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Historical Notes

Excerpt from: London Labour and the London Poor: The London Street-Folk
By Henry Mayhew
Published in 1861

Jack Black

As I wished to obtain the best information about rat and vermin destroying, I thought I could do no better now than apply to that eminent authority "the Queen's ratcatcher," and accordingly sought an interview with Mr. "Jack" Black, whose hand-bills are headed "V.R. Rat and mole destroyer to Her Majesty"...

[CMTC: The interview was quite long and discussed Mr. Black's involvement for over 55 years in the rat trade, his mastery of training several types of animals for rat killing as sport (including dogs, ferrets, badgers and monkeys) and his knowledge of general animal training.  Only the passage dealing with his black and tan terriers has been excerpted here.]

"When I found I was master of the birds, then I turned to my rat business again.  I had a little rat dog -- a black and tan terrier of the name of Billy -- which was the greatest stock dog in London of that day.  He is the father of the greatest portion of the small black tan dogs in London now, which, Mr. Isaac, the bird fancier ins Princes' Street, purchased one of the strain for six or seven pounds ; which Jimmy Massey, afterwards purchased another of the strain for a monkey, a bottle of wine, and three pounds.  That was the rummest bargain I ever made. 

"I've ris and trained monkeys by the shoals.  Some of mine is about now in shows exhibiting, one in particular, Jimmy.

"One of the strain of this little black tan dog would draw a badger twelve or fourteen lbs. to his six lbs. which was done for a wager, 'cos it was thought the badger had his teeth drawn, but he hadn't, as was proved by his biting Mr. P---- from Birmingham, for he took a piece clean out of his trousers, which was pretty good proof, and astonished them all in the room.

"I've been offered a sovereign pound for some of my little terriers, but it wouldn't pay me at that price, for they weren't heavier than two or three pounds.  I once sold one of these dogs of the same strain for fourteen pounds, to the Austrian Ambassador.  Mrs. H---, the bankers' lady, wished to get my strain of terriers and she gave me five pounds for the use of him ; in fact my terrier dog was known to all of the London fancy.  As rat-killing dogs there's no equal to that strain of black-and-tan terriers."
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