After the Romans had invaded Britain, they brought with them a large longwool breed of sheep, which developed over the centuries into slightly different types of sheep named mainly from the area in which they had developed, i.e Cotswolds, Lincoln, Leicester & Devon Long wools and presumably the Teeswater, and these would all originally have had a white face.
As the poorer land further up the valleys was grazed by sheep, the Teeswater was used in these dales for crossing purposes on to the smaller hill sheep to produce a cross bred sheep suitable for fat lamb production on the more fertile land. Some farmers referred to them as "Mug Tups" because of their facial colour.
There are records of Teeswaters being exported to Tasmania in the early 1800's. Also around this time Robert Bakewell started a breeding programme to develop and enhance the quality of the local sheep, which were Leicester Longwools. In the 1840's some Teeswater females were crossed with a Dishley Leicester Longwool ram called Bluecap and the offspring were the origins of the Wensleydale breed, as it had a bigger and better body shape, it would appear, that eventually the Wensleydale breed became more popular and the Teeswater declined until by the 1920's the breed was nearly extinct.
The breed was at one time in some danger of becoming extinct. Fortunately a few farmers in the Tees Valley kept the breed alive and distinct for the purpose of breeding Rams for crossing with hill ewes. During the past 20 years the value of these rams for crossing purposes has become better known and it is now appreciated for breeding half bred lambs that have no equal. I am satisfied that for crossing purposes with Swaledale, Scotch, Black-faced, Dalesbred, Lonks and Herdwicks, they are pre-eminent. This is borne out by the high prices realised half bred-gimmers at Auction Marts in Yorkshire, Durham, Westmorland, Cumberland and Lancashire. They are a hardy breed and prolific good mothers. Black lambs have been all but eliminated. Total number of members in the first Flock Book - 185.
In 1996 Teeswater semen was imported into the US and the first Teeswaters were recorded in 1997. The ATSA was subsequently formed in 2007 and continues to register sheep in the US.
Dedicated to the preservation and protection of the American Teeswater Sheep - 2007 all rights reserved.