The Middleton Hunt

About the Hunt


The early history of foxhunting in the Middleton country is closely bound up with that of the adjoining Holderness, and in fact the two were hardly separate countries. As far back as 1726, Squire Draper of Beswick formed a pack with the help of Sir Mark Constable. Having but £600 a year, and eleven sons and three daughters, he was necessarily frugal in his habits. Never-theless, his hounds had a great reputation for the sport they showed over the wild, uncultivated wolds, which were 'worth 2s. 6d. an acre and hard work to pay at that."

Another name that crops up about this time is that of Sir Thomas Gascoigne, who is also mentioned in connection with the Bramham Moor. During the 1780's Lord Mexborough, Mr. Bumper Saville and Sir Walter Vavasour all hunted the wolds, and the Duke of Devonshire kept a pack at Londesborough. At this time the East Yorkshire Hunt Club was formed at Driffield. Jn 1788 a triumvirate consisting of Lord Carlisle, Mr. Compton, and Mr. Willoughby (afterwards Lord Middleton) were hunting the Middleton country, the hounds being kennelled at Castle Howard. Mr. Darley, of Darley Arabian fame, had previously kept hounds at Aldby Park, and these he sold to Earl Spencer. In 1799 the whole of the East Riding was hunted by Mr. Duncombe (later Lord Feversham) from Fangfoss.

From this somewhat tangled skein we emerge in 1804, for in that year the Sykes of Sledmere make their appearance on the scene. In that year Sir Mark Masterman Sykes, and his brother Mr. Tatton Sykes, bought Lord Feversham's hounds and established kennels at Eddlethorpe. Two years later there was a Committee consisting of Sir Mark Sykes, Mr. Watt, and Mr. Digby Legard, the pack being known as the Confederate Hounds. They hunted an enormous territory from Coxwold to Spurn Point, including a lot of York and Ainsty country, who acceded to the western side when that Hunt was formed in 1815. Mr. Legard then took over the Holderness side, and Sir Mark continued to hunt the Middleton country till his death in 1823.

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