It is said that Parson John Russell, "The Sporting Parson", Vicar of Swimbridge in Devon acquired his first terrier from a milkman in the village of Marston in Oxfordshire while studying at Oxford.

He called her Trump and she would become the foundation bitch to the parson's legendary strain of terriers. Reverend Davies described Trump at the time as follows: In the first place, the colour is white with a patch of dark tan over each eye and ear while a similar dot, not larger than a penny piece, marks the root of the tail. The coat, which is thick. close and a trifle wiry, is well-calculated to protect the body from wet and cold but has no affinity with the long rough jacket of the Scotch Terrier. The legs are straight as arrows, the feet perfect, the loins and whole frame are indicative of hardiness and endurance, while the size and height of the animal may be compared to that of a full grown vixen fox.”

The Reverend John Russell did not have Jack Russell terriers; he had white-bodied fox-working dogs that, in his day, were simply called “fox terriers.” The term “Jack Russell Terrier” was coined after the Reverend John Russell had passed away and was used to differentiate any white-bodied working terrier of dubious ancestor from the larger fox terriers.

Reverend Russell was adamant that his terriers not maim or kill the fox which was considered unsporting. Instead Reverend Russell bred his terriers to be a baying terrier, having the courage and formation to bolt out foxes that had gone to ground, not kill his quarry, for the chase ended if the fox did not bolt.

The great fad during the nineteenth century was to cross bulldogs with various strains of terriers to produce an extremely tough and hard terrier. But Russell strongly disapproved of this practice since the inclusion of bulldog blood ruined what Russell called 'the gentlemanly characteristics' of his strain. Few of Russell’s terriers were docked (half of the tail removed at birth) and the "squirrel tails" that characterized his terriers were sometimes regarded with distaste by his fellow hunters. But Russell insisted that the natural, undocked tail enabled him to grab the dog by its stern and draw it from the earth whenever it was locked on to its quarry.

John Russell died in 1883, and his kennels were dispersed. After his death, his life-long friend, the Prince of Wales, bought a portrait of Trump which still hangs in the Harness Room at Sandringham today.

 

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