Uncle Toby Dickey Bird Society Mug

Contributed by Shandy Hall

Uncle Toby Dicky Bird Society Mug

This mug from Shandy Hall, Coxwold, a museum dedicated to the eighteenth-century writer Laurence Sterne, is connected with one of Sterne's most famous characters.

Uncle Toby, a popular character in Sterne's "Tristram Shandy" was known for his benevolence, and was the inspiration for the Dickey Bird Society which was to become one of the first mass movement bird conservation societies.

The organisation was started in 1876 by the editor William Adams of the Newcastle Weekly Chronicle, using the pen-name of Uncle Toby, to introduce the idea of the society through the newspaper's Children's Corner.

By 1900 the society had 300,000 members (including Tennyson, Florence Nightingale and Baden Powell) all agreeing to treat wild birds with kindness rather than cruelty.

The DBS grew to nearly half a million members worldwide, and effected a huge change in attitude and practice in the treatment of wild birds.

Further information by Fred Milton, the authority on this early conservation movement, can be found online.

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