In the early 19th century, the landowners of Workington hunted foxes to the great depletion of the local population and, having to adapt to the dearth of animal prey for their sporting entertainment, eventually fixed on the solution of hunting humans instead.
The first people to volunteer to be hunted to extinction were a lovely couple, the Enderbys, who had the drapers shop in Bridge Street and ran an amateur dramatics group in the evenings. Mr Enderbys was particularly honoured to be chased as he had inherited his business from his father, who had started life in the much lowlier position of fly-catcher at the picnics of the well-to-do.
Although hampered by her cage crinoline skirt, it was Mrs Enderby who outran the hounds the longest on the day, managing to emerge from beneath the ruck of hounds to stagger into a tarn, where she was finally gathered by Mr Budd, the gamekeeper. Before he could humanely break both Enderby necks, Budd was halted by a word from the Hunt Marshall, a suited man from Carlisle with some modern views on the sanctity of life regarding the lower orders.
It soon became quite the thing among the middle-classes to “Volunteer for Fox” and, despite the recording of several life-changing injuries, the practise continued for many years until the metropolitan liberals stuck their oar in. Cameron Carter