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.)


  1. You might be interested to see that the arms of the Catholic Diocese of Aberdeen, Scotland are strikingly similar.

  2. Anne - Merci. Je le fais trop! [Thank you. I do too!]

    Andrew - Indeed it is! In addition to Trowtbeck/Troutbeck, the English families of Bernbach and Foreman also use this motif, and I am certain I have seen its use in heraldry on the Continent, too.