Archer, Frederick (DNB01)

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ARCHER, FREDERICK (1857–1886), jockey, born at St. George’s Cottage, Cheltenham, on 11 Jan. 1857, was the second son of William Archer, a jockey of the old school, who took over a stud of English horses to Russia in 1842, who won the Grand National at Liverpool on Little Charlie in 1858, and who eventually became landlord of the King’s Arms at Prestbury, near Cheltenham. His mother was Emma, daughter of William Hayward, a former proprietor of the King’s Arms. On 10 Jan. 1867 ‘Billy’ Archer apprenticed his son ‘Fred,’ a quick, retentive, and exceedingly secretive boy, for five years to Matthew Dawson [q.v. Suppl.], the trainer at Newmarket. As ‘Billy’ Archer’s son he was soon given an opportunity of showing his mettle, and on 28 Sept. 1870 at Chesterfield, upon Atholl Daisy, he won his first victory on the turf. Two years later, scaling at that time 5st 7lb, he won the Cesarewitch on Salvanoe, and in 1874, in which year the death of Tom French made a clear vacancy for a jockey of the first order, he won a success upon Lord Falmouth’s Atlantic in the Two Thousand Guineas which proved of the greatest value to his career. Thenceforth he became ‘a veritable mascotte’ of the racing stable with which he was connected. In 1874, with 530 mounts, he scored 147 wins. In 1877 he won his first Derby, and also the St. Leger, upon Lord Falmouth’s Silvio. In 1884, with 377 mounts, he secured no less than 241 wins. His most successful year was probably 1885, when he won the Two Thousand Guineas on Paradox, the Oaks on Lonely, the Derby and St. Leger on Melton, and the Grand Prix on Paradox. In his last season he won the Derby and St. Leger on Ormonde. In all he is said to have worn silk 8,084 times, and to have ridden 2,748 winners. His most exciting victory was perhaps the Derby of 1880, when he came up from the rear upon Bend Or with an extraordinary rush, beating Robert the Devil by a head. His nerve was of iron, and he never hesitated to take the inside of the turn and hug the rails at Tattenham Corner. The success which enabled him to remain premier jockey for the unprecedented period of ten years is attributed primarily to his coolness and to his judgment of pace.

For keeping down his racing weight (8st 10lb in his later years), Turkish baths, almost total abstinence from solid food, and frequent alkaline medicines were his chief resources. In October 1886, with stern determination, he resolved to waste himself down to 8st 7lb for the Cambridgeshire. He achieved his purpose, but the effort cost him his life. He fell seriously ill, and, in the depressed state occasioned by fever consequent upon long starvation, shot himself with a revolver in the afternoon of 8 Nov. 1886 at his residence, Falmouth House, Newmarket. He was buried in Newmarket cemetery on 12 Nov., and among the admirers who sent wreaths were the Duke of Westminster and the Prince of Wales.

He married on 31 Jan. 1883 Rose Nellie (d. 1884), eldest daughter of John Dawson of Warren House, Newmarket, by whom he left a daughter. By means of retainers, fees, and presents he is said to have gained over 60,000l. in his professional capacity, and he left a considerable fortune.

[Times, 9, 12, and 13 Nov. 1886; Field, 13 Nov. 1886; Daily Telegraph, 12 Nov. 1886; Annual Register, 1886, p. 165; The Archers (biographical sketches of William and Fred. Archer), by A Cheltonian, 1885; Chetwynd’s Racing Reminiscences, 1891; Porter’s Kingsclere, 1896, p. 330; Sporting and Dramatic News, 13 Nov. 1886, portrait.]

T. S.