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John Cradock - obituary 1838

Derby Mercury - 8th August 1838

Brief Memoir of the late John Cradock Esq of Loughborough
(from the Sporting Magazine, for August)

Every sportsman - Lord, Commoner, or Yeoman who has hunted in Leicestershire during the last twenty years will receive with deep regret the tidings that Mr Cradock is no more! To those who saw him on the closing day of the session, so "full of lusty life", the picture of robust health, entering into the sport with all his wonted ardour, this regret will not be unmingled with surprise! Yet it is, alas! Too true. He has passed from the scene, and in him has passed one of the best and bravest and most kindhearted men that ever entered a Leicestershire field.

Mr Cradock was the eldest son of the late John Cradock, Esq. One of the most prominent leaders and one of the firmest supporters of the Quorndon hunt from the time of Mr Meynell to Sir Henry Goodricke, and who received, as the well-earned meed (sic) of honorary services to the hunt, a splendid piece of plate from the members. Of him, as of his son, frequent and most honorable mention had been made in the pages of The Sporting Magazine.

Mr Cradock was born, I think, in 1792, and it might naturally be expected that the son of such a father would inherit much of his sire's attachment for the chase. The ruling -passion was perhaps even stronger in the son that in his lamented predecessor, and the services he was enabled to render the hunt were, if possible, greater. Having finished his education at Ashbourn and Rugby, Mr Cradock entered the law, and , in conjunction with Mr Thomas Cradock, his brother, kept up and indeed increased the reputation which for half a century had belonged to the office.

Every day that could be spared from the calls of professional life was devoted to fox-hunting; nor was it during the season alone that Mr Cradock devoted his energies to the furtherance of the objects of the hunt: from November to April he was constantly in the field; from April to November not a day passed in which some plan for the success of the coming season had not his attention. Were coverts to be attended to - were landed proprietors to be propitiated - were vulpecides to be reproved and converted - the duty always devolved on Cradock, and never were such duties more ably performed. To the county at large the loss of such a man is a severe blow; to Lord Hasting's hunt and to the Quorn (especially under its present circumstances) the loss is absolutely irreparable - no man either could or would be what John Cradock was: extensively known, and universally respected when known, he was the connecting link between the aristocracy and the yeomanry.

It seems but yesterday, though upwards of twenty years ago, since he first ventured to emerge from the green to the scarlet, and I freshly remember the roasting he had, as all have on such occasions. He said that his shoulders were so warm he really must doff. The hunt surrounded him as the Staff surrounds a General; all, however hailed his accession to the Upper House with joy and gladness - they knew it was an earnest that he meant to tread in his father's steps. Since that period few men have ridden more miles after hounds; none have ridden them better.

I feel myself perfectly incompetent to do justice to Mr Cradock's merits as a rider. Were I to state that he was the very best, take him on all points, that ever graced a Leicestershire field, I am persuaded few judges would deny the assertion. There was a firmness, a coolness, and promptness in the manner in which he took his way, which won the admiration of everyone. Foreigners used to wonder as if they saw a Centaur; and then there was such an entire absence of anything like swagger or bravado in the manner in which he shewed us the way! Enthusiastically enjoying the sport, he seemed utterly unconscious that he was an object of admiration and imitation to hundreds in his wake. His judgement in horses was first-rate. I never saw him badly mounted, and his stud at the time of his lamented decease, in real usefulness, bone, and beauty, equalled most private Gentlemen's. I know not into whose hands those gallant steeds of as gallant a master will fall, but I know that I shall never see one of them in the field without wishing other legs bestrode him!

Fox-hunters are not so devoid of sensibility as a censorious clique will deem them. Many a painful thought will interrupt the commencement of the coming season. The white 'kerchief, the last of the race save Mr Maher's, will be looked for in vain; and it will damp our joy even in all the glow and ardour of the chase that Cradock is no longer there to share it! Methinks I see him now, just trotting up to the covert-side and regulating with Lord Hastings or Mr Errington the order of the day, looking the picture of health, and having about him all the promise of longevity: I hear his "How are you?" to Peer and peasant all alike: I see his eager watchfulness for the first note - his preparation for the start - his place in the first rank at starting, as certain to be kept till the finish: I hear and see all this, and can scarcely believe that manly form is in the tomb!

I remember one day during the last season, when Mr Errington was absent, that Mr Cradock took, as he always did at such times, the management of the field. A fox had been found near Six Hills, and was going off, leaving a bad scent, towards Thrussington Gorse: In the fog that prevailed at the moment it was almost impossible to see hounds ten yards before us, and a gentleman, mounted on a headstrong grey horse, in spite of frequent back calls, got close to the hounds, and pushed them from the scent. He was serenaded at the check by Cradock in terms that did not savour much of the suaviter in modo (Gentle in manner, resolute in execution.) "I could not hold my stupid horse," said the breaker of Diana's pales. "Those that can't should stay at home" retorted Cradock. "Let me know the days when you are Master here, and I will," said the transgressor. In an instant
"They stood aloof like scars remaining
Of cliffs that had been rent asunder:"
But at the end of the run Cradock went up, and with a kindness of manner that bespoke his respect for the feelings of another, begged "that the transient ebullition might be earthed, for it was earthy:" and this feeling attended him on his dying pillow.

To more than one friend with whom he was not on terms, he sent messages of love and peace, regretting that his short life had ever been ruffled by an unpleasant feeling, and wishing to die, as he had always wished to live, in perfect amity with all mankind.

Mr Cradock married a daughter of Robert Piper, Esq of Yorkshire, but has left no issue. His private fortune was considerable, and the emoluments from his profession (as great, perhaps, as those of any provincial office in the kingdom) simply enabled him to live in the style of an English Country Gentleman, while his fame as a sportsman and his merits as a man justly rendered him a welcome guest amongst the best families in the county. He had just attained the very climax of his wishes, "had health, wealth, and troops of friends," when the fatal summons came-
"Linquenda tellus,
Et domus, et placens uxor."

June 1838 - Charnwood
* I think Mr Cradock's riding after hounds, to covert and home, averaged 400 miles a week.

   
 Submitted on: 2010-12-07
 Submitted by: Kathryn Paterson;
 Artefact ID: 1008
 Print: View artefact in printer-friendly page

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