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.