Thursday, May 30, 2024

Arms and Other Symbols in the Choir of York Minster, Part 3 of 3

Today is the last of our series of three posts on the heraldry and heraldry-like designs that appear in the choir of York Minster.

Scholarum de Cantu (the York Choir School), with the arms of St. George: Argent a cross gules.

Canonicus Laicus (lay canon), South Cave: Gules in pale three Saxon crowns or.

Stillington: Azure a cross recercely issuing from its base a pair of anchor flukes all or. Admittedly, the cross here appears to be copper-colored, but copper as an heraldic tincture only appears (so far) in the heraldry of Canada, not of England, so I went with the closest heraldic metal, gold.

2192: Ulleskelf: Sable a Maltese cross (?) azure and argent. Here again, as we had twice in my previous post, a cross that is not quite quarterly and not quite gyronny. Even after more research, I still don't know how to blazon its division. Still, it's pretty, if not quite heraldic.

Unnamed: Azure a crozier sable surmounted by a pallium or charged with four crosses paty fitchy sable. If the pallium were white instead of gold, this would be the See of York ancient? (or possibly the Archbishopric of Canterbury). As it is, I cannot make a firm identification for this design.

And finally, saving what may be the least traditionally heraldic for last, the Provincial Canon, or Canonicus Provincialis: Azure a fish leaping to sinister within the horns of a crescent of net bendwise sinister all argent. This design matches in style with some of the modern heraldic designs from Scandinavia and Greenland, but it's not traditional English heraldry by any stretch of the imagination. (Still, I was able to come up with a blazon for it, which is more than I can say for three of the crosses from today and last time!)

Until next time, enjoy!

Monday, May 27, 2024

Arms and Other Symbols in the Choir of York Minster, Part 2 of 3

Today is the second of three posts on the heraldry and other quasi-heraldic items found in the choir stalls in York Minster.

You will note that some of these are somewhat less heraldic than others.

Botevant, with a lesser-known attributed arms of St. Peter: Sable a rooster turned to sinister or beaked wattled and marked gules.

Ampleforth, with the arms of St. Hilda: Azure three serpents coiled or. (We have seen these in our previous post, representing the Bishop of Whitby by way of the arms of Whitby Abbey.) The coiled snakes are really ammonite fossils. According to legend, Abbess Hilda of Whitby Abbey rounded up the serpents that swarmed around the abbey. She hurled them from the cliffs, where they lost their heads and turned into stones.

Apesthorp: Azure an escarbuncle argent.

Bilton: Azure a cross (?) or and gules. I am at somewhat of a loss as to how to blazon this cross. It is almost quarterly and almost gyronny, without being either. (We run into exactly this same issue with the emblem for Knaresborough, below.) It's a pretty design, but I don't know how to blazon it.

Canonicus Laicus, Wilton: Argent on a lozenge azure a cross moline argent charged in the center with a delf bendwise argent marked sable. I have to admit, I don't know what the charge in the center of the cross is supposed to be. I was more than half-tempted to blazon it a "Rubik's cube", but have manfully resisted right until typing this comment.

Knaresborough: Sable a Maltese cross (?) argent and azure. As with Bilton, above, I don't know how to blazon the division of the cross here. It's pretty, but blazoning it is a problem.

Next time, the final part of the heraldry and quasi-heraldry in the choir at York Minster.

Thursday, May 23, 2024

Arms and Other Symbols in the Choir of York Minster, Part 1 of 3

The Choir of York Minster is not without its own heraldic (and quasi-heraldic) decorations.

And we're going to cover many of those in this series of three blog posts. (Broken up so as to avoid making one very, very long post!)

First, here's an general view of some of the choir stalls, so you can see generally how these needlework emblems were placed in the stalls and (most of them) identified with name plaques above them.

First, representing the Bishop of Selby, the arms of Selby Abbey: Sable three swans proper.

The, representing the Bishop of Hull, the emblem carved on roof of Holy Trinity Church, Hull: Gules three annulets interlaced one and two argent.

The Bishop of Whitby, with the arms of Whitby Abbey (and the attributed arms of St. Hilda, d. 680): Azure three serpents coiled or.

The Bishop of Beverly, represented by the arms of Beverly Minster: Argent a crozier sable enfiling a crown argent all within a bordure sable charged with twelve bezants. Other versions of these arms that I have seen make the crown gold and the roundels on the bordure white.

Bugthorp, with the arms of St. Andrew: Azure a saltire argent.

And finally, Langtoft, with the arms of Stt Peter: Gules two keys in saltire wards to chief argent.

Next time, more heraldry from more choir stalls!

Monday, May 20, 2024

"I Am the Very Model of a Modern Major-General"

Well, sure, the inscription on our next memorial says "Lt.-General", which outranks a Major-General, but in addition to not scanning as well if you are singing the line from Gilbert and Sullivan (as I did repeatedly while researching this memorial), other sources give the rank of the man being memorialized as "Major-General".*

The website informs us that Major-General Charles Frederick Torrens Daniell CB (1827-1889) was a British Army General holding high office in the 1880s.

Born in Berkhamsted in Hertfordshire, the youngest son of Thomas Daniell of Aldridge Lodge, Staffordshire and Little Berkhamsted in Hertfordshire and of Mary née Smith of the Smith banking family, Daniell was commissioned into the 38th Regiment of Foot.

He served as a Major in the Crimea with the 38th Regiment of Foot.

In 1884 he was invited to command an Infantry Brigade at Malta and then in 1886 he was appointed General Officer Commanding Northern District. He remained in this post until 1889.

He died on 26 July 1889 in Beaufort Gardens, South Kensington. There is a beautiful memorial to him in York Minster created from sculpted stonework with inscriptions around oaken doors in the area leading to the vestry. [This is the memorial we are looking at in today's post.]

In 1849 he married Charlotte Vernon, and then in 1856 he married Mary Smith, his first cousin: they had one daughter.

The memorial was erected by their daughter Constance and her husband Charles Graves-Sawle, whose initials appear in the inscription on the plaque, which also notes that York Minster is the church where they were married (this last explains why this memorial is erected here).

There are two coats of arms on the memorial. The one on the left is that of Daniell, Argent a pale fusilly sable, for General Charles Frederick Torrens Daniell. 

The one on the right is Sawle quartering Graves, with Daniell in pretense; these are the arms of the general’s daughter, Constance née Daniell, and her husband, Captain Charles Graves-Sawle. They are blazoned: Quarterly: 1 and 3, Azure three falcon's heads erased within a bordure or (Sawle); 2 and 3, Gules an eagle displayed in chief a mural crown [Burke's General Armory says it should be a naval crown] between two bombs or fired proper (Graves); overall an inescutcheon Argent a pale fusilly sable (Daniell).**

* "The seeming incongruity that a lieutenant general outranks a major general (whereas a major outranks a lieutenant) is due to the derivation of major general from sergeant major general, which was a rank subordinate to lieutenant general (as a lieutenant outranks a sergeant major)." (per Wikipedia)

** As General Daniell's only child was a daughter, in English practice she became an heraldic heiress, allowing her husband to place her paternal arms on an inescutcheon on his shield, denoting that any children they have would be able to quarter their father's arms with their mother's. It may be that in this case, the Daniell arms would be placed in the third quarter, replacing one of the Graves' quarters. Unless the Graves-Sawle arms were deemed to be in impartible quartering, in which case the quarterly Graves-Sawle arms would be placed in their entirety in quarters one and four as a "grand quarrter," and the Daniell arms would be placed in quarters two and three. Ain't heraldry fun?

Thursday, May 16, 2024

A Life That Sounds Like a Movie

Or a least, a movie title, something along the lines of: The Bengal Lancers. Or the old 1950s TV series, "Tales of the 77th Bengal Lancers."

But seriously, one of the things that I really enjoy about researching for and writing these posts is when I can find a lot of information about the person whose memory is being memorialized. It doesn't always happen, but when it does, it's a fascinating look back into history.

Today's armorial memorial is one of those.

This is the memorial to Major C.E.T. Oldfield, of the 5th Bengal Light Cavalry.

The inscription reads:

In memory of Christopher Edward Thomas Oldfield,
Companion of the Most Honorable
Order of the Bath,
Major of the Fifth Regiment
of Bengal Light Cavalry,
and Lieutenant Colonel of
the Army of India,
who after a service of
thirty years, distinguished by
his gallantry and conduct,
especially in the defence of
Jellalabad in 1842,
and in the battle of Maharajapore, in 1843,
died suddenly at Nakodah,
in the East Indies,
on the 16th of April 1850,
aged 45 years and 5 months.
This tablet is erected
by his brother Officers
of the 5th Regiment,
to mark their admiration
of his gallantry as a soldier,
and to record their regard for him
as an honorable man,
and a trusty generous friend.

And now for the history: informs us that:

"Christopher Edward Thomas Oldfield was born in Murshidabad, Bengal, on 17 Nov 1804. He was the son of Christopher Oldfield, BCS and Mary Johanna. He was educated in England and trained as a cadet from the age of 16. He arrived back in India on 25 May 1821 and was posted to the 5th Bengal Light Cavalry in July. He was promoted to Lieutenant on 13 May 1825 and was Interpreter and Quartermaster in the 5th BLC from 13 July 1825. He went on furlough from 1833 to 16 Dec 1835.

He served in the First Afghan War, in the operations against the Ghilzais in 1841 and at Kurutu on 5 Aug 1841. He commanded the rearguard on the march from Khurd Kabul to Tazin in October 1841, and at the actions at Tazin and Jagdalak. He commanded the detachment of 130 men during the siege of Jellalabad, and the action at Mamu Khel. He was given Brevet Major for his services in the war, and appointed Honorary Aide-de-Camp to the Governor-General on 1 April 1842. He was given command of the 8th Irregular Cavalry in April 1842 and the 4th Irregular Cavalry in Dec 1842.

In the Gwalior Campaign he fought at Maharajpore, commanding the 4th Irregular Cavalry. He went on furlough from 10 Feb 1845 until 1 Nov 1849 when he rejoined the 5th BLC. He was awarded the CB [Companion to the Order of the Bath] on 4 Oct 1842. He died at Nakodar, Punjab, on 16 April 1850. The memorial plaque to him is in York Minster."

But, of course, it's really the heraldry that warrants him a place on this blog.

The coat of arms is a variant of Oldfield, of Oldfield, county Chester, substituting here a gold field for their silver: Or on a bend gules three crosses paty fitchy argent. The crest appears to be a variant of Oldfield of Bradfield, county Chester, substituting here proper for argent: A demi-eagle displayed proper.

Beneath the shield, we see Major Oldfield's medal as a Companion of the Order of the Bath, with its three crowns within a circlet charged with the words Tria Junca In Uno (Three joined in one).

It's a very nice monument, erected to the memory of a man by his brother officers, whose white stone really makes the coat of arms and crest stand out.

Monday, May 13, 2024

An Officer and a Knight

Yes, I know that the phrase is usually "an officer and a gentleman," but in this instance, the gentleman was knighted, so there you go.

Our next memorial to a military man in the crypt of York Minster is that of General Sir John Grenfell Maxwell and his wife, Louise Selina née Bonynge, who both died in 1929.

You can find out a lot more about the General's life and career on-line at:

The arms are blazoned: Argent a saltire between in chief a rest* sable and in base a holly leaf vert. The crest is: A stag proper attired argent,couchant before a holly bush proper. And the motto over the crest is: Reviresco (I grow strong again).

Both the crest and the motto are those of Clan Maxwell. The Clan does not currently have a chief (the last one, William Maxwell of Carruchan, died in 1863), and is considered by Lord Lyon to be an armigerous clan. The General’s arms are a differenced version of the Clan’s arms, which feature an argent field with a sable saltire.

* More frequently blazoned as a clarion, this charge, as Franklyn and Tanner tell us in their An Encyclopædic Dictionary of Heraldry, is "a primitive musical instrument, being a shepherd's pipe; in heraldic art, highly conentionalized. ... In the course of its history it has been mistaken for, and blazoned as, a lance-rest ..., and as a ship's rudder, and has numerous alternative terms: 'clarendon', 'claricimbal', 'claricord', 'clavecimbal', 'lance-rest', 'organ-rest', 'rest', 'rudder', and 'shepherd's pipes'; all except clarion and organ-rest are now obsolete."

Thursday, May 9, 2024

Oh, Captain, My Captain!

Yes, I know that the heading, taken from the poem by Walt Whitman written in 1865 following the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln has nothing whatever to do with this next memorial in York Minster, but given the rank of the memorialized officer, it was the first thing that popped into my head, and so I ran with it.

Captain Edward Charles Starkey* (died January 12, 1906) was, as we are told on the memorial and in the little that I could find about him on-line, Captain in the 13th Hussars.

It was interesting, however, to note what I could discover about Captain Starkey on-line, in some little but much more personal ways that one usually finds when searching the web.

From notes in extracts from The Army Gazette published in Colburn’s United Service Magazine and Naval and Military Journal in November 1867, we find: “13th Hussars—Lieutenant E C Starkey to be capt., by purchase. Vice T W S Miles, who retires; Oct. 16. Cornet W J Moore to be lieut., by purchase, vice Starkey; Oct. 16.”

The History of the XIII Hussars by C.R.B. Barrett notes a cup, 15” high and 13” in breadth, “Presented to the Officers’ Mess, 13th Hussars, by Captain E.C. Starkey on his leaving the Regiment, 1873.”

And Capt. Starkey is remarked as a member of the Gun Club at one of the Club’s pigeon shoots, in The Morning Post of London in the June 9, 1874 edition.

Finally, the August 10, 1876 issue of the Journal of Horticulture and Cottage Gardener notes "A Flower Show at Heworth," held on the grounds of Tang Hall (Captain Starkey's home) with the kind permission of Mrs. Starkey, with especial notice of “the President’s (Captain E.C. Starkey’s) special prize for collections of eight exotic Ferns….”

 But of course, we're here for the heraldry, and not for the minutiae of  Captain Starkey's life both in and out of the military.

The late Captain's arms (you can click on the image above to go to a larger and more detailed photograph) are blazoned: Argent a bend engrailed vair between six storks statant sable. (These are, of course, canting - or punning - arms: storks = Starkey.) The motto underneath the arms, Homo proponit, Deus disponit translates to "Man proposes, God disposes."

* Presumably Captain Starkey is no relation to Sir Richard Starkey, MBE (Ringo Starr, of the Beatles), born in 1940, and who, from what I can find, does not have his own coat of arms. But Ringo may want to look into his family history to see if he might be entitled to these, or otherwise suitably differenced, arms.

Monday, May 6, 2024

And Now For Some Personal Heraldry of Soldiers

The next several monuments we are going to visit in York Minster are erected to the memory of varioius military men.

The first is that of Captain Pelsant Reeves.

Capt. Reeves, as the inscription tells us, was Captain in the 1st (or Royal) Regiment who fell in battle at Toulon, 30th November 1793, aged 29. (Given the different surname, I am assuming that George Dawson was Capt. Reeves brother-in-arms rather than a brother by birth.)

The siege of Toulon (September 18, 1793 – December 18, 1793) was a military engagement that took place during the Federalist revolts and the War of the First Coalition, part of the French Revolutionary Wars. It was undertaken by forces of the French Republic against Royalist rebels supported by Anglo-Spanish forces in the southern French city of Toulon.

But of course, it's the heraldry that truly interests us here.

Burke’s General Armory cites: Reeve (co. Norfolk). Gules a chevron vairy or and azure between three roses argent barbed and seeded proper. Crest—A dragon’s head erased proper collared or.

The arms here match the above, but the crest here is painted as: A tyger’s head erased argent armed maned and collared or, not a dragon's head. Fairbairn’s Crests gives us: Reeve, Suffolk, A tiger’s head erased argent armed maned and collared or, but the head shown in the plate there is that of a natural or Bengal tiger, and not the heraldic tyger.*

I believe that there are one or more errors, either in the description or in the rendition, but I do not know which. I am thus left without evidence, especially given the different spellings of the surname -- Reeve vs. Reeves -- and different counties -- Berkshire vs. Norfolk vs. Suffolk -- that either the arms or the crest are rightfully attributed to Captain Reeves here.

Still, it's an interesting coat of arms on a memorial to a comparatively young soldier who died fighting in a foreign country.

* The heraldic tyger (or tygre), as Franklyn and Tanner in their An Encyclopædic Dictionary of Heraldry tell us, is “a composite fictitious beast having the tail, body, and limbs of a lion, the maned neck of a horse, and the head of a wolf, but the upper jaw develops a frontal horn: this may be either corkscrew-shaped or curved downward, like the upper mandible of an eagle.”

Thursday, May 2, 2024

Two Different Coats of Arms, But Whose Are They Really?

Our next memorial in York Minster is that of John Brooke, about whom A Guide to the Heraldry in York Minster tells us only that he was Precentor, lived 1567 to 1616, and that the monument displays "[t]wo versions of the arms of Brooke."

 A little on-line research led me to find a very little bit about "Rev. John Brooke, S.T.P., Rector of Elmley, Precentor and Canon Residentiary of York, and Vicar of Silkstone." And a chapter of A History of Cawthorne, entitled "Endowments of the Church, Incumbents and Curates" notes the 1615 decree in the case of Brooke v. Waterhouse, et al., in the Court of Exchequer which can be found on-line at,_Incumbents_and_Curates and makes for interesting reading for those interested in some of the minutiae of such things.

And as you can see from the photograph above, there are indeed two different coats of arms, one on each side of the memorial text (which is all in Latin).

There is another coat of arms, with crest, at the top of the monument:

The arms here, and on the left-hand side of the memorial, are: Argent a cross engrailed per pale gules and sable on a chief azure three fleurs-de-lis argent. The crest is: Atop a mural coronet or a badger statant proper. The crest is, of course, a cant (a pun on the surname), as a badger is also called a brock, an appropriate pun for Brooke.

Here is a close-up of the arms on the left of the lower portion of the memorial. As you can easily see, they match the coat of arms at the top of the memorial:

And a close-up of the arms on the right side:

This version of the arms would be blazoned: Azure three fleurs-de-lis on a chief argent a lion passant gules.

I have found neither of these two coats in Burke’s General Armory nor in Papworth’s Ordinary of British Armorials.

Burke's does have some similar coats to the one at the top and on the left of the memorial for: Ralph Brooke, York Herald: Or a cross engrailed per pale gules and sable on a chief gules a lion passant guardant or; and, Brooke of Norton Priory, co. Chester, and Brooke of Horton, co. Gloucester: Or a cross engrailed per pale gules and sable, this last with the crest: A brock or badger (passant) proper.

As you will note, though, those arms from Burke's have a different colored field (gold instead of silver), and either an entirely different chief or no chief at all. The specific form and colors of the cross, though, make it clear that it is certainly related to at least some of the Brookes.

I have no idea why this memorial displays two different coats of arms, neither one of which I have been able to find in the standard references. (That inability is not especially rare, as you may have noticed in a number of my previous posts.) But for it to display two seemingly unrelated coats of arms is unusual, and I do not have sufficient information to be able to explain it either to myself or to you.

English clergy could, and did, marry at this time, so it is possible that the blue shield is that of a wife, but I haven't found a wife for Rev. Brooke. Nor have I found that coat of arms in the ordinaries to which I have access, so I don't have a surname attached to it to search for that way.

So it's a bit of a conundrum, but a fascinating display of heraldry nonetheless.