Grays vs Reds: America’s Third War With Great Britain

The American Grays stand proud and strong, with strong, stocky bodies, and eyes that are bright and attentive. In 1867 they quietly invaded Great Britain, originating from the east coast of the American colonies. The native Reds on the other hand, are struggling just to just survive.  Their numbers are dropping rapidly, mostly due to the Gray’s presence.

“The reds were faced with a competitor bigger and stronger than themselves…” Some say they are likely to become extinct within 20 years. A secret war is waging–the Grays are now possibly England’s most deadly enemy.

Aeschyli miles [Squirrel soldier]. A playful photo-shopped picture
of a gray squirrel dressed as a soldier of the American Revolution.

In 1922, a government permanent secretary was quoted in The Times of London calling Grays “sneaking, thieving, fascinating little alien villains.” “I know of more than one patriotic Englishman who has been embittered against the whole American nation on account of the[ir] presence…” A. D. Middleton wrote in 1931.

The history behind the problem: In the 1800s and into the early 1900s, it became popular for the British upper classes to maintain exotic pets, with the gray squirrels of North America being among them.   It is generally accepted that sometime around 1876 the first known RECORD (but possibly not the earliest occurrence) of their release can be found.  Contradictory reports state that either Thomas Unett Brocklehurst (of Henbury Park, Macclesfield, Cheshire England) OR the London Zoo actually let a pair of the little buggers loose. Over the next several years at least 100 more were released by their owners who grew weary of these pets.

Shortly after the gray squirrel’s release in England, Thomas U. Brocklehurst began a world tour that included the United States.  Ironically, during his stay in Montgomery, Alabama, he dined upon what he thought was “prairie hen, or some bird, and helped myself a second time; on being told it was squirrel, I had to rush to the bar at the end of the room for a petit verre…” [–Thomas Unett Brocklehurst in “Mexico Today,” published in 1883].

On a positive note,  It is believed that possibly millions of trees have been accidentally planted by squirrels (they bury nuts and do not come back for them).  While the gray squirrel has the average life cycle of 12.5 to 20 years,  according to Ancestry.com, in 1997 members of the Brocklehurst family had a life expectancy was 81 years vs 74 years for the general public.

Janice

P.S.: With all this anti-“Gray” sentiment, perhaps British cooks should brush up on their squirrel recipes.

**ADDITIONAL READING**

World’s 100 most destructive species named–  [Gray Squirrel is #8]

Macclesfield (Photographs and History)

History of Henbury Hall

-Lost Heritage: A Memorial to the Lost Country Houses of England

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**PARTIAL BIOGRAPHY & FAMILY TREE OF THOMAS UNETT BROCKLEHURST**
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Thomas Unett Brocklehurst was the eldest son of Thomas Brocklehurst of The Fence, Macclesfield, Cheshire England (a banker and manufacturer), and Martha Mary Unett, his wife.  He was born 30 November 1824. He was twice mayor of Maccesfield.  He was a silk manufacturing heir and he purchased Henbury Park in Cheshire County England, near his birthplace. In 1879 he left England on a world tour that included the United States and Mexico. He is believed to be the “Mr. Brocklehurst” who reportedly released a pair of gray squirrels on the land near his residence in Cheshire County, England.

-READ MORE OF HIS BIOGRAPHY

SEE HIS FAMILY TREE in “A Genealogical and Heraldric Dictionary…”

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