Thursday, April 18, 2024

Memorial to a Wife by Her Sister

Our next armorial memorial in York Minster has a bit of a story to tell: Though it has on its face the marital arms of a woman, it was not erected by her husband, but by her younger sister. (Who, based on her marriage, may have had more funds available to her to erect this monument.)

Dorothy Langley, née Willoughby, who died April 13, 1824, has this lovely memorial with an intricately carved gothic canopy over it:

Dorothy, as the inscription on the monument tells us (though in less detail), was the oldest daughter of Henry Willoughby, 5th Baron Middleton, and his wife, Dorothy, née Cartwright.

Dorothy (the daughter) married Richard Langley of Wykeham Abbey in 1784.

Dorothy's younger sister, Henrietta, had married Richard Lumley-Saunderson, 6th Earl of Scarbrough, and it was Henrietta who erected this monument to her sister, and not, as we more commonly expect to see, by Dorothy's husband Richard Langley. (But then again, the wife of an Earl may have had more funds available to her than a "mere" Esquire.)

No matter. Immediately below the canopy, we find the marital arms of Dorothy (Willoughby) Langley.

The blazon is: Quarterly: 1 and 4, Paly of six argent and vert a canton gules; 2 and 3, Or a fess between three crescents gules (Langley); impaling Quarterly: 1 and 4, Or fretty azure; 2 and 3; Vert on two bars or  three water bougets sable (Willoughby).

Burke's General Armory gives the arms for Langley of Wikeham Abbey, Malton, county York, with the fess and crescents in the first and fourth quarters, and the paly -- without the canton -- in the second and third quarters. But he also cites several Langleys bearing Paly of six argent and vert (without the canton), including Langley of Langley, county Durham and Sheriff Hutton, county York, so that would appear to indicate that the paly quarters are the pronomial arms of this Langley family, which would normally properly be placed in the first and fourth quarters.

The Willoughby, Baron Middleton, arms may also be seen (carved but not painted) on the memorial to Henry, 5th Baron Middleton in St. Leonard's Church, Wollaton. See, e.g.,,_5th_Baron_Middleton

Burke does not give these colors for the second and third quarters of the Willoughby arms, citing them as: Or on two bars gules three water bougets argent. I do not know how to account for this difference in the colors. Is Burke incorrect? Possibly (see the Langley arms above). Did the painter of the arms on this memorial make an error? Possibly. (I have seen paintings of heraldry where it looked like the painter had a limited pallet, and so used the colors he or she had to hand rather than the correct ones.)

Still, it's a lovely memorial, and well worth sharing with you.

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