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A barbarous sport in which a tough terrier was matched with a caged badger. The sport was popular in England across several centuries, along with bull-baiting and bear-baiting. As Robert Malcolmson notes, badgers were easier to attain and, consequently, more often baited. Malcolmson quotes Henry Alken, an observer of 1839, on the objective of the sport, which was to see how many times ‘the dog will draw the badger from his box, within a given space of time’, and how effectively a ‘well-bred and thoroughly trained dog’ could accomplish this (Popular Recreations in English Society, 1700–1850, 1973). Badger-baiting attracted gambling, and cases were still being prosecuted at the end of the 19th century (in Preston, Lancashire, for instance, in 1897) despite the successful campaigning of the reformers who opposed such forms of cruelty to animals practised in the name of sport.

Subjects: Sport and Leisure.

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