Bear-Baiting and Cock-Fighting

4-7 March 1699   At the Cock Pit Royal, on the south side of St James's Park, on Thursday the 9th of March, at the request of several Noblemen and Gentlemen, will be performed the re-encounter betwixt the East India Tyger, that was lately shown in the Stocks Market, and now to be seen at the five Mugs at Charing Cross, and three large bear dogs, one after another, at one of the clock in the afternoon precisely; convenient accommodation will be prepared for Noblemen and Gentlemen, at one guinea per place, and likewise places at ten shillings, and five shiillings for the accommodation of Ladies. The cupulo over the pit will be prepared for them, to prevent any surprize that may be suggested from their sex. This noble diversion will certainly give the spectators an admirable satisfaction, no Autho: [sic] extent in Europe, can afford a president of the like nature; all persons are free to view the place, till the day prefixed. (The Post Man)

9-11 March 1699   On Thursday last the Tyger which was shewn about town, was baited at the Cockpit by 4 dogs, one after another. The first dog was almost killed, but the other three fought so well, that one may say it was a drawn battel, and some believe they would have been too hard for him, had not a large collar saved his throat. (The Post Man)

6-9 September 1701   The tiger in Bartholomew Fair, that yesterday gave such satisfaction to persons of all qualities, by pulling the feathers so nicely from live fowls, will at the request of several persons, do the same this day, price 6d. each. [Post Man]

27-29 January 1709

The Royal Pastime of Cock-fighting; or the Art of Breeding, Feeding, Fighting, and Curing Cocks of the Game. Publish’d purely for the good and benefit of all such as take delight in that Royal and warlike sport. To which is prefix’d,

A short treatise, wherein cocking is prov’d not only ancient and honourable, but also useful and profitable.

     By R. H. a lover of the sport, and a friend to such as delight in military discipline. Printed for D. Brown, at the Black Swan without Temple-Bar, and T. Ballard, at the Rising-Sun in Little-Britain. [Post Boy]

4 February 1721   For some days past several idle persons resorting to Moor-Fields, Covent-Garden, Lincolns-Inn-Fields, and other publick places in and about London, to throw at cocks; and besides that barbarous custom abundance of disorders are committed, to the great prejudice of youth, who

continually waste their masters time away in gaming at orange barrows, the Justices have issued strict orders for apprehending any that shall be found offending in that manner, and have already sent 10 or 12 to the Work-house. (Weekly Journal: or, British Bazetteer)

Sunday 28 January 1725   From the Weekly Journal, Jan. 23.
If you think proper, you may insert in your next the following very true relation of a combat last Sunday after noon, in sermon-time, in St. George's Fields, betwixt a game bull and an informing constable.
          The bull, it seems is us'd to graze about the fields of a Sunday without molestation, altho' baited there twice a-week; but last Sunday, some unlucky boys got together and hunted him, till at length the bull, very unwisely, runs up to his Magistrate's house for shelter: He looking thro' his window and seeing him, as well to show his power as his valour, immediately takes the Ensigns of his Magistracy and goes forth, thinkikng thereby to deter this fierce creature; but it proved quite otherwise, for Taurus, not dismay'd, immediately makes at him, catches him i's horns, and flings him over the pales into his neighbour's yard, which it seems is a notorious bawdy-house; shewing thereby, that he ought rather to have been going about to search those ill houses, than at home drawing drink in sermon-time. Upon the whole, he was immediately blooded, and put to bed; and his wounds being now dressed, is in a fairer way of recovery than's desir'd by his neighbours, for they say the bull ought to be shot for not thoroughly doing his work, as well as the fellow was wish'd hang'd, for but half-cutting Jonathan Wild's throat.
          Your's, &c. George Fields [Caledonian Mercury].

23 April 1726   A great part of Hyde-Park is inclosed, for enlarging the paddock at Kensington-Palace, the better to secure and accommodate wild beasts kept there.

On Saturday last, a person in Hyde-Park leap’d upwards of 70 yards in jumps, for a wager of 50 Guineas, to the admiration of a vast number of spectators. [Weekly Journal, or The British Gazetteer]

6 August 1726   As a lame man was lately shewing tricks with a bear, over against Suffolk-street, near Charing-Cross, the creature being hungry, or ill-humour’d, shew’d his master such a trick as was like to have cost him his life, for his muzzle being somewhat loose, he bit him grievously by his stump-hand, and with his paws tore his arm and face in a sad manner. [Mist’s Weekly Journal]

(Texts have been modernized with regard to capitalization, italicization, and punctuation, but original spelling has been retained. This edition copyright Rictor Norton. All rights reserved. Reproduction for sale or profit prohibited. These extracts may not be archived, republished or redistributed without the permission of the compiler.)

CITATION: Rictor Norton, Early Eighteenth-Century Newspaper Reports: A Sourcebook, "Bear-Baiting and Cock-Fighting", 18 November 2001, updated 28 November 2001, expanded 8 October 2003; updated 24 Januarty 2012 <>

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