Jack Black was rat-catcher and mole destroyer by appointment to Her Majesty Queen Victoria during the middle of the nineteenth century. Black cut a striking figure in his self-made "uniform" of scarlet topcoat, waistcoat, and breeches, with a huge leather belt inset with cast-iron rats.
Because of his job he became famous and was written about during his lifetime. He loved talking about his life and work, specially about a number of occasions when he nearly died from infection following rat bites.
When he caught any unusually coloured rats, he bred them, to establish new colour varieties. He would sell his home-bred domesticated coloured rats as pets, to different people, specially to the sophisticated ladies of court, and even Queen Victoria herself who kept a rat or two as pets.
Black had a number of sidelines beyond rats, including fishing (for food and supplying aquaria), bird catching and taxidermy. He was also an accomplished dog breeder. He had a little rat dog—a black terrier of the name of Billy—which was the greatest stock dog in London of that day.