Leedes Arabian

Courtesy of William Morgan
North Milford Hall

Courtesy of Ackermann & Johnson
Leedes Arabian

Courtesy of Ackermann & Johnson

Leedes Arabian
          Ashridge Ball

Bridgewater's Star, by Ashridge Ball

The Leedes family maintained a stud of some distinction for the better part of a century at North Milford, near Tadcaster in Yorkshire. The family had been established there at least as early as the dawn of the sixteenth century. A century later Marie Leedes married a southern kinsman, Sir Thomas Leedes of Wappingthorne, Sussex, and in 1663 and 1664 there are records of Englebert Leedes selling parts of the Wappingthorne estate to both the Goreing family and the Fagg family, names which are associated with early bloodstock activity.

Englebert Leedes (1638c-1703), continually confused with his grandaughter's husband Edward Rookes Leedes, married twice. With Sekeziah, his first wife, he had six children, all but Elizabeth (perhaps to whom the mare Betty Leedes, dam of Flying Childers and Bartlet's Childers, owes her name) predeceasing him. With his second wife, Mary, he had five children, Anthony (1675c-1711), Robert (1676c-1720) and three daughters who predeceased either himself or Anthony. Robert had an illegitimate son, John, who was heir to 500 but seemingly not the estate. Robert's will provided that his daughter Mary (1718c-1758), the only one of his several legitimate children to survive him, would inherit on the condition that if she married, her husband would take the Leedes surname. Mary married Edward Rookes (1713c-1785) of Royds Hall in 1741. After her death Edward Rookes Leedes, perhaps undermined by the expenses of running such a large stud, was declared bankrupt in 1781, at which time the stud was dispersed; in August 1785, Leedes took his own life in his carriage.

Englebert Leedes was associated with about a dozen early entries in the stud book, including the Leedes Arabian, the great runner Old Careless, and mares such as Piping Peg, Charming Jenny and Bay Peg.

His son Anthony was associated with less than half that number, mostly stock descended from his father's, and for which he advertised for dispersal in 1710, the year preceding his death [London Post Boy, 1710].

Robert, perhaps without interest in the family business, was known as the breeder of only one horse, Wanton Willy, also descended from his father's bloodstock, whom he ran at York in 1718 and sold thereafter for 300 guineas. He also ran the mare Sophonisba (ro f 1711), bred by Anthony, who finished second for the Gold Cup at York in 1717, and a dun mare that ran for the Royal Plate for mares at Hambleton in 1718.

Between the death of Robert and the arrival of Edward Rookes Leedes it appears as though the stud was inactive. Edward is credited with breeding the good runner and stallion Tartar (sire of King Herod), who was first named Leedes although he was not descended from any previous Leedes stock. In any case the rest of the bloodstock was newly acquired, mainly stallions such as Bolton Starling, Second and, briefly, Old Traveller, and initially achieved some success. Edwards Rookes Leedes continued to expand the commercial stud, standing such stallions as Swiss (br c 1757 Snip), Sloe (bl c 1740 Crab) and Wildair (b c 1753 Cade). Although Wildair got a St Leger winner in Tommy, these later stallions largely produced less well than perhaps expected, and eventually the stud failed.

Thank you to Professor Richard Nash of Indiana University, Bloomington, for sharing his research on the Leedes family with us.
Leedes Arabian
bl c 1685c. Sire Line Leedes Arabian. The origin of the Leedes Arabian remains a mystery. In some pedigrees he is referred to as the stallion that got Leedes, or some variation of that description, rather than as the Leedes Arabian.

There are also contemporary references to Barb of Mr Leedes. A 1706 entry in Lord Bristol's diary, described a horse he had purchased at the North Milford stud of Mr Leedes: "a 2 year old bay colt gott by ye Barbe King William gave his father". In a 1709 letter written by Charles Wilkinson, father of Andrew Wilkinson of Boroughbridge who bred Sedbury (ch c 1734 Crofts Partner) and others, to the Duke of Newcastle, noted the sire of a mare as "the horse Sir William Ramsdall and Mr Leedes has betwixt them called the King's Barbe". C M Prior and Fairfax Harrison believed that this Barb was the horse we now know as the Leedes Arabian. Another possibility is that he was one of the group of Barbs imported by Richard Marshall for King William III in October of 1699. One of the other Barbs from that importation is said to have been shared between Mr Hutton and Mr Wilkinson. If the Leedes Barb was indeed one of the Marshall imports, it appears as though he arrived too late to have been the sire of "famous Leedes" and his full sister, dam of a filly in 1703. It also appears that he may have been the same horse as the Hampton Court Brown Barb.

In any case, the horse known as the Leedes Arabian made a lasting contribution to the stud book. His three sons, Dyer's Dimple (c 1708c), Leedes (bbr c), and Highland Laddie (b c 1714c) all bred on. His daughter Bay Peg (b f 1690c) was the dam of Basto (br c 1703) and possibly the Champion Sire Fox (b c 1714). Betty Percival (f 1715c) was the 2nd dam of the matriarch Miss Belvoir (gr f 1720c). Bright's Roan Mare became the taproot of Family 61. Charming Jenny was the dam of Fox Cub (b c 1714). Cream Cheeks (as she is called, probably in error, in the General Stud Book), perhaps the most influential of all his daughters, was the taproot mare of Family 6-a, and dam of Chaunter (b c 1710), Sister to Chaunter, the Cardigan Colt, and Betty Leeds, herself the dam of the brothers, Flying Childers and Bartlet's Childers.

Leedes Arabian is said to have sired Young Bald Peg from the Old Morocco Mare [GSB 1:14]. But this Young Bald Peg is attributed to Sir R Milbanke, and recent research has shown that Sir Ralph Milbanke’s Bald Peg was of completely different ancestry, being by Burford Bull out of a mare referred to as Oglethorpe’s Royal Mare. The General Stud Book further notes that "Some accounts make Y. Bald Peg as by Spanker" [GSB 1:3]. There were indubitably several Bald Pegs, and more than one of them was probably called Young Bald Peg at one time or another, so it seems entirely possible that there may well have been both a Young Bald Peg by Spanker and a Young Bald Peg by Leedes Arabian. More research will be required, however, in order to determine whether this is actually the case and, if so, which Young Bald Peg properly belongs in whose pedigree.

Dimple (GB)
[Dyer's] ch c 1700c (Leedes Arabian - Old Sophonisba, by Spanker - Mare, by Dodsworth - Mare, by Lord Willoughby's Barb). Dimple was bred by Mr Leedes [GSB 1:380]. The General Stud Book estimates his date of birth as 1708 but he appears to have been foaled closer to 1700, in that he has offspring as early as 1705c. He covered for Sir Walter Rochley (or Wrottesley) (1657c-1712), 3rd bt at Rochley Hall near Wolverhampton, Staffordshire, for a fee of 1 guinea. According to the General Stud Book he was the sire of the brothers Madcap and Old Postboy [GSB 1:382] from the Somerset Jenny-Come-Tye-Me. Madcap got the dam of Ashridge Ball (see below), and Postboy got his namesake, Mr Cornwall's Postboy, who won at Burford, Hereford and Newmarket. However in the stud Dimple's best known offspring was probably Lord Halifax's famous Sophonisba (ch f 1717) who won Royal Plates at Hambleton in 1722, beating twenty-one others, and at York in 1723, beating seven others. He also sired the 4th dam of the St Leger winner Tommy (ch c 1776 Wildair).

Leedes (GB)
bbr c 1700c (Leedes Arabian - Charming Jenny, by Spanker). Sire Line Leedes Arabian. Family 6. Bred by Engelbert Leedes at his well known and successful stud in North Milford, Yorkshire, he was half brother to Jigg (c 1701 Byerley Turk), a progenitor of the Byerley Turk sire line. His sister is the taproot mare of Family 6-a.

According to the diarist Narcissus Luttrell, Leedes was the property of Mr Holloway, from whom Queen Anne purchased him in 1705 for 1000 and gave him to her consort, Prince George of Denmark. He seems to have been the same horse as Bay Leedes, who was said, perhaps optimistically, to have run a mile in a minute, which statement appears in an advertisement for Rawlinson's Spot [Newcastle Courant: 1737-38]. He was further described as the "Horse that never had a Horse to Run against him that was Company for him" [Stamford Mercury: 1722]. Despite his resume, in an inventory of bloodstock taken after the death of Prince George in 1708 Leedes was valued at 80.

Leedes initially covered at the Royal Stud at Hampton Court, later passing into the hands of Scroop Egerton (1681-1745), 1st Duke of Bridgewater. His best sons were the racehorse Ashridge Ball and the stallion Hazard (b c 1726).

His most influential daughters were both unnamed. Leedes Mare was the dam of Sister to Bandy (b f 1731 Godolphin's Whitefoot). Sister to Bandy was the dam of Bajazet (b c 1740 Godolphin Arabian) and of Brown Betty (b f 1737 Hobgoblin), from whom most of Family 21 descends. Sister to Bandy was also the dam of the four sisters to Sherborne recorded in Lord Godolphin's stud book, one of whom, Shireborne, produced the American matriarch Selima* (b f 1745 Godolphin Arabian) [Early Records:175].

Another Leedes Mare was the 4th dam of Queen Mab* (gr f 1745c Mosco Grey Arabian), the first English thoroughbred mare in Maryland. Queen Mab* was bred at Hampton Court by Thomas Smith, stud groom to King George II [E 1:53]. She was the dam of only two known foals in America, the useful stallion, Hopper's Pacolet (gr c 1750c Spark*), and Gantt's Mille (f 1752c Spark*), from whom descend Gantt's True Briton (b c 1757 Othello*) and Hayne's King Herod (b c 1768 Fearnought*).

Sister to Quiet produced Gander (b c 1720 Darley Arabian), whose unnamed daughter, Gander Mare, was an early contributor to Family 42.

Ashridge Ball (GB)
c 1711c (Leedes - Mare, by Madcap). Sire Line Leedes Arabian. Owned by Scrope Egerton, 1st Duke of Bridgewater, and described as a "capital son of Leedes," he lost a match for 900 guineas a side to Brocklesby Betty (ch f 1711 Curwen's Bay Barb) at Newmarket in 1718, at which time he was considered the best horse in England. In the stud he got the Duke of Bridgewater's Star and the dam of Poppet (b c 1739 Ancaster Grasshopper). The General Stud Book credits him with being the damsire of Ancaster Grasshopper although this appears to be a confusion present in the racing calendars and stud book. See Family 28 for more information.

Star (GB)
c 1725 (Ashridge Ball - Mare, by Richards' [Conyers] Arabian). Sire Line Leedes Arabian. Star was bred by Scrope Egerton (1681-1745), the 1st Duke of Bridgewater, who also owned his sire, Ashridge Ball, from a mare by Richards' Arabian at Hampton Court. Ashridge was the Hertfordshire seat of the Earls and Dukes of Bridgewater which is now the Bonar Law College. Star was a half brother to Portland Arabian Mare, the dam of Chedworth's Moses (ch c 1746 Howe's Foxhunter) a stallion in Lord Gower's stud. The Duke matched an earlier Starr against the Duke of Rutland's Scarecrow for £200 at Newmarket in 1713. In April of 1730 he won a 100 guineas each sweepstakes at Newmarket, defeating Lord Gower's Dusty Miller and the Duke of Ancaster's Jigg (b c 1724 Governor). At the same meeting he won a 300gs match from Mr Vane's Miss Pert (b f 1723 Thoulouse Barb). In October of the same year he won a 200gs match at Newmarket, beating Lord Portmore's Victorious (gr c 1722 Bethell's Ruffler). In 1731 he lost a 300gs match at Newmarket in March to Lord Portmore's Victorious. In the stud he got the Honourable George Shirley's Ashridge Star (b c 1735c), who is confused in the General Stud Book with Mr Norris's Star.

Hazard (GB)
b c 1726 (Leedes - Mare, by Curwen's Bay Barb - mare, by Byerley Turk - Arabian mare). Sire Line Leedes Arabian. Bred and owned by the 1st Duke of Bridgewater, Hazard was half-brother to Monkey* (b c 1725 Lonsdale Bay Arabian), who was invaluable in upgrading early American native stock. In October of 1731 Hazard won a 200 guineas race at Newmarket, defeating Lord Gower's Fielding over four miles. Back at Newmarket in April of 1732 he won a 500 guineas stakes, beating the Duke of Ancaster's Crab, the Duke of Devonshire's Comical and Lord Gower's Duchess over four miles. Hazard has the distinction of appearing in the pedigree of Mousetrap* (b c 1771 Warren's Careless), the latter the sire of the early American stallions Lockhart's Cassius (b c) and Huntsman (b c 1789). His best son was Liberty.

Liberty (GB)
b c 1749 (Hazard - Sister to Blank, by Godolphin Arabian). Family 15. Sire Line Leedes Arabian. Liberty was bred James Lennox Dutton and later owned by Edmund Putt. He was half-brother to Babraham Blank (b c 1758 Babraham) and Merlin (b c 1748 Second). Racing from 1754 through 1759, he won Fifties at Stamford, Worcester, Oxford, Burford, Reading, Gloucester and Stockbridge, as well as the Annual City Plate at Chester. In the stud he got Liberty Mare, the 2nd dam of Mousetrap* (b c 1771 Warren's Careless), who proved a worthy stallion in Virginia and North Carolina.