Monday, December 29, 2014

Heraldic Porcelain

In the same room where I had spotted the colonial American heraldic embroidery that I shared in the post before last, there were also a couple of large plates with a coat of arms on them.  In the usual fashion of giving the general visitor, but not one with a special heraldic interest, about the plates, the explanatory signs with the plates read:

Jingdezhen, China, 1739-1742
Hard-paste porcelain

A very terse description for these:

A search through the heraldic reference books back home discovered the following:

From Burke’s General Armory:

Okeover (London; Rowland Okeover, merchant, third son of Philip Okeover. Visit. London. 1508).  Ermine on a chief gules three bezants, the centre one charged with a mullet sable.  Crest - An oak tree vert acorned or.

The Visitation of London, 1568, gave basically identical information:

Ermine on a chief gules three bezants, the centre one charged with a mullet sable.  Crest - An oak tree vert acorned or.

The Visitation of Staffordshire, 1583 had some additional information:

Okeover of Okeover.  Quarterly, 1 and 4, Ermine on a chief gules three bezants (Okeover); 2, Per pale indented sable and argent (Atlowe); 3, Azure a bend of lozenges argent (Grin).  Crest - In a ducal coronet or a demi-dragon ermine armed gules.

With no quarter for Grin, but with the second quarter for Atlowe named, I went back to Burke and found:

Atloe.  Per pale indented sable and argent.

With no information on the other two quarters or the impaled arms on the sinister side of the shield, I  pulled out my copy of Papworth's Ordinary of British Armorials and found the following information:

Gules a fess between three annulets or.  Petit.  Pettus, Rackheath, Norfolk.  Thomas Petyte.

Argent on a saltire engrailed sable nine annulets or.  Leake, co. Nottingham, co. Derby, and co. Yorkshire.  John de Leyke.  John Lake, Bishop of Bristol, 1084-5, afterwards Chichester.  Sir John Leyke, Sutton in the Dale, co. Derby.  Leeke, Newark-on-Trent, co. Nottingham.

Sable three pheons argent. Apreece, Archer, Egerton, Foster or Forstall, Nichell, Nicholl, Nicholls, Nicolls, O’Shee, Rednes, Rees, Sotham.

My 1939 copy of Burke's Landed Gentry gives the explanation for these arms. Under the entry for Okeover of Okeover, amongst others members of this family it cites a Rowland Okeover (1651-1730) who married "Elizabeth, dau. and heir of Sir Thomas Pettus, Bt., of Blackheath, Norfolk."  Their son, Thomas (1679-1710), married "Catherine, dau. and heir of William Leake, Baron of the Exchequer."  Thomas and Catherine's son, Leake Okeover, 1701-1765, who succeeded his grandfather Rowland, married Mary, daughter of John Nichol.

So, with the earlier quartering for Atloe/Atlow, the arms on the chargers (and presumably the chargers themselves) belong to Leake Okeover of Okeover (1701-1765) and his wife Mary (d. 1764), and represent as follows:  Quarterly Okeover, Atlow, Pettus, and Leake, marshalling Nichol.

As Leake Okeover died without issue, the estates were left to his great nephew Edward Walhouse.  When Edward died also without issue, the estates passed to the heir male, Haughton Farmer Okeover, of Okeover, and thence to his descendants.  In the interim, the arms have dropped the Pettus and Leake quarters (presumably because the current heirs are unrelated to them) but kept the Atlow quartering.

Okeover Hall, the seat of Okeover of Okeover, is in Ashbourne, county Derby.

But what I really don't know is why the National Gallery in Washington, DC couldn't, or didn't, put at least some of that information with the explanatory cards with these plates.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas to Me!

What a great Christmas this is!  I have been able to order, and have received (just in time for Christmas!), two heraldic books that I have been looking forward to for some time now.  

First, the fourth, and final, volume of the Dictionary of British Arms: Medieval Ordinary is now available, and has arrived at my door early last week.  (An ordinary is a collection of coats of arms arranged according to their designs, as opposed to an armorial, which is arranged alphabetically by surname.)

I’ve been looking forward to this final volume for quite a while.  I bought Volume 1 when it was first published in 1992; Volume 2 was acquired in 1996 when it became available; Volume 3 was added to my heraldic bookshelves in 2009; and now I have Volume 4, published this year, to go with them.

The four-volume set is the result of a bequest to the Society of Antiquaries in 1926 for a new edition of Papworth's Ordinary of British Armorials, for many years the primary resource for the identifying English coats of arms.  (Papworth is another book that graces my shelves, and is well-thumbed through.  At the time I bought it in the mid-1980s, it was only available as a fairly expensive book that had to be shipped across the Atlantic from England.  Now, of course, it is possible to read or download a copy in .pdf format from the internet, from either the Internet Archive or Google Books.)

The four volumes of the Dictionary cover English heraldry in the period before the beginning of the heraldic visitations in 1530, so there is a lot of later heraldry that it does not cover. Its publication means that people interested in medieval arms will be able to identify accurately the arms that they may run across. Even more helpful, each volume contains a surname index, making it useful as an armorial, too.

If you are interested in more information about this volume (or the earlier ones), please feel free to drop by the website of publisher Boydell & Brewer (the only relationship I have with this firm is that I’ve given them a fair bit of money over the years) at

Second, the companion book to the Folger Shakespeare Library's recent (July-October 2014) exhibition on Symbols of Honor: Heraldry and Family History in Shakespeare's England has finally been made available to the public.  Not having had the opportunity to visit the exhibition (and the Library's gift shop!), as soon as I saw that it was available, I got on-line and ordered my copy of Heralds and Heraldry in Shakespeare's England, a collection of essays by various authors about aspects of the title subject, edited by Nigel Ramsay.

Alas, I was going to recommend that if you wanted a copy of this wonderful volume for your own heraldic libraries, that you go to the website of the Folger Shakespeare Library (, click on the "Shop" tab at the top of the page, search for "heraldry," and get your own copy from them.  But a quick search of my own to verify those steps came up with three results, none of which are Heralds and Heraldry in Shakespeare's England.  It is possible that it was a comparatively limited run of this title and that sometime after I bought one, they ran out.  Or, hopefully, it's just a temporary problem, and you'll be able to find them there in the near future.

For now, all I can recommend if you would like to learn more about this book, or acquire a copy of your own, to do a search for the title on-line; I did find a few copies available for sale that way (one on eBay; another listing was from a bookseller in New York).

In any case, it looks to be an interesting and informative volume, and I'm looking forward to reading through it over the next little while.

Monday, December 22, 2014

American Colonial Heraldic Embroidery

We very recently had the opportunity to spend an afternoon in Washington, DC (yes, I know that an afternoon is not nearly enough time to see much of anything; but it was the time we had available, and so we had a very short - just three - list of things we wanted to visit).

One of the items on that short list was a painting in the National Gallery that I have wanted to see for a very long time.  And the last time that I was in DC, many years ago, it was unfortunately in a set of four gallery rooms that were temporarily closed to the public, so I missed my chance.  (Made it this time, though!)

Be that as it may, while we were walking through the Gallery to find the room with this particular painting, we saw this little heraldic item:

The explanatory card with this item describes it as follows:

Silk needlework coats of arms, primarily made by young women in Boston, exemplified the girls' accomplishments and education.  This one was probably worked by Martha Williams, daughter of Henry Howell Williams (1768-1828) and Elizabeth Bell (d. 1820).  She left her needle at the bottom, perhaps as a final good-bye to a job well done.  Such coats of arms were often displayed in handsome carved frames.  This elaborate example is attributed to John Welch, who made similar frames for paintings by John Singleton Copley.

The card is a bit confusing: according to, Henry Howell Williams was born in 1736 and died in 1802.  His second child, daughter Martha, was born in 1768 and died in 1828.  His wife, Elizabeth nee Bell, was born in 1740.  Henry H. Williams was the son of Joseph and Martha (Howell) Williams.

A short stint of research in Papworth's Ordinary of British Armorials, Burke's General Armory, and Foster's Grantees of Arms 1687-1898 produced the following information on the two coats of arms contained in this embroidery:

From Papworth:

Or a lion rampant gules on a chief azure two doves rising argent.  Williams, Boston, New England; granted 1767.
Azure a fess between three church bells or.  Bell.

Clearly, either the colors of the silk used for the arms have changed drastically over the years (certainly a possibility), or the colors of silk chosen do not match the blazon of the arms (given the often "bucket shop" nature of the patterns made in Boston for these embroideries, also a possibility).

From Burke:

Williams (Boston, America; granted 1767).  Or a lion rampant gules on a chief azure two doves rising argent.  Crest: An eagle wings expanded proper reposing the dexter foot on a mound or.

If you look carefully at the crest in the embroidery (you may need to click on the picture to open a larger version to do so), you can see that the eagle in the crest does in fact have his dexter foot on a small mound.

And from Foster:

Williams, John, of Boston, alias Salem, New Zealand, 1767, Vol. XI, fol. 224 (Berry).

There was a John Williams (1744-1809), the youngest brother of Henry Howell Williams, who could perhaps be the John Williams mentioned in Foster.  He would, however, only have been 23 at the time of the grant of arms, and I see no indication that he ever went to New Zealand, so I don't know how likely he is to have been the grantee.

Questions of identification and authenticity aside, it was an unexpected pleasure to see this bit of colonial American heraldic art.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Another Heraldic Memorial in Temple Church

Another very impressive heraldic monument in Temple Church is that of Richard Martin (1570-1618), which bears not only a beautifully carved image but is also surmounted by his remarkably simple arms.

Burke’s General Armory, cf. Martin: Martin (Baron Martin, abeyance 1325; William Martin, descended from Robert Martin, temp. Henry I., son of Martin de Tours, a Norman, was summoned to Parliament, 1295).  Argent two bars gules.

Also, Martin (Athelhampson, co. Dorset).  Argent two bars gules.

Burke gives a number of other closely related arms, some with a cadency mark, some with a charged canton, some with charges of various types on the bars, one with the bars engrailed accompanied by a charged chief, and one with three bars.

According to Wikipedia, Richard Martin was a member of a group of intellectual men, poets, and playwrights including John Donne and Ben Jonson who met the first Friday of every month at the Mermaid Tavern in Bread Street.  Martin was "universally well regarded for his warmth of nature, personal beauty, and graceful speech", and was elected "prince of Love" to preside over the Christmas grand revels of the Middle Temple in the winter of 1597/98.

In 1603, Martin was chosen to give a speech welcoming the new King James to London on behalf of the Sheriffs of London and Middlesex as part of the celebrations of the royal entry on 7 May.

He died of the smallpox, on Sunday morning 2 November 1618, and was buried in the Temple Church, London.

Here's a woodcut portrait of him done by Simon de Passe.

He has an entry in the Dictionary of National Biography which gives a lot more details of his life (I especially like the part about Sir John Davies writing a dedicatory sonnet to Martin but then later assaulting him with a cudgel.  :

MARTIN, RICHARD (1570-1618), recorder of London, born at (Merton, Devonshire, in 1570, was the son of William Martin by his wife Anne, daughter of Richard Parker of Sussex. He became a commoner of Broadgates Hall (Pembroke College), Oxford, at Michaelmas 1585, and was 'a noted disputant,' though he left without a degree. He entered the Middle Temple, but was temporarily expelled from the society in February 1591 for a riot at the prohibited festival of the Lord of Misrule (Archæologia, xxi. 109). Sir John Davies (1669-1626) [q. v.] prefaced his 'Orchestra,' published in 1598, with a dedicatory sonnet to Martin, but, provoked it is supposed by Martin's raillery, assaulted him with a cudgel in February 1597-8, while at dinner in the common hall of the Middle Temple. In 1601 Martin was M.P. for Barnstaple (Willis, Notitia Parl.) He was called to the bar in 1602. In 1603, on the progress of James I from Theobalds to London, he made at Stamford Hill 'an eloquent and learned oration' on the king's accession (Nichols, Progresses of James I, i. 113), which was printed (London, 1603, 4to) as 'A Speech delivered to the King's . . . Majestie in the name of the Sheriffes of London and Middlesex' (reprinted in Nichols, op. cit. p. *128f ; cf. Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1803-10, p. 7). From 1604 tilt 1611 he was M.P. for Christchurch. In February 1612-13, on the occasion of the Princess Elizabeth's marriage, he organised a masque at the Middle Temple. Martin was Lent reader of the Temple in the thirteenth year of James I (1615-16), and on 1 Oct. 1618 was chosen recorder of London. He died on 31 Oct, 1618 (cf. Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1811-18, pp. 589, 591). Aubrey says his end was hastened by excessive drinking (but cf. Whitelocke, Liber Famelicus, p. 63). Martin was buried in the Temple Church, and has an alabaster monument on the north wall, representing his figure kneeling beneath a canopy (Malcolm, Londinium Rediv. ii. 292). The monument was repaired in 1683. A portrait of Martin, engraved by Simon Passe in 1620, is in the Ashmolean Museum, and is reproduced in Nichols's 'Progresses of James I,' 1, *128, By his will (in the Prerogative Office of Canterbury) Martin left 5l. to Otterton, and 5l. to Calliton Raleigh, Devonshire, where he had a house. The mayor of Exeter was his executor (Notes and Queries, 3rd ser. i. 168), Martin had a reputation as a wit, and 'there was no person,' says Wood, 'more celebrated for ingenuity . . . none more admired by Selden, Serjeant Hoskins, Ben Jonson, &c., than he.' Jonson dedicated his 'Poetaster' to him, Wood states that Martin was the author of 'Various Poems,' of which, however, he had seen no copy. A verse 'Epistle to Sir Hen. Wotton' by Martin is in 'Coryat's Crudities.'
    [Wood's Athenæ) (Bliss), ii. 260-1 ; Foster's Alumni Oxon. (1600-1714) ; Chamberlain's Letters, temp. Eliz, p. 112; authorities cited above.]

All in all, a remarkable man, who has left us a similarly remarkable monument and a bit of classic heraldry.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Heraldic Memorial in Temple Church

There is an old, and well-maintained (all things considered; after all, during WWII, the roof was bombed in!) heraldic memorial in Temple Church in London.

It is the tomb of Edmund Plowden (d. 1584), who was something of a legend, and even rarer, a Catholic who served Queen Mary I and remained well-known and respected despite his being a Catholic under Queen Elizabeth I, in addition to being, among other thing, the Treasurer of Middle Temple 1561-1566.

You (or at least, those of you who can read Latin) can get some idea of his accomplishments from the plaque which accompanies the memorial.  (For the rest of you for whom, like me, your Latin may be at best be called "rusty," there's more about him below.)

And, of course, there is a finely carved coat of arms with helm, crest, and mantling topping the memorial.

The entry in Burke's General Armory states: Plowden (Plowden, co. Salop; of this ancient family was the learned Serjeant Edmund Plowden, of Plowden, so eminent as a lawyer, temp. Mary I. and Queen Elizabeth).  Azure a fess dancettée, the two upper points terminating in fleurs-de-lis or.  Crest – On a mount vert a buck passant sable attired or.  (Clearly, the stag here has lost both his front legs and his antlers (attires) over the years, as well as having been painted entirely gold instead of black with gold antlers.)

Plowden may be most famous for the phrase, "The case is altered," which was a proverbial expression in the 17th century, as well as the title of a 1609 play by Ben Jonson. As "the case is alter'd, quoth Plowden", it is attached to anecdotes. In one of them, while defending a gentleman charged with hearing Mass, Plowden worked out that the service had been performed by a layman for the sole purpose of informing against those present, and exclaimed, "The case is altered; no priest, no Mass", and thus secured an acquittal.

He also has a very long entry in the Catholic Encyclopedia (which also mentions the story of "the case is altered":

Plowden, EDMUND, b. 1517-8; d. in London, February 6, 1584-5. Son of Humphrey Plowden of Plowden Hall, Shropshire, and Elizabeth his wife; educated at Cambridge, he took no degree. In 1538 he was called to the Middle Temple where he studied law so closely that he became the greatest lawyer of his age, as is testified by Camden, who says that "as he was singularly well learned in the common laws of England, whereof he deserved well by writing, so for integrity of life he was second to no man of his profession" (Annals, 1635, p. 270). He also studied at Oxford for a time, and besides his legal studies, qualified as a surgeon and physician in 1552. On Mary's accession he became one of the council of the Marches of Wales. In 1553 he was elected member of Parliament for Wallingford and in the following year was returned for two constituencies, Reading and Wootten-Bassett; but on January 12, 1554-5, he withdrew from the House, dissatisfied with the proceedings there. Succeeding to the Plowden estates in 1557, he lectured on law at Middle Temple and New Inn; in 1561 he became treasurer of Middle Temple and during his treasurer-ship the fine hall of that inn was begun. His fidelity to the Catholic faith prevented any further promotion under Elizabeth, but it is a family tradition that the queen offered him the Lord Chancellorship on condition of his joining the Anglican Church. He success-fully defended Bishop Bonner against the Anglican Bishop Horne, and helped Catholics by his legal knowledge. On one occasion he was defending a gentleman charged with hearing Mass, and detected that the service had been performed by a layman for the purpose of informing against those who were present, whereon he exclaimed, "The case is altered; no priest, no Mass", and thus secured an acquittal. This incident gave rise to the common legal proverb, "The case is altered, quoth Plowden". He himself was required to give a bond in 1569 to be of good behavior in religious matters for a year, and in 1580 he was delated to the Privy Council for refusing to attend the Anglican service, though no measures seem to have been taken against him. His works were: "Les comentaries ou les reportes de Edmunde Plowden" (London, 1571), often reprinted and translated into English; "Les Quares del Monsieur Plowden" (London, no date), included in some editions of the Reports; "A Treatise on Succession", MSS. preserved among the family papers. Its object was to prove that Mary, Queen of Scots, was not debarred from her right to the English throne by her foreign birth or the will of Henry VIII. Several MSS. legal opinions are preserved in the British Museum and the Cambridge University Libraries. He married Catherine Sheldon of Beoley and by her had three sons and three daughters. There is a portrait effigy on his tomb in the Temple Church, and a bust in the Middle Temple Hall copied from one at Plowden.

Quite a man, and a wonderful heraldic monument to him.  I'm glad that I was able to see (and photograph) it during our trip to London.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Heraldry of a Canon

Another heraldic memorial in the Cloisters at Westminster Abbey is found in the floor, a memorial to John Troutbeck, D.D.

The arms are canting, obviously.  Burke’s General Armory gives us a blazon for the arms under the names Troutbeck and Trowtbeck:

Troutbeck, or Troutback.  Azure three trouts fretted in triangle argent.

Trouwtback.  Azure three trouts fretted in triangle tête-à-la-guise argent.

Trowtbeck.  Azure three trouts fretted argent.

The crest is given by Burke as: A Moor's head couped below the shoulders, and in the centre a fleur-de-lis sable.

The image on the memorial has been badly worn, so I am taking the fleur-de-lis on faith.

The memorial text reads:

John Troutbeck, D.D.
Minor Canon of the [chipped here; could be "this"]
Collegiate Church 18[chipped here]
Precentor 1895 Chaplain-
in-ordinary to the Queen
Born November 12 1832
Died October 11 1899
Elizabeth Forbes his wife
Born January 29 1832
Died March 22 1923

According to Wikipedia, in the Anglican Communion “[a] precentor is a person, usually a clergy member, who is in charge of preparing worship services,” and “[a] Minor Canon is a member of staff on the establishment of a cathedral or a collegiate church. Minor Canons are clergy and take part in the daily services but are not part of the formal Chapter. They are generally more junior clergy, often chosen for their singing ability.”

Wikipedia also notes that his "renown rests on his translation of various continental choral texts including the major works of Bach."

Rev. Dr. John Troutbeck has his own entry at the Westminster Abbey website, so if you are interested you can learn more about him and his life at  (However, that page also says that the crest on the arms is a "wolf's head," which I simply don't see in the photograph of the monument above.  Unless they are mistaking the helm for a wolf's head, or the bits of mantling above the Moor's head for wolf's ears - which I also cannot see - that part of the entry on the Westminster Abbey page is simply incorrect.)

Monday, December 8, 2014

Lunch With Heraldry (or Vice Versa)

While wandering about Westminster in London, we found ourselves feeling a “might peckish” around lunchtime, and were looking for a place to eat when we ran across the following:

Did we have lunch there?  Well, of course we did!  I mean, what heraldry enthusiast could possibly resist?  Certainly not me!  (For the record, it was a pretty decent lunch, too.)

Burke’s General Armory gives us two entries with this coat of arms on it:

Grafton (Shrewsbury, Little Missenden, co. Bucks, co. Chester, and London), Per saltire sable and ermine a lion rampant or.

Grafton (Grafton Flyford, co. Worcester and co. Stafford; Richard Grafton, of Grafton Flyford, “had many possessions in the cos. of Worcester, Stafford, and Salop.”  Robert Grafton, grandson of the above, was “Bayley of ye Citty of Worcester,” temp. Edward IV.)   Per saltire sable and ermine a lion rampant or, armed and langued gules.

I assume that it is the first, with the connection with London, which is the source of the Grafton Arms’ sign with the arms of Grafton.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

An Heraldic Memorial

It is not permitted to take photographs inside Westminster Abbey, but there are plenty of heraldic items to photograph in the Cloisters and the Chapter House there, where cameras are allowed.

One really fine and moving example of such is this memorial to John Kemp, Baronet, in the cloister area.

The text reads:

To the Memory of
Sir Iohn Kemp Bart.
A youth, who to a graceful person added
such purity of manners, sweetness of temper
and pleasantness of conversation
as delights, and indeared him to
all his acquaintance.

Having passed through Westminster School
with improvement and applause
he was about to prosecute his studies
at one of the universities;
and (had it pleased the Divine Being
to have granted him a length of days)
he would probably have reflected
that lustre, upon birth and title,
which many are content to borrow from them.
But death was permitted to blast the hopes
conceived of him, e’er he had attained
the age of 17 years
upon the 16th of Jany. 1771.
This tablet is erected by
two of his young friends
who loved and lament him.

This is a close-up of the arms at the base of the monument:

Burke’s General Armory gives us the following:

Kemp (Gissing, co. Norfolk, bart.).  Gules three garbs and a border engrailed or.  Crest - On a garb or, a pelican vulning herself proper.  Motto - Lucem spero [I hope for light].

Wikipedia in its entry "Kemp Baronets" notes that Sir John Kemp was the 6th Baronet.  After his death, the baronetcy devolved upon his uncle, Sir Benjamin Kemp.

All in all, a very touching monument to a man of promise who died so young, and a nice depiction of heraldry for those of us interested in such things.

Monday, December 1, 2014

I’ve Been (Heraldry) Book Shopping

As some of you may know (and some of you may not), I have a website on which I try to promote myself as a speaker on various aspects of heraldry and genealogy, and where I also offer a number of heraldry-related items.  Among these are remaindered (new but sold at a discount) or gently-used books on heraldry that I have found here or there.  My thinking is, if I can find a book on heraldry at a bookstore that doesn’t advertise their wares on-line (because if they did, you could buy from them directly), and which I can acquire at a sufficiently reasonable price, I will buy them and make them available to you on my website.

Naturally, this search for books on heraldry is not without self-interest.  Despite the belief of some of my friends, I do not already own every heraldry book published, so I stop at bookstores in my travels to see what they might offer that I have not yet obtained for myself.  But I often find books that I already own, but which are available at a low enough price that I think they’re a bargain and would be of interest to others looking to expand their heraldic libraries, so I buy them to make them more widely available.

All this is to say that I’ve been out shopping again, and have added some more books to the website.  If you are interested in seeing what heraldry books I’ve found that are available for sale there, please feel free to drop by the Appleton Studios used books page at

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thanksgiving Heraldry

Well, it's Thanksgiving Day here in the United States, a day set aside to be with friends and family, to stuff ourselves with turkey or ham, watch football, and get ready to fight the crowds and begin our Christmas shopping on "Black Friday."  Unless you're me (and some others), of course, in which case it's a day for remembering the half of those hardy souls who made it through that first winter of 1620-21 and celebrated bringing in the harvest in Plymouth, Massachusetts with three days of celebration and feasting with their Wampanoag friends.

Surprisingly enough, a significant percentage of the passengers on the Mayflower were entitled to bear coats of arms.  Among those so entitled, my personal favorite is the canting arms borne by Capt. Myles Standish (this image from the website of the Myles Standish Society):

"Really?"  I hear you ask.  "And how is this coat with three white roundels a pun on the name Standish?"

It's simple, really; the blazon (found in Burke's General Armory) is Sable three standing dishes argent.  (I suppose the more expected heraldic term "plates" might also work, but really, isn't "standing dishes" more appropriate here?)

So there you have it, a little Thanksgiving Day heraldry.  I hope you enjoy your day, whether you have it off from work or not.

As for me, I'll be thinking about then 14-year-old Mary Chilton, my 10th great-grandmother, who lost both of her parents during that first winter in New England, but who was also a part of that early thanksgiving celebration in the New World.

Happy Thanksgiving Day, everyone!

Monday, November 24, 2014

A (Less Than Ideal) New Grant of Arms

Grays of Westminster, renowned for its exemplary level of customer service (and for the fact that it sells only Nikon cameras), has become the first camera shop in the world to be granted a coat of arms.  Ah, but what a departure from grants of simple, identifiable coats of arms it is.

In an article dated November 3, 2015, PR Newswire discusses the meaning of the symbolism in the grant from the College of Arms this way:

The symbolism within the image [of the crest] depicts a Lion (Gray Levett) amicably communing with the bird of Japan, the green pheasant. The mural crown around the lion's neck stands for responsibility to the public. Its right paw is resting on a camera lens. The cornucopia [in the arms] representing flourishing growth is replenished with flowers that represent various facets of Grays of Westminster and Japan. The tip of the horn has been modelled into an emblematic portcullis for Westminster. The rays of light emanating behind the flowers symbolise the derivation of the word photography, which means photo = light + graphy = writing. The rationale of the badge is an occidental phoenix with two heads for looking both east and west. It bears the motto: Lead in Order to Serve.

Frankly, I think that much of the symbolism is a bit more of a “reach” than I normally expect to see from grants by the College of Arms.  I can only assume that much of the design was pushed by the client, who apparently couldn’t be talked into something simpler and more classic.

Still, I suppose I should be happy that such folks are still going to the College for a grant of arms.  I just wish that the end result was something more appealing than this mash-up.

If you’d like to read more about this grant (and why wouldn’t you, after all?), you can find the article on the website of PR Newswire at, or 
different, but similar, articles on the websites of the magazine Amateur Photographer at and ephotozine at

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Heraldry In My Face

Well, not literally, but still ...  I've said many times that you can find heraldry everywhere.  The other day proved that you don't even have to go looking for it; sometimes, it will find you!\

I was driving to work the other morning, sitting in stop and go rush hour (boy, is that a misnomer!), and there, right in front of me, I saw this:

Now, I know, it's not the clearest picture.  Still, even for being taken on my camera phone during a momentary stop in the traffic flow, you can make out that it is a window decal of this:

That seal, and coat of arms, of the United States Air Force, which was established as its own arm of the armed forces of the U.S. in 1947 (hence the MCMXLVII in the legend around the seal).  Prior to that time, it was the U.S. Army Air Force, a branch of the U.S. Army.

The arms themselves are symbolic of the functions of the Air Force (both offensive and defensive), a winged thunderbolt spouting flames and lightning bolts in all directions in the middle of a clear blue sky above the clouds.  (Or, in blazon, or "herald-speak:" Bleu celeste a thunderbolt or a base nebuly argent.)

Anyway, it was all pretty neat to see bright and early in the morning, and made a nice (temporary) distraction from the "creep and go" traffic on my way to work that morning.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Curses, Foiled Again!

So there I was, standing in St. Peter's Church in Sandwich, England, walking about and photographing just about every bit of heraldry I could see.  And there was plenty to see!

But among the heraldry there, there was a particularly nice hatchment, painted on wooden boards, hanging on the wall.

See?  Isn't that a great piece of heraldic art?  And I thought at the time that it should be reasonably easy to determine the husband and wife of this married pair.  As it turns out, I was only half right.

A search in Papworth's Ordinary of British Armorials quickly gave me the arms on the sinister side of this hatchment (to the right as you look at the picture, the wife's arms): Swinford.  Paly of six argent and sable on a chief gules three boar's heads couped or.  (Though Burke's General Armory gives no more information than Papworth; just the surname and a bare blazon.)

But the husband's arms, on the dexter side (to the left as you look at it), Per fess gules and or three fleurs-de-lis argent and a lion rampant gules, has evaded me.  I can't find it anywhere in Papworth; not under Per fess; not under Three fleurs-de-lys and in base; not under Lion and in chief.

So I have been, at least for now, foiled in my attempt to identify who this hatchment is supposed to memorialize.  If and when I finally track down the husband's surname, I have every expectation that I will be able to determine the specific married couple on the hatchment.

Still and all, though, isn't a beautiful piece of heraldic art?

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Family Memorials, Family Stories, and Family Heraldry

The sheer number of memorials, many of them armorial, in churches in England is almost overwhelming.  We saw very many of which we only had the time to photograph before moving on to the next one, and the one after that, and the one after that, without really being able to read them carefully and truly understand the people they memorialized.

Fortunately, with all of those pictures, we can then come home and at our leisure (or as I am often wont to say, "in my 'copious' free time," read the inscriptions and learn at least a little bit about some of these individuals and families.

One such case is the following memorial, found in St. Peter's Church in Sandwich.  (We were there because that is the church in which my 10th great-grandmother, Mary Chilton, was christened.  And let me tell you, that was a truly special feeling, to be standing there, in the same church, more than 400 years later!  But I digress....)

The full text reads:

In a Vault on the outside of this wall are deposited the remains of Katherine Harvey, youngest daughter of Samuel Harvey Esq. and Katherine his Wife, who on the eve of her intended marriage was suddenly attacked with the alarming symptoms of a rapid decline which closed her prospects of earthly felicity, separated her from all family and endearing connexions and terminated her existence in this World by removing her to a better on the 28th day of May, 1807, aged 23 years.
Likewise were removed into the same vault the remains of Ann Isabella the wife of Lieut. Col. Harvey, only son of Samuel and Katherine Harvey, and daughter of William Pinder Esq. of the Island of Barbadoes, who also died of a decline on the 4th day of Feb 1807, in the 28th year of her age, leaving issue one son.
Let the young and cheerful learn from hence, that sublunary happiness is vain and uncertain, and that only beyond the Grave true joys are to be found.
ALSO to the memory of the above Willm. Maundy Harvey Esq., Lieut. Colonel of the 979th Regiment of Foot, Colonel in the British Army, Brigadier General in the Portuguese Service and a Knight Commander of the Portuguese Order of the Tower and Sword; he died at sea on his passage home from Lisbon on the 10th of June, 1815, aged 38 years, and was buried in the Atlantic Ocean in Lat. 45.37. Long.9.42.

Atop the monument is an urn with a painted coat of arms on it.

Burke's General Armory cites the arms of "Harvey (Eastry, co. Kent; descended from the Harveys, of Eythorne, settled there in the fifteenth century; from the same stock spring the Harveys, of Cowden."  Argent on a chevron embattled gules between three bear's jambes erased and erect ermines as many crescents erminois.  (Sandwich is in county Kent.)

I am not at all certain of the arms that Harvey is quartered with here.  The depiction looks something like Argent three bars per fess gules and sable between ten (cats? lions? dogs?) (statant? passant? courant?) sable.  To this point, I've had no luck identifying these quarters; but Papworth's Ordinary is not comprehensive, and it is also possible that the artist here has made one or more errors in painting the coat.  It does not seem to be Pinder, the only wife's surname mentioned on the memorial, but beyond that, I cannot say more.  Yet.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Entirely Unexpected Heraldry in London

On our first full day in London last August, we had gone by the Houses of Parliament and alongside Westminster Abbey on our way to visit St. Margaret's Church (where members of another branch of the family tree had been christened, married, and buried).  Following that, we headed eastward to see what we could see.  After crossing the Thames at the Lambeth Bridge, we saw a sign that said "Cafe" and went into the Garden Museum, housed in what was formerly the parish church at St. Mary-of-Lambeth.  Following a nice sit down lunch, we looked at the heraldry still on the walls of the former church and then went out to see their garden.  Where we unexpectedly ran across the final resting place of a man known to us, though (sadly) mostly through his portrayal in movies by Charles Laughton and Trevor Howard:

Vice Admiral of the Blue William Bligh, once Commanding Lieutenant of HM Armed Vessel Bounty, of "Mutiny on the Bounty" fame.

He is buried there along with his wife, Elizabeth nee Betham, along with two of their sons (they had six children) and one of their grandsons.

Perhaps not so entirely unexpected is that the finial atop the tomb is a breadfruit (the reason for the voyage of the Bounty was to transplant breadfruit plants from Tahiti to the West Indies in the Caribbean; a later voyage with Bligh as master and commander of HMS Providence was successful in doing so).  Nor is is surprising that the tomb contains the marshaled arms of Bligh and Betham:

Bligh: Azure a griffin segreant or armed and langued gules between three crescents argent.  Betham: Or a chief indented azure and bend gules.  (Well, that's the way the blazon appears in Burke; I would have expected a blazon that placed the bend first, but I can see where that might lead to confusion about whether the bend also was indented.  Blazoning the chief first eliminates that potential muddle.)  The crest is A (gloved? armored?) hand holding a battle-axe.

The inscriptions around the sides and end of the tomb read:

Sacred to the Memory of William Bligh, Esquire, E.R.S. Vice Admiral of the Blue. The celebrated navigator who first transplanted the bread fruit tree from Otaheite to the West Indies. Bravely fought the battles of his country, and died beloved, respected, and lamented on the 7th day of December 1817, aged 64. 
Sacred to the memory of Mrs. Elizabeth Bligh, wife of Rear Admiral Bligh, who died April 15th, 1812 in the 60th year of her age. Her spirit soar'd to Heav'n, the Blest Domain, where virtue only can its meed obtain. All the great duties she perform'd thro' life, those of a child, a parent and a wife. 
In this vault are deposited also the remains of William Bligh and Henry Bligh who died March 21, 1794 aged 1 day.  The sons of M. Elizabeth and Rear Admiral Bligh; and also William Bligh Barker, their grandchild, who died Oct 22, 1805, aged 3 years.
All in all it was a great, and totally unexpected, historic and heraldic find.  And all because we wanted to stop for lunch, never suspecting that we were going to come face to face with Captain Bligh of the Bounty.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

An Heraldic Conundrum

Having finished giving you the heraldic highlights from our week last August in Norway, we now move on to England, where we spent another week.  I am not planning on boring you with all of the pictures of heraldry that I took while there, nor am I planning on reproducing the ones that I do share with you in chronological order.  So expect that I’ll be skipping about London and Kent as the muse strikes me.  You have been warned!

The reasons for our stay in England were two-fold: the first was to play tourist and see some of the sights there we’ve not had the opportunity to visit before now; and the second was to visit some of the places where some of my ancestors lived and worshiped.

As a part of this latter, we spent all day Tuesday doing what I have come to call “Chasing Chiltons.”  On that day we took the train from London to Canterbury, and visited three churches in Kent where my 11th great-grandfather, James Chilton, who sailed to New England on the Mayflower, had had children baptized or buried.  We had a great time doing this, and also saw a number of really great heraldic monuments in them.

One which has caused me a bit of consternation is a large one in the tower of St. Martin’s church in Canterbury.

This is the monument to John Finch (1584-1660), Baron of Fordwich (1640).  It was a short-lived peerage, as he had no sons, so the peerage became extinct upon his death.  (You can see a brief biography of him and his career at,_1st_Baron_Finch)

There are two coats of arms on the monument; quarterly of 20 with crest and supporters at the top of the monument,

and quarterly impaling a coat at the bottom of the monument.

The mystery comes in when the blazons of the arms found in Burke’s Dormant and Extinct Peerages and in Burke’s General Armory give different coats from those found on the monument.

The arms for Baron Finch, of Fordwich, Co. Kent, in Dormant and Extinct Peerages is: Azure, a chevron between three garbs or.  I have no idea where Burke got this blazon; it does not match any other Finch family I could find, the paternal arms on the monument, or the blazon of the arms in the General Armory, which are given as: Quarterly of six: 1st Finch, Argent a chevron between three griffins passant sable; 2nd, Sable a fess between three pelicans vulning themselves or; 3rd, Argent three eagles displayed in bend between two bendlets argent; 4th, Gules a fess checky argent and sable between six crosses patty fitchy argent; 5th Gules two bars ermine; 6th, Or two bendlets gules.  Crest, A griffin as in the arms.  Supporters, dexter, A pegasus argent ducally gorged wings down, the wings and collar or; sinister, A griffin sable ducally gorged or, the wings down.

The arms on the monument’s base are most probably then: Quarterly, 1 and 4, Argent a chevron between three griffins passant sable (Finch), 2 and 3, three lions rampant, two and one, impaling Gules a cross composed of nine lozenges, at each end a fleur-de-lis or (Fotherby).  The baron’s second wife was Mabel Fotherby (misspelled “Fortherby” in Dormant and Extinct Peerages), the daughter of the Very Reverend Charles Fotherby.

The arms on the top of the monument contain all six of the quarters given in the General Armory, plus another fourteen.  The crest and sinister supporter are the same as given in Burke, but the dexter supporter on the monument is a lion, not a pegasus.

So we are left with questions.  The first that comes to my mind is, where does the quarter with the three lions come from?  Papworth’s Ordinary of British Armorials cites a large number of coats consisting of a plain field and three rampant lions.  Knowing the tinctures would help us to narrow that number down, but without knowing them, the task is greater than I currently have the time to pursue.  I’m also going to go out on a limb here and state that I think the lion supporter on the monument (instead of the pegasus) may have some relationship to the quarter with the three lions rampant on it.

For the rest, it would probably be possible to eventually determine the surnames of the other quarters in the shield atop the monument, it’s really more of an academic exercise that I really don’t need to do right now.

Still and all, it was interesting to see this monument, to be able to research a bit about the life and times of John Finch, Baron of Fordwich, and to be reminded once again that heraldry is by no means an exact science, where – to use this example – we have two different renditions of the arms (in a single monument!), and two different blazons of the arms, none of which match.

Isn’t this fun?  I am reminded of something that J.P. Brooke-Little once wrote, in the Introduction to his An Heraldic Alphabet: "You can study heraldry until you are azure ... in the face but inevitably discover, from time to time, that you really are quite vert.... I have found this over and over again but, never forget, herein lies the fun and if heraldry ever ceases to be fun - chuck it."

Monday, November 3, 2014

Found Heraldry on My Birthday

You know how I keep saying that "you can find heraldry everywhere"?  Well, we proved it once again when we went out on my most recent birthday.  (No, I'm not going to tell you which birthday it was, nor am I going to tell you the date.  Let's just say it was this fall, and it's more years than I care to think back over.  At least I'm not like some in my family, who annually celebrate the nth anniversary of their 29th birthday.  So let it go, okay?

Anyway, to get back to the topic at hand:

We had gone to the Dallas Chocolate Festival (oh, yeah, it was totally worth it!), and having gone through and visited with and sampled the wares of all of the chocolatiers and gaining several pounds just from the smell of chocolate filling the room, we had a little time afterwards to wander about the neighborhood and see what we could see.

And, since you can "find heraldry everywhere," we, oh yeah, found some heraldry.

This is the arm-like logo of the Addison, Texas Police Department.  (Though it was styled the "Dallas Chocolate Festival," it was actually held in Addison, a suburb on the north side of Dallas.)  I find it interesting because they include as a part of their logo the seal, and de facto coat of arms, of the State of Texas (a white star on a blue field within a wreath of live oak and laurel proper).

Down the street and around the next corner is a British-style pub, which uses for its sign the crest from the Royal Arms of the United Kingdom.

Neither one may be the best use of heraldry, but, by golly, they are certainly attempts at using heraldry in the way that heraldry was designed to be used: identification.

And we found it just by having a little time and walking down the street to see what we could see.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Norway, Part 10-C: The Posthallen Concluded

Concluding our review of the arms carved on the exterior of the Posthallen in Oslo, here are the fifth and sixth columns of arms, starting at the top of Column 5:


Meløy (maybe.  Meløy comes closest to the depiction on the Posthallen that I've been able to find.)


Arendal (The modern arms of Arendal are on the blue and silver shield.)


Column 6:

Tromsø (probably.  The carved arms on the Posthallen have some details that do not appear in the modern arms of Tromsø, but nothing else I've found matches better.)

I have not found this coat of arms.  I suspect that the modern arms used by the community have been greatly simplified from this depiction or changed completely.


Bodø  (The modern, much simplified arms of Bodø are the golden sun on the red shield here.)


And there you have it!  Six long carved columns, each containing five different coats of arms, for a wonderful - and large! - display of heraldry.