Friday, July 30, 2010

Heraldry In The News!

An article in the July 29, 2010 edition of the Carluke and Lanark [Scotland] Gazette entitled "Mary McCarron stitches history at Stirling Castle," is about the work that she is doing a part of a team of embroiderers creating two cloths of estate with the heraldry of James V's queen, Mary of Guise, for Stirling Castle's refurbished Renaissance royal palace.

The first cloth of estate, now nearing completion, will be about three feet (one meter) tall, and will be placed in the Queen's Bedchamber.  For her part of this project, Ms. McCarron has been embroidering the Queen's coat of arms (impaled with the arms of her husband) for the center of this cloth using coloured leathers and metal and silk threads.

You can find the complete story on-line at:

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Leaving Jamestown

Cruising on down the road from Jamestown, we passed through (and ate lunch in) the lovely little town of Williamsburg. They’ve got some fun shops there to look around in; I went into the tie shop just to see what they might have in the way of heraldic ties (since I’m always looking to add to my collection). Alas, the only tie with heraldry in the entire shop had a repeating pattern of the current Royal Arms of Great Britain. As tempting as it was (after all, it would go well with my pair of cufflinks with the same arms on them), I decided to pass. For some reason, there’s only so far I’m willing to go purporting with wearable heraldry to be the Queen of England.

In the same town, however, it’s possible to see a fair bit of heraldry while driving down the street. Williamsburg is home to the College of William and Mary (I recently – April 19, 2010 – posted about their adoption of a new mascot, a griffin), and I am happy to report that they use their 17th Century coat of arms extensively. For example, it appears on all of their signs, from the big sign at the entrance to many of the smaller detached offices to the football stadium.

Alas, that extensive usage does not appear to extend to such things as tee shirts, sweatshirts, and baseball caps. An intensive search of the student bookstore found very few items with the arms on them, the majority having the W&M initials logo, the team name “Tribe”, and/or the griffin mascot. The arms appeared only on some pennants, one hooded sweatshirt, and one tee shirt. Not caring to buy the pennant, and not having much use for a hooded sweatshirt down here in Texas (Dallas is further south than Damascus, Syria!), I opted for the tee shirt, which in addition to the arms says “School of Education”, which I thought was particularly appropriate for me, all things considered.  (After all, not only do I try to "educate" folks about heraldry, but my college degree is in "History/Secondary Education.")

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

It’s True! It’s Really True!

I’ve said it before, and I’m sure that I’ll say it again: You can find heraldry everywhere. Even when you’re not looking for it and not expecting it.  We were in Chicago last weekend (speaking about something besides heraldry, for a change, though I did manage to sneak it into my talk once or twice), and at the hotel, in our room, was a framed photograph.

And, happily enough, there, right smack in the center near the top of the picture, was a coat of arms.  The photo was in black and white, and a search on the web for Crowley's Highland (House Cafe, in Cincinnati, Ohio) didn't turn up any but small color photographs of the arms, but my best guess at a blazon from them is: Or two bars argent, overall a boar passant azure between three crosses bottony (or possibly crosslet) gules.

I repeat: You can find heraldry (for better or for worse, and some better and some worse) _everywhere_!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Almost Heraldry in Jamestown, Virginia

For my last entry on the heraldry at the original settlement at Jamestown, Virginia, I’ve got a photograph of something that I’ve seen way too often here in the United States.  This one is one of four on a large monument at the site.
That’s right – it’s an empty shield, a very common architectural and decorative motif. In my review of heraldry in downtown Dallas, Texas, near where I live, I found that empty, blank shields and oval shields were far more common than shields and ovals with heraldic designs on them.

I’m not sure why this is so. In some ways I can understand it; having someone carve a coat of arms onto a shield shape will cost more than simply designing a blank one. But still, I have to wonder – what’s the purpose of having a blank shield? I swear, it’s all I can do some days, to resist the temptation to grab a few cans of spray paint in the usual heraldic tinctures, load them and a ladder onto my van, drive downtown late some evening, and fill some of those blank shields with real heraldry. (The fact that I’d be arrested for doing so is one of the factors that keeps me at home blogging instead of following through on that temptation.)

But still, when there’s so much heraldry available, and that could be appropriately used, for such architectural decoration, why use a blank shield?

Friday, July 23, 2010

Oh, Dear.

I had the, umm, luck to run across a website the other day called, with the tag line, "Enable the noble you!"  The URL is, unsurprisingly,

To quote their main page, " offers you to freely and easily design your own meaningful, unique Blazon and coat of arms!"  I thought, I've already got my own unique coat of arms, but what the heck, I'll try it.  They want to to select three "qualities" (e.g., courage, liberality, purity, strength, wisdom) from a list, and then include your first and last name and, if you like, your "lucky number".  Do all that, and the site will create for you a coat of arms.  (I'm assuming that they are choosing tinctures and charges based on those qualities.)

So I did all that, and was presented with the blazon: Per chevron embattled Vert and Argent in chief senester a dolphin haurient of the same barbed Or holding a fish in base four antelopes salient reguardant Sable horned hoofed Gules and the following emblazon:

Well, I must say, it probably really is "unique".  Can't say as I care for it all that much, especially not in preference to my own long-researched and better balanced arms, Argent two chevronels azure between three apples gules slipped and leaved proper.

I can't really recommend the site for anyone with a serious interest in heraldry, but if you've got a couple of minutes and are a bit curious, feel free to drop on by and give it a trial.  It doesn't cost anything, and nobody's saying that you actually have to adopt the arms that they come up with for you.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Statehouse Foundations

Our final bit of heraldry at Jamestown, Virginia, is at the markers at the site of the original Virginia Statehouse. As the marker there notes, this was the site of the first purpose-built statehouse, and recognizing the influence in America of the laws and legal institutions of England. “American representative government is the legacy that had its start in England. The people of early Jamestown brought not only cargo and supplies, but ideals of the rule of law, which were successfully planted in this new place.”

The Statehouse was built about 1663, and burned in 1698. The following year, the capitol was moved up the road to Williamsburg. The Statehouse was never rebuilt, and some of its bricks were used for construction in Williamsburg. Nothing was rebuilt on the foundations. Excavations in the last decade to uncover the foundations have discovered that the Statehouse was built over an unmarked burial ground which probably dates back to the earliest days of the settlement.

A memorial plaque next to the descriptive marker was presented by, and has the coats of arms of, the English Inns of Court and commemorates the 400th anniversary of the founding of the colony at Jamestown in 1607.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

An "Outsider's" Take on Heraldry

Karen Hatzigeorgiou over at her blog, Artful Journey (, has recently (July 19, 2010) begun a short series on heraldry and coats of arms, inspired by her recent find of Heraldry for Craftsmen and Designers by W. H. St. John Hope.  (I have a copy of this book myself.  I highly recommend it to anyone who has an interest in heraldry and/or heraldic art.)

As an artist herself -- mostly altered books and collages -- she is looking at heraldry from an outsider's point of view, as someone new to heraldry.  (She also has a website on which she places a lot of public domain images and clipart, including some of the heraldry she's recently discovered.  See her Terms of Use at  One of my favorite lines from her post today (July 21), is: "Wow! It’s like trying to learn another language! Can you imagine the skill it took for craftsmen to design a coat of arms?"  To which I must honestly reply, "Why, yes.  Yes, I do."  Followed by: "Welcome to the wonderful world of heraldry!"

Monday, July 19, 2010

The Hunt Shrine at Jamestown

Continuing our survey of the heraldry in Historic Jamestowne, the site of the original colony in Virginia, we come to a large memorial plaque placed in a brick enclosure. The plaque itself, showing a scene of a priest administering communion to an outdoor congregation of worshippers, was erected, as it says, “To the glory of God and in memory of Robert Hunt, Presbyter.”

Robert Hunt was the chaplain of the expedition in 1607 which founded Jamestown. He took a leading role as a peacemaker in the settlement, often mediating disputes between various factions and smoothing “ruffled feathers”. He was described by Captain Edward Wingfield (whose arms we have already discussed here) as “a man not in any way to be touched with the rebellious humours of a popish spirit, nor blemished with the least suspicion of a factious schismatic, whereof I had a special care”. Mr. Hunt died in 1608, during the first year of the settlement (as did many of his fellow adventurers).

There are two coats of arms on the Hunt Shrine. The one on the lower left of the panel is of the Royal Arms of Great Britain; the one on the lower right is the arms of the United States. The latter is hatched to show the colors.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Personal Heraldry in the Jamestown Church, Part 6

The final coat of arms found inside (well, okay, and outside, too, as I’ll explain below) the Jamestown church are those of Captain John Smith. Yes, that Captain John Smith. The one who was saved from execution by Pocahontas.

He is especially remembered for his role in helping to establish Jamestown. He was a leader of the Virginia Colony between September 1608 and August 1609, and led an exploration along the rivers of Virginia and the Chesapeake Bay. He explored the coasts of New England in 1614, and died in England in 1631 at the age of 51.

His arms can be found on a plaque inside the church, though they are not particularly easy to make out.

Outside and little way from the church is a monument to Captain John Smith, bearing full-length likeness of him, and bearing his coat of arms as well.

It is difficult to determine the tinctures of his coat of arms. The colored versions I have seen to date has different tinctures for the field and the chevron. The bookplates I have seen were neither tricked nor hatched. I don’t really feel like crawling through the nearly eight pages of Smith arms in Burke’s General Armory.* Papworth gives Vert, a chevron gules between three Turk’s heads couped proper turbaned or for “Smith; granted 1623”, which sounds like it could be our man. On the other hand, the story is that he defeated, killed and beheaded Turkish commanders in three duels in 1601 or 1602, for which he was knighted by the Transylvanian Prince Sigismund Báthory and given coat of arms from him showing three Turk’s heads.** The arms on the Jamestown plaque and monument are partially hatched, but I do not know on what authority. Based on the Jamestown plaque, his arms have a chevron per pale or and azure between the three Turk’s heads. So it’s all a bit of a muddle. If English arms, the chevron violates the rule of contrast; if Transylvanian, the chevron seems out of place. A green field is very rare in both countries. And I have no idea where the chevron divided per pale comes from. So, what were John Smith’s arms? The best I can say at this point is that they contain a chevron between three Turk’s heads, tinctures unconfirmed.

The crest is: An ostrich holding in its beak a horseshoe. Motto: Vincere est vivere (to conquer is to live, if I’m reading it correctly; it doesn’t appear in my copy of Fairbairn’s Crests).

* The sheer number of coats of arms borne by various Smith’s listed in Burke gives the lie to the all of those bucket shops who will happily sell you _the_ “Smith coat of arms”.

** Of course, there are a lot of stories that purport to tell the origin of various coats of arms. Unfortunately, most of them do not hold up under scrutiny.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Personal Heraldry in the Jamestown Church, Part 5

The subject of the next plaque in the little church at Jamestown, Virginia (and the only plaque done entirely in Latin), is to memorialize George Sandys (1577-1644), English traveler, colonist and poet, the seventh son of Edwin Sandys, Archbishop of York, and the great-uncle of English poet Richard Lovelace (Lovelace being probably most famous for his poem, To Althea, From Prison: "Stone walls do not a prison make, Nor iron bars a cage....").
George Sandys began travelling began in 1610, visiting France, north Italy and Venice, Constantinople (well, okay, even then “It’s Istanbul, not Constantinople”), and then on to Egypt, Sinai, Palestine, Cyprus, Sicily, Naples and Rome. He published a narrative of his travels in 1615. He also took an interest in the English colonization in America. In April 1621 he became colonial treasurer of the Virginia Company and sailed to Virginia with his niece's husband, Sir Francis Wyat, the new governor.

In 1621 he published an English translation of part of Ovid's Metamorphoses; completing that work in 1626. He also began a version of Virgil's Aeneid, but never produced more than the first book. In 1636 he published his Paraphrase upon the Psalms and Hymns dispersed throughout the Old and New Testaments; and translated Christ's Passion from the Latin of Grotius; and in 1641 he brought out his last work, a Paraphrase of the Song of Songs.

He died unmarried at Boxley, in Kent, England in 1644.

The arms here, borne without difference by many of the descendants of Edwin Sandys, Archbishop of York, are blazoned in Burke’s General Armory as: Or a fess dancetty between three crosses crosslet fitchy gules. The crest is given as: A griffin sergeant per fess or and gules. (The griffin can be a bit tricky to make out amongst the mantling in the depiction on the plaque, but it is clearly a griffin.)

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Heraldry in the News! Part Two

Well, that didn't take long.  All of a little over three hours, in fact.  (I'm way too slow.  No tee shirt for me, I guess.  Then again, "Dammit, Jim, I'm a herald, not a hacker.")

The mysterious code in the United States Cyber Command logo has been cracked.  The story broke at:

Danger Room reader jemelehill figured out the odd string of letters and numbers in the logo of the U.S. military’s new Cyber Command. Turns out, it _is_ the new unit’s mission statement, translated into 32 digits with the md5 cryptographic hash:

USCYBERCOM plans, coordinates, integrates, synchronizes, and conducts activities to: direct the operations and defense of specified Department of Defense information networks and; prepare to, and when directed, conduct full-spectrum military cyberspace operations in order to enable actions in all domains, ensure freedom of action in cyberspace for the U.S. and its allies, and deny the same to adversaries.
Other commenters eventually figured it out (especially after jemelehill’s solution made it to all the databases of cracked hashes). But others continued to offer their own tongue-in-cheek guesses:

“If you can read this, send your resume to”
“I’m sorry, Dave. I’m afraid I can’t do that.”
“If the intelligence community is a family, think of us as the uncle no one talks about.”
“Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra”
“In God We Trust All Others We Monitor”

Heraldry in the News!

It seems there's a mystery out there, heraldically related, for any code crackers who want to "take a crack" at it.  (Sorry about the pun!  Well, no, I'm not really.)

The logo of the newly-formed U.S. Cyber Command, which has a coat of arms of sorts on it, also has a code in its inner gold ring.  Wired's Danger Room blog has announced a contest and will give a free tee shirt to the first reader to crack the code.

At this point, though, apparently not even the folks at the U.S. Cyber Command know what the code means.  They only know that it is said to contain the mission statement of the Command, or maybe just a part of it.  The whole mission statement is: "USCYBERCOM plans, coordinates, integrates, synchronizes, and conducts activities to: direct the operations and defense of specified Department of Defense information networks and; prepare to, and when directed, conduct full-spectrum military cyberspace operations in order to enable actions in all domains, ensure US/Allied freedom of action in cyberspace and deny the same to our adversaries."  Which is a lot more characters than contained in the 32-character code.

The story as published on July 7 can be found at:

The other mystery (besides the code) is the design of the coat of arms contained in the logo, which I would blazon as: Per fess, the chief portion also per pale, argent, argent and argent, a pair of swords crossed in saltire, a lightning flash bendwise sinister, and a key fesswise wards to base, all sable, a chief or.  It's a a bit messy, uses an unusual field division, is overly complex, and has metal on metal (the gold chief on the silver field).  And it's contained within the larger logo.  I suppose I should just be grateful that they're using some sort of heraldry, but I have to think that it could have been done better.

Personal Heraldry in the Jamestown Church, Part 4

The next coat of arms in the church at Jamestown is a memorial plaque dedicated to the memory of Major General Daniel Gookin (1612-1687). The plaque was placed at Jamestown by the Massachusetts Society of the Colonial Dames of America.
General Gookin was a planter in Virginia before heading north to the Massachusetts Bay Colony. In Virginia he and his small family took up residence at the Nansemond plantation. He was made a Burgess and represented Upper Norfolk County in the Grand Assembly which met in Jamestown on 12 January 1641/2.

In the summer of 1643 he emigrated to Maryland, and acquired land near the South and Severn Rivers, near Annapolis. Gookin sailed for Boston in May 1644 with his family, and in 1648 moved to Cambridge. Beginning in1652 he was elected an Assistant, one of the Council of eighteen magistrates to whom, with the Governor and a Deputy Governor, the government of the colony was entrusted, and was re-elected to this position almost continuously for a period of thirty-five years. He served Cambridge as Selectman from 1660 to 1672, and was appointed the first Superintendent of the Praying Indians (Native American converts). In this capacity he traveled to Indian settlements, often accompanied by his friend Rev. John Eliot, Sr, the “Apostle to the Indians”. Gookin wrote two books on the Native Americans: Historical Collections of the Indians in New England (completed in 1674, published by the Massachusetts Historical Society, 1792), and The Doings and Sufferings of the Christian Indians (completed in 1677, published in 1836). He wrote also a History of New England, but only fragments have survived.

The blazon for this coat of arms is somewhat muddied. Crozier’s General Armory gives the arms of Daniel Gookin (1621, Virginia) as: Gules a chevron ermine between three crosses or, whereas the charges on the plaque are clearly not crosses, but roosters/cocks. Papworth’s Ordinary of British Armorials notes the arms of Cockeine/Gockyn/Goken/Gokin or Gookin as Gules a chevron ermine between three cocks or, which makes sense as canting arms (where one or more charges on the shield are a pun on the owner’s name). Burke’s General Armory has the arms of Gokin or Gookeine (of Ickham, county Kent, from which county Daniel Gookin here is believed to have originated): Gules a chevron ermine between three cocks or. On this basis, I am guessing that the blazon of “crosses” in Crozier is in error.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Another Heraldic Myth

A recent (July 2, 2010) post on Quezi: Now You Know (on-line at asks, and answers, the question, "Which English town celebrates the Fourth of July?"  And I don't want to hear the old joke about "Do they have the fourth of July in England?"  The answer is "Yes, but they don't celebrate it as American Independence Day."

Well, it turns out that the last sentence may not be entirely true.  Apparently, the town of Warton in Lancashire, England, they do celebrate the fourth of July, as the ancestral home of George Washington.  Indeed, the church tower bears the Washington coat of arms.

Alas, the site goes on to note that the Washington coat of arms "whose stars and stripes ('two bars and three molets', in heraldry-speak) probably inspired the United States flag."  Alas, I am afraid that this is just another one of those stories that have gotten attached to a coat of arms that sound very nice, but simply aren't true.  Yes, the Washington arms and the American flag have red and white horizontal stripes, and both of them also have stars on them.  But the resemblance ends there, and in fact there is no indication that the Continental Congress in adopting the flag even considered Washington's coat of arms.  It is not known with certainty, but the flag was most likely designed by Congressman Francis Hopkinson of New Jersey.  On June 14, 1777, in order to establish an official flag for the new nation, the Continental Congress passed the first Flag Act: "Resolved, That the flag of the United States be made of thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new Constellation."  Nothing in the Flag Act or anything related to it indicates any inspiration from the Washington coat of arms.

So, as I said, it's a nice story, but alas, unlikely to be factual.  Which you'd think that that Quezi ("Now you know") would have, or should have, err, known.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Personal Heraldry in the Jamestown Church, Part 3

The next coat of arms on display in the church at Jamestown is one that I’ve seen before, in my research on the Gore roll of arms in Boston: Savage. But while this memorial is to “Thomas Savage, Gentleman and Ensign, The first white settler on the eastern shore of Virginia,” the individual in the Gore roll was another Thomas Savage,“Thomas Savage, Esq., of Boston, Col. of the First Regiment of Foot, co. of Suffolk”, who died in 1620. There is yet another Major Thomas Savage who died in Boston in 1682 and is buried in King’s Chapel Burying Ground, whose tomb is marked with another rendition of the same coat of arms and crest.  So it appears that the Savage family got around quite a bit in colonial times.
The memorial plaque was “Erected by some of his descendants 1931”. A quick search on the internet found that it was presented on Jamestown Day, May 13, 1931, by Dr. Henry Littleton Savage of Princeton University, and unveiled by Master Thomas Savage and Miss Nancy Savage of Northampton County, Virginia.

The blazon of the arms is: Argent, six lioncels rampant sable. The crest is: Issuant from a ducal coronet or a lion’s jambe sable. The motto is: A te pro te (from thee, for thee, according to Fairbairn's Crests).  (The northern branch of the Savage family uses for its motto: Fortis atque fidelis; brave and faithful.)

Friday, July 2, 2010

An Announcement from the Canadian Heraldic Authority

In a pair of announcements (one from Darrell Kennedy, Assiniboine Herald, and the other from Bruce Patterson, Saint Laurent Herald), Pages 200-350 of Volume V of the Public Register of Arms, Flags and Badges of Canada have been placed online.  These additions are a continuation of the Canadian Heraldic Authority's on-going project to make their Public Register about as public as it is possible to be, the goal being to place all of the coats of arms and other armorial insignia, flags, and badges on-line and accessible at no cost to anyone, anywhere in the world.

You can access the entire Public Register so far at the link in the left-hand column under the heading "Websites of Heraldic Interest" or go directly to the new beginning of the newest additions to Volume V at

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Personal Heraldry in the Jamestown Church, Part 2

Another monument in the church at Jamestown commemorates the memory of Captain Edward Maria Wingfield, and displays his arms in color.
“Born about 1560, Son of Thomas Maria Wingfield, M.P., of Huntingdonshire, and Grandson of Sir Richard Wingfield, K.G., of Kimbolton Castle. … But his name is forever identified with this Hallowed Place, Jamestown, a Site which he selected, where English Civilization was First Established on American Soil. … The Only Grantee in the Virginia Charter of 1606 who accompanied the First Settlers to these Shores. First President of the Council of Virginia. … Author in 1608 of “A Discourse of Virginia.” … Died at Stonely Priory, Huntingdonshire, England, after 1613.”

He’s got his own entry on the “Virtual Jamestown” website, along with a modern armorial portrait, at