By: A.J. Jarret
For the original cock of this family I am forever indebted to DR. Fred Saunders of Salem, Massachusetts. I paid him the highest price ever paid for a gamecock in America. I took this cock and bred him a Grist yellow legged Grady hen. I raised 4 stags and 7 pullets. I then bred the old cock back to his daughter each season line breeding him until his offspring were 1/8 to 1/16 Grady and Balance Roundhead. By this method I increased size, station, bone and muscle. They nearly all come yellow legged and beaks, roundhead, often with white in their wings. The old cock was a spangle.
I then got from a Mr. John M. Vines of Jefferson, Texas, a very old cocker, 3 hens of his old inbred Cripple Tony family. These hens were dark fowl and legs. I bred the old original Roundhead to these hens. The cross was a hit, and kept breeding the old cock to his daughters each season, breeding to the Roundhead side. This stock often throws a dark pullet or stag, coming of course from the Cripple Tony blood. This family of Roundheads is one the greatest on earth. They are dodgers and smart cocks, like the pro fighter of today they use their head as well as their feet and they have won more mains and tournaments than any cocks known to the south.
No better description can be given of these cocks then that given by the honorable Sol P. McCall of New Orleans and Allison Wells of New Orleans. They come white and yellow legged and run from 4-08 to 6-08.The hens of this family are the smallest of any gamefowl known to me.
The following is from the Aug/Sept 2005 issue of gamecock magazine. The author is known as Uncle Ezra
To simplify the story of the Allen Roundheads for those who haven't heard it before, Will Allen of Mississippi obtained a Boston Roundhead cock from Dr. Fred Saunders and crossed him over some hens that a blend of Redquill and Grist Grady. The Gradys' were originated seemingly as a succession of battle crosses by Col Grist of GA. Some of the breeds making up the Gradys were Claiborne, Shawl neck (Southern USA Whitehackles) and Warhorse, plus a bit of Spanish blue stock.
Since all these breeds are straight comb, it would seem that Boston cock had very strong pea comb genes to give that characteristic to his offspring and descendants for generations to come to this day- after 100 yrs. or so. I have owned many, many "Roundhead" fowl over the past long yrs. I have been in the sport. I put the name in quotes because it refers (in the USA) to most any pea comb fowl that happens to be black breasted reds with white or yellow legs and that do not show too much of their Oriental lineage.
However there are also Black Roundheads and Negro Roundheads and on and on. So now it is used more as a generic term for pea comb fowl than as the name of a specific breed. However, generally the name refers to the Allen and Shelton Roundheads (Shelton was Allen's brother-in-law and they owned the fowl together). But another" however" the Allen Roundheads were breed and to a great extent developed by another old man-R.E. Walt. In fact in my younger days, most of the Roundhead fowl around OK. were referred to as RE Walt Roundheads instead of Allens.
You might ask about the Boston Roundheads that made the Allens. They arrived in the USA from Ireland without an ID tag. According to my sources, these fowl were known to be Irish Whitehackles-bred just like the more common English Whitehackles such as the North Britons, Earl of Derbies, and so on but many of the Irish had pea combs. The original Kearney (and Duryea) Irish Whitehackles had a % of pea combs as well as the Irish Whitehackles bred by my Irish friend John Tynan. I think he called them Queen Anne Whitehackles but I have forgotten for sure.
Remember after England colonized India, the English breeders had access to the best Oriental fowl such as Asil and even Japanese. These Oriental bloodlines were then added to the early English fowl of 500 yrs. or so ago that weighed only around 4 lbs.-about like the small Spanish cocks today. The Oriental crosses increased the size to around 5 lbs. or bigger, which most American cocks are today.
Over the years, the English breeders bred out the pea comb but since it didn't bother the Irish, they continued to breed both straight comb and pea comb Whitehackles. Of course the name Whitehackles comes from the old English custom of trimming the neck hackles close to the skin so that the cocks with a white under feather in the neck would be a whitehackle. There are also breeds called Blackhackle. There are jillions of Oriental/American crosses that come peacomb and are called Roundheads that contain not a drop of the original Allen bloodline. As is true for all other strains-some Roundheads are awfully good while others are awfully bad but most are somewhat in the middle. The pea comb Kelso fowl owe much of their good qualities to the George Smith Roundhead (same stock as Lundy Roundheads) that was blended with Claret to make the McClanahans that Walter Kelso used in his initial cross.