Thursday, March 2, 2023

Arms, and a Plethora of Biographical Information

For the coat of arms in this next window, not only do we have a blazon and an identification of the armiger, but because he has his own entry in the Dictionary of National Biography, we are blessed with a virtual treasure trove of biographical information.

The arms are unusual, containing as they do a purple chief on a green field (thus violating the heraldic Rule of Contrast usually described as "No color upon color, nor metal upon metal").

The arms are blazoned: Vert in chief two garbs or in base an arrow in pale argent on a chief purpure a cherub’s head proper between two estoiles or.

They are the arms of George Thackeray, D.D., Provost of King's College 1814-1850, who bequeathed his library of some 3,200 volumes to the College.

From the Dictionary of National Biography we learn the following:

THACKERAY, GEORGE (1777–1850), provost of King's College, Cambridge, born at Windsor, and baptized at the parish church on November 23, 1777, was the fourth and youngest son of Frederick Thackeray (1737-1782), a physician of Windsor, by his wife Elizabeth, daughter of Abel Aldridge of Uxbridge (d. 1816). George became a king's scholar at Eton in 1792, and a scholar of King's College, Cambridge, in 1796. In 1800 he was elected a fellow of King's College, and in the following year was appointed assistant master at Eton. He graduated B.A. in 1802, M.A. in 1805, and B.D. in 1813. On April 4, 1814 he was elected provost of King's College, and in the same year obtained the degree of D.D. by royal mandate.

The death of his second wife in 1818 cast a gloom over Thackeray's subsequent life. He devoted much of his time to collecting rare books, and "there was not a vendor of literary curiosities in London who had not some reason for knowing the provost of King's." He directed the finances of the College with great ability. He held the appointment of chaplain in ordinary to King George III and to the three succeeding sovereigns (George IV, King William IV, and Queen Victoria).

Thackeray died in Wimpole Street on October 21, 1850, and was buried in a vault in the ante-chapel of King's College. He was twice married: on November 9, 1803 to Miss Carbonell; and in 1816 to Mary Ann, eldest daughter of Alexander Cottin of Cheverells in Hertfordshire. She died on February 18, 1818 (just two years after their marriage), leaving a daughter, Mary Ann Elizabeth.

So how's that for not only identifying the armiger, but finding a great deal of information about his life? Ah, if only all of them were this easy, or productive.

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