Trial of Two Centuries
Opening Statements
Public Executions
Human v. Human Sport
Animal v. Animal Sport Human v. Animal Sport Closing Statements Witness List End Notes & Bibliography

Two animal v. animal sports are examined during the trial. They are: Cock Fighting and Bull Baiting. Links to these sports will appear in the navigational drop-down box above.

Cock Fighting

Right: Samuel Howitt Cock Pit Royal 1796
[The Prosecution calls the noted scholar Ian Worcester to the stand.]

The Prosecution: Is cockfighting popular?

Worcester: It is much more popular among the people than healthy games.1

Prosecution: What are "healthy games?"

Worcester: Non-violent games such as leap frog.2

Prosecution: Do many people attend?

Worcester: Thousands.

Prosecution: Though you are a scholar; do you go often?

Worcester: Only for research purposes of course; to study men.

Prosecution: Describe the atmosphere?

Worcester: The ring appears to be like an amphitheater. Many people sit on the benches that surround a platform center.3

Prosecution: How does the fight start?

Worcester: The men bring out the cocks hidden in sacks and wait until the bets are placed. Then, they put spurs on the cocks so they can battle.

Prosecution: What does the fight do to the birds?

Worcester: They attack each other by hacking with those spurs. This results in tremendous amounts of blood to shoot out of their combs. … Their crops and abdomens become ripped open by the force of spurs entering through their skin.4

Prosecution: How does it end?

Worcester: Usually, when one is dead.

Prosecution: No further questions.


[The Defense Cross-examines Worcester.]

Defense: What does the cock commonly do after winning a battle?

Worcester: The victor jumps on the other and crows.

Defense: Doesn’t that show the mentality of the cock regardless of whether it is put in an arena?

Prosecution: Objection, your honor, his is leading the witness.

Judge: Sustained.

Defense: You said that the fight usually ends in death. What can also happen to end the fight?

Worcester: If both cocks are too tired to continue and stop attacking then they are taken out of the ring.5

Defense: No further questions.


[The Prosecution calls Professor Robert Turner to the stand.]

Prosecution: Could you please describe the different types of cock-fights?

Turner: The most common is the battle between two. … Though extremely is the Welsh main competition. In this battle to the death, up to thirty-two cocks are brought into the ring and after this battle; one cock leaves victorious.6 … Some fights might occur over the duration of two to three days. Usually, counties, such as for example, Warwickshire and Worcestershire would forge a contest against each other. People from London and all over go to these matches.7

Prosecution: How many cocks die at the event you just described?

Turner: About forty a day.8

Prosecution: Where do you think the pleasure comes from? 

Turner: It draws upon man's most animalistic qualities. Man is fascinated with the death of others and celebrating in the fight of animals can usually remove some guilts of their's. They think that it is only a type of bird dying and do not consider its feelings and emotions.


[The Defense Cross-examines Turner.]

Defense: You describe counties coming together for big matches, yes?

Turner: Yes.

Defense: Could that promote unity among a county?

Turner: Yes, I suppose.

Defense: So, you could suppose that cock-fighting brings people together?

Prosecution: Objection, your honor, he’s leading the witness.

Judge: Overruled, I think this could be important.

Turner: Yes, it could.

Defense: No further question.

William Hogarth, The Cockpit (1759)

[The Prosecution calls Henry Brand to the stand.]

Prosecution: Describe cockfighting?

Brand: Heathenish mode of diversion from the first, and at this day ((out)) certainly to be confined to barbarous nations.9

Defense: Objection, your honor, this man is supposing that the country of England is a barbarous nation. The implication suggests that the King of England is barbarous and I do not feel that a man can legally make such a claim.

Judge: Sustained, and I ask that this witness leave the courtroom before I have him for contempt.

[Quite a stir ensues as Mr. Brand leaves the courtroom.]

Younger Marshall Game Cocks 1831


[The Defense calls Thomas Stone to the stand.]

Defense: Is cock fighting a fair sport?

Stone: Yes, it the competition of two of the same type of animal. In hunting the animals has little chance against the man. In this case, it is fair.

Defense: Do cocks naturally fight?

Stone: Yes, they are known to be territorial.

Defense: How long is it before one cock naturally kills the other?

Stone: About one minute.

Defense: How long to cock matches in arena’s take before one claims victory?

Stone: At least five minutes, maybe even hours.10

Defense: In this case, does cock-fighting elongate the cock’s life?

Stone: Yes.

Defense: Is cock-fighting important for Englishmen?

Stone: Yes, it.

Defense: Could you please explain how?

Stone: It keeps alive the fighting spirit of the Englishman. The cock is a great example of pride and gallantry.11


[Prosecution Cross-examines Stone.]

Prosecution: You claim that it is cocks' nature to fight. Is it true that they are trained to be better fighters?

Stone: Yes.

Copyright © 1999 Lara Zador and Jason Winokur. All rights reserved.
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