Monday, November 28, 2022

Because Of Course They Did!

Well, sure, isn't that just how it always seems to happen?

I recently did an update to my American Heraldry Collection (which can be downloaded for you to use from the "Some Articles I've Written" section in the left-hand column of this blog), and in the announcement of that update I noted that I was still waiting for the next installment from the Committee on Heraldry of the New England Historic Genealogical Society to be published.

So, sure, wouldn't you know it, that just a few days later the latest copy of the NEHG Register arrived in my in-box, containing the final installment of Part 11 of the Committee's Roll of Arms.

So having very recently made an announcement about an update to the American Heraldry Collection, I am back again to announce ... another update to the American Heraldry Collection!

Anyway, it's there, it's up to date (and likely to remain so at least until they start publishing Part 12, assuming I don't find some new source of American heraldry before then), and you can download it for your own use/research/etc.

I hope that you find it useful.

Thursday, November 24, 2022

Three (Okay, Four!) Different Coats of Arms at Jesus College, Cambridge

Our next stop on our tour of Cambridge is Jesus College, which has a pretty impressive gate and building façade.

The College was founded in 1496 by John Alcock, the Bishop of Ely, and the arms of the College markedly refer to him.

The arms are blazoned Argent on a fess between three cock's heads erased sable combed and wattled gules a bishop's mitre or all within a bordure gules semy of crowns or.

The base arms (Argent a fess between three cock's heads erased sable combed and wattled gules) are those of Alcock, while the bishop's mitre and the charged bordure refer to the Bishop and his See of Ely.

A bordureless version of these arms, along with two other coats, appear on the face of the College building behind the gate, above which stands a statue of Bishop Alcock himself:

The arms in the center over the doorway are of course the Royal Arms of England at the time, Quarterly France modern and England. As the College was founded in 1496, these would be the arms of King Henry VII, who reigned from 1485 to 1509.

Flanking the Royal Arms to the left are the arms of the See of Ely, of which John Alcock was Bishop. To the right are the Alcock arms on which the fess is charged with a gold bishop's mitre, a way of making the Alcock family arms personal to him.

Further down, still flanking the doors, is a gold eagle wings displayed, on the left, and a cock sable combed and wattled gules, on the right. I am uncertain as to the provenance of the eagle, but the cock comes from Bishop Alcock's canting crest, Issuant from a ducal coronet or a cock sable combed and wattled gules. While I don't see the coronet with the cock (you can click on the image above to go to a larger, more detailed photo, to double-check me), the Bishop's crest is undoubtedly where the bird here originates.

Anyway, it's one very nice gate and even nicer façade, highlighting the arms of Jesus College, King Henry VII, the See of Ely, and the College's found Bishop John Alcock.

Going down the street a little ways, I also came to the Marshall Court Study Center belonging to the Jesus College, with its arms (without the bishop's mitre on the fess) prominently displayed on the door:

Monday, November 21, 2022

Two Different Coats of Arms at Queens' College, Cambridge

Sometimes, it really helps to have the book.

No, really!

I had photographed this gate (and the building behind it) without fully realizing at the time that there were two (count 'em! two!) coats of arms on the gate. Each one done twice! Not counting the two crests, each atop a pillar framing the gate.

So I get home and I'm cleaning up the pictures (straightening, mostly, and cropping) and I realize that I recognize one of the two coats of arms (the little one on the green signs), but the other one, the black shield, is a bit of a poser.

The smaller shield on the green warning sign about pushing or pulling the gate is the arms of Queens' College, and is effectively Quarterly of six: 1, Hungary, 2, Anjou ancient/Naples, 3, Jerusalem, 4, Anjou modern, 5, Bar, and 6, Lorraine, all within a bordure vert.

These arms are those of Margaret of Anjou, Queen to King Henry VI, being the lordships and dignities of her father, René of Anjou, differenced by the bordure. They were granted to the College in 1575.

So far, so good. But what of the black shield with the crossed processional cross and crozier both surmounted by a boar's head?

Fortunately for me, and thus for you, I have a copy of The Cambridge Armorial, compiled by members of the Cambridge University Heraldic and Genealogical Society and edited by Cecil Humphrey-Smith, Heather E. Peek, Gordon H. Wright, and C.W. Scott-Giles. Published in 1985, it's not a brand-new volume, but it certainly covers the arms of the City of Cambridge and the University of Cambridge and its colleges at that time.

And so we learn from that book that the black shield is effectively an alternative coat of arms to that of Queen Margaret, consisting of a white boar's head derived from King Richard III's white boar badge surmounting a processional cross for St. Margaret and a crozier for St. Bernard. This coat has been used by the College since at least 1544.

So there you go.

Additionally, the gate pillars are each surmounted by a crest, Issuant from a coronet or an eagle rousant [personally, I'd blazon it as rising] sable winged or:

And there you have it! Two different coats of arms, plus crest, on a gate to Queens' College, Cambridge.

I have to admit, I really like seeing a crest done "in the round".


Thursday, November 17, 2022

Some More Methodist Heraldry in Cambridge

In another part of the city from the Wesley Methodist Church, I ran across some more Methodist heraldry at the Wesley House which is, as its website notes, "a reflective, cross-cultural community of prayer and study in Cambridge for students and scholars in the Wesleyan tradition."

As you walk down Jesus Lane in Cambridge, the House is hard to miss:

As I said, hard to miss!

And, of course, it displays its coat of arms very prominently in front:

The arms are blazoned Gules a cross between four escallops or on a chief sable an open book argent bound and clasped or.

The color of the shield and the cross and escallop shells in the arms here harken back to the Wesley arms we looked in the last post.

I'm not entirely sure how I feel about the black chief on a red field. On the one hand, it violates one of the most basic guidelines for heraldry, that of not placing a color (here, black) upon a color (red). On the other hand, it remains pretty identifiable, and so almost works.

Nevertheless, it's "heraldry in the wild", and for that reason alone worth sharing with you.

Monday, November 14, 2022

Some Methodist Heraldry (and Non-Heraldry) in Cambridge, England

One of the pleasures for me of being set loose on my own in a new town is the opportunity to find heraldry (and heraldry-like objects) on my meanderings.

In today's post, it was the façade of the Wesley Methodist Church in Cambridge, England which caught my attention, which, in addition to having two doorways with depictions of the alleged arms of Methodism's found John Wesley, also had other, some more and some less, heraldic items.

But first, the doorways:

The arms here, Gules on a cross argent five escallops sable, may (or may not) be the arms of John Wesley's branch of several Wesley/Westley/Wellesley families. (See, e.g.. "The Wesley Coat of Arms" by Frank Baker, published in The Journal of the Methodist Historical Society of South Africa, Vol. ii, No. 2, August 1954, which can be found on-line at

No matter its origins or its accurate attribution to John Wesley, these arms have nonetheless found a place as a symbol of the church he founded.

Also above each door is another shield, this time each one non-heraldic:

The first one (which goes with the first (color) coat of arms, is simply a shield with a scroll containing the words "Holiness unto the Lord".

The second is a pointed oval cartouche with the initials IHS, for Iesus Hominum Salvator (Jesus Savior of Mankind).

Also along the façade of the church are these angels holding shields, which may or may not be heraldic.

The first may be a plain shield, or it may be a shield divided per pale. Given that there are no other clues on the shield itself (you know, like charges), it is impossible to say for sure which.

The second is badly worn at the top of the shield, but I believe it to be a cross (and not a Tau cross). In may, in fact, be another attempt at the Welsey arms, but lacking the escallops it is hard to be sure.

In any event, the church is an interesting study in heraldry and heraldry-like features, and was well worth the seeing.

Thursday, November 10, 2022

I've Been Proven True Once Again!

I've said it over and over, and periodically something will pop up that proves it true: You Can Find Heraldry Everywhere!

This time, it was on a personalized license plate on an automobile that was parked in a nearby shopping center here in the heart of the suburban Dallas, Texas area.

Don't quite see it in the photo above? Here's a close-up:

It's the heraldry-like logo of the Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity.

Here's a better detail of it from Wikipedia:

Kappa Alpha Psi is a historically African-American fraternity that was founded on January 5, 1911 (hence the "Achievement 1911" on the license plate) at Indiana University Bloomington.

Though the fraternity has never restricted membership on the basis of color, creed, or national origin, though its membership is primarily composed of people of African descent.

It has over 160,000 members in 721 chapters throughout the United States and and eight international chapters.

I could try to give you a blazon of the shield, but what would be the point? It's not truly heraldry, despite the shield, helm, and motto scroll.

Nonetheless, it is certainly "heraldry adjacent", and proof positive once again, that "You can find heraldry everywhere!" Even parked in a nearby shopping center.

Monday, November 7, 2022

Updated Again!

You know the old line that I use a lot, that "You can find heraldry everywhere"?

Well, it turned out - slightly modified - to be true once again.

This time, I had to modify it slightly to read: "You can find American heraldry* everywhere!"

I recently purchased the two volumes of the Svenskt Vapenregister, a collection of the coats of arms registered in the Swedish Register of Arms by the Swedish Collegium of Arms, in conjunction with the Swedish National Committee for Genealogy and Heraldry and the Swedish Heraldry Society.

There are 200 such registered arms in Volume 1 of this set, and the next 200 in Volume 2. (New volumes will be produced as more arms are registered.) The Register only registers coats of arms for Swedish citizens, persons living in Sweden, and Swedish companies and other entities.

Anyway, in perusing these two books, I noticed that they include the place where the person lives, whether a city in Sweden, or a Swedish citizen living in another country (e.g., France, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, etc.). And, surprisingly (at least to me!), several coats were registered to individuals living in the United States.

So of course I had to include these new arms (well, one coat had also been registered by the United States Heraldic Registry, and so was already in the collection) in my American Heraldry Collection. So those arms have been added to the Excel spreadsheet, and the sources, both Volume 1 and Volume 1, were added to the explanatory Word document along with its Bibliography and Key to Source Abbreviations.

This newly-updated American Heraldry Collection can be downloaded as a .zip file from my website at, or from the link to the American Heraldry Collection in the left-hand column of this blog under the heading "Some Articles I've Written".

And, of course, we will have further updates as the next few issues of the NEHG Register, containing the 11th part of the Roll of Arms of the Committee on Heraldry of the New England Historic Genealogical Society, are published. When that happens, and those updates are included, I will let you know here.

Until then, enjoy these Swedish registrations of heraldry to some residents in the United States.

* Or, at least, heraldry used by Americans.

Thursday, November 3, 2022

Two Colleges, Two Impressive Gates, One Historical Coat of Arms, Part 2

Having looked at the gate to Christ's College, Cambridge, which prominently displays the arms, crest, supporters, and several badges of its founder, Lady Margaret Beaufort, we move on to the gate of the other Cambridge college which she helped to establish, St. John's College.

Not quite as in-your-face colorful as the Christ's College gate, St. John's College, too, bears the Beaufort coat of arms with its yale supporters, along with crowned red roses, several examples of the chained portcullis badge of the Beauforts, and a lot of daisies, or marguerites, a badge playing off of Lady Margaret's given name.

Here's another image, taken in a different light, which better shows the colors of all the carvings.

Lady Margaret began the development of St. John's College shortly before her death in 1509, and its foundation was completed by her executors in 1511.

And, of course, the information sign outside the gate bears the arms, crest, and supporters:

And there you have it: two Cambridge colleges, two very impressive gates, and one historical coat of arms with crest, supporters, and various badges.

Just the sort of thing you might think about using as a model for a gate to your own abode, right?