers, True Blue (gr c 1710 Honeywood's Arabian) and Young True Blue (gr c 1718 Honeywood's Arabian).
2. Byerley Turk Mare, a foundation mare of Family 1, dam of Grey Ramsden (gr c 1704 Grey Hautboy), and 4th dam of Old Snap (bl c 1750 Snip).
3. Byerley Turk Mare, a foundation mare of Family 2, dam of Hutton's Surley (gr c 1708 Hutton's Grey Barb), also known as Hutton's son of the Grey Barb and Hutton's White Turk.
4. Byerley Turk Mare, a foundation mare of Family 8, and ancestress of the Champion Sire Marske (br c 1750 Squirt), sire of Eclipse (ch c 1764).
5. Byerley Turk Mare, taproot of Family 17, ancestress of such horses as the St Leger winner and good stallion Sancho (b c 1801 Don Quixote), Citizen* (b c 1785 Pacolet), sent to America where he made a sterling contribution to the American stud book, and Cub (ch c 1739 Fox), sire of the American matriarch, Cub Mare*, taproot of Family 4-r and ancestress of Nearco.
6. Sir William Ramsden's Byerley Turk Mare, a foundation mare in Family 27.
7. Byerley Turk Mare, a foundation mare of Family 35, and ancestress of Bustard (b c 1813 Castrel), sire of the Oaks winner Variation (b f 1827).
8. Byerley Turk Mare, taproot of Family 41, ancestress of such horses as Bagot (b c 1780 Herod), sire of the good Irish stallions Drone (b c 1790) and Master Bagot (ch c 1787) and the filly, Young Heroine, 3rd dam of Birdcatcher (ch c 1833 Sir Hercules).
9. Byerley Turk Mare, 2nd dam of Monkey (b c 1725 Lonsdale Bay Arabian), sent to America where he left over 300 progeny and laid the foundation for the establishment of the thoroughbred. Monkey's half-brother Hazard (b c 1726 Leedes) was a useful sire in England.
10. Byerley Turk Mare, dam of Bulle Rock* (b c 1709 Darley Arabian), thought to be the first thoroughbred exported to America. Owned by Samuel Gist in Virginia, he left several mares who bred on.
Black Hearty (GB)
bl c 1695c (Byerley Turk). Sire Line Byerley Turk. Owned by the 1st and 2nd Dukes of Rutland he was said by Tregonwell Frampton to have been "a famous Horse of Sir George Fletcher's call'd Black Harty, afterwards bought by the old Duke of Rutland, and was much esteem'd by the late Duke his Son, for being got by the famous Bioley Turk" [Ipswich Journal, 1726, Number 306]. He was the sire of the 2nd Duke's Bonny Black (bl f 1715), who may have been a daughter of another Bonny Black, both mares being celebrated for their turf performances. Confusion arose from a portrait of the earlier mare having her racing career inscribed on it, which portrait was then mistaken for the younger mare, and when copied, the performances of both mares were included [Royal Studs:111]. Bonny Black was a foundation mare of Family 39, ancestress of the worthy Turk (b c 1763 Regulus), sire of Turk Mare (f 1770), the taproot of Family 23-b, and ancestress of the good French stallion Val d'Or (b c 1902 Flying Fox). Black Hearty's only other known offspring is the Duke of Rutland's good race mare Peterborough Dun.
Grasshopper (GB)
[Roos', Bristol's, Mostyn's] c c1695 (Byerley Turk). Sire Line Byerley Turk. According to the Diary of John Hervey, 1st Earl of Bristol, Grasshopper ran for Lord Roos at Nottingham in 1701, winning the Town Plate there whilst carrying 10 stone. Grasshopper was then purchased by Lord Bristol and used as a stallion. Lord Bristol had previously raced Hog at Newmarket in 1698, and it was from a daughter of Hog that Grasshopper got Golden Locks and her sister, who were foundation mares in Family 30. [Early Records:70] Among their progeny were the Bolton Looby (br c 1728 Bay Bolton), Syphax (bl c 1727 Bay Bolton) and the Duke of Ancaster's Gentleman (gr c 1723 Alcock's Arabian). Grasshopper was also owned by Sir Roger Mostyn, owner of Jigg (see below).
Jigg (GB)
c 1701 (Byerley Turk - Charming Jenny, by Spanker). Sire Line Byerley Turk. Family 6. He was initially recorded in the General Stud Book as "Old or Pelham's Jigg" [GSB 1:107]. Although the first volume of the General Stud Book has not identified the dam of Jigg, beyond that she was a Spanker Mare: "JIGG, Sir R Mostyn's, by the Byerley Turk - Spanker" [GSB 1:381], the Errata for the General Stud Book, Volume 19, 1901, notes that a Portland MS says that Jigg was from Leedes's dam. Other sources also suggest he was half-brother to Leedes (br c 1700 Leedes Arabian) although most do not identify the Spanker Mare. He was probably bred by Sir Roger Mostyn (1675-1739) of Flintshire, Wales although it seems likely that his dam remained in Yorkshire in the hands of Englebert Leedes. He stood later as a common stallion in Lincolnshire, presumably at the Brocklesby Park stud of Charles Pelham, until his son Partner was six years of age, after which he gained celebrity. Advertisements suggest that by 1724 he had moved on to the Yorkshire stud of Mr Robinson at Easby. By 1729 Mr Robinson was reducing his stud and Jigg was covering at the King's Head in Richmond, Yorkshire in the hands of Mr Wharton and subsequently the widow Wharton for a fee of three guineas [Newcastle Courant, 1728-9 & 1730]. As mentioned his most famous son was the Champion Sire Crofts's Partner (ch c 1718) who was the grandsire of King Herod (b c 1758 Tartar). Other notable sons include Robinson Crusoe and Shock. He sired more than thirty known offspring, the last arriving around 1731.
Notable Jigg Mares
1. Miss Jigg, bred by Charles Pelham, the dam of Mab (gr f 1740 Crab), the taproot mare of Family 9-d. She was also the dam of Lord Lonsdale's Sister to Juba (f 1731 Lonsdale Bay Arabian), the latter the 2nd dam of Blossom* (f c1765 Sloe), imported into Virginia by Thomas Nelson Jr and there produced the useful stallions Willis's Rockingham (b c 1771 Lightfoot's Partner) and Nelson's Sloe (c c1769 Lightfoot's Partner). Family 9-a.
2. Jigg Mare (b f 1726), bred by William Crofts of Barforth, Yorkshire, who also bred her daughter, Flintshire Lady (b f 1731 Bloody Buttocks). Flintshire Lady was sold to Richard Williams of Penbedw, near Holywell, Flintshire, who ran her in the west of England. She was thereafter purchased by Sir Edward O'Brien who subsequently ran her in Ireland before she joined his stud, and where she eventually died. She was the ancestress of the good Irish stallion Nabocklish (ch c 1810 Rugantino). Jigg Mare was also the 2nd dam of the stallion Dainty Davy (b c 1752 Traveller). Family 4.
3. Jigg Mare, dam of Brisk and Coneyskins (gr c 1712 Lister Turk).
4. Jigg Mare, bred by Mr Heneage, dam of Heneage's Jigg (br c c1730 Halifax's Goliah), who sired the inbred dam of the useful runner Hunt's Jigg (ch c 1741 Bolton's Goliah), and dam of Heneage's Whitenose (b c 1722 Hall's Arabian), who sired the very good mare Silvertail (ro f 1737), she the dam of Warrens' Careless (ch c 1751 Regulus) and Fearnought* (b c 1755 Regulus), among others. Family 69.
5. Jigg Mare, dam of the Duke of Bolton's Patriot (br c 1729 Bay Bolton). Patriot won 300 guineas at Newmarket in October of 1734 beating the Duke of Devonshire's Brother to Ebony (ch c 1729 Childers). Family 24.
6. Sister to Miss Jigg, dam of Mr Ann's Nestgull [ex-Dwarf] (b c 1742 Childers), the last son of Flying Childers.
7. Sister to Shock, dam of Chedworth's Whitefoot (bu c 1749 Buffcoat). Family 11.
Robinson Crusoe (GB)
ch c 1723 (Jigg - Mare, by Spark). Sire Line Byerley Turk. Family 11. There is some evidence that there is a missing cross between Robinson Crusoe and Grey Wilkes. His dam is recorded in the Turf Register as Bastard [Pick 1:23]. According to An Introduction to a General Stud-book, Robinson Crusoe was by Jigg, his dam, Bastard, out of Old Wilkes, a daughter of Old Hautboy [Intro:183]. The General Stud Book of 1891, which had access to Mr Crofts papers [GSB 1:393], has revised this to read that his dam was a mare by Bustard. However, an advertisement gives his pedigree as "...the famous Horse call’d Robinson Crusoe, bred by Mr Robinson of Easeby: He was got by Jigg, out of a Sparke Mare, from a Snake Mare, the full Sister to the famous Egerston’s Mare (Country Wench) out of a Hautboy Mare bought of Mr Wilk’s: Her Dam being a Pett-Filly Mr Wilk’s bought of Mrs Betty D’Arcy, which was a Foal of her Brother Mr Christopher D’Arcy’s, out of a Royal Mare:..." [Newcastle Courant, Saturday, March 17. 1732-3. Numb. 412]. Bred by Mr Robinson of Easby, near Richmond, Yorkshire, from his home-bred Bustard Mare, he was sold to Mr Bathurst. Described as standing 15 hands 2 inches he was large, strong and well-marked. In 1728 he won a 300gs match at Middleham from Mr Anderson's grey horse. In 1729 he won the King's Plate at Newmarket, beating the Duke of Ancaster's Gentleman (gr c 1723), the Earl of Portmore's Spot (gr c 1723) and 4 others. He also won the King's Plate at York, beating the Duke of Ancaster's Gentleman whilst distancing a field of 8 in the first heat. He was next unplaced for King's Plate at Lincoln, won by Mr White's Spot. In 1730 at Newmarket he won the King's Plate, taking four heats to defeat the Duke of Ancaster's Gentleman, Lord Portmore's Spot, Mr Mackworth's Now or Never, Sir Robert Fagg's Archer and Lord Godolphin's Brocklesby. The same year he finished 2nd in the first heat for a 40 Plate at Newcastle-upon-Tyne but was withdrawn from the second heat, with the Plate going to Sir William Middleton's Scipio (ch c). He then went unplaced for a 40 Plate at York, won by Mr Bowes's Whitefoot. Purchased for the stud by David Place, he covered at Hutton-Rudby, near Yarm, Cleveland in 1731, and thereafter at Benjamin Scaife's "The Sign of the Black Lyon" in Stockton, Durham.  Although he got a number of good runners he left no stock that bred on.
Shock (GB)
b c 1729 (Jigg - Sister to Old Country Wench, by Snake). Sire Line Byerley Turk. Family 11. Bred by Mr Robinson of Easby, and sold successively to John Thynne Howe, later 2nd Baron Chedworth and Francis, 2nd Earl of Godolphin. In 1734 at Newmarket Shock won 200 guineas beating Lord Portmore's Sutty-Dun over four miles. The following October he won the 275 guineas stakes, beating Lord Gower's Spider, the Duke of Somerset's Chance, the Duke of Devonshire's Spot, Mr Honeywood's Mark's-Hall, Sir Michael Newton's Miss Parrot and four others over four miles. Despite his very high form he started only twice due to an undisclosed "misfortune" which ended his turf career. He stood at Easby in 1750 and 1751 for a fee of 10 guineas. Among his progeny were the stallions Bolton (b c 1752) and Shock* (b c 1750), and the dam of Granby (b c 1762 Belsize Arabian). Shock died in 1753.
Basto (GB) bl c 1703 (Byerley Turk - Bay Peg, by Leedes Arabian). Sire Line Byerley Turk. Family 6.
Partner (GB) [Crofts'] ch c 1718 (Jigg - Sister 1 to Mixbury, by Curwen's Bay Barb. Sire Line Byerley Turk. Family 9-a.