During the 18th Century, more great breeders arose, including the names of Hewer, Garne and Large. These sheep men's flock attendants used strictly results-oriented breeding methods.
Of these, William Hewer and in part, William Garne, developed top notch reputations based on their selection methods. In his day, William Hewer was regarded with about the same reverence as the famous sheep and cattle breeder, Robert Bakewell of the Dishley Grange in County Leicester.
Joseph Large was famed for his judicious crossing of Cotswold sheep with Dishley Leicester sheep to produced top notch lamb and mutton carcasses and sheep that won many prizes at the great agricultural shows of England.
The first major importations of Cotswold sheep into America were all Hewer sheep. In 1840, Henry Sotham imported some 100 Hewer ewes and rams. Sotham and his business partner Erastus Corning had been very impressed with the profit-making aspects of the Cotswolds, after seeing Cotswold crosses exhibited by Thomas Dunn, son (or nephew?) of Christopher Dunn of Albany, NY, who had imported a Cotswold ram to cross on Leicester Longwool ewes.
The Cotswold strongly imparted growthy vigor, hardiness and noticeably larger legs-of-lamb.
Some Cotswolds were imported to the U.S. from Canada, notably from the flock of Mr. Frederick William Stone of Moreton Lodge in Guelph, Canada.
More importations followed, many of decidedly impure stock. Much-ballyhooed Cotswold crossbreeding was carried out in Tennessee and Kentucky during the mid-1800s.
The Founding of ACRA
By the time of the founding of ACRA in 1878, most so-called Cotswold sheep in America were crossbreds, bearing little affinity to the pure breed. Many were smaller, some had high propensities toward colored wool, which was often neither shiny nor long-stapled. A large enough proportion of those sheep had black faces to prompt some published authorities to regard the Cotswold as a black-faced breed.
Mr. Charles F. Willard of Chicago, Illinois was a member of the first Board of Directors of ACRA---which was originally called the American Cotswold Association---even though he owned no sheep.
He took it upon himself to trace the bloodlines of some 520 purebred sheep (from all over the United States of America and Canada) back to the remaining 25 or so British breeders whose bloodlines still remained pure and unaffected by the Dishley Leicester crossbreeding fad. Willard was also instrumental in founding ACRA.
The original stock was presented in a carefully documented list by Willard, which included some very impressive records of great purebred Cotswold sheep going back to at least the 1850s.
This collection of animal pedigrees formed the foundation of ACRA, and is the central source of the genes that still distinguish today's best Cotswolds--ACRA Cotswolds.
A Canadian Cotswold sheep registry was founded in the 1880s, but not without difficulty in gaining momentum: Many years after its founding, ACRA still held the registration of most Canadian Cotswold sheep, and indeed the president of ACRA at the turn of the 20th Century was Canadian Lt. Col. D. McCrae of the once-rural town of Guelph, Ontario.
Last Updated: 05/09/2011