by Richard LeBeau

This year, 2011, the English Toy Spaniel [ETS] is celebrating the 125th anniversary of American Kennel Club recognition. The first registered ETS was Mildmay Park Beauty, AKC Stud Book #4456. This black and tan bitch was imported from England and registered in 1886 to Mrs. B. F. {the former Susannah Roberts} Wilson (22 Oct. 1847-18 Apr. 1919) of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Only the Pug and Yorkshire Terrier, recognized in 1885, precede the ETS in seniority among Toy breeds. Today, in 2011, there are 170 recognized breeds, with 15 breeds pending full recognition in the Miscellaneous Class. In 1885, the first year of the AKC Stud Book, there were only 15, with 9 added in 1886 for a total of 24 recognized breeds. Toy fanciers may find it interesting to note that the Italian Greyhound was also recognized in 1886.

The AKC stud book entry for Mildmay Park Beauty provides an interesting bit of breed history. Mildmay Park was a shady residential area of London, England, incorporated today in the Islington district of that city. She was whelped in June of 1883; the exact date of her importation is not known. The [British] Kennel Club Stud Book lists the breeder as a Mrs. Beaven; the AKC Stud Book lists the breeder as Mrs. Benton. It is possible that the bitch was imported through a purebred dogs importation/brokering service, and the discrepancy may have been caused by a hasty clerical error in that company’s business office. She was sired by Victor out of Bet [dam appears as Pet in the AKC Stud Book]. The AKC Stud Book entry for Beauty reveals that she was exhibited in England and in this country. We also discover that Mildmay Park Beauty is the dam of the 2nd AKC registered English Toy Spaniel, listed immediately below on the same page, Pickininny, # 4457, and that this black and tan bitch was owned and bred by Mrs. B. F. Wilson. Her sire, Champion Jumbo II appears as a sire with a registration number, but not as a champion, on the British Kennel Club Stud Book page published here. He does not have an AKC Stud Book number. He may have been imported from England and not registered here, but based on the evidence we have, it seems that Mildmay Park Beauty was already in whelp when she endured the ocean voyage to her new home, which could take anywhere from around six to ten days, depending on conditions at sea, followed by the train ride to Pittsburgh. In any case, she must have been a healthy toy dog with a steady temperament, and her daughter ‘Pickininny’ is the first American-born, AKC registered English Toy Spaniel.

The photograph published here of Susannah Roberts Wilson has been graciously provided by her great-granddaughter, Mrs. Elizabeth Wilson Peer of San Francisco, California. Incredibly, only days before the original deadline for this publication, Mrs. Peer discovered an important photograph of B. F. Wilson with a toy spaniel in his lap! Unfortunately the photograph is not specifically identified. However, from other photos of her great-grandfather which we have been able to date, we agree that this image of B. F. Wilson was made about 1890, give or take. Therefore, there is a very strong possibility that this is indeed a photograph showing Mildmay Park Beauty. Both of these photographs from Mrs. Peer’s collection are published here for the first time.