The Sebright is a true bantam, meaning it has no large fowl counterpart.
The breed takes its name from its developer, Sir John Saunders Sebright and was created purely as an ornamental fowl.
Sir John was an experienced breeder of a range of domestic animals and wrote several papers on breeding and husbandry, one of which influenced Charles Darwin in his evolution theories.
The exact method Sir John used to create his tiny masterpiece is not known, in the Poultry Chronicle in 1855, it is stated that Sir John obtained a buff-coloured bantam hen at Norwich; she was very small indeed with clear slate coloured legs, and on the same journey he purchased a cockerel rather inclined to red in the hackle; also at Watford a fowl resembling a small golden Hamburgh. Later he introduced a white bantam to make the silvers. This description refers back before the laced markings were achieved. They were then called pheasant bantams.
Later, others believe he used Polish, Nankin and Rosecomb bantams for the head type as foundation breeds. He set out to make a pure bantam based on the plumage of laced Polish that would breed true to colour and type. He then had to breed out the top knot, get rid of the hackles and long tail feathers, and reduce the size while retaining the impertinent carriage of the bantam.
It is written that at this stage he was joined in the breeding program and the club's establishment by Stevens, Hollingsworth, Garle and others. They formed a club called the Sebright Bantam Club in the early 1800s in
Sir John Sebright was the sixth baronet of Besford Worcestershire and Beechwood, Hertfordshire—a title handed down from father to his eldest son—and the 7th Baronet, also known as Sir John Sebright, continued his passion. Their ancestral home was Sebright Hall in
The club they formed was essentially a private breeders club and all members had to be proposed and seconded by a member, and afterwards their position was by ballot. They met on the second Tuesday in February each year in
The cock was allowed to be 22 ounces in weight, and the hens 18 ounces. The cocks had to have long hackles, no saddle feathers, no streamers in the tail. They also had to have rose combs, short backs, heads and tails carried at approximately the same height. Their ground colour was delicately laced (never spotted) with pure black. The tail feathers were expected to be equally well-laced, but this was very seldom seen. The bars on the wings were black and distinct. The same rules applied to the hens.
The Sebright Bantam Club in
A Sebright club was formed in 2006 in Canberra Australia and in 2008, became an official club called the Sebright Club of Australia Incorporated. It was established as a national breed club with incorporation in NSW.
In Australia, Sebrights are standardised in two colours only, silver and gold. Both varieties are hen-feathered with each feather delicately laced with black—the only difference between them being the plumage ground colour.
Head colour (comb, face, wattles, and earlobes) is mulberry which is similar to a dark plum colour. Previous standards allowed for a dark red colour, which has been requested to be changed in the next addition of the Australian Poultry Standards, as birds are being bred and exhibited with incorrect light red features.
The eyes should be full, face smooth, earlobes flat and unfolded wattles well rounded. Eyes should be black or as dark as possible but not red. The legs and feet are slate blue, in both sexes of both varieties the beak is dark horn in Golds, and dark blue or horn in Silvers. Male birds are still 22 ounces or 625 grams and females 18 ounces or 510 grams.
A rose comb, square fronted firmly and evenly set, the top covered with five points free from hollows narrowing behind to a distinct spike or leader turned slightly upwards to a fine point. Neck tapering arched and carried well back. Backs very short, toes four and straight and well shaped. Tail square, well shaped and carried high. Beak small, short and slightly curved. Wings large and carried low. Shanks slender and free for feathers.
Faults to look for when purchasing or selecting birds are:
Sebrights have no useful utility credentials—being poor layers and too small for meat production.
Their sole purpose is to look beautiful... a role they fill admirably.