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|Here is an early 19th century
Written by JulieW
(3/31/2008 10:48 a.m.)
in consequence of the missive, More on cows, penned by Joan Ellen
JA, of course, knew about Alderney cattle through her mother's own experince of keeping them at Steventon.
Here is an extract from a letter she wrote to Mrs Walters on 26th August 1770:
What Luck we shall have with those sort of Cows I can't say. My little Alderney one turns out tolerably well, and makes more Butter than we can use, and I have just brought another of the same sort,but as her calf is but just gone,can not say what she will be good for yet...
Do note that Alderneys ( a collective name then used for all Channel Island cattle) were sometimes kept for decorative purposes in the early 19th century:
A few breeds of cattle were imported into the British Isles at this time.They had little effect on the deveolpment of native breeds and were treated more like fashionable curiosities. The Kerry and its miniature version , the Dexter, came from ireland and the Alderney was the collective name given to Channel Island Cattle. Exotic species also arrived from India and the Far East.These cattle were kept primarily by noblemen to decorate their country parks. Willliam Youett comments that ..." it is thought fashionalbe that the view from the breakfast or drawing-room of the house shoud present an Alderney Cow or two grazing at a little distance". He further explained that the animals were popular partly for the richness of their milk but more for their diminutive size. It as only later in the 19th century that Alderney or Jersey or Guernsey cattle, often crossed with native breeds, became properly established as dairy herds in the gentle climate of the South West of England.
I have a suspicion that while the Martins no doubt had a dairy for milk on their farm they were also not averse to the cows around that dairy looking very decorative: which indicates that they were not exactly the uneducated, subsistance, farming bumpkins that Emma would have us believe ;-)
And just to show that all this interest in cattle was not confined to the Yeomanry, here is a picture of the Countess of Chesterfield and her daughters inspecting form their phaeton, one of the Earl's prize milk cows in 1810.
The Earl of Chesterfield was an agricultural improver( more on this later in relation to Mr Knightley) and was sufficiently proud of his livestock to pay Thomas Weaver, the artist, £147 for this portrait together with one depicting him and a prize bull. This was a time of great difficulties in the farming profession,and also one of great improvements in stock and farming methods. More on this later too ;-)
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