Monday, August 12, 2019

Memorial to a Trans-Atlantic Clergyman

For our final armorial memorial in the Cloister at Canterbury Cathedral, we find this modern plaque inset into the wall:

In Memory of
Thomas John Claggett
First Bishop of Maryland
and first Bishop consecrated
in the United States of America

Chaplain of
the United States Senate

A direct descendant of
George Clagett
Three times Mayor of Canterbury
and Alderman of the City
between 1599 and 1638

Wikipedia ( tells us that Thomas John Claggett (1743-1816) was the first bishop of the newly-formed American Episcopal Church, U.S.A. (also known as the Protestant Episcopal Church in the U.S.A.) to be consecrated on American soil and the first bishop of the then-recently established (1780) Episcopal Diocese of Maryland.

Bishop Claggett died August 4, 1816, at his family home, Croome, in Croom, Maryland. Originally interred in the family plot on the property, his remains were moved in 1898 to the National Cathedral in Washington, DC, then still in the early stages of construction.

Claggett's epitaph, which includes the dates of his ordinations, was penned by his friend and fellow churchman, lawyer-poet Francis Scott Key (1779-1843), author of the "Star Spangled Banner".

There is even a portrait of Bishop Claggett on the Wikipedia page.

Once again, it was the heraldry at the top of this memorial that caught me like a fly in a spider's web.

I cannot find the diocesan arms (Sable a key and a pastoral staff in saltire or) to dexter (to the viewer’s left) anywhere, not even in the comprehensive Heraldry in the Episcopal Church by Eckford de Kay. (The arms of the Diocese of Maryland are unmistakably different from the arms on the memorial.) The arms here do, however, show elements that appear on a number of diocesan arms in the Episcopal Church: a key and pastoral staff in saltire (e.g., in the arms of the Diocese of Connecticut and the arms of the Diocese of Nebraska).

Burke’s General Armory gives the beautifully simple arms of Clagett (on the sinister side of the shield, to the viewer’s right) of Kent and London: Ermine on a fess sable three pheons or.

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