is said that Parson John Russell, "The Sporting
Parson", Vicar of Swimbridge in Devon acquired his
first terrier from a milkman in the village of Marston
in Oxfordshire while studying at Oxford.
He called her Trump and she would
become the foundation bitch to the parson's legendary
strain of terriers. Reverend Davies described Trump at
the time as follows: In the first place, the colour is
white with a patch of dark tan over each eye and ear
while a similar dot, not larger than a penny piece,
marks the root of the tail. The coat, which is thick.
close and a trifle wiry, is well-calculated to protect
the body from wet and cold but has no affinity with
the long rough jacket of the Scotch Terrier. The legs
are straight as arrows, the feet perfect, the loins
and whole frame are indicative of hardiness and
endurance, while the size and height
the animal may be compared to that of a full grown
The Reverend John Russell did not have Jack Russell
terriers; he had white-bodied fox-working dogs that,
in his day, were simply called “fox terriers.” The
term “Jack Russell Terrier” was coined after the
Reverend John Russell had passed away and was used to
differentiate any white-bodied working terrier of
dubious ancestor from the larger fox terriers.
Reverend Russell was adamant that his terriers not
maim or kill the fox which was considered unsporting.
Instead Reverend Russell bred his terriers to be a
baying terrier, having the courage and formation to
bolt out foxes that had gone to ground, not kill his
quarry, for the chase ended if the fox did not bolt.
The great fad during the nineteenth century was to
cross bulldogs with various strains of terriers to
produce an extremely tough and hard terrier. But
Russell strongly disapproved of this practice since
the inclusion of bulldog blood ruined what Russell
called 'the gentlemanly characteristics' of his
strain. Few of Russell’s terriers were docked (half of
the tail removed at birth) and the "squirrel tails"
that characterized his terriers were sometimes
regarded with distaste
his fellow hunters. But Russell insisted that the
natural, undocked tail enabled him to grab the dog by
its stern and draw it from the earth whenever it was
locked on to its quarry.
John Russell died in 1883, and his kennels were
dispersed. After his death, his life-long friend, the
Prince of Wales, bought a portrait of Trump which
still hangs in the Harness Room at Sandringham today.