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Sykes, Tatton (DNB00)


SYKES, Sir TATTON (1772–1863), patron of the turf, younger brother of Sir Mark Masterman Sykes [q. v.], was educated from 1784 at Westminster school, and, matriculating from Brasenose College, Oxford, on 10 May 1788, spent several terms there. For some years he was an articled clerk to Atkinson & Farrar, attorneys, Lincoln's Inn Fields, and then was employed for a period in a banking-house in Hull. While in London he walked from London to Epsom to see Eager's Derby in 1791, and next year he rode down to see John Bull win, but during his long life never visited Epsom again. He was an expert boxer, learning that art of Gentleman Jackson and Jem Belcher. He won renown for his hard hitting.

In 1803 Sykes commenced sheep farming and breeding by purchasing ten pure Bakewells from Mr. Sanday's flock at Holmepierrepoint at twenty guineas each. These sheep he kept at Barton, near Malton, where he soon became a ram-letter. At one of Robert Colling's sales he gave 156 guineas for the shearling Ajax. Until nearly eighty he took an annual June ride into the midlands to attend Burgess's, Buckley's, and Stone's sales of stock. In September 1861 he held his own fifty-eighth and last annual sale of sheep.

Sykes's name first appears in the ‘Racing Calendar’ as an owner of racehorses in 1803, when his Telemachus ran at Middleham, Yorkshire. In 1805 he rode his own horse Hudibras at Malton, Yorkshire, in a sweepstakes, and won the race. In 1808 he matched his mare Theresa over a four-mile course at Doncaster for five hundred guineas, owners riding, and won. For twenty years after this he from time to time kept a few horses in training at Malton, chiefly for the purpose of mounting them himself in races for gentlemen riders. His colours were orange and purple, and the last time he wore them on a winning horse of his own was in 1829, when on All Heart and No Peel he won the Welham Cup at Malton.

He was one of the largest breeders of blood-stock in the kingdom. For some of his stock he gave large prices; for Colsterdale he paid thirteen hundred guineas, and for Fandango at Doncaster in 1860 3,000l. His stud numbered two hundred horses and mares, and it was no small feat for one man to have bred Grey Momus, The Lawyer, St. Giles, Gaspard, Elcho, Dalby, and Lecturer. His annual sales were always well attended, and his stock fetched high prices.

For upwards of forty years he was a master of foxhounds, hunting the country from Spurn Point to Coxwold, and paying all the kennel expenses.

On the death of his brother, Sir Mark Masterman Sykes, on 16 Feb. 1823, he succeeded him as the fourth baronet, and took up his residence at Sledmere, near Malton. He was an admirable example of the country landed proprietor, devoting all his time to agriculture, stock-breeding, and fox-hunting. By applying bones as manure he greatly improved the value of the Wold estates belonging to his family, feeding sheep and growing corn where it had proved impossible before.

He was seventy-four years of age in 1846 when he led in William Scott's horse—called after him, Sir Tatton Sykes—a winner of the St. Leger. His last visit to Doncaster was in 1862, to see his seventy-fourth St. Leger. He died at Sledmere on 21 March 1863, and was buried on 27 March in the presence of three thousand persons. A portrait of him was painted by Sir Thomas Lawrence in 1805, and another by Sir Francis Grant in 1848.

Sykes married, on 19 June 1822, Mary Anne, second daughter of Sir William Foulis, bart. She died on 1 Feb. 1861, leaving Sir Tatton, fifth baronet, Christopher of Brantingham Thorpe, formerly M.P. for the East Riding of Yorkshire, and six daughters.

[Baily's Mag. 1861, ii. 169–74, with portrait; The Drawing Room Portrait Gallery of Eminent Personages, 3rd ser. 1860; Illustrated Sporting News, 1863, ii. 17; Sporting Review, 1863, xlix. 276–84, l. 309–16; Price's History of the Turf, 1879, i. 293–7; Thormanby's Famous Racing Men, 1882, pp. 82–8; Saddle and Sirloin, by The Druid (H. H. Dixon), 1878, pp. 221–53; Scott and Sebright, by The Druid, 1878, pp. 9–14, 131–42, 325; Bell's Life, 29 March 1863, p. 4; Times, 23 March 1863, p. 6; Illustrated London News, 1863, xlii. 413; Yorkshire Gazette, 28 March 1863.]

G. C. B.