Thursday, October 12, 2023

Heraldic Commemoration of the End of a Civil War Siege

In today's post, we look at one of the historical markers in York, England that commemorates the end of the siege of the City of York, where the Royalists surrendered the city on July 16, 1644 to the Parliamentary forces under generous terms that spared much destruction.

Like many of the commemorative markers in the city, this one bears the arms of the City of York (Argent on a cross gules five lions passant guardant or) and the badge of the York Civic Trust (Azure a fleur-de-lis dimidiating Gules a crowned leopard's face or) with arms of Fairfax: Or three bars gemel gules overall a lion rampant sable.

The arms are those of Ferdinando Fairfax, 2nd Lord Fairfax of Cameron (1584-1648), who was knighted in 1608, and served as General of the Parliamentary forces in the north during the Civil War. He was Governor of York 1644-48. He has a full page entry in the Dictionary of National Biography, as well as his own page in Wikipedia at,_2nd_Lord_Fairfax_of_Cameron.

Ferdinando's sone, Thomas Fairfax, 3rd Lord Fairfax of Cameron (1612-1671) served under his father in the Parliamentary army, and was very likely involved in this siege, but he later supported the Restoration in 1660. Thomas has a page entry in the Dictionary of National Biography, so I’m clearly not going to repeat all of that information about him here. If you want something a little shorter, he, too, has his own Wikipedia page at

It seems to be pretty rare to find the arms of an individual on one of these memorial plaques, in addition to the arms of the City and the badge of the Civic Trust. Still, as the plaque itself notes, in 1994 (on the 350th anniversary of the surrender) it was unveiled by the Lord Mayor of York and Nicholas Cameron, 14th Lord Fairfax of Cameron, so these arms may be here as much because of the 14th Lord as they are because of the 2nd.

Either way, I always find it gratifying to see the use of a coat of arms by members of a family, years or even centuries (here, 3½ centuries) apart, don't you?

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