Curwen's Bay Barb

Courtesy of the Grimsthorpe and
Drummond Castle Trust


Courtesy of H Culwen
Workington Hall, Cumberland



Sire Line

Curwen's Bay Barb



Brocklesby Betty, by Curwen's Bay Barb


Creeping Molly, by Curwen's Bay Barb

Curwen's Bay Barb b c 1681c [Pelham's Bay Barb]. Sire Line Curwen's Bay Barb. Highflyer speculates that Curwen's Bay Barb was the same horse as the Taffolet Barb and the Lowther Bay Barb.

One of the most influential imported eastern stallions, he was probably of equal importance to the establishment of the stud book as were the Byerley Turk, the Darley Arabian, and the Godolphin Arabian. William Pick noted that his celebrity was such that he was referred to simply as the Bay Barb, as if no other barb of that colour had ever stood in England. Cheny (1747) wrote that the Bay Barb and the Thoulouse Barb were imported by Henry Curwen. "That Gentleman being in France at a time when Count Byram and Count Thoulouse (two natural Sons of Lewis the Fourteenth) were, the former, Master of the Horse, and the other an Admiral, he procured of them two Barb Horses, which he convey'd to England."

Louis XIV had a number of illegitimate children, including Louis Alexandre, Comte de Toulouse, who at one time did hold the rank of admiral. But no trace can be found of a son titled Count Byram, much less one who was master of the horse (called in France “Grand Écuyer” or simply “Monsieur le grand”). From 1677 to 1712, the Grand Écuyer was Henri de Lorraine, Comte de Brionne – a name which, by eighteenth-century spelling standards, is quite similar to Byram. Although Brionne was not a son of the king, he was indeed a count and, even more significantly, he was master of the horse. It is almost certain that, by virtue of his office, Brionne’s knowledge and cooperation would have been required for the removal of any horses from the French royal stud. One theorist therefore hypothesizes that English writers such as Cheny (who was based in Yorkshire) accidentally substituted Byram, a name with which they were naturally more familiar, for Brionne.

Another theorist believes that Byram is truly the correct spelling and proposes the following scenario … According to J B Robertson ("Mankato"), Henry Curwen was one of the followers of King James II who accompanied him when he fled to France in 1688 [Robertson:33], where he remained until around 1698. It seems likely that Curwen purchased the Bay Barb after his arrival in France and had him sent to England around 1689. Highflyer speculates that since a diligant search unearthed no such person as Count of Byram, allegedly a son of the French king, that the Byram in question may have been Sir William Ramsden (1672-1736), 2nd Baronet of Byram, near Ferrybridge, Yorkshire.

Mr Prior notes that "Sir William [Ramsden] married a daughter of John Lowther (1655-1700), 1st Viscount Lonsdale, who himself lived some time at Byram, and no doubt brought the Eastern-bred mares with him from Lowther" [Early Records:125]. The Thoulouse Barb, also purchased by Mr Curwen, may have travelled with the Barb on his trip to Curwen's stud at Workington Hall, near Whitehaven in Cumberland. Curwen's Bay Barb is sometimes referred to by the General Stud Book as the "Curwen or Pelham Bay Barb". Charles Pelham, an associate of Curwen's, may have stood the Barb at his Brocklesby Park stud in Lincolnshire since Curwen, a Roman Catholic, was subject to the law that forbade Catholics to own horses valued at more than £5.

In any case he first made his mark as a stallion based on the turf achievements of his offspring. The stud book makes note of his runners, mentioning the Mixbury Galloway and Tantivy, said to be very high-formed galloways. Brocklesby and Little George were said to be in good forms, and Yellow Jack, Bay Jack, Monkey, Dangerfield, Hip, Peacock and Flatface in middling forms. Two brothers to Mixbury were described as middling galloways, presumably distinguished by their small size. The mares Long Meg, Brocklesby Betty and Creeping Molly were noted as extraordinary high-formed mares, while Whiteneck, Mistake, Sparkler and Lightfoot were said to be very good mares. Not all of these runners left stock that bred on, and some of his best breeding stock never saw a racecourse.

In the stud his sons were less noteworthy than his daughters, with Hip (gr c 1716) probably the best of them. Although at the time Brocklesby Betty was probably the most famous of his daughters, eventually Sister 1 to Mixbury was probably the most influential, via her famous son Partner, sire of numerous excellent daughters and grandsire of King Herod.

Curwen's Bay Barb was said to have lived to the remarkable age of thirty-eight, and to have stood for his portrait at the age of twelve. Although Henry Curwen died in 1725, and made provisions in his will for a number of his broodmares, no mention was made of the Barb [ER:146]. He probably died at Brocklesby Park around 1719.

Curwen Barb Mares
1. Brocklesby Betty (ch f 1711), attained much celebrity on the turf, ranking among the finest of her day, as well as serving as a foundation mare of Family 23.
2. Curwen Bay Barb Mare, taproot of Family 36, was the grandam of Engineer (b c 1756 Sampson), who sired Mambrino (gr c 1768). Curwen's Bay Barb appears three times in the pedigree of Mambrino.
3. Sister 1 to Little George was the 2nd dam of Meynell (ch f 1736 Partner), taproot of Family 12-c, and the 3rd dam of Diana (f 1754 Cullen Arabian), taproot of Family 12-b.
4. Sister 1 to Mixbury, taproot of Family 9-a, was the dam of Croft's Partner (ch c 1718 Jigg), a Champion Sire four times, and one of the most influential of the early sires, especially through his son Tartar (ch c 1743), who sired King Herod (b c 1758). Her daughter Miss Jigg (f 1717 Jigg) was the dam of Mab (gr f 1740 Crab), taproot of Family 9-d. Her son, Soreheels (c 1720 Basto), sired the dam of the good stallion South (b c 1750 Regulus). Sister to Soreheels was the dam of the Champion Sires Devonshire Blacklegs (br c 1728 Childers) and Crab (gr c 1722 Alcock's Arabian), as well as a number of other excellent offspring.
5. Sister 2 to Mixbury, was the dam of the Bolton Sloven (br c 1718 Bay Bolton) who sired Young Coquette (br f 1734), a useful Irish mare from Family 44. Sister to Sloven was the dam of both Crab Mare, taproot of Family 9-c, and Bolton Sweepstakes Mare, taproot of Family 9-b. Sister 2 to Mixbury was also the dam of Stanyan's Arabian Mare, ancestress of St. George (b c 1789 Highflyer), who sired the Derby winner Pan (ch c 1805).
6. Sister to Westbury was the 3rd dam of Wyvill's Volunteer (b c 1725 Young Belgrade) and his two sisters who helped establish Family 18.
7. Whiteneck [Frampton's], a full-sister to the Mixbury Galloway and Chedworth's Monkey, lost a 200 guineas match to Lord Hervey's Wenn at Newmarket in May of 1710. She was the 3rd dam of Bay Snip (b f 1748 Snip) and a contributor to Family 9.
8. Sister to Witty's Mare was the dam of the Ringtail Galloway (b f 1727 Hip), the latter the 5th dam of Bob Booty (ch c 1804 Chanticleer). See Hip, below. Ringtail Galloway was inbred 2x2 to Curwen's Bay Barb.
Other Notable Offspring
Creeping Molly (GB)
gr f 1700 (Curwen's Bay Barb - Lowther White-Legged Barb [Little Mountain Barb] - Foreign Mare). Sire Line Curwen's Bay Barb. Bred by Sir Michael Warton, Molly won Royal Plates for five year old mares at Black Hambleton and Newmarket in 1705 and several matches afterwards. She was probably the dam of the stallion Warton's Commoner (gr c 1710c Crofts's Commoner). Molly's dam was bred by Henry Curwen. Commoner sired the dam of Chedworth's Grey Childers (gr c 1726 Childers), and the dam of a Sultan Mare, the latter the dam of the racehorse Grenadier (b c 1746 Blaze) and possibly of Jenny Cameron* (b f 1742 Quiet Cuddy), ancestress of the great American racehorse and stallion Boston (ch c 1833 Timoleon), himself the sire of Lexington (b c 1850).
Hip (GB)
[Pelham's] gr c 1716 (Curwen's Bay Barb - Sister to Piping Peg, by Lister Turk). Sire Line Curwen's Bay Barb. Family 23. Bred by Charles Pelham, Hip was a notable broodmare sire. Hip Mare produced the King's Plate winner, Sampson (b c 1745 Blaze), who sired the first St Leger winner, Allabaculia (br f 1773), and the good stallion, Engineer (b c 1756), who numbered Mambrino (gr c 1768) among his offspring. Another Hip mare (gr f 1733), a half-sister to Babraham (b c 1738 Godolphin Arabian), was the dam of Regulus Mare (gr f 1753), the taproot of Family 15-d. Hip Mare (ch f 1730) was the 2nd dam of the Doncaster Cup winner Liberty (br c 1764). Ringtail Galloway (b f 1727) was the 5th dam of the good Irish stallion Bob Booty (ch c 1804), who in turn sired the dam of the famous Birdcatcher (ch c 1833 Sir Hercules).
Mixbury Galloway (GB)
c 1704c (Curwen's Bay Barb - Mare, by Curwen's Spot). Sire Line Curwen's Bay Barb. Family 9. He was bred by Curwen & Pelham from their Old Spot Mare. Later owned by Richard Minshull of Bourton, Buckinghamshire, he was called the Minchell or Minshull Galloway, although he apparently derived his traditional name from the nearby village of Mixbury in which his training ground was located. Described as standing only thirteen hands two inches, he was said to be unbeatable at light weights by all but one or two. He left two daughters who exerted some influence. Mixbury Galloway Mare was the 5th dam of Tipple Cyder (ch f 1788 King Fergus), the taproot mare of Family 8-k. Mixbury Galloway Mare was also the dam of Bay Ranger (b c 1749), sire of Mr Hutton's Arbitrator (c 1766) whose daughter contributed to Family 34. The other Mixbury Galloway Mare was the 5th dam of the good American stallion Macklin's Fearnought (b c 1777 Fearnought*).
Monkey (GB)
[Chedworth's] c 1705c (Curwen's Bay Barb - Mare, by Curwen's Spot). Sire Line Curwen's Bay Barb. Family 9. Bred by Curwen & Pelham from their Old Spot Mare, he was later owned by John Howe, 1st Baron Chedworth, one of two brothers to Mixbury, of whom the stud book says one was "used as a stallion, and sometimes called Monkey" [GSB 1:17]. His daughter Little Bowes was the 2nd dam of the useful stallion Silvio (b c 1754 Cade), the 5th dam of the St Leger winner Tartar (ch c 1789 Florizel), and ancestress of such horses as Two Thousand Guineas winners Petronel (br c 1877 Musket) and Vauban (br c 1864 Muscovite), and Prix du Jockey Club winner Champaubert (b c 1893 Little Duck). Another daughter, Monkey Mare, was the 3rd dam of the stallion Meteor (ch c 1783 Eclipse), who sired the Oaks winner Meteora (b f 1802).