Monday, February 20, 2023

Partial Success in Identifying a Coat of Arms

I find it interesting (frustrating, at times, but interesting) just how much -- or how little -- information I can discover about the bearer of a coat of arms.

Sometimes, as in my last post, I can learn a lot about someone; parents, siblings, career, birth and death dates, etc., etc., etc.

Other times, and at the other end of the spectrum, I can't even confirm a surname to go with the heraldry. (This is where the frustration sets in.)

And sometimes, I can only find the barest amount of basic information about someone. For example:

In this window in King's College Chapel, Cambridge, in addition to the three stained glass roundels (which from all appearances came from earlier, older and now incomplete windows), there is also a panel with a coat of arms in it.

The arms, Azure three lozenges argent, a crescent in chief for difference, are remarkable not only for their simplicity, but also for the dearth of identifying information I was able to find.

The full extent of the information that I could locate about the bearer is that these arms belonged to Martin Freeman, a Fellow of King’s College, who died April 6, 1630.

The only entries in Burke's General Armory for these arms are:

Freeman (co. Northampton). Az[ure] three lozenges ar[gent].
Freeman (Higham Ferrars, co. Northampton). Same Arms. Crest-A demi lion ramp[ant] gu[les] charged with a lozenge ar[gent].

The crescent on the shield here is the cadency mark of a second son.

Martin Freeman has no entry in the Dictionary of National Biography, and the overwhelming majority of internet searches came back with results for Martin Freeman the actor (Sherlock, The Hobbit, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, etc.). Interesting in general, but not very helpful here.

So there we are, a bare-bones identification for this coat of arms. And as I said at the beginning of this post: interesting, and frustrating.


  1. The Cambridge Alumni database at has the following entry:
    " Martin FREEMAN
    Approx. lifespan: 1596–1630
    Adm. at King's College scholar from Sch: Eton 1613
    b. in London , c1596
    Matric. 1614:04ET:
    B.A. 1617/8
    M.A. 1621
    Fellow 1616-30
    Proctor 1625
    Declaimed before King James and the French ambassadors on philosophy.
    Died 1630:04:07 ; buried in the College Chapel.
    ( Harwood ; Le Neve, Mon. I. 119)"

    1. Nice find! Although a fairly "bare-bones" biographical entry, it _does_ give us more information than I had been able to find. Thank you!