Monday, September 28, 2015

A (Heraldically-Related) Tempest in Hong Kong

There is apparently a crisis of academic freedom at Hong Kong University.  In a recent (September 25, 2015) article about this crisis on the website of Hong Kong Free Press, writer Alvin Y.H. Cheung talks about what the University should stand for, and alludes to HKU's coat of arms to help make his point.

As he notes, "HKU's coat of arms - like all heraldry - is laden with symbolism."  He then discusses the shield, its colors and charges, and then its mottos (one on the shield in Chinese, the other on the ribbon below the shield in Latin), supporters, and crest, all as pointing to a fusion of East and West.

I find that his next to last paragraph is especially strong:

Perhaps the most important lesson to take from HKU's heraldry is that it represents a connection to university values and a wider tradition of learning. The very idea of a university - a self-governing body of teachers and students - shares its origins with heraldry, in Medieval Europe. The current debate over HKU's institutional autonomy - and the increasingly-overt signs of political interference with the process of appointments - represents a direct attack on all of the values embodied in the university coat of arms.

All in all, it's an interesting article, bringing to a 21st Century discussion of academic freedom an appreciation of a centuries old Western heraldic tradition and how the latter may apply to the former.

You can read the entire article on-line at

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Some (More) Nice Armorial Silver

This time its a pair of George III ambassadorial silver plates, hallmarked 1813 by silversmith Paul Storr for Charles William Stewart, 1st Baron Stewart.

The plates are engraved with the Royal arms ...

and the arms of Lord Stewart ...

and were created on the occasion of his appointment as ambassador at Vienna on August 27, 1814.  The blazon for this Quarterly: 1st and 4th, Or a bend compony argent and azure between two lions rampant gules (Stewart); 2nd and 3rd, Azure [though the hatching appears to show gules] a saltire argent (Scotland), overall in fess point a crescent for difference. 

You can learn more about both this fine pair of plates and their owner Lord Stewart (later Lord Vane; he changed his name by Royal License following his marriage to his second wife, Frances Vane-Tempest, in order to secure her inheritance), along with a formal portrait of the man known by his admirers as "Fighting Charlie" and by his detractors as the "Golden Peacock," on the myfamilysilver blog at

And, of course, if you would like to own these plates yourself (they're listed at a mere £5,500), you can find more information, and add them to your cart, at

Monday, September 21, 2015

What Is It With Davids and Heraldry?

Is there something about the genetic makeup of people named David that brings them to an interest in heraldry?  Is there something about being named David that causes one to develop a liking for coats of arms?

Those are probably questions without any real answers, except maybe "no."  I don't know of anything about people whose given name is David which would lead them into this somewhat arcane field as an interest.

What brought on this particular musing was a recent (September 16, 2015) article on about Peterborough, Ontario, Canada resident David Rumball.  I know David from his membership and participation in the Royal Heraldry Society of Canada, of which I am also a member.  However, I don't happen to live in Canada, so he gets to be a lot more active in the Society than I do.  Indeed, he just stepped down this year after a two-year tenure as the RHSC President.

I especially remember one of the annual RHSC meetings which I attended where Mr. Rumball, David Cvet (another past RHSC President) and I billed ourselves as "The Three Davids."  Ah, good times!

Anyway, it's a really nice article about a really great guy who just happens to share a given name and an interest in heraldry with little ol' me.  (That's a picture of him with the grant of his coat of arms from the Canadian Heraldic Authority above.)  If you'd like to know more about David Rumball, you can read the entire biographical article at

Thursday, September 17, 2015

A Newly-Added Section of Links

In an effort to keep this blog as a hopefully relevant resource for heraldry enthusiasts, and seeing the tremendous response to a recent post about an old movie clip of the College of Arms, I have added a new section to the Links down the left-hand side of the blog page, entitled "Movie Clips About Heraldry."

At this point, they're all YouTube clips of varying length (the longest one is over half an hour, but most of them are between three and six minutes long) having to do with one or another aspect (or sometimes, several aspects) of heraldry.  Some feature acknowledged experts in the field (one is bits of a longer interview with Peter O'Donoghue when he was Bluemantle Pursuivant at the College of Arms; he has since become York Herald there), while others are done by enthusiastic amateurs. In any case, the ones I have added to this section are among the best that I have found to date.  (There were some that I thought not good enough to include.)  As I run across more, I will add them to this set of links. And, of course, if you know of a particularly good one that's available on-line, let me know and I will include it as well.

I hope that you find this set of links to movie clips about heraldry to be useful!

Monday, September 14, 2015

Nice Trip, If You Can Afford It

The headline reads:

Custom-made Christian Louboutin shoes, a coat of arms and a giant doll's house modelled after your own home: The outrageous gifts on a £163,000 'bespoke-your-life tour' of Europe and Hurlington Travel are offering a first of its kind "bespoke your life" eighteen night tour of eight major European cities, with some seriously top of the line offerings, for one lucky couple who can afford the trip.

The one stop in all of their offerings that caught my eye, of course, was "In London, the couple will stay at The Savoy and visit the Earl Marshal’s Court to apply for the design and creation of their own coat of arms."

Mind you, if you don't want to do the whole trip, the College of Arms will grant an individual coat of arms for only £5,550 (or, I suspect, £11,100 for a couple), which is a lot less than the £163,000 (US$250,000) for the whole trip.  But then, of course, you'd be missing out on such things as the luxury accommodations, the one-of-a-kind gown by Givenchy, and the doll house based on your own home.

If you think that you'd like to learn more about this "bespoke your life" trip before just rushing out willy-nilly to sign up for it, you can read the article about it on the Travel News page of at

But don't say I didn't warn you about the price!

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Heraldic Shields Created by Boy Scouts

A nicely-illustrated article from last Sunday, September 6, on the website of East Grinstead Online discusses the carved and painted shields on the pew ends at St. Swithun's Church there.

According to the article, a 1946 Guide to St. Swithun's says: "Shields of old-time Sussex families, carved by East Grinstead Boy Scouts, are fixed to the pew ends."  The 1975 Guide adds that the shields were the work of the Boy Scouts in the 1930s under Dr. Spencer Lewis Walker.

Dr. Walker was a local GP who began his practice in East Grinstead in 1910 and became the Scoutmaster of the newly-formed Boy Scouts until 1947.  He died in 1967 at the age of 89.

The article goes on to discuss some of the rules of heraldry, and a little more about the history of the shields in St. Swithun's.

You can see the whole article, with additional photographs, on the website of East Grinstead Online at

What a great way to commemorate the local armigerous families there!

Monday, September 7, 2015

The Next Time You Visit France

Something to keep in mind the next time you go to visit France -- I ran across an article about a Museum of Heraldry in the little town of St-Jean-de-Valériscle, NNW of Nimes (from whence comes our "denim," or "serge de Nimes") and NW of Avignon.

Regis Germain has created a collection of 1,200 depictions of coats of arms for the Museum, which is open to the public Sunday through Thursday of each week, with guided tours several times each of those days.

So if you are ever in the area, you might decide to stop by and take a look at the massive displays of heraldry there.

You can find an article (in French) about the Museum of Heraldry and a bit of its history on the website of Midi Libre at,1198480.php

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Some Results of Research on Arms on Heraldic Shirt

Well, I've had the time to do some research on the latest of my heraldic shirt acquisitions.

The results were surprisingly better than I had expected.  But, to report things in order:

All of the coronets on these arms were that of an English earl.  No dukes, no marquesses, no viscounts, no barons.  My immediate thought was that they were probably spurious.

The coats of arms themselves are not really, as I had initially suspected, entirely bogus.  They do appear to be examples of actual arms, though in many cases the tinctures are changed (for example, one of the coats, labeled Landaff, would be blazoned Gules a lion rampant sable; a search on the internet for the Welsh motto with it came up with a coat of arms for Williams, Sable a lion rampant sable), and the text underneath them appears to refer to a place rather than the surname of the armiger.  And, of course, the coronet and supporters in many cases are inappropriate to the rank of the armiger.  Still, there was success in tracking some of them down.  To keep from boring you too much, I will give only a couple more examples.

One of the coats, labeled with what looks like the name Dabon or Badon, would be blazoned Argent on a bend azure three escallops argent.  (Well, except for a few places on the shirt, where the field was Gules, leading initially to some confusion on my part.  You can see both versions on the picture of the shirt above, one just below the collar buttonhole, and the other on the collar above and to the right.)  I could not find that name in Burke's General Armory.  The motto with the arms on the shirt, Virtus probata florebit (Proved virtue will flourish), was identified by Fairbairn's Crests as that of Bernard and Bernard-Beamish.  Looking up Bernard in Burke's, I found "Bernard (Earl of Bandon). Ar[gent] on a bend az[ure] three escallops of the field.  Crest - A demi lion ar[gent] holding a snake p[ro]p[e]r.  Supporters - Dexter, a stag; sinister, an unicorn, both ar[gent] each ducally gorged and chained or. Motto - Virtus probata florebit."  On the shirt the unicorn is lacking its horn (though it has its horn in the color on color depiction), and the stag is proper, or brown, but everything else matches up.

In another case, the arms on the shirt labeled Donoughnare or Donoughnore (as near as I can make out the small script), which I would blazon as Per pale gules and azure, a lion rampant argent within an orle of eight crosses (crosslet/bottony) or, I recognized from my earlier work on The Gore Roll ( as the arms of Hutchinson, Per pale gules and azure a lion argent within an orle of ten crosses crosslet or.

And sure enough, the arms appear in Burke under Hutchinson as Per pale gules and azure a lion rampant argent between eight crosses crosslet or.  (The number of crosses around the lion varies a bit; the seal used by the Hutchinsons in 18th Century Boston has only seven crosses crosslet around the lion.)  The crest on the arms on the shirt and on the Hutchinson arms is a cockatrice.  The supporters on the shirt (which do not appear on the Hutchinson arms in any other source) are a pair of cockatrices.

The motto with the arms on the shirt, Fortiter gerit crucem (He bears the cross bravely) is that of Allan of Blackwell Grange per Burke's Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Landed Gentry, while Fairbairn ascribes it to: Allan, Hely-Hutchinson, Hutchinson, Lawrence, M'Hutcheon, and Trittou.

So, despite the attribution on the shirt, and the addition of the coronet and supporters, the coat of arms itself, with the crest and motto, would pretty clearly belong to Hutchinson.

Not huge results for an hour or so of poring through the reference books (and pulling out the magnifying glass to try to read the names and mottos on the shirt; apparently my eyes aren't any younger than the rest of me!), but still an interesting search on this new heraldic acquisition.