Thursday, May 31, 2018

A Final Post from Our Trip Through Scotland

Following our visit to the Isle of Bute on the final day of our three-day heraldic tour around Glasgow and environs, we stopped for a final dinner in Greenock, Scotland.

As the bus pulled up to the small restaurant, I saw a house a few doors down with some heraldry on its facade. So naturally, while everyone else was getting off the bus and walking to the restaurant, I trotted down the street to grab a couple of quick photographs before joining them.

This photograph was taken from across the street, and gives you an overview of the view I had from the bus as we were pulling up.

The arms over the doorway are fairly complex: six quarters, with the second one being grand-quartered, with two crests and two mottoes. (You can click on the picture above to see a larger image that shows these arms in greater detail.)

My rough blazon of the arms, based on the visible hatching, is: Quarterly of six: 1, Or a fess checky azure and or overall a lion rampant [Stewart]; 2, Quarterly, i and iv, Gules a fess ermine [or perhaps, on a fess some indeterminate charges?], ii and iii, Azure a chevron between three crosses paty; 3, Gules three covered cups; 4, Or three bird’s heads erased a bordure azure; 5, Or a chevron checky between three martlets; 6, Or a bend sable between a stag’s head and a hunting horn.

The crests on either side of the helmet are: (1) A lion’s head erased; and (2) A demi-wild man affronty wreathed about the loins bearing a club in his dexter hand over his shoulder.

The mottos beneath the supporters are: (1) Spero meliora; and (2) I mean well.

 The supporters are: (Dexter) A lion rampant gardant; and (Sinister) A wild man wreathed about the loins.

Below the shield can be seen hanging from a ribbon the badge of a baronet of Nova Scotia, encircled with the motto of that order: Honestæ gloria fax mentis.

Doing some research in the Lyon Ordinary and Papworth's Ordinary of British Armorials, I found the following identifications in each of the quarters (in order):

1. We have seen these arms before, at Glasgow Cathedral, about which I posted on September 19, 2016, at  They are the arms of Stewart of Blackhall, Or a fess checky azure and or overall a lion rampant gules.

2. The first and second quarters may be Craufurd of Craufurdland: Gules a fess ermine. (Seen in our posts about Crafurdland Castle, and The second and third quarters are Barclay of Pearston, Azure a chevron between three crosses paty or.

3. Shaw of Greenock: Azure three covered cups or.

4. Stewart-Nicolson of Carnock, Or three falcon’s heads erased gules beaked sable within a bordure azure. (3d quarter)

5. There are two possibilities here: Houstoun of Calderhall, Or a chevron checky sable and argent between three martlets sable; and Houstoun of Johnstone, Or a chevron checky azure and argent between three martlets sable beaked gules.

6. Porterfield of that Ilk. Or a bend between a stag’s head erased and a hunting horn sable garnished gules.

Burke's Peerage gives the arms of Shaw-Stewart of Greenock and Blackhall as quarterly of four: Quarterly: 1 and 4, Or a fess checky azure and argent overall a lion rampant gules (Stewart of Blackhall); 2 and 3, Azure three covered cups or (Shaw of Greenock). Crests: 1, A lion’s head erased gules armed and langued azure; 2, A demi-savage wreathed about the head and middle with laurel and holding a club over his shoulder proper. Supporters: Dexter, A lion rampant gules armed and langued azure gorged with a collar checky argent and azure; Sinister, A savage wreathed round the head and middle with laurel leaves and holding a club over his shoulder all proper. Mottos: Spero meliora (I hope for better things) and I mean well.

The other, less ornate, coat of arms seen on the house, was this one:

Three covered cups. Though not hatched, they are presumably are the pronomial arms of Shaw of Greenock: Azure three covered cups or.

Of the other inscriptions on the plaque, we see: MRSS. and 1886.

MRSS. is the initials of Sir Michael Robert Shaw-Stewart, 7th Baronet ((1826-1903). And I'm guessing that 1886 is the date of the erection of the house, as I didn't see any other significant dates (births, marriages, etc.) in the history of the family given in Burke that matched this year.

Still and all, what a great couple of pieces of heraldic serendipity on which to end three days of touring heraldic Scotland!

Monday, May 28, 2018

A Final Post About Mount Stuart

Mount Stuart is a beautiful home on the Isle of Bute, but I have discovered that even just posting about the heraldry in it, as I have been doing these several weeks, can put my brain into the same kind of "heraldry overload" that I was in while on our tour of the house.

Is there more heraldry there that I have photographed and could research to tell you about? Yes. And i have the photographs to prove it.

But like I said, I'm into heraldry overload once again, and frankly, there's not a whole lot that you will have missed out on by my ending my posts about Mount Stuart here.

So for my final post about this house, I'll simply share the armorial stained glass windows in one of the main stairwells, containing a number of coats of arms that you've seen before in some of my earlier posts about the heraldry in Mount Stuart, and next time we'll move on to something else.

But I must say before I do: Wouldn't you love to have some windows like these in your own homes to help light your way up and down the stairs?

Friday, May 25, 2018

The Waiting Is Over!

Well, all of the discussion and waiting and arguing and hypothesizing is finally over. (Yes, I've pretty much stayed out of the discussion to this point. I knew that it was all in vain until the College of Arms did its work. That's why you've not seen any discussion of the possible coat of arms for Meghan Markle, the newly-married Duchess of Sussex.)

Kensington Palace announced this morning the new coat of arms which has been assigned to HRH the Duchess of Sussex.

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Adopted: 25 May 2018

Coronet: Coronet of a child of the Heir Apparent

Quarterly 1st and 4th Gules three lions passant guardant in pale Or armed and langed Azure (England), 2nd Or a lion rampant Gules armed and langued Azure within a double tressure flory counterflory of the second (Scotland), 3rd Azure a harp Or stringed Argent (Ireland), the whole differenced differenced by a Label of five points Argent, the first, third and fifth points charged with an Escallop Gules (Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex); Impaled with a shield Azure a Feather bendwise Argent quilled between two Bendlets Or all between two like Feathers Argent quilled Or (Duchess of Sussex).

To the dexter the Lion as borne and used as a Supporter by the Duke of Sussex and to the sinister a Songbird Argent unguled and gorged with a Coronet of a grandson of the Sovereign. The songbird is white (argent) and and has about its neck (is gorged with) the Duke of Sussex's coronet. Both the claws and coronet are gold (Or).

Of grass proper growing therefrom golden poppies and wintersweet both flowering proper.

The blue backgrounds of the shield represents the Pacific Ocean off the California coast, while the two golden rays across the shield are symbolic of the sunshine of The Duchess's home state. The three quills represent communication and the power of words. Beneath the shield on the grass sits a collection of golden poppies, California's state flower, and wintersweet, which grows at Kensington Palace. The songbird with wings elevated as if flying and an open beak, which with the quill represents the power of communication.

Mr. Thomas Woodcock, Garter King of Arms said: "The Duchess of Sussex took a great interest in the design. Good heraldic design is nearly always simple and the Arms of The Duchess of Sussex stand well beside the historic beauty of the quartered British Royal Arms."

You can see more at such sites as: and, among others.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Heraldic Controversy in Scotland

A couple of conversation threads on Facebook and a recent news article on the web have brought to my attention the fact that the Craigie Primary School in Perth, Scotland, has run afoul of the office of the Lord Lyon King of Arms for using an unregistered armorial device as their badge. Their badge came to the attention of Lyon after the school tried to design a wall mural.

Scotland, in case you didn't already know this, is pretty much the only country in the world with the legal "teeth" to enforce heraldic law. Which means he can require individuals and corporate entities displaying or using heraldic devices in Scotland to regularize them by registering them with his office, or demand that they cease such use and display. (I don't know that Lyon ever has, but he has the right to send people out to take down, mar, and/or deface any such displays which are not in conformance with the Lord Lyon King of Arms Act of 1672.)

In this specific instance, a spokeswoman for the Court of the Lord Lyon (presumably Snawdoun Herald Elizabeth Roads) said: “Every school badge has to be registered if it is heraldic. If they are not registered, the school or organisation must cease using them.”

Much of the discussion back and forth in comments on the news article and on the Facebook posts seems to center around: (1) whether the school's badge is "heraldic;" and (2) whether Lord Lyon should waive the registration fee for a primary school.

Let me address the second argument first.

The Lyon Court is a branch of the government; there may, in fact, be no provision for Lord Lyon to waive the fees (which go into the government treasury and are not earmarked for the use of the Lyon Court). So even if he wanted to waive the fee, he may not be able to, in this or any other instance.

For the first argument, that the school's badge isn't really heraldry, let's take a look at what they have been using.

Well, it's certainly not classic heraldry, is it? And it's not on any of the standard shield shapes.

The standard shield shape seems to be the underlying argument by those who think that Lord Lyon should let this badge slide. And yet ... A.C. Fox-Davies, in his A Complete Guide to Heraldry, notes that "Arms [may] be depicted upon a banner, a parallelogram, a square, a circle, or an oval; and even then one would be correct, for the purposes of armory, in describing such figures as shields on all occasions on which they are made the vehicles for the emblazonment of a design which properly and originally should be borne upon a shield. Let no one think that a design ceases to be a coat of arms if it is not displayed upon a shield."

He then notes that on the Royal Warrants of Queen Elizabeth I commanding the heralds' Visitations during her reign, that the King of Arms to whom the warrant was addressed was to “correct, cumptrolle and refourme all mann’ of armes, crests, cognizances and devices unlawfull or unlawfully usurped, borne or taken by any p’son or p’sons within the p’vince contary to the due order of the laws of armes, and the same to rev’se, put downe or otherwise deface at his discrecon as well in coote armors, helmes, standerd, pennons and hatchmets of tents and pavilions, as also in plate jewells, pap’, parchement, windowes, gravestones and monuments, or elsewhere wheresoev’ they be sett or placed, whether they be in shelde, schoocheon, lozenge, square, rundell or otherwise howsoev’ contarie to the autentiq’ and auncient lawes, customes, rules, privilege and orders of armes.” (emphasis added)

In short, the shape of the shield doesn't matter; if it looks like heraldry, and it's used like heraldry, well, then, it's heraldry.

In any event, you can see more about this controversy, some of the commentary, and how the school is dealing with it, on the web page of the Express at:; and at The Courier at;

Monday, May 21, 2018

A Successful Hunt for a Blazon

I always think that the late J.P. Brooke-Little said it best, in the introduction to his An Heraldic Alphabet:

You can study heraldry until you are azure ... in the face but inevitably discover, from time to time, that you really are quite vert.... I have found this over and over again but, never forget, herein lies the fun and if heraldry ever ceases to be fun- chuck it.

It is a truism which I find myself reminded of from time to time, and just the other day was another one of those times.

I'm in the middle of completing a big project which I am doing in order to better do another big project. (More about that second project another time, perhaps.) This project involves compiling the blazons of coats of arms from Florence into a single, and thus for me more easily usable, document.

The sources I am using consist of a book of blazons of Florentine heraldry in English done about 1900, a photo-reproduction of an old Florentine armorial with no blazons, and a compilation of several Florentine armorials with the blazons done in French. So as you can see, a diverse set of books!

Copying the English blazons into my document was pretty easy; converting it to Word from .pdf and then cleaning up the formatting and the places where it didn't recognize, or misrecognized, a word was comparatively simple. I expect that between my familiarity with blazon terms in English and general familiarity with many French blazons, I shouldn't have too much difficulty in translating those blazons from French to English, with occasional resort to a French heraldic dictionary and my pocket French-English dictionary.

It's the other book, of pictures of the pages of an old Florentine armorial but without any blazons, that taught me once again that I still have so much to learn about heraldry. In the course of going through that armorial page by page, I ran across several coats of arms with a charge I do not recall ever having seen before. This charge:

"Well," I said to myself, "it's not a cog wheel, exactly. The center of the wheel is too small, and the 'cogs' are way too long and they flare out a bit at the ends. But what is it?"

I didn't really want to flip through the entire Italian dictionary of heraldry that I have in the hopes of eventually finding a drawing of this charge, or at least something very similar. But then I thought, "maybe these same arms appear somewhere in the French book of Florentine heraldry. I wonder how they are blazoned there."

So I starting searching the index for the names and then looking up the blazons of the arms, and found this charge blazoned as a roue déjantée, which the on-line Bing translator (the word déjantée doesn't appear in my French-English dictionary) translated into English as a “crazy wheel.” Looking up "wheel" in my English-Italian dictionary gave me the word ruota, and looking under ruota in my Italian heraldic dictionary finally allowed me to identify this charge. It is a ruota di mulino: “É la ruota a pale, che veniva un tempo utilizzata dai mulini ad acqua.” (Dizionario di Araldica, di Valfrei, p. 173) It is a mill wheel (not to be confused with a mill stone!): “It is the paddle wheel, which was used once by the water mills."

So there you have it! A not-terribly-long, but involved, search through a number of books in three different languages, and success! I now feel slightly more azure in the face, and a little less vert. But it is just this sort of thing that keeps heraldry fun for me!

How about you?

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Two Pieces of Jacobite Heraldry

Tucked away in Mount Stuart we ran across a couple of items decorated with some Jacobite heraldry: the arms of Henry Benedict Thomas Edward Maria Clement Francis Xavier Stuart, the younger son of the Old Pretender, James Francis Edward Stuart, and brother of the Young Pretender, Charles Edward Stuart, "Bonnie Prince Charlie".

The grandson of deposed King James II and VII, Henry Benedict Stuart was the fourth and final Jacobite heir to publicly claim the thrones of England, Scotland, France, and Ireland. Unlike his father and his brother, he made no effort to seize the throne. Following the death of his brother, the Papacy did not recognize him as the lawful ruler of England, Scotland, and Ireland, but referred to him as the Cardinal Duke of York. He had been named Duke of York while in his youth by his father, and held a number of offices in the Catholic church, including Archpriest of St. Peter's Basilica. For more specifics on these, and on his life in general, see the Wikipedia article at

But more to the heraldic point here, during the pretense of his father and brother, he bore a coat of arms consisting of the Royal Arms of France and England quarterly, Scotland, and Ireland, differenced by a white crescent (the cadency mark of a second son).

Those arms were found in two places in Mount Stuart:

Prominently displayed on an old print:

And also on a (presumably, pewter; it doesn't look like silver to me) plate or charger, surmounted by an ecclesiastical galero. Nowadays, the heraldic convention is to use a galero with six tassels on each side (as on the plate below) for a bishop; one with ten tassels on each side for an archbishop; and one with fifteen tassels on each side for a cardinal.

You can click on the pictures to see the full-size images, which more clearly show the crescent in the center.

I found these items to be a fascinating display of heraldry in the context of history, encompassing the history of both Great Britain and of Mount Stuart.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Non-Personal Heraldry Displayed at Mount Stuart

Among the many heraldic stained glass windows to be seen at Mount Stuart was this pair of windows displaying some non-personal heraldry.

The window on the left displays a variant of the coat of arms of the Royal Burgh of Dumfries:

I say "a variant" since the depiction here leaves out the shield (Argent a cross gules) born by the Archangel, and shows him brandishing a staff to attack the dragon while his sword remains in its scabbard by his side. It has also changed (e.g., the placement of the sun and moon) or is missing (e.g., the cloud) a few other minor elements.

The blazon of the arms of Dumfries is as follows: Azure semy of estoiles or, standing on a cloud the figure of the Archangel Michael wings expanded brandishing in his dexter hand a sword over a dragon lying on its back in base with its tail nowed fessways all proper on his sinister arm an escutcheon argent charged with a cross gules, in dexter flank an increscent in the sinister flank the sun in his splendour of the second [or].

The arms in the window on the right are those of the Royal Burgh of Ayr:

This coat of arms is blazoned: Gules a castle triple-towered argent betwixt a Holy Lamb cross staff and banner of Saint Andrew on the dexter and on the sinister the head of John the Baptist in a charger proper, in the base the sea azure.

As happens fairly frequently in heraldry, the water here ("the sea azure") is portrayed barry wavy argent and azure instead of plain blue. (We see this in other depictions of the arms of Ayr, too.)

As with the other stained glass windows at Mount Stuart, heraldic and otherwise, the workmanship is first-rate. And it's nice to see some non-family heraldry displayed there.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Another Pair of Shields Over the Doorway

In my last post, I shared some pictures of a pair of shields over a doorway on the ground floor of Mount Stuart.

Today, we're looking at a similar pair of shields, with different arms on them, from a similar doorway (again, between rooms with that wonderful carved heraldic ceiling).

The arms here are proving a little tougher to track down, though they share the nude supporters and both are surmounted by the coronet of a marquess.

The shield on the left would be blazoned Argent a lion rampant sable armed and langued gules.

Papworth's Ordinary of British Armorials notes over twenty families (and even more branches of families) bearing this coat of arms. Without finding someone with a distinct connection to the Crichton-Stuart family, it is difficult to narrow down the likely owner of this coat of arms.

The shield on the right would be blazoned Gules a lion rampant within a bordure or charged with eight roses gules barbed and seeded proper.

Papworth's Ordinary of British Armorials gives this coat of arms as that of Dunbar, but as a quartering with Randoph. Burke's Peerage cites several Dunbar baronets, all of whom bear Dunbar quartered with Randolph (Or three cushions within a double tressure flory counter-flory gules), with various differences between them.

I am not finding any Dunbar family connections to the Crichton-Stuarts sitting here with Burke's Peerage cutting off the circulation in my lap. (Well, it is a large book, after all!)

I am unable at this time to give you a positive identification of the origins for either of the coats of arms depicted here. Clearly there is some relation to the Marquess of Bute; why else would they have been carved or molded onto the walls of his house? But without the who, I cannot even speculate as to the why.

Still, they remain fine examples of heraldic art at Mount Stuart.

Monday, May 7, 2018

Meanwhile, Back on the Ground Floor at Mount Stuart

I know, right? There is just so very much heraldry to be seen at Mount Stuart that we're probably all getting a bit weary. At least, I know I am. You can only spend so much time looking at other people's stuff without it becoming a bit of a sensory overload.

But never fear! There's only a very few blog posts remaining for this wonderful, heraldry-filled, house, and we'll have to move along to something else.

In the meantime, though ...

Back on the ground floor in the rooms with those beautifully carved heraldic ceilings (, the doorways had some more carved or cast coats of arms.

 (You can see parts of those ceilings in the above picture.)

Supported by two nude figures with strategically place ribbons, and surmounted by the coronet of a marquess, we have on the left

the arms of Windsor, and on the right,

the arms of Stuart, both of which we have seen a number of times before in the house (e.g.,

The level of detail in these depictions is truly wonderful!

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Slightly Understated Heraldry at Mount Stuart

If you are going to try to impress people by displaying your arms all over your house, on the walls and ceilings, there may be places where you just don't want everything to be quite so much in everyone's face.

In one of the upper rooms at Mount Stuart (a game room, really, for just relaxing) there was a set of wooden chairs along one wall that did not display the Crichton-Stuart coat of arms on them.

No, they just display a painted shield shape with the three crests used by the family underneath the coronet of a marquess.

The three crests (from left to right) are:

Stewart: A demi-lion rampant gules beneath the motto Nobilis ira (Noble ardour)

Crichton: A wyvern wings elevated and addorsed fire issuant from the mouth all proper

and Herbert: A wyvern wings addorsed vert in the mouth a sinister hand couped gules

Just the sort of heraldic display, really, that you could do in your own home, even if you weren't entitled to a coronet and/or had only one crest. Properly scaled and painted, it could make a nice, even slightly understated, exhibit.

It also wouldn't require obtaining a second mortgage on the house to pay for it.

Just a thought. Do with it what you will.

But I thought these chairs at Mount Stuart created a very pleasing heraldic atmosphere.