John Peel was born at Park End, Caldbeck in 1776 and died in 1854.
In 1829 Sir Frederick Fletcher Vane, who kept a pack of hounds at his Wythop Estate, appointed John Peel as his huntsman. In 1856, two years after Peel's death, the pack was dispersed. Squire Crozier bought two couples of hounds including Peel's best and favourite 'Briton' whose couple companion was a bitch named 'Cruel'.
Peel's hounds were used extensively for stud purposes with the best of Mr Crozier's - justifying the description of the Blencathra as 'Peel's old pack'.
Other hounds were bought by Sir Wilfrid Lawson of Isel Hall, Master of the Cumberland Foxhounds, which were kennelled at Dalston.
The 150th Anniversary of John Peel's death was celebrated on November 13th 2004. Dr Jim Cox then Master of the Blencathra and Diane Todhunter, daughter of the present Huntsman, were directly involved in the celebrations.
Peels Life [from Wikipedia]
Peel was born at Park End, near Caldbeck, Cumberland; his family moved a short time after to Greenrigg farm. He was baptised on 24 September 1777, but most sources suggest he was born the previous year. Peel married in 1797 to Mary White. Some of the White family's property at Ruthwaite (near Ireby) passed into his hands, which secured Peel a comfortable income. However, he was, as many of his friends admitted, prone to dissipation and he devoted himself primarily to hunting. Peel was a farmer by profession, and kept a pack of fox hounds. Peel hunted pine martens and hares, in addition to foxes. By the end of his life (13 November 1854, most likely due to a fall while hunting) he had accrued large debts, which his friends helped him pay off.
John Peel did occasionally ride to hounds, his mount being a 14 hand dun cross bred gelding named 'Dunny'. 'Dunny' would often be abandoned for hours during the hunt when the going became too rough to ride over; standing patiently waiting for his master to return.
Peel's niece Nancy Wilson (who was brought up in the Peel household) was also known to hunt with her Uncle John on horseback, 'mounted on a grey pony and garbed in a green habit', meaning she rode sidesaddle, which was the proper custom for ladies at the time. But Peel did on many occasions follow the old Cumberland custom, known as 'Chasing the Ace', chasing after the hounds on foot.
Peel became a moderately well-known figure, owing to the song written about him. Some of the local gentry, after his death, were glad to take on his sons as servants, and the story of Peel romanticized hunting activities for many. He died in 1854 and is buried in the churchyard of St Kentigern's Church, Caldbeck. In 1977 his grave was vandalised by anti-hunting activists.
Peel Region, the equivalent of a county in Ontario, Canada may be named after him.
It is believed that 3 Inns were named after his hounds, The Towler at Bury, The Hark to Bounty at Slaidburn, and The Bellman Inn Clitheroe. It is believed that John Peel came on the train to Chatburn station, with hounds and horses, and from there they walked to the Bellman Inn (less than 1/2 mile) and had a tot of whisky before going hunting. The railway only opened in 1850, and the Bellman Inn was granted its first licience in 1826, but was known as the 'ancient hostelry of the Hark to Bellman' in 1832. There was also a racecourse just across the road at Bellman which ran from 1821 to 1839, The hound Bellman was also said to be a completely white hound.
D'ye ken John Peel with his coat so grey?
D'ye ken John Peel at the break o' day?
D'ye ken John Peel when he's far, far a-way.
With his hounds and his horn in the morning?
For the sound of his horn brought me from my bed,
And the cry of his hounds which he oftime led,
Peel's "View, Halloo!" could awaken the dead,
Or the fox from his lair in the morning.
The words were written by Peel's friend John Woodcock Graves, 1795–1886, in Cumbrian dialect. He tinkered with the words over the years and several different versions are known. The lyrics were rewritten for clarity by one George Coward, a Carlisle bookseller, and approved by Graves for a book of Cumberland songs titled Songs and Ballads of Cumberland published in 1866. Another song written by Graves mentions one of John's brothers, Askew Peel, a horsedealer who also lived in Caldbeck, and who also died in 1854.
The words were set to the tune of a traditional Scottish rant, Bonnie Annie, and the most popular arrangement of it in Victorian times was William Metcalfe's version of 1868. He was a conductor and composer and lay clerk of Carlisle Cathedral, and his more musical arrangement of the traditional melody became popular in London and was widely published. However in 1906 the song was included in The National Song Book with a tune closer to Bonnie Annie and that is the most widely known version today.