Freeman, Gage Earle (DNB12)

FREEMAN, GAGE EARLE (1820–1903), writer on falconry, born on 3 June 1820 at Tam worth, Staffordshire, was son of Capt. Charles Earle Freeman of the 69th regiment by his wife Mary Parsons. After private education he was admitted a pensioner at St. John's College, Cambridge, on 8 July 1840, and graduated B.A. in 1845, proceeding M.A. in 1850. In later life he won at Cambridge four Seatonian prize poems on sacred subjects, 'The Transfiguration' (1882), 'Jericho' (1888), 'Damascus' (1893), and 'The Broad and the Narrow Way' (1894).

Ordained deacon in 1846 and priest in 1847, Freeman held a curacy at Geddington, Northants, from 1846 to 1854, and the perpetual cure of Emmanuel Church, Bolton-le-Moors, from 1854 to 1856. He was afterwards incumbent of Macclesfield Forest with Clough, Cheshire, till 1889, when he became vicar of Askham, near Penrith, and private chaplain to the earl of Lonsdale. This living he held until his death.

Through life he devoted his leisure to hawking, being introduced to the sport by William Brodrick of Belford, Northumberland, afterwards of Chudleigh, Devon [see Salvin, Francis Henry, Suppl. II]. In Northamptonshire he enjoyed his first experience with a kestrel-hawk, equipped with a hood of home manufacture, and he afterwards flew sparrowhawks, merlins and peregrines at pigeons and larks. But he had his best sport later whilst in his lonely Cheshire parish, hawking grouse with peregrines on Buxton Moor and Swythamley, the property of his friend, Philip Brocklehurst of Swythamley Park, Staffordshire. Next to peregrines, Freeman preferred goshawks, with which he killed hares and rabbits, with or without ferrets. Lord Lilford affirmed that Freeman did more to keep English falconers in the right way than any man living (preface to Lord Lilford on Birds, 1903). To the 'Field' newspaper Freeman contributed articles on falconry for a quarter of a century over the signature 'Peregrine,' and on these articles he based two treatises of standard value. He had the chief share in 'Falconry; its Claims, History, and Practice' (1859), written in collaboration with {DNB lkpl|year=12|Salvin, Francis Henry|Francis Henry Salvin}} [q. v. Suppl. II]. This is a handbook for beginners, with plates by Wolf, now long out of print. Freeman's 'Practical Falconry; and how I became a Falconer' (1869), is slightly more discursive and is now much sought after. Freeman's essay, 'On the Desirability of attempting to revive the Sport of Falconry by its Practice at Alexandra Park' (1871), won the second prize (the first being taken by Capt. C. Hawkins Fisher of Stroud) in a competition held by the Barnet committee for promoting the opening of Alexandra Park. Freeman contributed the section on Falcons and Falconry to 'Lord Lilford on Birds' (ed. A. Trevor-Battye, 1903). He also published 'Five Christmas Poems' (1860, reprinted from the 'Field,' with additions), and 'Mount Carmel, a Story of English Life' (1867).

He died at the vicarage, Askham, on 15 Dec. 1903, and was buried at Macclesfield Forest Chapel. Freeman was twice married: (1) on 5 Jan. 1848 to Christiana (d. 1886), daughter of John Slade of Little Lever, Bolton-le-Moors, by whom he had issue eight sons and two daughters; (2) in April 1891 to Mary, daughter of Francis William Ashton, cotton-spinner and calico printer, of Hyde, Cheshire, who survived him.

[Private information; Field, 19 Dec. 1903 The Times, 16 Dec. 1903 (copied in Guardian 23 Dec.); Crockford's Clerical Directory; Eagle (St. John's Coll. Mag.), March 1904; J. E. Harting's Bibliotheca Accipitraria; E. B. Michell's Art and Practice of Hawking; Cox and Lascelles, Coursing and Falconry (Badminton Library); Penrith Observer, 22 Dec. 1903; Mid-Cumberland and North Westmorland Gazette, 19 Dec. 1903; Brit. Mus, Cat.; Allibone's Dict. Eng. Lit. (Suppl.); Freeman's Works. See also Major C. Hawkins Fisher's Reminiscences of a Falconer, pp. 65, 99-100, with a photographic portrait of Freeman.]

G. Le G. N.