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Origin of term "border collie"


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The earliest uses of border collie that I've come across are in the early 1900s in Australia and, I think, in New Zealand. In articles and letters, "border collie" is treated as settled terminology in an everlasting debate that continues to this day on the origin of the kelpie and in reporting on trials. If anyone has seen a reference prior to the turn of the last century, please post the reference.

 

Penny

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[edit] History

The Border Collie is descended from droving and gathering breeds originating on the Scottish-English and Welsh-English borders, including the Cumberland Sheepdog. Mention of the "Collie" or "Colley" type first appeared toward the end of the 19th century. Many of the best Border Collies today can be traced back to a dog known as Old Hemp.[2]

 

In 1915, James Reid, Secretary of the International Sheep Dog Society in the United Kingdom first used the term "Border Collie" to distinguish those dogs registered by the ISDS from the Kennel Club's "Collie," which originally came from the same working stock but had developed a different, standardized appearance following its introduction to the show ring in 1860.[3]

 

[edit] Old Hemp

Old Hemp, a tri-colour dog, was born September 1893 and died May 1901.[4] He was bred by Adam Telfer from Roy, a black and tan dog, and Meg, a black-coated, strong-eyed dog. Hemp was a quiet, powerful dog that sheep responded to easily. Many shepherds used him for stud and Hemp's working style became the Border Collie style.

 

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[edit] Introduction to New Zealand and Australia

In the late 1890s James Lilico[6] (1861? - 1945) of Christchurch, New Zealand, imported a number of working dogs from the United Kingdom. These included Hindhope Jed, a black, tan and white bitch [7] born in Hindhope, Scotland in 1895, as well as Maudie, Moss of Ancrum, Ness and Old Bob.

 

It is unclear whether Hindhope Jed was a descendant of Old Hemp. Born only two years after him, she is mentioned in a "British Hunts and Huntsmen" article concerning a Mr. John Elliot of Jedburgh:[8]

 

Mr Elliot himself is well known for his breed of collies. His father supplied Noble to the late Queen Victoria and it was from our subject that the McLeod got Hindhope Jed, now the champion of New Zealand and Australia.[9]

 

At the time of her departure to New Zealand, Hindhope Jed was already in pup to Captain, another of the then new "Border" strain. Hindhope Jed had won three trials in her native Scotland, and was considered to be the "best bitch to cross the equator."[10]

 

In 1901 the King and Mcleod stud, created by Charles Beechworth King (b. 1855, Murrumbidgee, NSW), his brother and Alec McLeod at Canonbar, near Nyngan (north-west of Sydney), brought Hindhope Jed to Australia, where she enjoyed considerable success at sheep dog trials.

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That's not really my question. The term predates 1915 by at least 7 or 8 years, and I doubt Reid is the one who first came up with it although he is often so credited. The earliest uses I have found are around 1908 on the other side of the world. I'm looking for one before 1900. I've been looking for a long time now.

 

Penny

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If you are interested in simply "collie" and varieties, the Oxford English dictionary lists the 14th c. as the earliest POSSIBLE appearance in English. pasted below is the entire "collie" entry. "border collie" is not in the dictionary.

 

collie, colly, n.

[Origin uncertain: it has been conjectured to be the same word as coaly ‘the colour being originally black’; cf. COLLY a. Chaucer has Colle as proper name of a dog, of which collie might possibly be dimin.]

1. A Scotch shepherd's dog; a breed of sheepdogs remarkable for sagacity.

[c1386 CHAUCER Nun's Pr. T. 563 Ran Colle our dogge, and Talbot, and Gerlond.] a1651 CALDERWOOD Hist. Kirk (1678) 691 (Jam.) The Bishop was nicknamed Collie, because he was so impudent and shameless, that when the Lords of the Session and Advocates went to dinner, he was not ashamed to follow them into their houses, unasked, and sat down at their table. 1721 RAMSAY Richy & Sandy, A better lad ne'er lean'd out o'er a kent, Or hounded coly o'er the mossy bent. 1787 GROSE Prov. Gl., Coley, a cur dog. N. 1786 BURNS Twa Dogs 23 The tither was a ploughman's collie, His breast was white, his touzie back Weel clad wi' coat o' glossy black; His gawcie tail, wi' upward curl, Hung owre his hurdies wi' a swirl. 1806 Edin. Even. Courant 20 Jan. (Jam.), A black and white rough coley, or shepherd's dog. 1872 G. W. DASENT Three to One II. 216 An affectionate coolie dog.

 

b. fig. ‘One who follows another constantly or implicitly’ (Jam.); cf. to dog, and Sc. follow-dog.

 

2. attrib. esp. in collie-dog.

c1774 C. KEITH Farmer's Ha in Chambers Pop. Poems Sc. (1862) 30 The colly dog lies i' the nook. 1807 T. BEWICK Hist. Quadrupeds (ed. 5) 329 The Cur Dog is a trusty and useful servant to the farmer and grazier..In the North of England, this and the foregoing [The Shepherd's Dog] are called Coally Dogs. 1818 SCOTT Hrt. Midl. xliii, Turning sinners as a colley dog turns sheep. 1833 Fraser's Mag. Oct. 398 His dog Totchy, an animal of the cooly breed. 1884 York Herald 23 Aug. 4/2 A Black and Tan Collie Puppy. 1861 G. H. K. Vac. Tour 139 All books are full of the marvels of colly-dogism.

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Using google book search I saw that the Encyclopedia Americana supposedly lists "border collie" in 1829. The preview of the book is limited, though, so you can't really confirm.

http://books.google.com/books?id=m4cOAAAAM...T64N8H&cd=1

 

Similar story for the 1898 Bureau of Animal Industry

http://books.google.com/books?id=A4c-AAAAY...T64N8H&cd=2

 

However, the 1829 Encyclopedia Americana International Edition, which seems to be an index, lists an entry for "border collie" that includes an illustration, in vol. 9, page 236. I don't know how to find that text.

http://books.google.com/books?id=vxbLQp5qM...%22&f=false

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I took a look at that but when I went to the title page, I only saw that it said, "First published in 1829", so I'm not sure if that index is from 1829 or later. I think it is a much later edition, copywrite 1970, as indicated on page iii.

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"If you are interested in simply "collie" and varieties"

 

I have those but thanks for looking. If you get a bit more creative with the spelling, there are quite a few. I'm interested in the first appearances of "border collie" as a term.

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I've been reading "Bob, Son of Battle" all day. They simply refer to the dogs as collies throughout, but there is a pub called the "Border Ram," and the evil dog Red Wull, the canine villain of the story, is titled "The Terror of the Border." It's a work of fiction, but seems very realistic in its depiction of the people, the dogs, and the area. It was published in 1898. Certainly the dog on the cover looks like a Border Collie.

post-10533-1272083851_thumb.jpg

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The hype from the publisher at the time said that the photographer, Arthur Radclyffe Dugmore, went over from New York and took photos of the actual dogs the novel was based on. It took two trips to get them. They're wonderful pictures, aren't they.

 

(Edited to add: It was Ardmore, not Arthur. Sometimes I think Word's spell checker requires more attention than I ever feel like giving it.)

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The word "Collie" meant "something useful" in Gaelic. Gaelic is one the languages that was spoken in the region where the BC originated. A good broom could be a 'Collie' too.

 

Although the circumstantial evidence for this theory is compelling, everyone is still debating whether this is true or not.

 

Hans

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The word "Collie" meant "something useful" in Gaelic. Gaelic is one the languages that was spoken in the region where the BC originated. A good broom could be a 'Collie' too.

 

Although the circumstantial evidence for this theory is compelling, everyone is still debating whether this is true or not.

 

At the BC Museum there is another more probable Celtic derivation:

 

COLLIE, COLLEY. s. 1. The vulgar [meaning "common"] name for the shepherd's dog...Gael. culean, a grown whelp, has for its vocative culyie, which is the term used when one calls to a whelp. [in Gaelic] Coo or cu signifies a dog. [and Welsh Ci means dog]

That still leaves the origin of the usage "border collie" open.

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It seems the Border Collie name came into use to distinguish working collies from show collies.* Even then, it wasn’t commonly referred to until 1946, when the International Sheepdog Society included it on registration papers.

 

*The history of the modern Collie (Rough and Smooth) began with its transformation from sheepdog to show dog in England in the 1860s. "What once had been a rough and ready working dog was, by 1896, an elegant, refined show dog.":

 

http://www.gis.net/~shepdog/BC_Museum/Perm...enVictoria.html

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The British have resisted the preemption of the term "collie" into a rarefied version longer than we have. They still prefer "collie" and "sheep dog" over "border collie." In futile solidarity and deference to the landrace so do I.

 

Unlike the situation in Great Britain, which maintained a highly visible tradition of landrace collies working livestock, in this country the Collie Club co-opted the public imagination and image of a dog called a collie. It was victory through language and advertising, therefore it's no surprise that "border collie" started appearing here in the twenties with the importation of Spot while in Great Britain as late the thirties Cecil Aldin, KC to the core, described ISDS sheep dogs as "a collection of mongrels" even while he applauded their cleverness with sheep.

 

Although I have not a shred of evidence, I suspect that putting "border collie" on registration forms was a way of throwing in the towel on linguistic domination and at the same time promoting sales.

 

I'm still after early references from New Zealand and Australia.

 

Penny

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It seems the first "Border Collie" (though the BC was not known as such until later) - Hindhope Jed - was imported into Australia in 1901 by the King (King's Kelpie) and McLeod Stud which was already a well-established Kelpie farm. McLeod and C.T.W. King describe the development of the Kelpie (including the Barb) from smooth or short-coated collies also referred to as working collies.

 

The first recorded shows for "Border Collies" in Australia are dated 1907. Border Collies were generally referred to as black and white working collies with rough coats. Written breed standards for Border Collies were not developed until the 1940s - 1950s.

 

Border Collie-type sheepdogs in New Zealand were and are commonly referred to as headers. Collies (distinguished as working collies) were exhibited as early as 1886 in New Zealand's KC shows. The first breed standard was drafted in 1927.

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This is getting warmer. By 1907, the terminology is treated as settled in Australia and New Zealand.

 

I'm trying to get a bit further back than that.

 

It's entirely possible that "border collie" is a KC term designed to mollify whatever collie club existed at the time, just as the Shetland sheepdog club was intimidated into changing the name from Shetland collie over here. That makes sense.

 

Starting in the late 1840s in this country and continuing on into the 1880s (with a few later than that), there were premiums at many state and county fairs for shepherd dogs, sheep dogs, and colleys in work to be tried on the grounds. The wording varied some but the meaning and intentions were the same. In 1850 in Ohio, a fair had a 7 dog entry with the winner described as a St Bernard or St Bernard cross. At the time colley and collie often were generic for shepherd dog or sheep dog from anywhere. Every country was said to have its collie. That had changed by around the time you mentioned.

 

My access to materials from Great Britain is limited. The earliest sheepdog trial there that I've found is 1869. Australia and New Zealand predate that although it's hard to tell because the British ag press may have considered shepherd dogs in work not worthy of notice in premium reports, and I don't have the resources to check thoroughly. I do have an entire book from Great Britain written in the 1890s strictly about trialing. No mention is made of border collies as such.

 

The usage has to have started prior to 1907, so if you have any ideas on where to look, let me know.

 

Penny

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Penny,

 

It was only when Adam Telfer produced Old-Hemp (1893-1903) that the distinctly and consistently different collie or colley was birthed. The ISDS established in 1906, so I doubt you'll find references earlier than 1894 - 1907.

 

1862 - Rev J. G. Wood's (1827-1899) Natural History Mammalia refers to collie types as the Shepherd's Dog: The Scotch Sheep-Dog: The Scotch Sheep-Dog, more familiarly called the colley, is not unlike the English Sheep-Dog; Cur Dogs: Cur is as useful as is the colley; Lurcher: Lurcher has fallen into great disrepute, being seldom seen as the companion of respectable persons. It is bred from the greyhound and sheep-dog, and is supposed to be most valuable when its parents are the rough Scotch greyhound [scottish Deerhound] and the Scotch colley.

 

Renowned writers such as Bewick (1753-1828), Caius (1510-1573) and Buffon (1707-1788) and Hogg (1770-1835) all use similar terminology for working sheepdogs or colleys known as Shepherd's Dogs:

 

http://stockdogsavvy.wordpress.com/2010/01...-british-isles/

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“It was only when Adam Telfer produced Old-Hemp (1893-1903) that the distinctly and consistently different collie or colley was birthed.”

 

I don’t buy into that completely. There are way too many earlier references to eye, general working style and appearance for that to be the whole story. In addition, I have never seen any actual evidence that all sheep dogs registered trace to Old Hemp. While many books make that assertion, I have yet to see it documented. Old Hemp was enormously important, of course.

 

“The ISDS established in 1906, so I doubt you'll find earlier references.”

 

Jeanne, the ISDS is in Great Britain. The term “border collie” seems to have come from Australia and/or New Zealand, so the date the ISDS was founded has no necessary relevance.

 

Interesting website though.

 

On a trip to the Folger several years ago, I held their earliest translated edition of Caius in my own hands and read the pertinent sections, a thrilling moment.

 

Penny

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This may be worth persuing...

 

From the O.E.D. under "border":

 

"3. spec. a English & Scottish history - the boundary between England and Scotland; the district surrounding this border on both sides: the English-Scottish borderland.

 

The term appears to have been first established in Scotland, where the English border, being the only one it has, was emphatically the border."

 

there follows several references to border in this context, the last being:

 

1831 J. Russell Haigs v. 105

 

"With true old border instinct, bringing off whatever was transportable on its own four feet."

 

This may or may not refer to the sheepdogs of the area. But it might be worth checking the source.

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Jeanne, the ISDS is in Great Britain. The term “border collie” seems to have come from Australia and/or New Zealand, so the date the ISDS was founded has no necessary relevance.

 

Hi Penny,

 

Yes, I am aware the ISDS is in Great Britain. However, if Hindhope Jed was the first collie introduced into New Zealand and Australia as a "Border Collie" (at least the first one recorded as such) then, we are still talking about the turn of the century. Apparently, Hindhope Jed had gained recognition as a trial dog in Great Britain before she was exported to the Southern Hemisphere.

 

"In 1901 the King & McLeod partnership purchased the first Border Collie to come into Australia. This was Hindhope Jed, a black and tan bitch, bred by John Elliott of Jedsburgh in Scotland. This bitch was originally sent to James Lilico in New Zealand but Alec McLeod visiting in 1901 bought her not long after she had arrived there. She had already won trials in Scotland as well as at least one in New Zealand and then in 1903, she won the big trial at Sydney in Australia.": http://www.noonbarra.com/history.html

 

You may be right. The terminology may have been introduced Down Under to differentiate the unique working traits of the sheepdogs from the border region winning trials. Then again it may have been coined in the UK where another distincly different type of "Scotch" collie from the border was being developed in England.

 

It is not hard to imagine other collies using eye (at least varying degrees) especially when you consider that eye is a trait inherited from the predatory nature of canines. However, when Old-Hemp came on the scene winning trials -it seems quite obvious- shepherds recognized an outstanding individual (no different than Wiston Cap) AND his ability to re-produce those traits in his offspring.

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Searching the google news archives as far back as 1800, the first hit I get for "Border Collie" comes from New Zealand in 1908. Of course, this may be because New Zealand has made a grand effort to archive old news articles on the web.

 

Search around, it's some interesting stuff!

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I'm a collector of language, but not a trained linguist, so get out your box of sodium chloride. :-) (Also, my library at home is still in a state of chaos after my most recent move, so I'm not in a position to look anything up.)

 

With those disclaimers... I'm sure I've seen a reference somewhere which suggested the possibility that "collie" may also be related to "collier." (Coal worker, miner; also ships/barges/tenders carrying coal.) There could be a connection both from common color pattern (black, streaky black, dark color patterns) and an association with gritty, non-glamorous labor. The regional connection would match up (plenty of coal mines in the right parts of Great Britain) but I don't know if the term itself goes back far enough in time.

 

Just as the name "Sweep" embraces chimney sweep (black/dirty/lowly laborer/possible rascal), as well as the action of a broom.

 

Just another possible tangent to toss in. Great discussion.

 

Liz S in S Central PA

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"With true old border instinct, bringing off whatever was transportable on its own four feet."

 

Rustling.

 

"I'm a collector of language, but not a trained linguist, so get out your box of sodium chloride....I'm sure I've seen a reference somewhere which suggested the possibility that "collie" may also be related to "collier." (Coal worker, miner; also ships/barges/tenders carrying coal.) There could be a connection both from common color pattern (black, streaky black, dark color patterns) and an association with gritty, non-glamorous labor. The regional connection would match up (plenty of coal mines in the right parts of Great Britain) but I don't know if the term itself goes back far enough in time."

 

I think that "Notes and Queries" is available free online. I'm not sure as I get it through university access. Anyway, there are myriad early flame wars in print on this question with more answers than the ones highlighted here and much spirited debate.

 

1904 Australia: A quick look at what I think was the Sydney Herald produced a 1904 article. The Australian archive is now far better than it was when it first went online. I haven't tried it in a while.

 

To be clear, I have no doubt that Hindhope Jed was, indeed, a border collie. The point of my inquiry is to find a usage of the two words "border collie" prior to the turn of the previous century.

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  • 3 weeks later...

"Exhibition of the Royal Scottish Academy." Dundee Courier and Argus, Feb. 21, 1870: "Gourlay Steell, R. S. A., has some admirable tempora drawings....In such subjects as "The Border Collie"...Mr. Steell is unapproached by any Scotch artist. He infuses a life and a character into the faithful friend of man which very few can impart."

 

I have not tracked down whether the drawing is still extant.

 

The next one is an ad for a 15 month dog from 1884, so it looks like the term is from 19th century Great Britain.

 

Penny

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