I'ANSON international

William I'Anson the Elder
William I'Anson Sr.
The earliest I'Anson connected with the turf for whom we have a substantial history was William I'Anson (1810-1881). However, it is likely that there were earlier racing I'Ansons that have not yet been traced. If you know of any, please let us know.
William was a great-grandson of Myles and Elizabeth I'Anson (see "An 18th Century Wedding".) His parents were Robert I'Anson and Alice Duckworth, and he was their third son. He was born in Middleham, Yorkshire, a town still associated with breeding and training racehorses, although his father is described on his death certificate merely as an "agricultural labourer" .
The history of William I'Anson's horse training and breeding is told at length and in detail by J. Fairfax-Blakeborough in Malton Memories and I'Anson Triumphs (1925), and mentioned further in his Northern Turf History (1973), among others. The story usually begins with William's move to Scotland: 
In the 1830s . . . William, then only about twenty, was evidently of sufficient repute in the Turf world to be entrusted by Lord Kelburne (later the famous Earl of Glasgow) to take two horses back to Scotland after Doncaster Races. He did not return from Scotland for many years as Mr W.R.Ramsay persuaded him to remain across the Border to train privately for him at Barnton.
(Northern Turf History, Vol.IV, p.181)
  • William married a Scottish lassie, Mary Inglis, in Crammond. 
  • Their first four children were born in Barnton and baptised in Edinburgh. 
  • After some 10 years in Barnton, William moved on to Gullane in East Lothian, to the east of Edinburgh, which, in the early years of the 18th century, had become the so-called " Newmarket of Scotland". 
  • There he joined the Dawson family (also famous for their connection with horseracing history). 
  • William was joined in Gullane by his brother Robert and they eventually set up training independently. 
  • William and Mary had four more children in Gullane, again having them baptised in Edinburgh.
Wm I'Anson & Blink Bonny
Blink Bonny
Broodmare Queen Mary
In 1849, now a successful breeder and trainer of racehorses at the age of 39, William left Gullane for Malton, back in Yorkshire. In Norton-by-Malton he bred and trained such famous racehorses as Blink Bonny (Derby and Oaks, 1857 - shown above), Caller Ou (St Leger, 1861; Northumberland Plate 1863); and Blair Athol (Derby and St Leger, 1864). He and Mary had their last four children in Norton. Information on his influential broodmare Queen Mary (external link)
[includes Bonnie Gal, exported to USA, bought by James R. Keene]

Information on Bonnie Scotland (external link)
[exported to USA and became a leading sire at Belle Meade Stud, Tennessee] 
William engaged the painter Harry Hall to portray his horses.


In later life, William I'Anson spent most of his time on his farm in Malton: 
"He had made his fortune, and could have returned to Scotland and lived a life of ease had he been so disposed, but if he loved Scotland, he also loved Malton, and, full of activity as he was, "settling down" did not appeal to him."
  • It seems his brother Robert, who had been with him in Gullane was training for a Mr Johnstone at Walton Heath near Epsom, and the last two horses that William Sr trained belonged to this Mr Johnstone and had been sent up to Yorkshire from Walton Heath for finishing.
  • They went straight to Goodwood where one of them, Sister Helen, won the Stewards' Cup. 
  • So pleased was Mr Johnstone that he gave the trophy to William and it remained in the family until the 1950s, along with the other I'Anson trophies
William died leaving an estate worth about £20,000 - a substantial amount in 1881. Of his five sons two in particular made their names in racehorse circles: William Jr. and Miles. Of the seven daughters, three married with other racing families (Winter, Dawson and Gates). 

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 Dr M.L.Ille