Tuesday, January 16, 2018

A Big Heraldry Project Completed

I have posted the following announcement on the Facebook pages of several of the heraldry societies to which I belong, but in case you are reading this here and have not seen it on Facebook, here it is:

Finally! At long last, it is done! Nearly three years ago I began to collect into a single document personal heraldry (coats of arms and crests) as used in what is now the United States of America, from a number of different collections. I did this because I sometimes found myself having to look through three, four, five or more different books (some .pdf, some hard copy) when trying to research a coat of arms used here, and I wanted be able to have a handy single source to do this research. I think it's finally ready for use, and consists of 9,990 separate entries.

Now that it is completed, I can share my work with others who may also find it useful, without having to recreate it from scratch.

I have uploaded two .zip files to my website, Appleton Studios. One contains a .docx and a .xlsx file: the first is an explanatory document giving the collection's rationale, with an explanation of my attempt to make the blazons consistent, along with a bibliography of the sources I've used and a key to those sources (so read this document first!); the second is the actual collection with surname, blazon of the arms, blazon of the crest (if given in the source), and the source of each. This .zip file can be downloaded directly from the Appleton Studios website at http://www.appletonstudios.com/American Heraldry Collection (xlsx version).zip.

Because I know that not everyone can open Microsoft's .docx and .xlsx files, I have also saved each file as a .doc and .xls file. The .xls may be slightly more limited in how it can be manipulated, but contains all of the same data, and really, that's what's important, right? The zipped .doc and .xls files can be downloaded at http://www.appletonstudios.com/American Heraldry Collection (xls version).zip.

Both files can also be downloaded from links on the "What's New" page (http://www.appletonstudios.com/whatsnew.htm) and the "Free Stuff" page (http://www.appletonstudios.com/freestuff.htm) on the website.

If you find these files useful, great! If you find an error (or errors; I don't claim to have caught every single typo or other mistake (as I often say, "I am a prefect tpyist; I never make mistrakes"), though I have tried very hard to find and fix them), please email me and let me know so I can correct it (or them) and upload the corrected files. And, of course, if you find another source which blazons personal arms used in the United States that is not included in this collection, let me know about that, too, so they can be added and the collection updated.

Monday, January 15, 2018

A Little Heraldic Something for the Courtyard

Passing through the gate with the four Royal coats of arms, we pass into the interior of Linlithgow Palace, and find ourselves in the courtyard with a very elaborate fountain. The fountain was built in 1537-38 by King James V and "symbolized [his] power and sophistication" (according to the explanatory sign discussing it).

A lot of restoration work has been done on the fountain, most recently from 2000 to 2005. At that time, only three of the figures around it were original; you can tell the differences between the older remaining figures and the newly-restored ones in the next photograph. The original fountain and its allegorical figures (e.g., the mermaid symbolized eloquence, the drummer, music, etc.) would have been brightly painted.

But, of course, it was what was the heraldry on the fountain that really attracted my eye.

It's not carved into the shields now, but the explanatory sign with a drawing of what the fountain probably looked like when it was new has two unicorns gorged with a crown and chained (supporters found in the Royal Arms of Scotland, and now one of the two supporters in the arms of the United Kingdom) holding a shield with the arms of St. Andrew, Azure a saltire argent.

There is also a lion holding the Royal Arms of Scotland, Or a lion rampant within a double tressure flory counter-flory gules, with the shield being crowned with an imperial crown matching the one atop the entire fountain.

All in all, and even in its heavily restored and unpainted condition, this fountain is an impressive display of might and majesty. And heraldry.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

The Opposite of the Last Post

So, having failed miserably at identifying two coats of arms on a large candelabra in St. Michael's Church in Linlithgow, Scotland, this time we exit the church and head a little way up the hill to the gateway to Linlithgow Palace, which contains four coats of arms which I trust (nearly) no one should need a reference book to identify!

This fore-entrance to the Palace was built about 1533 by King James V, and boasts the national arms of four countries surrounded by the insignia and mottoes of the four orders of chivalry to which James V belonged.

They are, from left to right:

England (Gules three lions passant gardant in pale or), and the collar and motto of the Order of the Garter, Honi soi qui mal y pense (Shame be to him who thinks evil of it):

Scotland (Or a lion rampant within a double tressure flory counter-flory gules), and the collar and motto of the Order of the Thistle, Nemo me impune lacessit (No one provokes me with impunity*):

Spain (Quarterly Castile and Leon; or Quarterly: 1 and 4, Gules a tower triple-towered or; 2 and 3, Argent a lion rampant purpure (or as here, gules), and the collar and motto of the Order of the Golden Fleece, Pretium laborum non vile (though the garter here appears to have a variant, Prætium non vilo) (No mean reward for labors):

And France (Azure three fleurs-de-lys or), and the collar and motto of the Order of St. Michael, Immensi tremor oceani (Tremor of the immense ocean):

All in all, a very impressive way to let people know just how important you are, don't you think?

* The State of Texas uses a phrase with a similar, though perhaps a little pithier, sentiment in its anti-litter campaigns: Don't Mess With Texas.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Well, That Was Disconcerting

I mean, really, it should have been fairly easy! And yet ....

Still in St. Michael's Church in Linlithgow, Scotland, there was lovely, large brass candelabra.

And it had on its base two engraved coats of arms. (You can just make them out on the base in the photo above.) With hatching.

So I thought to myself, "Self, these arms should be fairly easy to identify. They seem to be pretty unique, with elements that should make finding them in or or another of the several Scottish and/or British ordinaries of arms pretty straightforward."

Well, apparently I has misinformed myself. Because I have not been able to identify either one of these coats of arms. I have found nothing like them in either of the two volumes of An Ordinary of Arms Contained in the Public Register of All Arms and Bearings in Scotland, nor in the more recent An Ordinary of Scottish Arms From Original Pre-1672 Manuscripts, nor in Burke's General Armory.

The arms that I found which were the nearest to either of these coats were two variants of Maxton which were similar to the second one above: Or a chevron gules between crosses crosslet fitchy azure and Or a chevron gules between three crosses crosslet fitchy sable.

Neither is really close enough to warrant an identification as a branch of Maxton.

So there you go. A beautiful artifact with some great heraldry on it, and even after a pretty comprehensive search, no identification. As I noted in the title of this post, it's disconcerting.

If you should happen to know the owner of either of these coats of arms, please feel free to leave your identification in the comments. (If the comments are not working for you - some folks have had difficulty posting a comment recently, and I still haven't figured out why - please email me at davidbappleton@att.net and I will post your identification on here; with full credit to you, of course!)

Thursday, January 4, 2018

An Untinctured Heraldic Ceiling Boss

Not every ceiling boss in St. Michael's Church in Linlithgow, Scotland, is as colorful as some of those already posted in this blog. Indeed, some of them look like they are showing their age.

This one, for example, though carefully carved with a lot of detail, appears to be a little worn (making one wonder, how much wear can there really be to something on the underside of a very high ceiling? It's not like people are walking on or touching it all the time) and completely without color.

A little research, though, leads me to believe that it is a representation of the arms of Melville, Gules three crescents argent within a bordure argent charged with eight roses gules.

Yes, I know that there are ten roses shown on the bordure here, but it isn't uncommon to find depictions of arms where the number of charges, especially on a peripheral charge like a bordure or surrounding a central charge, vary. One example of this that I have run across is the different depictions of the arms of member of the Hutchinson family of colonial Boston, Massachusetts, whose lion is shown within a varying number of crosses crosslet: eight, nine, ten, twelve, thirteen (all more or less "in orle") (see a few examples below), and even semy, depending upon the artist.

So I do not find it at all surprising that someone may have placed ten rather than eight roses on a bordure, as on the ceiling boss here. Just sayin'.

Monday, January 1, 2018

This Monument Shouldn't Be A Mystery

This man memorialized in the next monument in St. Michael's Church, Linlithgow, Scotland, shouldn't be a mystery, or hard to find, and yet ....

I mean, it is inscribed with his name and date of death:

Near this lies
Alexr Johnston of [this placename is hard to make out], Esqr.
Who died the 10th of March 1742
Leaving three children, viz.
Alexander James
Anna Catherina

And it has his coat of arms, crest, and motto carved into its face (with hatching, making it easy to determine the appropriate tinctures):

Argent a saltire sable on a chief gules three cushions argent a bordure also gules, with the crest An arm in armor holding in the glove a sword erect [all proper, according to Fairbairn's], and the motto Semper paratus (Always ready).

So what's the difficulty?

I cannot find these arms listed anywhere. They are, naturally enough, a variant of many Johnston/Johnstone arms, Argent a saltire sable on a chief [sometimes sable, sometimes gules] three cushions argent, with the addition of a bordure gules, presumably as a difference. Yet the arms on this monument do not appear in either volume of An Ordinary of Arms Contained in the Public Register of All Arms and Bearings in Scotland, nor do I find them in An Ordinary of Scottish Arms from Original Pre-1672 Manuscripts, and they do not appear in any Johnston/Johnstone entries in Burke's General Armory. The coat does not even appear in the 1905 book The Heraldry of the Johnstons (the link to which - https://archive.org/stream/heraldryofjohnst1905john#page/n0/mode/2up - was kindly sent to me by reader and friend Margaret Sainte Claire.)

Fairbairn's Crests cites this crest and motto and assigns it to Johnston of Straiton, but "Straiton" does not seem to quite match the placename as carved on the monument (which I can only partially decipher: I'm not certain that the first letter is an "S", though the second one looks like an "o" or maybe an "a", then there appears to be a space that might or might not be a letter, followed by a "u", and ending possibly with "ton"; in any case, the last letter is clearly an "n").

As a consequence of all this, I do not know who this Alexander Johnston is; I do not know how, or even if, he is related to Johnston of Straiton (the majority of Johnstons in Burke's and Fairbairn's use different crests and mottoes from the ones carved here); and so I find myself left with a bit of a mystery that really shouldn't be a mystery, because most of the information necessary to identifying him is right here on his memorial. So why can't I find him?