Janus (1746–1780),[1] also known as Little Janus, Young Janus, and Janus II, was an English Thoroughbred stallion imported to Colonial America, which would later become the United States.[2] Noted for his quickness and compact conformation, he has subsequently been acknowledged as a foundation sire of the American Quarter Horse.[3]

SireJanus I ("Old Janus")
GrandsireGodolphin Arabian
DamFox Mare
BreederFrancis Godolphin, 2nd Earl of Godolphin
Last updated on 27 August 2023



Bred by Francis Godolphin, 2nd Earl of Godolphin, Janus was foaled in England in 1746. He was a grandson of the Godolphin Arabian, and like his grandsire, was chestnut in color.[4] Subsequently, owned by Anthony Langley Swymmer, a founding member of the Jockey Club and an English MP.[5] He raced under various names including Little Janus and Stiff Dick. His English racing career took place between 1750 and 1752. Janus won twice at 4 miles and was retired due to injury. Janus was sold to George Grisewood, a horse breeder and turf enthusiast.[6]

Life in America


After becoming lame, Janus was imported to Virginia Colony by Mordecai Booth in 1752,[7] and resold to Mildred Willis.[8]

Janus was able to fully recover and went on to race again.[9] He won races in Virginia and North Carolina.[10] Janus was compact, standing just over 14 hands (56 inches, 142 cm), yet large boned with powerful hindquarters.[11][12][13]

In late 1771 or early 1772 he was sold to Jeptha Atherton and was moved to North Carolina.[14][15] In 1773 he was at stud at what would later become Northampton Courthouse, in Jackson, North Carolina.[16][17]

Janus died in 1780, aged 34. His offspring included Celer, foaled in 1774, and Spadille.[18]

Manly Wade Wellman wrote a fictionalized account of the life of Janus.[19]

Sire line tree

  • Janus[20][21]
    • Peacock
    • Wilkins Spadille (out of Selima)
    • Babram
    • Buie
    • Meades Celer
    • Turpins Fleetwood
    • Twigg


  1. ^ Wallace, John Hankins, ed. (1877). "The printer stock of horses". Wallace's Monthly: An Illustrated Magazine Devoted to Domesticated, Volume 3.
  2. ^ Denhardt, Robert Moorman (1967). Quarter Horses: A Story of Two Centuries. ISBN 9780806122854.
  3. ^ "American Quarter Horse Museum".
  4. ^ "Jeptha Atherton, Horse breeder". www.ncpedia.org.
  5. ^ "Historic Sires". Thoroughbred Heritage.
  6. ^ "Historic Sires". Thoroughbred Heritage.
  7. ^ The General Stud Book Containing Pedigrees of English Race Horses – Volumes 1–2. 1834.
  8. ^ Harrison, Fairfax (1930). "The Roanoke Stud, 1795-1883". Priv. print., Old Dominion Press.
  9. ^ Campbell, Julie A. (2010). The Horse in Virginia: An Illustrated History. University of Virginia Press. ISBN 9780813928166.
  10. ^ Johnson, Patricia (1967). "Meet the horse". Grosset & Dunlap.
  11. ^ Robert Moorman Denhardt (1982). Foundation Dams of the American Quarter Horse. ISBN 9780806127484.
  12. ^ Parise-Peterson, Amanda (2018). American Quarterhorses. p. 9. ISBN 9781543500387., ISBN 978-1-5435-0032-5
  13. ^ Haynes, Glynn W. (1976). The American Paint Horse. ISBN 9780806121444.
  14. ^ Alexander Mackay-Smith (1983). The Colonial Quarter Race Horse: America's first breed of horses. America's native breed of running horses, the world's oldest breed of race horses, prime source of short speed.
  15. ^ "Colonial Horse racing". Washington Post. 1999.
  16. ^ "Atherton, Jeptha – Old Janus". The Virginia Gazette. 18 March 1773.
  17. ^ "Atherton Jeptha Atherton, Old Janus". The Virginia Gazette. 25 March 1775.
  18. ^ Denhardt, Robert Moorman (1991). Quarterhorses, the Story of Two Centuries. ISBN 9780806122854.
  19. ^ Wellman, Manly Wade (1968). Brave Horse: The Story of Janus. ISBN 9780910412810.
  20. ^ Foundation Sire: Little Janus
  21. ^ a b The Bloodlines Chart