Monday, May 29, 2017

Another Armorial Chair

There was another not-very-comfortable-looking chair in Provand's Lordship in Glasgow with a coat of arms carved into its back. This one, alas, did not have a sign giving any information about it, so we are pretty much left on our own to try to ferret out the arms here.

After going through several of my ordinaries (books that organize coats of arms by the charges on the shield) for Scottish heraldry, I believe that these arms carved here are a variant of Mercer, many of which are in the form of On a fess between three crosses (usually paty, sometimes crosses crosslet, sometimes plain) three roundels.

The Mercer arms that come closest to the arms on this chair were found in An Ordinary of Scottish Arms for Mr. Robert Mercer of Cannaway: Or on a fess between three crosses paty in chief gules and in base a mullet azure three bezants. The Lyon Ordinary, Volume I, gives this same blazon for Mercer of Aldie (1672-7).

The crosses on this chair might more specifically be blazoned as crosses moline, but may very well fall within the more general description of crosses paty (a cross in which the arms widen as they extend out from the center.

So do we have an identification for this coat of arms? I think that we do: Mercer.

But still, I'm not certain that I'd want to sit in this chair for very long, with all that carving digging into my back. I'll stick to my leather recliner, thank you very much!

Thursday, May 25, 2017

A Little Heraldic Something to Sit In

In addition to the carved wooden Royal Arms in our last post, suitable for ornate display, Provand's Lordship has some more practical carved wooden coats of arms.

In particular, they have an oak chair, dated 1659, from Pircaple Castle in Aberdeenshire. The chair bears on it, as a sign notes, the "Lumsden coat of arms."

I have been unable to find this particular coat of arms in my sources. Burke's General Armory does have one coat that is close:

Lumsden (Cushnie, co. Aberdeen). Azure a buckle or between two wolf's heads and an escallop argent. As you can see, there is no buckle on this rendition.

The Lyon Ordinary by Balfour Paul gives these same arms (with the buckle) as belonging to Lumsden of Cushing, first matriculated 1672-7). They are also found in Nisbet's A System of Heraldry (1722) for Alexander Lumsden of Cushnie, and in Burke's Landed Gentry, for Lumsden of Pitcaple (not Pircaple, as the sign noted).

An Ordinary of Scottish Arms From Original Pre-1672 Manuscripts by Eilean and John Malden and William G. Scott notes: Lumsden of Cushnie, Argent a chevron sable between two wolf's heads gules and an escallop or.

Is the coat carved here an error for Lumsden of Cushnie/Cushing? Or Lumsden of Pitcaple? Is it a differenced version of those arms, removing the buckle (or the chevron)? Or is there some other explanation? From what I have been able to find, I cannot make a judgment one way or another.

Except, of course, to note that, really, this chair doesn't look all that comfortable to sit on.

Just sayin'.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Carved Wood Royal Arms

Continuing our tour through Provand's Lordship, the oldest house in Glasgow, we came across the following carved spruce panel with the Royal coat of arms as used in Scotland.

The sign with it states: "This finely carved coat of arms represents King Charles II (1630-1685), and is probably from a parish church." The panel itself dates from 1660-1685 (the years of Charles II's reign), and was donated to the Provand's Lordship Society in 1923.

Frankly, I love the somewhat startled expression on the lion supporter's face with its very round eyes. It reminds me very much of of the tee shirt I bought at King's Chapel in Boston (where my tenth-great grandparents, John and Mary (Chilton) Winslow, are buried). The lion supporter to those arms (the Royal Arms as borne by the Hanoverian Kings of Great Britain) also has very round eyes which, with the eyebrows, give it a similarly-startled expression.

It is always interesting to me to see how different artists have created sometimes wildly different depictions of a coat of arms. And this one of the Royal Arms from Provand's Lordship is a great example of just that. The detailing and three-dimensionality of this carved wooden piece make a wonderful study.

(Nota bene: Delicacy prevents me from discussing, or even bringing to your attention, the somewhat large and detailed pizzles* on both the unicorn and lion supporters.)

* "Pizzled. Used to describe the penis of an animal when of a different tincture from the body." An Heraldic Alphabet, J.P. Brooke-Little, Robson Books, 1996, p. 165.

Friday, May 19, 2017

A New Coat of Arms at Yale University

Just over a year ago, Yale University’s Calhoun College was renamed Grace Hopper College, in honor of Grace Murray Hopper, a Yale alumnus, trailblazing computer scientist, and Rear Admiral in the United States Navy. Yesterday, May 18, 2017, Yale unveiled the newly-designed coat of arms for Grace Hopper College.

The arms are blazoned: Azure semy of plates and billets argent a dolphin embowed or on a chief argent a fess engrailed sable.

Various elements of the arms refer to Rear Admiral Hopper's work in computers (billets and plates looking very much like ones and zeroes), and the dolphin, of course, to her service in the Navy. The blue color of the shield links both to Yale University and to the U.S. Navy. The fess engrailed on the chief is evocative both of waves on the sea and of the Calhoun (the original name of the College) coat of arms, which contain a saltire engrailed.

Three Yale alumni worked to create the coat of arms: John Gambell, University Printer, the person responsible for Yale's visual identity, led the project; Stephen Scher, an art historian with "an extensive knowledge of heraldry"; and Jonathan Corum produced the final artwork. (I do think that the arms are far better than we usually see designed for American educational institutions.)

Additional background can be found in two articles, one on the Yale University website at and the other on the website of the University's newspaper, Yale News, at

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Some More Old Armorial Stained Glass in Provand's Lordship

The Beaumont and Ramsden arms in old stained glass panels were not the only such arms to be found in Provand's Lordship in Glasgow.

Other such panels found there include the related families of Copley and Wortley:

Copley: Argent a cross moline sable.

Sir Francis Wortley, Bt.: Created a baronet in 1611, the title expired with his son, Sir Francis Wortley, the second baronet. Argent on a bend between six martlets gules three bezants. Burke's General Armory gives the crest, not shown in this window, as An eagle’s leg plumed on the thigh with feathers argent.

Leonard Jansen, dated 1681, about whom I have been been unable to find more information. The arms are unusual, and I suspect not English:

Set into a large window there are several armorial panels: across the top, there are four unidentified coats of arms which appear to have been done in black and white, and in another panel a coat of arms which is unnamed but dated 1644: Argent three lozenges gules. Papworth's Ordinary of British Armorials shows these arms borne by: Ducarel, Gargan, de Greystocke, Gernegan, Gramore, Mortlock, Pitcairn, Pychard; and the Dictionary of British Arms assigns them to: Gerugahn, Jernygam, Montacute, Pichard.

Again, a wonderful display of 17th century heraldic art, in such a comparatively fragile medium. How nice it is that it has been saved and is being preserved!

Monday, May 15, 2017

Old Armorial Stained Glass in the Provand’s Lordship, Glasgow

Provand’s Lordship is the oldest house in Glasgow. It is believed to have been built near Glasgow Cathedral in 1471. By the 1600s, it had become a private home. From the 18th through the early 20th centuries, it was used as an inn and housed a wide range of shops on the ground floor, with rented rooms above. In 1906 these shops included: a barber, a grocer, and a confectioner. A small extension to the building housed the City’s hangman for many years.

There are several old armorial stained glass panels in the Provand’s Lordship. Five of them were made in the 17th Century by Bohemian glazier Bernard Dinninckhoff, who worked in York from the late 1500s into the middle 1600s.

These window panels commemorate the marriages of the Beaumont family from Whitley Beaumont in Yorkshire, and were probably made for Sir Richard Beaumont’s hall at Kirkheaton, built in the early 1600s (and thus are contemporaneous with Provand's Lordship). Sir Richard Beaumont of Whitley, the son of Edward Beaumont and Elizabeth Ramsden, was was knighted by James I of England in 1609, and created a baronet on August 15, 1628. Beaumont died unmarried and with his death the baronetcy became extinct.

Among these armorial stained glass panels we find the following:

Beaumont of Whitley, York: The paternal arms are Gules a lion rampant argent langued and armed azure within an orle of crescents argent. Crest: A bull’s head erased quarterly argent and gules [here, orbed and armed or]. Neither Burke’s General Armory nor his Landed Gentry gives the quarterings shown here, only the arms of the name. However, in the panel here (and below) the second quarter is Harrington: Sable a fret argent.

Another panel gives the same Beaumont arms marshaled with those of Ramsden:

Ramsden: Argent on a chevron between three fleurs-de-lis sable three ram’s heads couped at the neck argent [here, armed or]. Crest: An arm in armor couped at the elbow proper holding in the gauntlet a fleur-de-lis sable. The panel here shows both the Beaumont and Ramsden crests.

And finally, there is a panel (much repaired over the years, it appears) with just the Ramsden arms:

It is rare to find stained glass panels nearly 400 years old still extant. How wonderful is it that Glasgow has been able to collect and preserve these armorial works of art!

Thursday, May 11, 2017

A Final Heraldic Stop at the Kelvingrove

As our group left the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, we passed a tall sundial:

Sundials always tend to get my attention in any case; I find their variety to be fascinating. This one attracted me because of the different gnomons (the part that casts a shadow onto the hour lines) on the two different faces here.

Interesting, yes?

But, of course, what really caught my eye was the four coats of arms to be found around the base of the obelisk, three of which we've seen before in Glasgow in other settings:

The Hammermen:

The Masons:

And, of course, the arms of the City of Glasgow:

And then there was this one, which was entirely new to me:

It is clearly not the arms of Glasgow, though it is also clearly related to Glasgow, with the tree and fish with a ring in its mouth. Given the brick wall taking the place of a fess going across the shield, and the two books in chief, along with the motto (meaning "to build and communicate"), I suspect that these may be the arms (whether granted or assumed) of the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum itself, though I have been unable to confirm that anywhere, including on the Museum's website. I could also be completely off base with that suspicion. But the motto would certainly described the Kelvingrove's overarching mission, don't you think?

Anyway, as we headed off down the hill and back into Glasgow proper, I wanted to leave you with this last bit of heraldry from an art gallery and museum with a most eclectic collection!

Monday, May 8, 2017

A Really Nice Armorial "Thank You" Gift

In amongst the very eclectic collections of the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum I found this very nice piece of armorial silver:

It was, as the inscription on it notes:

To James Beaumont Neilson
His Co-Patentees in His Invention
“of the Hot Blast,”
In Testimony of
Esteem for His Worth
Admiration of His Genius
And Gratitude for the Benefits
Conferred By Him
On Themselves and the Country

James Beaumont Neilson (1792-1865) was a Scottish inventor whose patented "hot-blast" process greatly increased the efficiency of smelting iron.

On the other side of the piece is a beautifully mounted, detailed, and engraved coat of arms:

These arms are those, according to Burke's General Armory, of Neilson, Corsock, co. Wigtoun: Azure two hammers in saltire or in the dexter flank a crescent and in base a mullet argent. The crest is: A demi-man holding over his shoulder a hammer all proper, and the motto is Præsto pro patria (I undertake for my country). The crest and motto are also found in Fairbairn’s Crests.

All in all, quite an impressive gift, I must say!

Thursday, May 4, 2017

A Final Piece of Heraldry on the Exterior of the Kelvingrove

At long last, having walked all the way around the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum in Glasgow, just before we go in an entry, we find one more coat of arms.

It is, of course, a variant of the arms of the City of Glasgow, mostly just missing the fish on the shield. The bird is in the leaves of the tree; hard to spot for certain, but there. And it has the fish supporters, so it may be they thought a third fish, on the shield, was overkill.

Next time, we'll start poking around inside to see what heraldry we may find there.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Heraldry on the Kelvingrove Exterior - Part 4

In the final leg of our trip around the exterior of the Kelvingrove, we find the following eight civic coats of arms. As before, supplemental images of the arms were found on the Heraldry of the World website.



Ross. The supplemental arms are those of Ross and Cromarty, so clearly after a merger of two (or more) different councils. Still, it's easy to figure out which part of the shield is Ross:




Sutherland. Here, too, the supplemental shield shows a merger with other civic bodies, but the three mullets of Sutherland are clear:

Wigton. There is some confusion in the sources I saw as to whether it is Wigton or Wigtown. Not that it really matters either way. And you can see that the shield is taken pretty much wholesale from an early seal used by the town:

This nearly concludes our heraldic tour around the exterior the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum. Next time, one last piece of heraldic decoration on the outside before we go look at a little heraldry on the inside.