The Rochdale Hunt stud book started about 1834 and was composed of harriers and among the 20 or so sportsmen who served as Master during its 250 years, was Mr. J.T.Pilling of Thrum Hall, Healey (pictured in Hail, Smiling Morn). During his Mastership, Frederick George Crowley was appointed Huntsman in September 1906. Crowley, aged 40, came from Llangifeloch, South Wales, with his wife and daughter. He had previously served with the Neath and Bath and West County Hunts.
The Rochdale Huntsman had always operated on foot, but Crowley persuaded the Master to buy a hunter. The horse had been wounded in the shoulder during the South African War then invalided home and bought by a Worcestershire vicar to visit his parishioners. The horse was given the name PARSON.
The hunt kennels, for 20 to 25 pairs of hounds, were at Ball Barn Farm on the eastern side of Cronkeyshaw Common, overlooking Buckley. The Hunt were so impressed with Crowley’s work, they had a bungalow built for him adjoining the kennels. Mr. Pilling would bring his house guests down at the weekend to see the hounds being fed. A popular hunt activity was puppy-walking, in which newly-weaned hound pups were tended out to farmers, hunt members and supporters to be reared and trained until fit to join the pack. The painting shows George Crowley and his assistant, Ormerod Smith with the pack on Cronkeyshaw Common.
Crowley retired through ill health to Swinerootings, Shawclough, where he died 7th Feb 1919, aged 53.