Monday, October 30, 2017

Is It Heraldry or Not?

On the exterior of the vault for the Duddingston family on the south side of the chancel is an old plaque inset into the wall.

It's worn, as you would expect from something that's been left out in the Scottish weather for all of these years (look so good you would not, hmm?), but much of it remains clear. I just can't decide if it's really heraldry or not.

There's a rampant lion in the center which may or may not be placed on a shield. (You can click on the image above to see a larger, more detailed version.)

The arms of Dundas of Duddingston (to give this branch of the family its full name) were Argent a lion rampant with a heart between its paws gules. Their crest (not shown on this plaque) were A dexter hand holding a star azure, and their motto Essayez (Try).

The plaque is sufficiently worn that I cannot tell if there is (or is supposed to be) a heart between the lion's forepaws, but there is certainly sufficient room for one there. Presumably all of the initials carved onto (and into) the plaque are the initial of some of the family members buried in the vault at the church.

I'm not sure that it's actually a coat of arms, but it's almost certainly heraldic.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Heraldry at Another Old Scottish Church

The next stop on our heraldic tour around Scotland was the church at Abercorn in West Lothian.

It's an interesting church - and I don't mean just heraldically - with parts of the building dating from the 12th Century, and with major renovations having been done in the late 1800s.

Of course, we couldn't even get inside before we started seeing some heraldry there.

Over against one of the walls surrounding the churchyard was this enclosure, from the looks of it used now mostly for storage of tools and materials. But over the doorway leading into it, there is a very nice armorial plaque, that looks to be cast metal.

The plaque is of a crest, A dexter arm erect couped below the elbow grasping a crescent, with the motto above it, Sans tache (Without stain). The only family I found that used both this crest and motto is that of Napier, which bore the arms Argent a saltire engrailed between four roses gules barbed vert. If this identification is correct, then the blazon with tinctures for the crest is A dexter arm erect couped below the elbow proper grasping a crescent argent.

There is an inscription below the crest, but I can only partially make it out, and it does not obviously relate to Napier at all:

M ? R(?) C/G(?) E ? S T O N
H A L L(?)

As you can see, I'm not entirely certain of the second L in HALL, but that's what it looks like to me.

If it is, indeed, "Hall," then presumably it is the home of this branch of the Napier family.

If it is not, well then I'm just shooting in the dark and coming up with nothing.

In any event, though, it's an interesting heraldic display in a not-very-common medium (I've mostly seen arms in cast iron for firebacks), and it's a good start to our visit to this heraldically interesting Scottish church.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Another Serendipitous Semi-Heraldic Sighting

So there I was, just sittin' at the airport between the cities of Midland and Odessa, Texas, waiting for my flight home after a long day of presentations to the Permian Basin Genealogy Society there.

If you've been reading this blog for any length of time, then you know that I often have said that, "You can find heraldry everywhere!" And it proved to be true once again.

There on the wall was a poster for one of the local oil industry businesses there (west Texas has a plethora of oil industry businesses, owing to the huge oilfield it sits atop), Patriot Premium Threading Services.

But, of course, what really caught my eye (and yours, too, already, I suspect) is the company's logo, a shield based on the coat of arms of the United States of America (though I don't know that the designer knew that's where the design comes from):

Unsurprisingly, there are some differences between this logo and the arms of the U.S. The latter are blazoned Paly of thirteen argent and gules a chief azure. Here the paly is of the correct number (13), but the tinctures are reversed, being here gules and argent, and they've added an eagle's head (presumably from the bald eagle supporter of the arms of the U.S., but I have also noticed a passing similarity to the logo of the New England Patriots football team. See the image below) and the word "Patriot" to the chief, while adding the rest of the name of the company below the chief.

Finally, here's a late 18th Century depiction of the arms of the U.S. for comparison:

Still, I suppose, if you're going to have the word "patriot" in your company's name, you might as well go ahead and use elements from the arms of the nation, too. How else would anyone know that you're a patriot, if you didn't, right?

Still, it was fun to see something heraldic in an unexpected place, and it helped make the wait for my plane pass a little faster.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

A Final Heraldic Memorial in Dalmeny, Scotland

Our final heraldic stop at St. Cuthbert's Church in Dalmeny, Scotland, is the impressive memorial to Adam Alexander Duncan Dundas, 27th Chief of Dundas, Commander (retired) of the Royal Navy, 1822-1904, and his wife, Charlotte Maria, 1831-1905, daughter of Rear Admiral Charles Hope.

You can see why I felt it necessary to include his service in the Royal Navy and his wife's father in the description above, given the broken mast, broken chain, and anchor fouled with a broken rope which are the greater part of this stone memorial, all of which are clear and obvious allusions of naval service.

More information about the Dundas family in general, and Adam Dundas and his family in particular, including a portrait of him in his naval uniform, can be found on-line on the Dundas Family website at

Of course, the part that most attracted my eye (well, after all the naval bits) was the achievement of arms at the base of the memorial.

Burke's General Armory (the stem arms do not appear in Sir James Balfour Paul's An Ordinary of Arms, though the arms of a number of cadet branches do appear there, mostly differenced with a bordure, either plain - e.g., gules, ermine, compony - or "bumpity" - e.g., engrailed) gives the following entry for Dundas, of Dundas, co. Linlithgow:

Argent a lion rampant gules. Crest - A lion's head full-faced [e.g., a leopard's face, or a lion's head cabossed] looking out of an oak bush proper. Supporters - Two lions gules, and below the shield, for a compartment, a salamander in flames of fire proper. Motto - Essayez ("Try").

The salamander "compartment" is easily seen even in the smaller image, but you really have to go to the larger image to see the surrounding flames. And I still cannot find the oak bush from which the leopard's face is supposed to be showing.

The scroll below the supporters and compartment is worn (well, it is over 100 years old, after all!), but says "Dundas of Dundas." (The second "Dundas" is very difficult to make out.)

Taken as a whole, it's a wonderful memorial to this couple and their Royal Navy connections.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Same Arms, Different Media

There are two displays of the same coat of arms at St. Cuthbert's Church in Dalmeny, Scotland.

The display in the interior of St. Cuthbert's is another work of embroidery, and bears the legend "Stewart of Craigiehall and Newhalls."

Burke's General Armory blazons the arms of Stewart of Craigiehall, co. Linlithgow (1672) Quarterly: 1 and 4, Or a fess checky azure and argent in chief three buckles azure; 2 and 3, Ermine on a fess sable three crescents argent (for Craigie).

Sir James Balfour Paul's An Ordinary of Arms blazons Stewart of Newhalls (1672-7) as: Quarterly: 1 and 4, Or a fess checky azure and argent in chief three buckles azure; 2 and 3, Ermine on a fess sable three crescents argent.

The display of these arms on outside the south door of the church adorn the tomb of several members of the family of "Stewart of Newhals": John Stewart of Newhals, d. 1670; Alexander Stewart of Newhals, d. 1684; John Stuart of Newhalls, d. 1730; and Archibald Stewart, d. 1792; in addition to their spouses.

The or field and azure checks of the fess are hatched, and of course ermine is easy to make out, but the remainder of the tinctures of the shield are not hatched. (Well, it's not really very easy - or clear - to hatch the buckles azure or the other fess sable in the space allotted here.)

The crest is blazoned in Fairbairn's Crests as The trunk of an old oak tree sprouting a branch on the dexter side fructed proper. The motto, Resurgam, means "I shall rise again." (One branch of my own family, the Winslows, has a similar crest, the stump of an oak tree sprouting new branches, but this one is more specific that it is only sprouting on the dexter side. The Winslow motto has a similar general meaning: Decoptus florio (or, deceiptae flores), meaning roughly "cut down, I shall flourish again." But I digress; I just found the similarities between the crest and motto of the Stewarts of Newhalls in Dalmeny and the Winslows in my own family interesting.)

Some might make an issue of the way the buckles are oriented in the Stewart quarters in these two depictions: to sinister in the embroidery; and to chief on the tomb outside. For myself, I think the direction of the buckles (or more specifically, the tongues the buckles) is something that makes no real difference and can probably be ascribed to the preferences of the artists involved. Just my two cents' worth. If you know of some case in heraldry where the direction of the buckles is clearly considered to be a difference, I'd love to learn about it.

I will note that Sir John Brooke-Little in his An Heraldic Alphabet says that "In blazon it is safest to detail the type of buckle, the way it lies on the shield (if not upright) and the position of the tongue," but he gives no rationale for this statement. I can see blazoning the type of buckle if that is important to the owner of the arms, but I'm not so sanguine about the rest. Still, I remain a student of heraldry, and can certainly be swayed in my opinion about this by evidence that it is a more important detail than I currently believe.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Embroidered Arms

I didn't discuss this piece of heraldic embroidery when I first discussed the heraldry of the organ loft in St. Cuthbert's Church in Dalmeny, Scotland, on September 25, 2017 (, since I was concentrating on the displays of the arms of the Earl of Rosebery then.

But any display of heraldry is worth looking at on its own, and so today we come back to the other coat of arms on the organ loft, that of Moubray.

Burke's General Armory gives two branches of the Moubray family bearing these arms, one in Barnbougle, county Edinburgh, and one in Cockairny, county Fife. The blazon is Gules a lion rampant argent ducally crowned or. The crests of the two branches, neither of which appears in this embroidery, are A demi-lion gules and A demi-lion argent, respectively.

It's a beautiful piece of embroidery, with well-done outlining and shading throughout, and a worthy remembrance of the Moubray family here in St. Cuthbert's.

Monday, October 9, 2017

An Heraldic Stray in Scotland?

Continuing our tour of St. Cuthbert's Church in Dalmeny, Scotland, we ran across this 1985 grant of arms from Lord Lyon King of Arms Malcolm Innes of Edingight.

It's a grant of municipal arms to the Town of Dalmeny, blazoned as Per fess vert and azure on a fess between two primroses or and a thistle argent a cross anchory between two garbs or. The crest is A lion's jambe gules maintaining a prairie lily slipped and leaved proper. (The blazons give here are my own, and not Lord Lyon's, and follows the more modern convention of repeating tinctures where needed in the blazon, rather than using the sometimes confusing "of the last" and "of the first.")

It was when I was reading more carefully through the text of the grant that it struck me that this was not a grant to the town of Dalmeny, Scotland, where we were visiting St. Cuthbert's Church, but the town of Dalmeny, Saskatchewan, Canada! Apparently I had completely overlooked the little plaque below the shield stating quite clearly:

Presented To
Dalmeny, Scotland
Dalmeny, Saskatchewan, Canada

So, not an "heraldic stray," exactly, but a gift from the grantee to its namesake town in Scotland.

And just how cool is that?

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Stained Glass Heraldry (Updated with New Information)

There are three beautiful stained glass windows in St. Cuthbert's Church in Dalmeny, Scotland.

These windows - of the Madonna and Holy Child, St. Theresa, and St. Margaret - were commissioned in memory of his mother by a Polish officer (who wished to remain anonymous) of the 10th Polish Mechanised Brigade which formed in Douglas during WWII. The windows were created by Miss Lalia Dickson, who exhibited at the Royal Scottish Academy sporadically between 1936 and 1957.

The central window of the Madonna and Infant Christ displays the coat of arms of Poland (though the eagle here, while usually crowned or, is crowned argent here).

The south window, of St. Margaret, has a shield which is probably meant to symbolize Edinburgh, though it is not Edinburgh's coat of arms. Here, the shield would be blazoned Azure a triple-towered castle argent.

The north window, with St. Theresa (probably St. Theresa of Lisieux given the presence of the flowers), displays an as-yet unidentified coat of arms.

The arms of Krakow, Poland have been mentioned as a possibility, but a quick comparison of the arms here with those of Krakow (immediately below) are very much greater than the differences between the arms in the south window and those of Edinburgh.

I do not believe that Krakow is a likely candidate, but I do not have a better suggestion to make at this time. It is very difficult to make out what the lion is holding in its paw, though a ring of keys is certainly a strong possibility.

In any event, these three windows are a beautiful (and heraldic) tribute to a man's mother.

UPDATE: I ran across this depiction of the arms of the Polish herb Zaremba done by Tania Crossingham. There is an obvious similarity to the arms in the window here, though there are some clear differences, too (the lack of the gems in base, and the lions here appear to be holding something in their paws).

Monday, October 2, 2017

Primrose, Maybe?

A minor heraldic mystery at St. Cuthbert's Church in Dalmeny, Scotland, is the coat of arms carved into one of the corbels there.

The arms are clearly (and nicely!) carved as Two chevronels between three roses.

Unfortunately, no attribution has been found for these arms. Ian Shepherd, who wrote an article in Tak Tent No. 72 (the quarterly newsletter of the Heraldry Society of Scotland) about our visit to St. Cuthbert's Church in Dalmeny, notes the citation in Burke for Primrose, Azure a chevron or between three primroses slipped proper, and posits that these are "Primrose Arms of some type."

A quick look at the Dictionary of British Arms shows that the greatest number of "two chevrons between three roses" have been used by Wickham/Wykeham, Argent two chevronels sable between three roses gules. There was also a Russel/Roscel which bore arms in this pattern. Azure two chevronels or between three roses argent.

So - Primrose, Wickham, Russel, or someone completely different? It's a mystery that might never be satisfactorily solved. And yet, it's lovely little display of heraldry!