Book review

English Pouters: A monograph from Leonhard Kühschelm

Herkunft & Geschichte des Englischen Kröpfers von 1668 bis 2017 von MMag. DDr. Leonhard Kühschelm, 106 pages, German language, more than 30 Fig. in Color. A Publication of Kunst & Natur Museum Kirchstetten, 2022 ISBN: 9798837985973

Leonhard Kühschelm's monograph on the English Pouter is remarkable in several respects. Firstly, through the extensive use of historical sources and illustrations. Then by a critical look at some of the assertions made in the old literature, which have been passed on unreflectively for centuries. And, finally through insight into the foundation and organisation of special clubs, exemplified by the English Pouter over the last two centuries. Since Leonhard Kühschelm has experienced the last decades as an insider of clubs and is a contemporary witness, an authentic, partly anecdotal appreciation of events and acting persons has been created. A contribution to the social history of pigeon clubs in fancy pigeon breeding!

Origin of the breed according to Moore:

Only the statements on the origin of the breed, the first point in the title, are singled out here. As rightly shown, the description of the origin of the breed begins with Moore in 1735. And Moore quite naturally starts with the origin in England, where the crossing of the Pouter with the Horseman had taken place. Therefore, the name ‘English Pouter’.

In subsequent literature this is repeated, sometimes verbatim. However, which pouters were there at the beginning before the crossing? In England, Moore knows the short-legged Parisian, the Uploper and the feet-feathered Dutch Pouter, in addition to the English Pouter. Finally, there is also the Horseman Pouter, which is a cross between the Carrier and the Pouter.

Potential breeds of pouters that could have given rise to the English Pouter in the decades before 1735:

In 1676, about 60 years before Moore, Willughby described the known breeds of pigeons in England and also referred to the existing Pouters in England. In 1676, only one kind existed. At the painting clean-legged, short-legged and, according to the description of specimens currently sighted in London, smaller than 'Runts' (p. 181). Runts, a collective term for large pigeons. Not a promising outcome for the English Pouter with its typical, and relatively stable, hereditary pied marking.

The time gap from 1676 to 1735:

Kühschelm's excursus on the 'Silk Weavers of Spitalsfield', Spitalsfield, as one of the first strongholds of the English Pouter, comes into this temporal gap between 1676 and 1735. At the end of the 17th century, around the time Willughby's work appeared, many Huguenot silk weavers from France settled in Spitalfield. They may have brought these pigeons with them from the continent. Documented by illustrations, there were similar pied marked pouters there. That these silk weavers had previously been religious refugees from England to France and had brought pigeons back and forth over the generations seems doubtful, however, in view of the pigeons known to Willughby in England.

The role of the Horseman:

A year before Moore, in 1734, Albin described the 'Horseman Pigeon' as a cross between Carrier and Pouter or, in this context of relevance, even Carrier and Runt. Crosses of Runts into English Pouters are described by Fulton in 1876 and could also have taken place indirectly in the time between Willughby in 1676 and Moore in 1735.

Result of the search for traces:

Following Leonhard Kühschelm, the ancestors of the English Pouter could be Pouters brought to England by Huguenots from France. According to this, crossbreeding with Runts could have taken place as early as around 1700. These will also have been repeated later. This is also clear from further notes on the change of appearance over time in this stimulating and entertaining writing.


Figure of a pouter at Willughby 1676