On this Day 4th February 1815

Bloodsports in Penzance - tailpiping a dog

In an article entitled Melancholy accident at Penzance the Royal Cornwall Gazette of 11 February 1815 described how a party of men, boys and two young women amused themselves with tail-piping a dog which they had procured for this purpose. They attached a bullock's horn to its tail, released the frightened animal and, with brutal pleasure, followed it down the lane. The dog, pursued by its savage tormentors, ran down Trereife lane and met a cart, frightening the horses. The driver, John Green aged 17, was thrown from the shafts where he was sitting. The wheels passed over his head and killed him immediately. The young women coming up found that the lad who had just been killed was their brother. Tail-piping or pralling dogs in the neighbourhood of Penzance ranked as an amusement, next to bull baiting, with the lower orders of society here.

The Royal Cornwall Gazette of 25 February 1815 carried an interesting addition to this story. “A respectable correspondent from Penzance” contacted the paper to say that the dog had not been pralled or tail-piped and certainly not for reasons of cruelty or sport, it had been done by an “ignorant servant” to keep the dog from his usual depredations. The paper stood by its earlier position that the dog had been tail-piped and cruel sport had been made of it which resulted in the death of the cart driver. Only by publicising such activities and their melancholy outcomes can such cruelty be ended, said the paper.


Royal Cornwall Gazette 11 February 1815

Royal Cornwall Gazette 25 February 1815

Carleen Harry, Leisure, in In and Around Penzance in Napoleonic Times, Penwith Local History Group, 2000.


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