Monday, March 11, 2024

An Early 17th Century Armorial Monument

One of the things that can be a bit (or sometimes more than a bit!) frustrating when trying to learn more about the shield or shields on an heraldic monument is the lack of information given by the guides that have been published.

In some cases, this lack of information can go back guides published some 100 to 150 years ago.

Take today's monument, for example.

This is a general view of the monument of Dr. Henry Swinburne, c. 1551-1620, located in north Choir Aisle in York Minster.

A Guide to the Heraldry in York Minster, published in 1986, on pp. 46 and 48, tells us that Dr. Swinburne was an eminent York lawyer, whose arms show him related to the Swinburnes of Capheaton, Northumberland. The Guide also gives us the names of his two wives, Ellen Lant and Margaret Wentworth, notes that only his second wife is commemorated on the monument, and then briefly reviews the heraldic shields there. And the information ends there.

The two volumes entitled The Heraldry of York Minster published back in 1890 and 1896 by Arthur Perceval Purey-Cust, whose arms appear in the Cathedral and which we have looked at recently, say nothing about the Swinburne monument.

Wikipedia, at, gives us a little more information about Dr. Swinburne, but leaves us on our own regarding the heraldry on his monument.

So now we are left pretty much to our own devices in trying to decipher the heraldry here. The bulk of the information I give here comes from the brief mentions in the Guide. It's not much, but it's what I can find.

Quarterly: 1, Per fess gules and argent three cinquefoils counterchanged (Swinburne); 2, Sable [may originally have been vert] a lion rampant argent (Heton); 3, Per chevron gules and argent three crosses crosslet counterchanged (Chartnam?); and 4, Or an orle azure (or perhaps vert) (Bertram). The crest, which does not appear in Fairbairn's Crests: A boar's head couped sable armed and langued or charged on the neck with a crescent argent (presumably for difference). 

At the top left of the monumene we see the arms of Chartnam again, which the Guide tells us distinguishes Dr. Swinburne's arms from those of the main branch of Swinburne of Capheaton.

On the upper right of the monument, we see the arms of Bertram again.

And on the lower left of the monument, the arms of Swinburne.

I am missing a picture of the arms on the lower right of the monument, which you can see in the first photo above are the arms of Heton.

Another photo of a shield that I am missing can be seen immediately below the figure of Dr. Swinburne, of Swinburne impaling Wentworth, Sable a chevron between three leopard's faces or, on the chevron a crescent gules for difference.

Anyway, it's a lovely old monument, some 400 years old. I just wish that there was a better description of the arms contained on it.

Maybe in my next life, when I expect to have a lot more time, I will offer to update some of these guides with better information about the heraldry contained in them.

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