Thursday, February 25, 2021

Heraldry in the News!

Well, they're at it again.

Who are "they?", you ask. And what is this "it" they are "at again"?

In this case, "they" are Australians, and they are "at again" is a move to change the coat of arms of the Australian Capital Territory (and/or the City of Canberra, which currently bears the same arms).

They have argued over changing these arms before, and I've mentioned it in posts here on this blog on September 6, 2012; April 4, 2013; August 8, 2013; August 26, 2013; December 14, 2015; and May 22, 2019.

Well, having failed to reach an agreement to either change the arms or keep them, they're at it again.

Now, as an article dated February 25, 2021, notes, the ACT will have designed for it a new emblem that is "diverse, modern, and inclusive", created by by second year design students at the University of Canberra's Faculty of Arts and Design. The full article can be found on-line at:

"Terry Fewtrell and a group of about 20 ACT citizens for meaningful civic symbols say the heraldry in the Canberra City coat of arms is not reflective of the ACT and now is the time to reignite debate on the issue," according to a February 24, 2021 on-line article that asks "Is it time to 'modernise' the ACT's coat of arms?" at

As a non-citizen and non-resident of Australia, the Australian Capital Territory, or Canberra, I am not taking a stance on whether or not the current arms should be changed or retained. I will say, however, that as a herald I have seen way too many instances of folks wanting to change their locality's coat of arms come up with what is effectively a logo that lacks the timelessness of good heraldic design, because they themselves know little or nothing about heraldry, its purpose, its history, and fail to include the guidance of experts in the field who do know what makes for an eye-catching, and eye-pleasing, piece of heraldic art.

Anyway, here we are again, 8½ years after my first post on this subject, watching the arguments about "could we, should we, need we" change the arms of the ACT, and what should/could/will a new design include?

A Husband and Wife Memorialized

There are actually three rouwbord or memorial boards in today's set, a pair to a husband and wife, and another to someone completely unrelated to them.

We have see the arms in the uppermost rouwbord in the the memorial board of Gabrielle Goethals, the wife of Octave de Kerchove d'Exaerde.

Here, though the man being memorialized is Louis Goethals, comte Goethals, 1829-1912. His wife, not memorialized here, was Flore Malfait, 1840-1898. The Goethals arms are blazoned: Gules three maiden’s busts/heads affronty proper crined or vested azure.

The two rouwbord immediately below that of Louis Goethals are those of a wife and her husband.

This board memorializes Irène van Pottelsberghe de la Potterie, 1851-1930. She was the daughter of Jules van Pottelsberghe de la Potterie (1818-1890) and Marie-Colette Ghislaine de la Kethulle de Ryhove (1825-1902). Her arms, in the oval shield on the right, are blazoned: Sable a hunting horn argent stringed gules a chief or.

The arms on the left on this board, and on the other memorial board (alas, the photograph I took of that one by itself turned out to be out of focus, but you can get a better view by clicking on the first image above), are those of her husband, Adrien de la Kethulle de Ryhove, 1851-1933. His parents were Eugène de la Kethulle de Ryhove (1823-1897) and Gabrielle de Ghellinck (1830-1861). Adrien and Irène were married on November 11, 1875.

His arms (here and on the other rouwbord, are blazoned: Sable a fess conjoined to a demi-pale issuant from chief argent between three mullets of six points or.

It's always nice to see memorials (whether armorial or not, but we all know how I feel about heraldry!) to a husband and wife together.

Monday, February 22, 2021

A Somewhat Complex Tale of Two Families

At least, it's somewhat complicated as told through their rouwbord (memorial boards) in St. Bavo's Cathedral in Ghent, Belgium.

Just sayin'.

Anyway, to begin, we have these two memorial boards over in one corner:

The one on the right, whose arms are blazoned Azure a chevron ermine between three crosses couped argent, are the canting arms of de la Croix (1861-1924). I have been unable to find any biographical information about this person, not even his given name(s). So we move on.

The rouwbord on the left memorializes Clémentine Maertens (1852-1928). Her parents were Léopold François Ghislain Maertens (1816-1898) and Barbe Léopoldine Thérèse van der Maelen (1823-1881). She married Adolphe de Kemmeter (1849-1927) in 1878. His parents were Frédéric de Kemmeter (1810-1890) and Désirée Hye (1810-1860).

Her arms (on the right side of the shield, and which we will see again momentarily) are blazoned: Or on a fess between two mullets of six points azure and a tower sable three three roses argent. His arms, on the left side of the shield, and which we will see again soon, are blazoned: Quarterly: 1 and 4, Argent a pale gules; 2 and 3, Or a man proper vested gules caped azure collared argent crowned or; on an inescutcheon sable an eagle displayed or charged on the breast and wings with a billet fesswise sable.

In a different part of the Cathedral, we find the memorial board of Léopold François Ghislain Maertens (1816-1898), Clémentine Maertens' father. He was the son of Louis Jean Eugène Maertens and Marie Jeanne Pelckmans. His wife was Barbe Léopoldine Thérèse van der Maelen (1823-1881). His arms are blazoned as are his daughter's: Or on a fess between two mullets of six points azure and a tower sable three three roses argent.

And then we find this rouwbord with the same arms on it:

This is not, as I had originally suspected, the memorial board of Clémentine's brother; the man memorialized here is in fact her 1st cousin, the son of her uncle, her father’s brother. He is Raymond Marie Auguste Léopold Maertens (1848-1914), son of Joseph Jean Corneille Maertens (1808-1866) and Emilie Verhaeghe de Naeyer (1810-1858). The blazon of Raymond's arms remains the same as those of his uncle and his cousin, Or on a fess between two mullets of six points azure and a tower sable three three roses argent.

And now we come to the memorial board of a different member of the other family we are highlighting in today's post:

These are the arms of Frédéric de Kemmeter (1810-1890). He married Désirée Hye (1810-1860), and they were the parents of Adolphe de Kemmeter (1849-1927), whose arms appear in the first rouwbord above.

These arms, too, are blazoned:  Quarterly: 1 and 4, Argent a pale gules; 2 and 3, Or a man proper vested gules caped azure collared argent crowned or; on an inescutcheon sable an eagle displayed or charged on the breast and wings with a billet fesswise sable.

And there you have it! Four memorial boards, with the intertwined relationships of five individuals, graphically displayed on the walls of St. Bavo's Cathedral in Ghent.

How cool is that?

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Four "Rouwbord" on Another Pillar

On another pillar in St. Bavo's Cathedral, Ghent, we find five more rouwbord, or memorial boards (though, admittedly, you can only see four of them, plus just the top corner of the fifth one, in this picture) No matter, we will see all of them in detail below:

Starting from the top and working our way down, we have the following:

This is the rouwbord of René Kervyn (1855-1903). He was married Marie-Thérèse Seidlitz (1861-1930) in 1882. Their son Roger took the name Kervyn de Marcke ten Driessche. The arms are blazoned: Sable a chevron between an oak sprig fructed, a mullet of six points or, and bird’s leg couped à-la-quisse argent.

The second memorial board from the top is this one:

This rouwbord is for the wife of Raymond Marie Auguste Léopold Maertens (he lived from 1848-1914), and bore the arms on the left: Or on a fess between two mullets of six points azure and a tower sable three three roses argent. (We will see the Maertens arms again in a later post.) His wife was Claire Breydel (1846-1887), and the couple married in Bruges in 1871. She was the daughter of Charles Breydel and Honorine de Brock. Her family's arms (on the right) are: Gules three horses heads couped argent bridled azure.

We see the Breydel arms on another item in the Cathedral, on a bookstand, with the arms prominently placed at the top in the center:

The third rouwbord on this particular pillar this this one:

This is the memorial board of Albert Joseph Marie Solvyns, who was born in 1854, one of five children to Ernest Laurent Guillaume Solvyns and Sylvie Caroline Martens, and died in 1910. He married Marie-Émilie de Kerckhove dit van der Varent in 1886, at age 32. (We have seen the Kerckhove/Kerchove arms earlier.) She was born in 1861 in Brussels. They had four children.

His arms are blazoned: Azure three saltorels couped argent. The crest is: A demi-lion rampant argent maintaining a saltire couped gules.

The fourth memorial board is this more complex one:

This rouwbord is a memorial to the wife of Gustave Marie Macaire de Giey de Villars (1832–1898), Marie-Jeanne Philomène de Bruges de Gerpinnes (1836-1895). The armorial achievement in the center containing the de Giey and de Bruges arms is framed by sixteen shields of arms of ancestors.

The de Giey arms (on the left) are blazoned: Argent semy of trefoils slipped a lion rampant sable on a chief gules three crescents or. The de Bruges arms (on the right) are: Argent a cock passant sable wattled and combed standing atop a roundel gules between two fleurs-de-lis vert.

And last, but not least, we come to the bottommost memorial board on this pillar:

This rouwbord is placed in memory of Prosper Triest et de Gits, baron Triest et de Gits (1811-1895). We have seen these arms before, both in the person of Bishop Antoon de Triest and on the memorial board to the Baron's wife, Adèle Marie Thérèse Parasiers. The arms are blazoned: Sable two hunting horns or and a greyhound courant argent.

Monday, February 15, 2021

Memorializing Three Generations of a Family

In my last-post-but-one, we saw the arms of Joseph de Hemptinne on one of the pillars in St. Bavo's Cathedral in Ghent, Belgium.

It's the center board of the five here.

Close-up, it looks like this:

These are the arms on the memorial board of Joseph de Hemptinne (1822-1909), son of Félix-Joseph de Hemptinne and Henriette Lousbergs. His wife was Pauline Gonthyn (1822-1909). The arms are blazoned: Gules three stirrups on a canton argent a rose gules barbed vert.

But Joseph is not the only de Hemptinne memorialized in the Cathedral.

This is the rouwbord, or memorial board, of Joseph's son, Jean Baptiste François Marie Joseph, Comte de Hemptinne, (1861-1934), son of Joseph de Hemptinne and Pauline Gonthyn. His wife was Léonie Jooris (1861-1934). He bears, of course, the same coat of arms, crest, and motto, as well as the same supporters but without the banners they bear in Jean Baptiste Hemptinne's arms.

And then we come to:

This is the memorial board of Henri Paul Marie Joseph de Hemptinne (1887–1969), son of the above Jean Baptiste Hemptinne and Léonie Jooris. His wife was Simone van Loo, baronne (1898-1993). Henri succeeded his father as Comte de Hemptinne.

Henri bore the same arms (though I see here the artist has added gold seeds to the rose on the canton, which would modify the blazon slightly to ... on a canton argent a rose proper), crest, motto, and supporters, as well as, of course, the same coronet of rank.

So there you have it! Three rouwbord memorializing three generations of a family, spanning the years 1822 to 1969!

How's that for a great use of heraldry?

Thursday, February 11, 2021

The Mixed Results in Identifying Mourning Shields (rouwbord), Part 2 of 2

In this post we come to the lower two rouwbord or memorial boards on this pillar in St. Bavo's Cathedral in Ghent.

Both of these lower two boards memorialize married women; you can tell not just because the birth and death dates are those of the ladies (and not those of their husbands), but because the boards contain the arms of their husbands (on heater-shaped shields) as well as their own (on ovals).

The first one, the fourth from the top, is this one:

The shield on the left are the arms of Octave de Kerchove d'Exaerde (1868-1937), mayor of Buizingen, Checky argent and azure on a chief or a bird volant azure in its beak a branch proper, and on the right, those of his wife, Countess Gabrielle Goethals, 1872-1896 (she died very young, not quite age 24), Gules three maiden’s busts affronty proper crined or vested azure.) Gabrielle was the sixth and youngest child and of Count Louis Goethals and his wife Flore Malfait.

Octave married again, to Jeanne Terlinden (1879-1965).

(I find that last absolutely fascinating; born in the 19th century, she lived to well within my own lifetime. Maybe those "olden days" aren't quite so far in the past as we often think.)

The lowest and final rouwbord on this pillar is this one:

You may find the husband's arms here (on the left) vaguely familiar; we have seen them before, in the arms of Antoon Triest, Bishop of Ghent 1622-1657.

The husband here is obviously not a direct descendant of (celibate) Bishop Antoon Triest. He is Prosper Triest et de Gits, baron Triest et de Gits (1811-1895), whose arms are blazoned Sable two hunting horns or and a greyhound courant argent. (We will see these arms again, on his own rouwbord.)

His wife, memorialized here, is Adèle Marie Thérèse Parasiers (1816-1889). I have been unable to find her arms in any of my usual sources. My best guess at a blazon is: Quarterly: 1 and 4, Sable three billets voided on a canton or ?; 2 and 3, Or three pallets gules a canton ermine; on an inescutcheon azure a spade (shovel) argent.

And there you have it! Five rouwbord (memorial boards) on a single pillar, memorializing two men, two wives, and an unmarried woman, and with very mixed results in identifying the individuals being memorialized, running the gamut from "not a clue" to detailed information about who they were, when they lived, and what they did.

But it's just that sort of detective work that helps to make this hobby so very interesting, whatever the results turn out to be. And that I can share all of this detective work with you is just "the icing on the cake"!

Monday, February 8, 2021

The Mixed Results in Identifying Mourning Shields (rouwbord), Part 1 of 2

Rouwbord, or mourning shields, are the Dutch/Flemish equivalents of the English hatchments. And like hatchments, they are also hung in churches and cathedrals. And also like hatchments, just on their faces they can tell you a lot about the individual they memorialize; i.e., whether the person was a man, an unmarried woman, or a married woman.

Also like hatchments, which also have no names painted on them, you can end up with mixed results when trying to identify the person memorialized.

To give examples of all of the above, in this post and the next one I'm going to go through the five rouwbord on one pillar in St. Bavo's Cathedral in Ghent. This one:

Here's a close-up of the memorial board at the top:

It's a rouwbord for a man, and tells us that he was born in 1771 and died in 1857. The coat of arms is that of someone in the family van de Werve: Azure three stags courant or. Alas, even with the dates and surname, I have not been able to find any additional details about this individual (like, say, his given name(s)).

The second memorial board is that of an unmarried woman:

You can tell that she is an unmarried lady because her arms are displayed on a lozenge-shaped shield.

I have, alas, been unable to identify this coat of arms, blazoned Lozengy or and azure. It may be related to the de Murat family, but de Murat (though using an identical coronet of rank) places their arms within a bordure gules. And a search for "de Murat" + "1816-1908" (the years of the lady's birth and death) achieved no results.

The third rouwbord from the top is this one:

Blazoned as Gules three stirrups on a canton argent a rose gules barbed vert, these are the arms of Joseph de Hemptinne (1822-1909), son of Félix-Joseph de Hemptinne and Henriette Lousbergs. His wife was Pauline Gonthyn (1822-1909).

As you can see, I was able to find a lot more information about Joseph de Hemptinne, thus illustrating the more positive portion of the "mixed results" that I spoke of at the beginning of this post.

We will come back to these arms in another post, as scattered about the interior of the Cathedral we find three generations of de Hemptinnes being memorialized there.

Next time, we will look at the two remaining rouwbord on this pillar, each memorializing a married woman.

Thursday, February 4, 2021

Hatchments, Belgian Style

The English definition of an heraldic hatchment is taken here from Parker's A Glossary of Terms Used in Heraldry, cf. "Achievement":

"Coats of arms in general, and particularly those funeral escutcheons, which being placed upon the fronts of houses or in churches, or elsewhere, set forth the rank and circumstances of the deceased. ... In France, the litre, or lisiere, hung around the churches, answers, perhaps, to the hatchment."

In The Netherlands and Flemish Belgium (where we were visiting at the time, in Ghent), these are called rouwbord, literally meaning "mourning shield".

So today, and for the next few posts, we're going to be looking at some of the "mourning shields" decorating the walls of St. Bavo's Cathedral.

The first will be a fairly recent memorial with a coat of arms containing an unusual charge.

This memorial board is that of Jan Briers (1919-2007), whose arms contain an unusual charge (though not the only one in Belgian heraldry) a piano keyboard.

He founded in 1958 a music festival called the Festival of Flanders.

According to Flemish heraldist and friend Luc Duerloo, Briers "was raised to the nobility because whenever it’s the Flemish nationalists’ turn, they put forward someone from the cultural sphere. It would be political death if a politician accepted the honor. Jan Briers has a Wikipedia article in Dutch. His son became governor of the province of East Flanders (nowhere near an American governor). It’s an office not an elected post."

Some of you may recall an Englishman who also has a piano keyboard on his coat of arms, although Sir Elton John's keyboard is a chief rather than a fess:

Monday, February 1, 2021

A Final Two Carved Armorial Memorials

For the final two carved armorial memorials in St. Bavo's Cathedral in Ghent, we find the following:

These are the arms of Govaart-Geeraard van Eersel, Bishop of Ghent 1770–1778. (We will see these arms again later in a stained glass window.) The are blazoned: Or three beavers rampant, the two in chief respectant, proper.

This is a carved portrait of Joachim du Puget, Baron de la Serre, d. 1717, singer of the Chapter of St. Bavo’s.

And here is his coat of arms:

His arms are blazoned:  Quarterly: 1 and 4, Gules a mullet of sixteen points or; 2 and 3, Or a ram clymant sable collared argent. I do not know the tinctures of the inescutcheon: A cross paty.