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Who was
Lord William Humphrey?
Lord of the manors of Skelton-le-dale and Ratlinghope

Sir William Humphrey, Falconer and Setter breeder extraordinaire with Circa, his Golden Eagle.

By Michael J. Bloodgood
Most of William Humphrey's life, he had mainly made a living as a professional kennel manager. He also tinkered in antique furniture, selling to many wealthy people around the world. He was considered one of the best dog breeder's and trainers in world in his day and played a significant role in the Fox hound, Beagle, and Springier Spaniel worlds, but is best known for his magnificent role in the continuation and development of Llewellin's Setters in England, only second to Mr. Richard Llewellin himself. Especially, true with the continuation of Llewellin's personal bloodline known as the Dashing Bondhu's and their later introduction and popularity into the United States.

In British Setter circles reference are made to the” Great Triumvirate”,
each being a triumvir
meaning, the three great men of the Setter world and the passing of the torch. Of course Sir Edward Laverack, being the first, and the founder of the "English Setter", Lord Richard Purcell Llewellin, the second, being given the best of Laverack's great Field Champion, Champion Setters and given the task to bring back their great hunting instincts and Lord William Humphrey being the third and credited with continuing Llewellin's work with his Dashing Bondhu Setters.

Lord William Humphrey was known to be a very interesting character, who had a lifetime association with birds of pry and great dogs of many breeds. His family, had served the Royal Family as Falconers for generations. He himself was a very skilled and well known Falconer often pictured with his Golden Eagle Circa. It takes great strength to hold a Golden Eagle with one arm. Many Falconer's enjoyed hunting over Humphrey's Dashing Bondhu Setters on the Humphrey Lake Cottage estate.

L-R, A 1938 photo of William Humphrey, his son, Humphrey's Kennel Manger,  and  Falconer Ronald Stevens, with the family springer and four pure Dashing Bondhu Setters. Many Falconer enjoyed hunting with Humphrey on his Lake Cottage estate. Please note, that this is 13 years after he inherited Llewellin's Setters and look how much these Setters resemble our Dashing Bondhu Setters in size and body type today, no doubt the same pure bloodlines.

A young William Humphrey with Dan, Winner of  Lanark, Scotland Grouse Trials 1926! One year after he inherited Sir Llewellin's Dashing Bondhu Setters.
Note: the high head, tail, and stance. Humphrey did not breed for his Setters to set or point with head and tail down, like most English and European breeders did and do.

Ronald Stevens in 1938, famous author & Falconer extraordinaire with his Falcon and his Dashing Bondhu Setter from close friend W. Humphrey, while hunting on  Humphrey's Lake cottage estate. Note, how much his Setter looks like our Dashing Bondhu Setters today!

In his early years he was known to ride to the hounds and had superior knowledge of Fox Hounds, Harriers, and Springier Spaniels. Especially, the Springier which he bred extensively for many years and used them with his birds of pry and was known to own as many as one thousand dogs and hundred birds of pry. He was well known in the falconry, hunting and shooting world of his day and had numerous high society friends. He later was particularly knowledgeable in and respected in the Setter world and fancied Llewellin's pure Dashing Bondhu Setters over all other hunting dogs and strains, having great success in the early foot hunting Field Trials and show competition with them, personally making 41 Field Champions himself, in just 38 years of breeding them. He ALWAYS gave Lord Llewellin FULL credit for all their many accomplishments.

Not being an independently wealthy man most of his life, like his good friend Lord Llewellin. Humphrey came to the United States in the early 1900’s with some well bred spaniels and a few birds of pry to show Americans the sport of falconry. Many Falconers today give William Humphrey credit for popularizing their sport of hunting with birds of pry in the US.

Humphrey was hired by Erastus Tefft, Master of Star Ridge Foxhounds in Brewster, New York and Governor of the New York Stock exchange at the time. Tefft gave Humphrey authority over all his large foxhound kennel, as well as Tefft's Llewellin Setters and other hunting dogs Tefft owned. Humphrey improved Tafft's Fox Hound pack by introducing superior Welsh Fox Hounds imported from Britain and his Llewellin Setters through selective line breeding. He was also very impressed with Tefft's Llewellin Setters and interesting enough it may have been his first encounter with this great breed.

During these years, Humphrey became very successful, also earning income by importing antique furniture and some fine guns from England, another one of Humphrey's many talents. With the Stock Market crash in 1929, both Tefft and Humphrey were left destitute. Fortunately, Humphrey was able to get Tefft's Llewellin Setters as payment and was able to bring them and many birds of pry with him back to England.

Humphrey's passion grew for good Setters and one day at a Field Trail, he saw a very tall, slender, older gentlemen with a full beard, standing off by himself. Curious, he walked over and started a conversation with him. They quickly, hit it off and enjoyed talking about dog breeding for hours and hours until sunset. Just as they started to part he realized they had not been introduced so exchanged names and to Humphrey's great surprise, he had been speaking with Sir Llewellin all along.  Humphrey friendship grew with Llewellin and he became what some called a decibel of Llewellin. On Lord Llewellin's passing in 1925, Lord Humphrey, said in his manuscript, that he quickly sold out of all the Setters he had, to make room for all of Lord Llewellin's pure Dashing Bondhu Setters that were given to him through Lord Llewellin's surviving house keeper who Llewellin secured a pension for.

It has been said that Lord Llewellin donated all his land and the majority of his wealth to a Baptist Church that still remains on the estate. It is believe Llewellin's brother was Pastor there at the time.

Mr. Humphrey, vowed to continue breeding, training, and campaign Lord Llewellin's superior strain known as "Dashing Bondhu" and started to use that name as well on all the pure dogs of that strain.

Mr. Humphrey made many friends and later inherited a large sum and ownership of some of the best grouse moors in the area named Longmynd. These were the old hunting grounds of King John, and the given Titles of Lordship of the Manors of Rattlinghope and Stretton-en-le-Dale.

Now being a Lord himself and an independently wealthy man with title like Lord Llewellin, Lord Humphrey was now able put his great skills of dog breeding and training to good use and indulged in his true passion to preserve Lord Llewellin's personal pure Dashing Bondhu bloodline.

Lord Humphrey became great friends with Father Brannon, an Irish Priest who owned Scinn Amach Kennel in Ireland and also had access to great hunting grounds there. Lord Humphrey had married, having four children and the Humphrey family were known to switch cottages with Fr, Brannon. living in each others homes a few months each summer.  During these times they would hunt, train, breed, and care for each others Setters. This gave them both not only intimate insight on each others Setters, but shared in each others successful breeding programs.

Fr. Brannon in 1974 with his Dashing Bondhu strain of Llewellin Setter. Look at the similarity to our Dashing Bondhu Llewellin Setters today!
After Lord Humphrey's passing in 1963, Fr. Brannon owned Machad Kennel and received many of his best Setters and continued breeding the pure Dashing Bondhu's until his passing. This is where the Irish Bondhu's originate from in the Mountain View Kennel breeding program. Machad Ambassador was one of his last pups produced by him.

Like Llewellin, Lord Humphrey had outstanding success and bred hundreds of Llewellin's Setters at his Horsford Kennels, and many were sold around the world. He also had great success in Field Trail and Shows, winning just about every major title of that time in the UK and some in the USA.

Lord Humphrey's home and kennels was Lake Cottage in the grounds of Wolcott Hall, Lydbury North the ancestral home of Clive of India. Lake Cottage is today occupied by his grandson Chris Sorenson, but unfortunately, Chris no longer keeps any of his great Llewellin Setters that his grandfather had passed down to him. Many of his best dogs were exported to the US in the 1960's and is where our pure Humphrey Dashing Bondhu bloodlines have descended from.

Lord William Humphrey passed away at age 81 on Nov. 22, 1963, the same day President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. His ashes were spread on the Long Mynd, which is now a National Trust and is part of the public National Parks program.  William's grandson Chris Sorenson did breed his grand fathers great Llewellin Setters for a few short years, but sadly there are no Llewellin Setters left at Lake Cottage now and all breeding activity has ended there. He now runs an animal transportation business at the kennels. The grave of Richard Purcell Llewellin is situated only a short drive away and that of Edward Laverack is about half an hours drive as well.

William Humphrey's huge contribution to the Dashing Bondhu strain of Llewellin Setter was truly amazing. For more information on the Dashing Bondhu line, please read "The Dashing Bondhu Line".

All our Llewellin Setters are permanently identified with registered AVID® microchips,
Tattooed, and are DNA swabbed for 
genetic identification.
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All documents, photographs and graphics are Copyright © 1996-2014 Mountain View Kennel. Background photo of Dashing Blaze Bondhu, pure Dashing Bondhu Llewellin Setter, dedicated in her loving memory.