Plymouth Rock chickens
The history of the ‘Plymouth Rock’ as a poultry breed is hard to determine. Whilst it can be deduced that the breed originated in America, there are conflicting historical reports concerning who exactly created the first Plymouth Rocks and also which breeds were used in their creation. The name of the breed gives an indication as to where the breed was created but again this is subject to debate. The first Plymouth Rocks were Barred (resembling cuckoo) in appearance while the Plymouth Rock bantams were first created in the UK.
Plymouth Rock: History of this chicken breed

Plymouth Rock Timeline

1811: The first ‘Plymouth Rocks’, the results of an attempt to make a breed of this name in the US, became extinct.

1847: An intermingling of several breeds - which included White Cochins, Dark and White Brahma’s, Black Java’s, Langshans, Dorking’s, Black Minorca’s and Spanish, and Dominique’s - took place in the US.

1849: 3 ‘Plymouth Rocks’ were exhibited at the first poultry show in Boston, US, by Dr. John Bennett.

1850: Dr. Bennett reports in his 1881 poultry book that he made the ‘Plymouth Rock’ at this time by crossing a Cochin cockerel with a ‘fawn-coloured’ cross-bred which included Malay and ‘Wild Indian’ blood. Harrison Weir also wrote ‘The Plymouth Rock is in reality one half Cochin China, one fourth fawn coloured Dorking, one eighth Malay, and one eighth Wild Indian’ which substantiates the ancestry of Bennett’s strain

1869: Specimens resembling the Barred Plymouth Rocks of today were exhibited in the US. by D.A. Upham of Massachusetts under the name of ‘Improved Plymouth Rocks’ to avoid confusion with Bennett’s birds. Parks Poultry Farm in Pennsylvania specialises in the breed commercially and makes them well known in America.

1870: Breed recorded as having ‘Dominique’ plumage - the American term for barring or cuckoo colour. Lewis Wright claims a ‘new’ production occurred, differing in colour to Dr.Bennett’s. He suggests the modern Plymouth Rock had a number of different origins, from birds bred from various American breeders. The Upham strain is the most probable source Wright referred to and undoubtedly contained a large amount of Dominique blood (the Dominique is also a breed in the US and has barred or cuckoo plumage - the Scots Grey is said to be an ancestor of the Dominique).

1872: Plymouth Rocks reached Britain, exported by Mr W.Simpson who took honours at Birmingham Show that year in the AOV class. British Plymouth Rock Club is founded.

1874: The breed (Barred variety) is recognised in the American Standard of Excellence. Oscar Frost of Maine, US, develops the first Whites after hatching white chicks from barred parents. These were developed with Light Brahma’s and White Dorking’s and reached England in about 1880.

1888: White Plymouth Rocks are recognised by the American Poultry Association.

1890: R.G. Buffington, Rhode Island, US, exhibits the ‘Fall River Strain’ of Buffs with Rhode Island Reds being used in their making. They were very close in appearance to RIR’s rather than having what we know as buff colouration. The name ‘Buff’ became attributed to the variety to highlight the influence of Mr Buffington, and only later did breeders develop buff as a colour. Reference, however, was also made at this time to a separate English strain of Buffs which contained Buff Orpington blood.

1893: The ‘Wilson Strain’ of Buffs is exhibited at the World’s Fair. This strain was derived from crossing Buff Cochins and Light Brahma’s and less red in colouration than the ‘Fall River Strain’. Sir Edward Brown reports another combination involving Buff Leghorns, Buff Cochins, and Light Brahma’s.

1894: James Boardman exhibits an English strain of Buffs in England. Buff Plymouth Rocks are accepted into the American Standard of Excellence.

1897: James Boardman imports Wilson Strain Buffs into Britain from America, and subsequently develops an amalgamate strain.

c1900: Silver Pencilled are developed in New York from single-combed Wyandottes, other strains being developed from crossing Silver-grey Dorking’s with Dark Brahma’s. Partridge are originated at Elmwood Farms, New Jersey, US, by using Partridge Wyandottes. Another Partridge strain appears in Indiana, US, resulting from crossing Indian Game, Partridge Cochin, and Gold Laced Wyandotte. Columbians are developed in Ohio, US. Columbian Wyandottes, Light Brahmas, together with White and Barred Plymouth Rocks are reported to have been used in their composition. Work on bantamisation begins in Britain - bantamisation took place much later in the US.

1907: Silver Pencilled Plymouth Rocks are admitted to the American Standard of Perfection.

1908: Barred and Buff bantams are reported to have been exhibited in Britain, but are rather poor in quality compared to the Large.

1909: Partridge Plymouth Rocks are recognised in the American Standard of Perfection.

1910: Columbian Plymouth Rocks are admitted to the American Standard of Perfection.

1911: Jim Shaw’s father, Anthony Shaw, obtains Barred bantams from an English source in Lancashire, an area which later, along with parts of Yorkshire, becomes an absolute ‘hotbed’ for Plymouth Rocks.

c1915: Black Plymouth Rocks - originally derived from Barreds - are popular in Northern England and are reported to be excellent layers. ‘Jersey Blues’ are imported into Britain from America having ‘Andalusian blue plumage, single combs, and Plymouth Rock type’, and are used to develop Blue Plymouth Rocks in both countries. James Bateman becomes one of the top English exhibitors of Barreds.

1920: Blue Plymouth Rocks are admitted to the American Standard of Perfection.

You can find out more about Plymouth Rock poultry breed here.

Barred Plymouth Rock
Barred Plymouth Rock
Buff Plymouth Rock
Buff Plymouth Rock
White Plymouth Rock
White Plymouth Rock
Partidge Plymouth Rock
Partridge Plymouth Rock
Silver Pencilled Rock
Silver Pencilled Rock
Columbian Plymouth Rock
Columbian Plymouth Rock
Blue Plymouth Rock
Blue Plymouth Rock
Black Plymouth Rock
Black Plymouth Rock


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