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Genetics and Female TB Lines

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 Historic Dams

 Female Families Explained


  Who's Your Momma II: Some Lines Converge

Chart to assist in following the discussion. By E.W. Hill,, "History and Integrity of Thoroughbred Dam Lines Revealed in Equine mtDNA Variation," Animal Genetics 33, 187-294. London: Blackwell Publishing.

For a brief description of the royal stud at Tutbury and a chart of some of Britain's royal rulers and early running horse breeders, visit here.


Some Roads Lead to a Royal Mare

Horses whose pedigrees fall within six different Lowe families were shown to carry the same haplotype -- "F." The contemporary representatives of these families who were tested all share the same matriline, with one exception -- one horse in family 16 -- and so must descend the same founding mare. In addition, one horse tested in family 1 had the "F" variant.

Family No. Founder Mare Approximate Date Number Haplotypes Type of Anomaly
1 Tregonwell's Natural Barb Mare 1657 - 1670 [c. 1670] 9 F, H * MOD
2 Burton Barb Mare 1660 - 1685 [1670 - 80] 7 F --
7 D'Arcy's Blacklegs Mare [D'Arcy's Oldest Royal Mare] c. 1700 [c. 1675] 5 F --
8 Bustler Mare [Bay Dodsworth Mare] c. 1685 [c. 1675] 6 F --
16 Hutton's Old Spot Mare 1695 [c. 1750] 8 F *, H MOD
17 Byerley Turk Mare 1700 - 1710 [c. 1700] 2 F --
22 Belgrade Turk Mare 1718 [c. 1720] 1 F *, --

*Founder Haplotype.
MOD: Relatively Recent Anomaly in Modern Pedigree;
DR: Deep-rooted Anomaly, Possible Foundation Stage Confusion;
MUT: Posible de novo Mutation
Source: E.W. Hill,, "History and Integrity of Thoroughbred Dam Lines Revealed in Equine mtDNA Variation," Animal Genetics 33, 187-294. London: Blackwell Publishing. For personal use only; otherwise, contact Blackwell Publishing.
Note: Names and dates in brackets represent Thoroughbred Heritage corrections, and are not part of the originally published chart.
It appears members of these families do not derive from different founding mares, as their distinctive numbers and GSBpedigrees indicate, but rather from a single founding mare. The number of the sample populations studied are so small in some cases, that caution in whole-heartedly adopting the suggested conclusions presented here; nonetheless the trend seems clear. Note just one branch of family 1 tested for the "F" haploytpe; the eight other horses in the study tested for the "H" haplotype. Also, a member of one branch of family 16 proved to have an anomalous haplotype.

For now, we don't know who this "F" founding mare in England was, or where in time or place she was located. However, the genetic research, combined with what we know of the early histories of some of these matrilines indicate all these families came from a mare, or maternally-related mares, at the Hampton Court royal stud. Further, the founding mare in England for all these families was probably one "Royal" mare, or mares of related female descent, and not many different "Royal Mares" of imported origin, as some earlier breed historians have thought.

It is probable, given what we know of the importation of mares in the early 17th century, that mares considered to be of different matrilines in their native countries -- most likely Spain and Italy, and possibly Morocco and other Near East locations -- actually descended from the same distant founding mare. So, in looking at families that share the same haplotype, it is important to bear in mind that different individual imported mares may have a common ancestress so distant as to be irrelevant to the historic record. On the other hand, the mtDNA evidence that shows, thus far, different founding mares means just that -- for example, a group of horses with the "F" haplotype are not maternally related to horses that share the "H" haplotype, regardless of how distant the original founding mare was in time and place.

When the historic record is applied to the maternal lines associated with the "F" variant, it now seems possible the founding mare of all horses in these families may be reach as far back as the first quarter of the 17th century, to one (or more, related in female descent) of the Italian and Spanish mares acquired and imported by George Villiers, the first Duke of Buckingham, and intimate of James I, for his sovereign's royal stud. Descendants of these mares would have been dispersed by various means; there is ample evidence that gift mares from Italy and Spain found there way into Villiers' own stud. Records show that Cromwell's agents later dispersed the royal stud at Tutbury, in Staffordshire, soon after he came to power in 1649, only twenty years or so before the approximate birth dates of the oldest mares in these families. Seven were retained by Cromwell, and some of the rest appear to have been given to some of his supporters, and the remainder apparently were sold. The royal stud at Cole Park, Malmesbury in Wiltshire, was also dispersed, either just after the Commonwealth achieved power or possibly some years earlier: there, in a 1620 inventory, mares had names such as "Savoy," "Turk," "Spanyard," and the like. Both these royal studs were established during the reign of Henry VIII.

William Cavendish, created 1st Duke of Newcastle in 1665, was governor of Charles II when he was Prince of Wales, and taught him to ride. A loyal Royalist, Newcastle had an extensive stud at Welbeck Abbey before the Civil War, which he rebuilt, along with a racecourse, after returning from exile in 1660. Below: Some imported horses belonging to the Duke of Newcastle, painted in Antwerp, while he was in exile, mid-17th century, where he published a famous book, Methode et Invention Nouvelle de Dresser les Chevaux (1658). The Duke maintained that to breed running horses "your stallion...must be a Barb...for a Barb that is a Jade will Get better Running Horses than the Best Running-Horse in England."
A Barb, c. 1650
A Barb
A Turk, c. 1650
A Turk
A Spanish horse, c. 1650
A Spanish Horse
When we look at the earliest known mares in the families who share haplotype "F," we see the Burton Barb mare of family 2, who dates to around 1675, and the Bustler mare (family 8), who dates to around 1685-90. The Bustler mare's pedigree was extended further back by historian C.M. Prior when he found an entry for a 1720 descendant of hers (Hutton's Surley) in the 18th century stud book of Cuthbert Routh; her dam was "got by a barb" and her grandam was by Bay Dodsworth, almost certainly the Dodsworth -- or a son of his -- who was imported into England in-utero in 1670-71. The earliest known mare in the Bustler family lineage, then, probably dates to somewhere between 1675 and 1680. Her dam was probably located at the Hampton Court royal stud where other foals by Dodsworth listed in the GSBare reported to have been bred, including a filly out of the Burton Barb mare of family 2, who in turn was the dam of Morgan's Dun (by a son of the Helmsley Turk), sold to Sir William Morgan, and also of a sister to Morgan's Dun. Bustler, it should be noted, was a son of the Helmsley Turk.

About the Burton Barb mare we know almost nothing, other than she is noted in the GSB as being "Mr. Burton's Natural Barb Mare," and that she was bred to Dodsworth, to a horse called Dickey Pierson (a son of Dodsworth), and to a famous running horse named Spanker (1678), who stood at the Lincolnshire stud of Charles Pelham. Nor do we know who Mr. Burton was, at present. However, there were Burtons with long-time ties to the royal family of England, as far back as the Plantagenets, and who had a manor dating to the 14th century near Tutbury Castle, Staffordshire, where one of the royal studs of the Tudors and Stuarts was located.

In 1660, James D'Arcy was appointed Master of the Royal Stud by King Charles II, and directed to conduct an inventory of the despoiled royal stud at Tutbury. The King specifically directed D'Arcy to "take care that ye Interest of Major General Morgan be preserved unto him," Major-General Thomas Morgan, formerly of the parliamentary army, had been instrumental in bringing about the restoration of Charles II; his son, Sir William Morgan, was the purchaser of the colt later known as Morgan's Dun. These hints in the historic record tend to support the notion that the Burton Barb mare line had links to Tutbury.

The Hutton's Surley pedigree Prior discovered also removed Surley from the lineage the GSB assigned (consistent with family 2) and placed him within family 8. According to the GSB, Surley had a sister, Bowes, also placed in the family 2 lineage, and she, and her branch of family 2, probably also belong in family 8, just from the historic literature. It's clear that there was a mix-up in the pedigrees between these two families, previously thought to be unrelated, in the GSB, at least as early as the first decade of the 18th century, and probably earlier.

All five horses tested in family 7 also had the "F" variant. The mare listed as the founder of the family 7 is D'Arcy's Blacklegs Mare. Historian C.M. Prior found evidence in the Duke of Newcastle's papers 1700 - 1712 that this mare's daughter, D'Arcy's Sorril Royal mare, by Wastell's Turk, was presented to the Duke in around 1707, by the son-in-law of James D'Arcy, an influential Yorkshire horse breeder. Since this "Sorril Royal mare" (c. 1700) is the mare from which all of family 7 springs, her breeding has been of great interest to historians, and in the Newcastle Papers Prior found her pedigree: "out of a Royall Mare Called Black Leggs & got by Wastell's Turk, her dam gott by the Duke of Rutland's Blacklegs (c. 1680), out of Darcy's oldest Royall Mare." Prior, and later historians, such as J.B. Robertson and Cedric Borgnis, believed this "oldest Royall Mare" was an ancestress of the mares identified in the GSBas the roots of Families 11 and/or 13.

Now, from the Hill Study, we can see this was probably an erroneous assumption: the five sample horses springing from Darcy's "oldest Royall Mare," who would have dated to around 1670, at the earliest, have no maternal relationship to the mares of families 11 and 13, whose descendants carry the "J" haplotype. The family 7 "oldest Royall Mare" of D'Arcy's is somehow linked maternally with the Burton Barb mare, and the Bustler mare's granddam by Bay Dodsworth, all of whom appear to date to the latter half of the 1670s, as well as with the horses in the other families shown in the chart.

One of the interesting things about this collection of families within the "F" haplotype is that, with the exception of D'Arcy's "Oldest Royal Mare" in family 7, the D'Arcy influence is mostly indirect.

In family 2, most of the earliest mares were bred by Yorkshire breeder John Croft, although one stallion, Brimmer, sire of a daughter out the Dickey Pierson mare, is known to have been in the D'Arcy stud. The Croft family had ties with the D'Arcys, Christopher Croft having been an agent of D'Arcy the elder in the 1660s, and many other of the horses bred at the Barforth, Yorkshire, stud of John Croft and his son, also John, had breeding that traced back to Sedbury. In family 8, the mares seem to have been acquired early by John Hutton II of Marske, and were in his stud for several generations; also, his son, John Hutton III, married Elizabeth, daughter of James D'Arcy the younger. The earliest traceable mare in family 16, called Sister to Stripling or Hutton's Old Spot, mare family, was also present in the Hutton stud. In family 22, the only historic information that tends to support a connect to the "F" line, is that the breeder of the Belgrade Turk mare was probably Sir Marmaduke Wyvill, distantly related to the D'Arcy family.

Horses that spring from the "F" line, who now all appear to be related maternally, include: Northern Dancer, Teddy, The Tetrarch, Sundridge, and Meld (family 2); Danzig, Flying Fox, West Australian, and Perdita II (family 7); Sir Ivor, the brilliant English Triple Crown winner Nijinsky, Bold Ruler, Damascus, Raise a Native, Ruffian, American Triple Crown winner Whirlaway, Eleven-time leading sire in Italy, Havresac II (family 8); Sceptre, Ormonde, Bahram, Crepello and Plucky Liege (family l6); Yattendon, Omaha, Lyphard and Gallorette (family 17); Tulyar, Your Majesty, Manna, and the great producing mares Waffles, Neocracy and Athasi (family 22). In addition, a branch of family 1, Tregonwell's Natural Barb mare, dating no further back than the 1850s, and possibly more recent, descends from this mare, and not from the founding mare of family 1.

Another Royal Mare

The other haplotype found in the sample population that indicates a trend towards convergence in the distant reaches of Thoroughbred female lines is the "J" variant. This haplotype was found in all ten horses tested from the family descending from the famous Layton Barb mare, family no. 4. It was also found in all six horses tested whose pedigrees have placed them in family no. 13, descending, according to the GSB, from a "Royal mare." In addition, although a bit more tenuous, since only four horses underwent genetic sequencing, family number 11, descending from an a "Sedbury Royal mare," appears to share the "J" haplotype. In the case of family no. 11, one horse showed an anomaly which researchers concluded was probably a de novo mutation, and one horse showed a unique haplotype not found in any of the other horses tested, the "P" variant.

Family No. Founder Mare Approximate Date Number Haplotypes Type of Anomaly
4 Layton Barb Mare 1650 [c. 1680-85] 10 J * --
11 Pet Mare [Royal Mare] c. 1685-90 [c. 1675] 4 J *, L, P MOD & MUT
13 SedburyRoyal Mare 1665 [c.1670 - 75] 6 J --

*Founder Haplotype.
MOD: Relatively Recent Anomaly in Modern Pedigree;
DR: Deep-rooted Anomaly, Possible Foundation Stage Confusion;
MUT: Posible de novo Mutation
Source: E.W. Hill,, "History and Integrity of Thoroughbred Dam Lines Revealed in Equine mtDNA Variation," Animal Genetics 33, 187-294. London: Blackwell Publishing. For personal use only; otherwise, contact Blackwell Publishing.
Note: Names and dates in brackets represent Thoroughbred Heritage corrections, and are not part of the originally published chart.
The "Royal mare" of family 13 is in the pedigree of Grey Royal, by D'Arcy's White Turk, the first mare in this family with produce listed in the GSB. The Sedbury Royal Mare of family 11 is first listed in the GSBunder her daughter, The Pet Mare, where it states she was "The property of Miss Betty Darcy. She was the daughter of either Grey Royal or of a Sedbury Royal Mare. The sire is not given..." Sedbury Park was location of the D'Arcy stud. The Layton (Violet) Barb Mare (family 4) is shown in the GSBas producing four foals bred by James D'Arcy.

Historians have always believed that families 11 and 13 sprang from a common founding mare, even though they are only tenuously linked in the GSB. C.M. Prior, J.B. Robertson, a turf writer and student of thoroughbred history of the mid 20th century, and Cedric Borgnis -- the latter wrote a series of articles for The British Racehorse in the 1970s on this and related topics -- all believed family 7, the D'Arcy Blacklegs Mare, was also linked families 11 and 13, although from the Hill study, that now does not seem to be the case.

The Layton Barb Mare of family 4, however, has usually been considered unrelated for families 11 and 13, despite the presence of some D'Arcy sires in the early pedigrees, which also appear in families 11 and 13. Borgnis did propose family 4 and family family 12 had the same matriline, but also believed families 8, 10, 16, 18, 19, 25, 18, and 31 shared this same female founder. None of the representatives of these latter families tested in the Hill study appear to be related maternally from the genetic evidence.

Historian C.M. Prior found a pedigree provided by James D'Arcy in the early 18th century stud book of Cuthbert Routh which stated the granddam of a grey 1716 mare named Creeper was "my Old Royall Mare" ..."gott by the White Turk" and "was out of my own Gray Royall." Prior later unearthed papers from Lord Conyers D'Arcy of Hornby Castle in Yorkshire, who was James D'Arcy's (the elder's) father, which recorded a mare known as Grey Royal in his stud in 1620, probably a gift from the Duke of Buckingham, who may have found her way into Buckingham's possession from the royal stud of James I. Some historians, including Prior, felt this early Grey Royal mare was the mare from which the later Grey Royals descended, the same name being applied to successive generations of mares as a way of keeping track of female lines in an era where few mares were given distinctive names and where written stud book records were rare. One of the manors in the possession of Lord Conyers D'Arcy was Layton, located in County Durham. Now we have a genetic link between families 11, 13 and 4, and it seems more than possible that the Grey Royal of 1620 was the maternal founder in England, of not only families 11 and 13, but also of the Layton Barb mare (ca. 1685) of family 4, and that some mares of that maternal line were at some point moved from Layton to the Sedbury Park stud across the Durham- Yorkshire border, possibly to provide the mares whose produce would fulfill D'Arcy's contract with King Charles II.

Thus representatives of the maternal line that passes on the "J" variant include Matchem, *Rock Sand, Nearco, and *Ribot (family no. 4); Highflyer, Mr. Prospector, Seattle Slew, Tourbillon (family no. 13); and St. Simon, Birdcatcher, *Australian, and Acatenango (family no. 11).

Introduction II. Some Lines Converge III. Some Lines Misplaced IV. Unique, So Far...

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