Thursday, April 11, 2024

Well, This One Turned Out to Be Frustrating to Properly Identify

I mean, really, I've been researching heraldry for a long time now, and particularly for something like quartered arms, attached to a family of a not terribly common surname, and accompanied with an inscription that helpfully gives the person's name, you'd think I would be able to track down the arms and its colors fairly readily.

Alas, no.

The armorial memorial in question is that of Ranulph or Randolph Hurleston, who died in 1587. He was, as the little information I could find about him explains, a member of the Council of the North.

There is a two-sentence description in A Guide to the Heraldry of York Minster that gives the above information. He does not appear in the Dictionary of National Biography, and an internet search simple repeats the information in the Guide. The inscription on his marker adds very little to that information:

"The bodi of Ranulph Hurleston, Esquier, one of the honorable councel in these north parts lieth here in hope of ioiful resurreccion who adorned with great gifts of lerning, gravitie, wisdom ioined with rare godliness: was alwais careful for advancing of the sincere doctrine of Christe, and of that æquitie which everiwhere ought to be observed, never ceasing his faithful labours to profite this church and common welth: until it pleased our gracious God merciful (in a veri short moment, without ani, or with the least, dolors of death) to ende all the labors of his faithfull servant and to translate his sowle into his æternal rest. XIII Aprilis Anno Christi Incarnati 1587. All the daies of his peregrinacon were LXII years for whose godli life the Anointed Saviour be praised for ever. Amen."

So we are left with the not especially well carved coat of arms:

Looking at quarters 1 and 4, Burke's General Armory gives us Hurleston/Hurlestone (both from Chester), with a blazon of Argent a cross of four ermine spots sable.

For quarters 2 and 3: There are three “[plain field] three garbs … within a [plain] bordure …” in Papworth:

Cummin/Cumming, Azure three garbs within a bordure or
Berkhead/Birkenhead/Brickbed/Brickhet, Sable three garbs or within a bordure argent; and
Berkhead/Brickhed and Segrave, Sable three garbs within a bordure or.

So it might be any (or, for that matter, none) of these.

In the fess point of the shield is a crescent for difference, the crescent being the cadency mark of second son.

Burke's gives the Hurleston crest as: An ermine passant argent. (What is carved here is pretty clearly a wolf statant.) Fairbairn's Crests gives a wolf statant as being borne by the following families, none of whom are Hurleston: Biddulph, Carden/Cardin, Dane, Iles, Knott, Lawley, and Preston.

The situation remains if we assume that the crest carved here is a fox; several families bearing a fox statant, none of whom are Hurleston.

Finally, the motto is, Virtus vitæ laus (Praise the virtue of life). It does not appear in my copy of Fairbairn's.

So, after doing all this research through the heraldry books, where did I end up?

Right where I began, with the two-sentence description in A Guide to the Heraldry of York Minster.

Well, sometimes that is both the attraction and disappointment of heraldry, and life, too, for that matter. Some you win, some you lose, and some (as here) you just break even.

1 comment:

  1. A reader emailed me a bunch of information on his distant ancestor, Ralph Hurleston, a son of Thomas Hurleston and Elizabeth Birkenhead. He included a link to a larger biography on The History of Parliament website:

    Additionally, he notes that the second and third quarters are the arms of Birkenhead (one of the options I noted in the post above), and thus are properly blazoned: Sable three garbs or within a bordure argent.

    A big and sincere "Thank you!" to Simon Gregory, who sent me all of this (and more)!