It's been a truly horrible day...wet and cold...so I've been hunched over the laptop trawling through Ancestry again.
Yeomen and more Yeomen and a sprinkle of Landed Proprietors...a few Quakers...and then back to earth with a bump. Workhouses and Ag Labs and children employed on farms when they were only seven years old and girls who couldn't write their own names when they married and had to make their mark instead...
And then I found out that the name Woolpit in Suffolk was originally called Wolfpit because it is thought the last Wolf in England was put in a pit in the village before being slaughtered...it is said the last Wolf was killed in the 1500's but the date varies according to the account you read...
Irelands last Wolf was killed in the 1700's but then we've always been slightly behind everyone else...it is said he was shot by an irate farmer who'd found him munching on a dead sheep.
I'd had no idea either that Wolves were used for Baiting in the same way as Bulls and Bears...maybe the sort of people who enjoyed such 'sport' were the Late Middle Ages version of our thugs who practice dog-fighting nowadays.
Now we hunt Foxes and gas Badgers and shoot Pheasants that'd are so tame they practically sit still enough to be picked up...the Irish Hare isn't the stuff of strange legends any more...no shape-shifting for those beautiful animals who race ahead of you on quiet boreens...huge ears alert and pricked...now they're hunted by grubby men who come from crowded estates in the dubious areas of big towns, driving enormous 4x4's with Lurchers crammed in a box pulled behind...they wear combat trousers and tight t-shirts...arms covered in unpleasant tattoos...big brave men they are.
Maybe the Bear baiting could be put down to ignorance about animals and that is wasn't understood that they have souls and can feel distress and fear...Hare coursing and gassing Badgers...pursuing Foxes with a pack of hounds...what excuse will the people of the future come up with to explain our need to kill.