The alphabet is one set of arbitrary symbols. The figures of heraldry are another set of arbitrary symbols. In the fourteenth century every gentleman knew one: in the twentieth century every gentleman knows the other. The first gentleman was just precisely as ignorant for not knowing that c-a-t spells "cat," as the second gentleman is for not knowing that a St. Andrew's Cross is called a cross saltire, or that vert on gules is bad heraldry. -- G.K. Chesterson
I'm an Academic Herald. I'm not a "real" herald; I don't register people's coats of arms (though I can certainly suggest designs for those who might be interested). What I do is study, research, teach, and write about heraldry. And I like to share what I have learned about heraldry, hence this blog. I hope that you'll find it informative, interesting at least occasionally, and worth your time to come back. Got a question? Comments? Feel free to let me know. I'd love to hear from you. You can find my contact information in my Profile.
Over this past weekend the regional airport nearby hosted this year's "Wings Over Dallas" airshow. Because it was close, and because I've long had a love of World War II aircraft, and since the folks putting it on - the Commemorative Air Force* - were advertising a whole bunch of these flying antiques, including a B-29, a B-17, a P-51, a C-47, two B-25s, 2 A-26s, an F4U Corsair, a P-40, a P-39, and a P-63, among others, as well as a chance to hear from 101-year-old Dick Cole, the sole remaining Doolittle Raider, well of course, we simply had to go.
Naturally, there was a whole lot of stuff for sale, which for the most part I valiantly resisted. But there was one item that I concluded I just had to bring home with me, because it had a shield on it. So the following baseball cap is not a part of "heraldic caps" collection.
This close-up shows the shield a little better.
And here's a nicely detailed graphic of the CAF's logo that I pulled off the internet.
As you can see, it technically isn't "landscape" heraldry, as there is not a bit of land in sight. Hence my question in the title: "Is there such a thing as 'skyscape heraldry'?"
Based on this shield, I think the answer is going to have to be "yes, Virginia, there is such a thing as skyscape heraldry."
The shield in the on-line logo (but not on the hat) appears to be hatched as well as partially colored. If pressed, I would blazon it as Azure a P-38 Lightning, an F4U Corsair, and a P-40 Warhawk, a gore sinister representing clouds [could we call it a "gore sinister of clouds"? Normally, "nebuly" represents clouds, but this isn't nebuly, it's just clouds) all argent, and on a chief azure the letters CAF also argent.
Yes, I know that this makes the chief "color on color" (indeed, it is "azure on azure," thus really reducing the identifiability of the charge). Still, if we were to just go by the cap, the planes and outline of the clouds are "silver on argent," which is no better. In the end, I think we're just going to have to go with "faux heraldry" and leave it at that.
Nonetheless, it's a new cap with a shield on it, and I'm keeping it in my collection of heraldic caps, and am even planning on wearing it periodically!
* Founded in the mid-1950s, the organization used to be the "Confederate Air Force," but they decided that the name (which began as a tongue in cheek joke) was confusing in that it didn't accurately reflect the purpose of the organization, and it was hindering their fundraising efforts. On January 1, 2002, they officially changed the first word to the more appropriate "Commemorative."
I know, I know! I promised you heraldic stained glass, and here I am, still telling you about heraldic brass in Glasgow Cathedral. But, really, I thought I was ready to move on to the windows, but I keep finding these brasses in amongst my photographs, and truly, there's just a few of them, and there are so very many stained glass arms that it just seems easier to me to try to finish up the heraldic brasses before tackling the mountain of armorial glass. So there you have my only excuse, in a nutshell.
Anyway, here's a nice armorial brass with two crests and mottos.
The memorial is to William Colquhoun Stirling of Law and Edinbarnet (b. 17 April 1773; d. 20 January 1862), and to his daughter Helen Jean Stirling, his daughter Judith Colquhoun Stirling (wife of George Innes), and finally to his wife, Helen (Calder) Stirling.
The crests and mottos can be seen in detail here:
The crest to dexter (left) is A lion's jambe erased holding an oak branch fructed proper, with the motto Hic fidus et robore (He is faithful and courageous), for Stirling.
The crest to sinister (right) is A stag's head erased proper, with the motto Se je puis (If I can), for Colquhoun. (Is it just me, or does that stag's head have a "deer in the headlights" look to it? You should be able to click on the image to get a larger version that shows it more clearly.)
The Chiefs of Colquhoun and Their Country by William Fraser (1869) says only: "William Colquhoun Stirling of Law and Edinbarnet. He was a surgeon in the service of the East India Company. He married Helen, youngest daughter of Archibald Calder, a banker in Glasgow."
The Stirling Genealogy (1909) adds a little more information, in addition to hyphenating the surname as Colquhoun-Stirling: "He was for some time surgeon in the service of the East Indian Company. On July 23, 1818, he was served heir of Mrs. Agnes Hamilton or Stirling. He married Helen, daughter of Archibald Calder, banker of Glasgow, lineal descendant of the Calders of Inchbreck. William died in January, 1842, and was succeeded by his son [William Colquhoun-Stirling of Law]."
Not all of the armorial memorials are as large, impressive, or expensive as some that I've shared with you previously. Here are a couple of comparatively small, but still armorial, memorial brasses that are found in the Cathedral in Glasgow.
The first one is a small shield-shaped brass "Sacred to the Memory of George Laurie, Died 2nd Jan. 1821.
As you can see, though not large enough for his full coat of arms, it bears his crest (Two branches of laurel in saltire proper) and motto, Virtus semper viridis (Virtue is always flourishing).
I have, alas, not been able to find any additional information about Mr. Laurie. (He is not, for example, listed in my copy of the Dictionary of National Biography, and a search on-line has turned up nothing, either.)
The other small brass armorial memorial is dedicated to "Robert Cowan, M.D., Professor of Medical Jurisprudence in the University of Glasgow, Born, 24th March, 1796, Died 9th October, 1841." The memorial is also dated (presumably its date of erection) "1854."
The small, shield-shaped brass is also engraved with his crest, An escallop or, and with his motto, Sic itur in altum (Thus they go into the deep).
Dr. Cowan was appointed in 1839 to the Chair in Forensic Medicine founded by the Queen that year at the University of Glasgow, having graduated M.D. from the University in 1824 and been both Surgeon (1824-1830) and Physician (1837) to the Glasgow Royal Infirmary. He died after only two years' tenure in the Chair.
Before I start sharing some of the individual coats of arms that abound in the stained glass in the Glasgow Cathedral, I thought I'd give you an overview of the abundance of heraldic stained glass that exists in the Cathedral. The following are not exhaustive, but give you a good sampling of the armorial windows that are there:
I'll begin sharing some of my favorite individual coats of arms from the cathedral later, but isn't this sampling of the windows there a great start?
It's not quite as obvious on this memorial in the Glasgow Cathedral (to another military man) that it displays his coat of arms, but really, it is there!
I mean, sure, you can see the helm, mantling, and crest easily enough, but a coat of arms?
This memorial is dedicated to Robert Burn Anderson, Lieutenant in the 1st Bombay Fusiliers and later Adjutant in Fane's Horse, the second son of John Anderson, a merchant of Glasgow, born on October 14, 1833, and who died September 27, 1860 (so a fortnight short of his 27th birthday), in Peking (now Beijing), China, "a victim to the cruelty of a barbarous Foe." He had been "Treacherously taken prisoner by the Chinese, when in command of an escort, and under the protection of a flag of truce." His body was buried in the Russian Cemetery in Peking.
Here is the armorial portion of the monument. You can make out that the helm (and if you look closely, the mantling) has a border around its base of alternating mullets and crescents.
The crest atop the helm is a beautifully cast and highly detailed oak tree.
And here, almost hidden away beneath the mantling, sword and scabbard, gauntlets, and hero's laurel, is the shield.
It appears to be a variant of many Anderson arms in Scotland. The closest I found was in An Ordinary of Arms by Balfour Paul (often referred to as the Lyon Ordinary I), entry 4952, Anderson of Dowhill (1672-7): Argent a saltire engrailed between a crescent in chief and three mullets in the flanks and base gules within a bordure azure. (Balfour Paul gives no crests or mottos; Burke's General Armory has Azure a saltire engrailed sable beween a crescent in chief two mullets in flank and a boar's head erased gules in base with the crest An oak tree proper and the motto Stand sure for Sir Alexander Anderson, Lord Provost of Aberdeen, 1672.
Because of the way the shield is placed and partially covered, the best that I can make out for a blazon of these arms is Argent a saltire engrailed sable between [well, if you look very closely you can see that there is a mullet in each of the flanks] a bordure azure semy of mullets and crescents pendent alternating [argent?]. (The edging of the helmet and the mantling is Azure semy of mullets and crescents - not pendent - alternating.] So most likely a differenced version - with mullets and crescents on the bordure - of Anderson of Dowhill, but without being able to see the remainder of the charges around the saltire, I can't confirm this.
In any event, it's a beautifully rendered monument with highly detailed cast pieces and clear hatching on the shield and helmet, with a thistle and rose motif on the lower portion of the helm and thistles on the scabbard.
Another, and in some ways similar, heraldic monument to a military man is this one, erected to the memory of Lieutenant-Colonel Henry Cadogan, of the 71st Glasgow Regiment, who fell at the age of 33 in the Battle of Vittoria, June 21, 1815.
The arms here, too, are displayed in front of a trophy.
Burke's General Armory blazons the arms: Quarterly, 1st and 4th, Gules a lion rampant reguardant argent; 2nd and 3rd, Argent three boar's heads couped sable. The crest is: Out of a ducal coronet or a dragon's head vert. The motto is: Qui invidet minor est (He that envies is less).
I don't know how much I personally agree that he "gloriously fell" that day (I don't find all that much "glorious" about war and death in battle), but as a memorial to his bravery and his service (note the shamrocks and roses, for Scotland and England, at the base of the shield and appearing to issue from the motto scroll), this one is, I think, very fitting.
We spent literally hours in the Cathedral in Glasgow, there was so much to see (and so much of it heraldic!). I doubt that I am going to be able to give you what I would term a "complete tour" of the heraldry in Glasgow Cathedral, but I am going to share some that caught my attention, and I hope that you will find it of some interest, too.
The first example is a monument erected in 1829 by his brother officers to the memory of Lieutenant John Stirling of the Bombay Army, who fell the year before (age 23) while leading an assault on the Fort of Dundhootee, India.
He was the son of William Stirling, Esq., a Glasgow merchant.
The coat of arms (lacking a crest; it appears to have gone missing in the ensuing years, as I think I can see a small attachment for it, and the torse is quite visible) appears on the upper part of the monument in front of what is often termed a "trophy": a display of flags, swords, rifles, pistols, daggers or bayonets, trumpets, spears, cannon barrels, cannon ramrod, and cannonballs. Burke's General Armory gives for Stirling of Glasgow: Argent on a bend sable three buckles or all within a bordure sable. (The arms here are further differenced by eight crescents on the bordure, presumably argent.) Burke gives the crest as: A hart's head azure, and the motto (as above) Gang forward.
It is, all in all, a very touching tribute to a very young man done with a level of quality which demonstrates the esteem to which he must have been held.
The Cathedral in Glasgow is a wealth of heraldry: stained glass, wood, stone, brass, and more. In the next several posts, I'll be sharing some of these heraldic treasures with you, but I thought I'd start with some of the Royal heraldry depicted there.
First, here's a bit of an overview of where these Royal shields were placed:
Way up high along the sides of the nave at the ceiling! I tried to get photographs of each shield, generally taking two pictures of each one so that I would have at least one of each that was in focus and not blurred by movement, but even then I ended up with several which were unusable.
Still, those that did come out well give you a good idea of the skill and detail that went into the creation of this Royal heraldry, and the fact that they are not just painted, but have were done with depth, especially where they are so high up that it's hard to see that from the floor of the nave, speaks volumes about the care of the artists.
Continuing our heraldic tour of Glasgow, Scotland (and, not wanting to bore you with a surfeit, there's a lot that I'm not including in these posts), we come once again to one of my frustrations as a heraldry enthusiast: empty shields and cartouches.
There's a lot of heraldry to be found in Glasgow. Sadly, there's also a lot of non-heraldry to be found there, as well. Blank shields can be found all over the central parts of the City. Which is a bit of a shame, really, since some of them were ornately carved and otherwise decorated. It's like having a really nice picture frame, but not mounting a picture or painting in it. So, as I have before, I found myself wishing I had a ladder and cans of paint, so I could sneak out late at night and paint coats of arms on some of these shields. But, no ladder, no paint, and no desire to be arrested for vandalism, so I didn't. Thus I leave you with the following selection of (still empty) shields:
See what I mean? Lavishly decorated, surrounded by ornate, detailed carving. Blank shield.