Monday, November 6, 2017

Missed It By _That_ Much!

A news article about heraldry popped up in one of my notifications recently, about the Town Council of Andover, England (the namesake of a town that one of my ancestors helped to found in Massachusetts Bay back in the 1600s) obtaining official permission to use a coat of arms that it has been using for the last seven years.

It's an interesting article, and explains that the Town Council, created in 2010, had been using the arms granted to its predecessor, the Andover Borough Council, in 1949.

But it's pretty clear that the person who wrote the article, David Harber, had missed taking, or had misread, his notes. Witness the following:

1. At two different places, he calls the coat of arms a "logo." (It's true that the Town Council may use it as a logo, but it's a coat of arms.)

2. He states specifically that: "Heraldic devices were first used in the 16th century...." So he's only about 500 years off, since heraldry, defined by Garter King of Arms Sir Anthony Wagner as "the systematic use of hereditary devices centred on the shield," began sometime in the 11th century.

3. He states specifically that: "Fines for not registering use of an heraldic device could have been up to £17,000." I have no idea where Mr. Harber got the idea that the College of Arms or anyone else in England could fine anyone for the illegitimate use of arms there, nor does he note where the monetary figure comes from. The Lord Lyon King of Arms is a Scottish judge, and can put some teeth into his orders about the unlawful display of heraldry, but even in Scotland I've not heard of a fine that large.

So, as I say, it's an interesting article, but like secret agent Maxwell Smart in the old TV spy spoof series Get Smart, he "missed it by that much."

You can read the entire article, which is illustrated with an image of the arms as well as a photograph of the College of Arms in London, on-line at LoveAndover at

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