History of the General Stud Book

Maintained and published by Weatherbys since 1791

History of the General Stud Book

History of the World's 'mother' stud book

Although it had been a sporting activity for hundreds of years, British horseracing really began to get organised in the second half of the 18th century. An essential part of that was the establishment of formal rules of racing. Detailed recording of the horses competing, the results, and their pedigrees was started at this time.

Our founder, James Weatherby, was the first to publish the pedigree information in 1791, and the General Stud Book (GSB) has continued in our care ever since.

Maintenance of the breeding records for Thoroughbreds in Great Britain and Ireland is an ongoing process, with a new volume of the GSB published by Weatherbys every four years. The most recent one being volume 49 in 2022.

In the timeline below, we have summarised some of the more recent developments surrounding the GSB, and Weatherbys association with the horse registers and stud books more generally.

1913 Jockey Club Senior Steward, Lord Villiers, proposed admission to the General Stud Book be limited to progeny of horses already accepted in earlier volumes. Dubbed “The Jersey Act” this proposal was adopted and featured in Volume 22 of the GSB.  (Named the Jersey Act as Lord Villiers was in line to be the Earl of Jersey)
1949 “Jersey Act” abolished following consultation with other countries impacted by the Act, and application from the Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association.
1969 Volume 36 of the GSB contained wording to reserve the right to exclude and include horses. At the same time, the “blue pages” were introduced, featuring vehicle mares whose progeny were considered Thoroughbred
1973 Weatherbys took over the Non-Thoroughbred Register (NTR) from Miss Prior the compiler of the Half-Bred Stud Book for the breeding of horses for racing who were not full Thoroughbred (published 1914 – 1972)
1974 First NTR publication, “The Register for Non-Thoroughbred Mares” was published
1976 Weatherbys were appointed Secretariat to the International Stud Book Committee
1986 Parentage verification for all Weatherbys registered foals through blood typing was introduced (blood typing technology was first trialled by the Stud Book in the 1970s)
1988 (GB) and (IRE) country suffixes were introduced behind a horse’s name to indicate country of foaling e.g. Sea The Stars (IRE)
1991 Foal Passports were introduced – prior to that Foal Identification Certificates were issued. Passports were issued for breeding and racing stock prior to 1991
1994 Return Of Mares Annual included an NTR section, replacing the “Register for Non-Thoroughbred Mares” publication
1996 The age limit for late returns for horses over three years of age was relaxed. A late return can now be of any age, but must meet the late return registration criteria including proof of age
1998 Passport life numbers were introduced
1999 From 1999, all foals in GB and Ireland registered with Weatherbys were microchipped
2001 DNA parentage verification was introduced – replacing Blood typing
2006 In response to a request from the Irish Thoroughbred Breeders Association, Volume 45 of the General Stud Book was split into GB and Irish sections. All mares continue to be sourced through the Index (Volumes 1 to 19 of the General Stud Book (1793-1901) contained an Irish mares section)
2008 First Stud Book Fact Book published
2017 Launch of GSB Online for all GSB registrations
2018 Introduction of 30-Day Foal notification
2021 Introduction of E-Passport