“Underground in Legend and Tradition” is The Seventh Folklore Society Legendary Weekend, it will take place 1st-2nd September 2012 at Matlock Bath Pavilion, in Derbyshire Peak District. Flyer.
Dr. Plot’s Natural History of Staffordshire, written in 1686, makes mention of a machine then in use in this county for gauging the size of fighting-cocks. The writer designates this ingenious contrivance as —
“the nicest piece of art that ever I saw relating to the feathered kingdom, and, indeed, the ‘most curious was an instrument shown me by the Right Worshipful Sir Richard Astley, of Patshull, baronet, of his own invention to match game-cocks, discovering their size, both as to length and girth, to so great an accuracy that there cannot be easily the least mistake.”
[…] as a rule the lightest pair of cocks were fought first, then the next in weight, and so on till the heaviest pair were the last to be pitted.
— from Old English Sports.
Illustration: Bill Mayer.
Another interesting addition about my theory on the links between North Staffordshire and certain beliefs about wildfowl, as explored in the central section of my book A History of Burslem and the Fowlea Valley…
“A dying person should not be allowed to lie on a bed or pillow stuffed with feathers from pigeons or wild fowl.”
The source is unspecified, but is either The Folklore of Staffordshire, or Staffordshire Customs, Superstitions and Folklore.
Wikipedia page for the North Staffordshire Field Club, now with an outline of their many publications. Is there a full index of their published articles and books, to consult online? Sadly, it seems not. There’s a nice little retirement project, for someone. The easiest software to use to create an online catalogue would be Omeka.