Who is telling pig porkies?
THE Herald History article on the Tamworth Pig (April 26) was interesting, but it is incorrect to present, as an undisputed fact, that Sir Robert Peel was the originator of the breed.
The National Pig Breeders Association in its booklet on the Tamworth Pig states that there are various accounts of the history of the breed and 'there would seem to be some difficulty in confirming their authenticity'.
Peel bringing over an Irish grazing pig to Drayton Manor in 1812, whose descendants became known as the 'Tamworth', is only one story.
Another is that a neighbouring squire, Sir Francis Lawley, originated the breed when he imported an Indian jungle pig to his farm.
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Others refute both stories and believe that the Tamworth is a pure English breed, synonymous with that known as Old Staffordshire.
All that the NPBA could say for sure is that pigs fitting the description of the Tamworth were being exhibited by 1848 by the Birmingham Agricultural Society.
It strikes me as odd that if Sir Robert Peel was the founder of the Tamworth Pig, why this isn't one of those well-known local tales that we grew up on, like Drayton Manor being shipped off to America (which isn't true by the way!).
Yet I never heard the claim about the Tamworth Pig until relatively recently.
Also, none of the academic Peel biographers, as far as I am aware, has mentioned it.
In the 33 years since it was founded, The Peel Society has never seen any documentation to support the claim that Sir Robert Peel created the Tamworth Pig.
Also, as an aside, the Tamworth-born authoress of the Tamworth Pig story-books, Gene Kemp (not Kent as printed in the article) is a younger sister of the well-loved Tamworth teacher, Miss Eva Rushton, who was my first headmistress.
She is buried in Wigginton churchyard, as is my aunt, and when I visit I also always pay my respects at the grave of Miss Rushton.
David Biggs (Dr), Honorary Curator, The Peel Society.