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The Pockley family: Squire Osbaldeston

A thumbnail sketch of "Squire" Osbaldeston (pronounced Osbaldeston). He was born on Boxing Day, 1787. He went to Eton from 1800-1803, and got into all sorts of scrapes. He was only 5 ft. tall, but very strong. He played every known sport, and simply had to excel at everything. He rowed, boxed, played cricket, hunted, shot, played whist and billiards, drove four-in-hands - you name it, he did it better than anyone else did.

He played whist against George Payne for £100 trick, and £1000 the rubber. He played billiards for 50 hours non-stop, apart from rushing to the race track to place his bets, and rushing back. He hunted the Burton, Shilsby, Mr Muster's, Lord Vernon's, Atherstone, Holderness, Thurlow, Quorn, Pytchley and Hambledon, in 7 counties. He hunted for 6 consecutive days. He was possibly best known as an M.F.H. He reckoned he lost £200,000 of those days' money on racing. On one occasion, after he had not rowed for over 20 years, he heard of a Guards four which rowed from Oxford to London in record time. He got together a four among his friends challenged the Guardsmen, and beat them.

At shooting he claimed to have bagged 97 grouse in 97 shots; another day he killed 100 pheasants in 100 shots, and on yet another, 20 brace of partridges in 40 shots; he used a flint and steel 18 bore. He once put 10 shots with a duelling pistol through the Ace of Diamonds at 30 feet.

Once he boxed Shaw; the Squire weighed 11 stone, against his the adversary's 15 stone, and height of over 6 ft: he broke Shaw's ribs. He refereed the great fight between Bendigo and Caunt.

He won a famous wager by riding one thoroughbred after another, in fifty 4-mile heats, covering the 200 miles in under 9 hours. He was 48, and had had his bad riding accident which made him lame. At age 68 he rode his own horse in the March Stakes at Goodwood, and lost by a neck. For another wager he played Royal Tennis against the champion, Barre. Barre gave him 15, but the Squire played with his gloved hand against Barre's racquet; the Squire won 4 games out of 5.

He was at a dinner party before the County Ball on one occasion. The beautiful Miss Burton, later Lady Sutton, was twitted by a rival beauty wearing a particularly fine orchid, on the inferiority of her corsage.

Squire Osbaldeston jumped on a horse, clad as he was, rode 25 miles to a conservatory, and after a 4 1/2 hour ride, returned in time to give Miss Burton her small triumph at the Ball supper.

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