Cliff Rigg and Great Ayton from Roseberry

We are informed from Great Ayton near Gisborough, in Yorkshire; that a mad Cat has lately bit two Women, a Horse, and also several other Creatures at some Miles Distance from the Place it belonged to. As it is found by Experience, this Malady (which is much more terrible in the Human Species than Death itself) begins mostly in Dogs, it would certainly be for the Good of the Publick, if the Legislature would lay proper Taxes upon these Creatures in general, so that their Numbers might be lessened and at the same time oblige every Person who keeps a Dog, to have him worm ‘d under a severe Penalty. Worming a Dog is to take away a small Sinew which lies under the Tongue and may be done best at a Quarter old. After this Operation, when they happen to go bad, ( which is not near so often as when unworm’d ) they lose the Use of their under Jaw which prevents them from biting any other Creatures.

A report in the Derby Mercury from 17521Britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk. (2022). London, Julyi. | Derby Mercury | Fri 03 Jul 1752 | British Newspaper Archive. [online] Available at: https://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk/viewer/bl/0000189/17520703/006/0002 [Accessed 13 Mar. 2022]..

I’m guessing the “mad cat” was suffering from rabies, a disease which can affects all mammals2Wikipedia Contributors (2022). Rabies. [online] Wikipedia. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rabies [Accessed 14 Mar. 2022]., although it is most associated with dogs. The cat must have been pretty mad to bite a horse.

Apart from the crude operation to prevent a dog from biting, my other interest in this report was the publication  — the Derby Mercury, a provincial broadsheet newspaper which began in 17323to, C. (2018). Newspaper. [online] Wikipedia.org. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Derby_Mercury [Accessed 14 Mar. 2022]. and its date — 1752.

In the previous century, news had circulated by pamphlets, posters and ballads. Then in 1702, the first newspaper as we would know it was published— The Daily Courant4Wikipedia Contributors (2022). The Daily Courant. [online] Wikipedia. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Daily_Courant [Accessed 14 Mar. 2022].. By 1753, the total number of copies of all newspapers sold yearly in Britain was approaching 7½ million5Wikipedia Contributors (2022). History of British newspapers. [online] Wikipedia. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_British_newspapers#18th_century [Accessed 14 Mar. 2022].. And by 1776, the number of newspapers published in London alone was 536Wikipedia Contributors (2022). History of British newspapers. [online] Wikipedia. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_British_newspapers#cite_ref-9 [Accessed 14 Mar. 2022]..

I have only found one other example of same short article — in the Aberdeen Press and Journal7Britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk. (2022). Caled O N 1 A N Mer C U Ry, June 30. | Aberdeen Press and Journal | Tue 07 Jul 1752 | British Newspaper Archive. [online] Available at: https://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk/viewer/bl/0000570/17520707/005/0002 [Accessed 14 Mar. 2022].— so it looks like this was an early form of print syndication although Wikipedia cites the first example being in 1768 in the U.S.A.8Wikipedia Contributors (2022). Print syndication. [online] Wikipedia. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Print_syndication#History [Accessed 14 Mar. 2022].. It could therefore be just a report in a Yorkshire newspaper (which has not yet been digitally archived) being copied by other newspapers.

I guess even in the 18th-century, a mad cat biting two women and a horse is such an unusual and infrequent event that it was considered newsworthy even for the provinces.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.