Monday, August 20, 2018

Meanwhile, Back at St. Margaret's Chapel, Westminster ...

To return from our recent posts of "heraldic things I got distracted by" ("Ooh, shiny!") to go back to a final few heraldic monuments still to be shared from St. Margaret's Chapel, Westminster. Here, we have the memorial to John Dorington, Esq., and his wife, Sarah. (You can click on the image to see the larger photograph of this memorial.)

To the memory of
of Queen Square,
Who departed this life
on the 27th of June, 1827,
aged 74 years.

Also of
of Clarges Street,
Relict of the Above,
Who departed this life
on the 13th of February, 1845,
Aged 85 years.

Though uncolored here, the arms are blazoned in The History of the Parish Church of Saint Margaret, Westminster by Walcott (1847) as Sable three bugle horns argent stringed gules.

There is no entry for Dorington in Burke’s General Armory.

Papworth’s Ordinary of British Armorials assigns the arms as blazoned in Walcott to “Dodington, Dodington, co. Somerset; and Meere, co. Wilts.”

Burke gives the same attribution for these arms, but gives the crest as A lion’s jambe proper holding a flag gules charged with a chevron or.

Fairbairn’s Crests gives that crest cited in Burke as belonging to Dorington and Dorrington, as well as to Dodington.

No sources give the crest as it appears on the monument, which I take to be A stag’s or hart’s (or possibly an elk’s) head erased.

According to Burke’s Landed Gentry, John Edward Dorington, Esq., of Lypiatt Park (b. 1832), was the son of John Edward Dorington, Esq., of Lypiatt Park (d. 1874), and the grandson of John Dorington (d. 1827) and his wife Sarah Columbine (d. 1845), who are memorialized here. The Landed Gentry gives the arms of Dorington of Lypiatt Park as Sable three bugles argent stringed gules, with the motto Strepitus non terret ovantem (for which I find no entry in Fairbairn’s, and so no translation, except for a somewhat opaque one from one of the Latin-to-English on-line translators, which results in “Noise that scares mounting”).

Thursday, August 16, 2018

When Someone Asks, "What Good Is Heraldry?"

I've long had a quote that I like to pull out to help explain how heraldry can be useful to folks doing research, whether genealogical or historical:

Many are the incidents, but faintly written in the pages of history, which would have remained for ever dark and illegible, but for the light flashed on them by the torch of Heraldry. A shield of Arms, a Badge, or a Rebus depicted on a glass window, painted on a wall, carved on a corbel or monument, will frequently indicate, with unerring precision, the date to which such relics are to be ascribed, and  whose memory they are intended to perpetuate, when all verbal descriptions are wanting; and the identity of many an old portrait rests on no other authority than that of a coat of Arms painted at the side.

John E. Cussans, The Handbook of Heraldry, 1869, pp. 15-16

Then there's this one, quoted by Mr. Cussans immediately following the above quote, by C. James, Scotland in the Middle Ages:

For the pursuit of family history, of topographical and territorial learning, of ecclesiology, of architecture, it is altogether indispensable; and its total and contemptuous neglect in this country [Scotland], is one of the causes why a Scotchman can rarely speak or write on any of these subjects without being exposed to the charge of using a language he does not understand.

(Ecclesiology: the study of churches, especially church building and decoration. Just in case you hadn't run into this word before.)

Well, in addition to those two quotes, I recently came across another expressing a similar sentiment, in an article entitled What I've Learned by Harry Williams-Bulkeley, the Head of Silver at Christie’s:

Heraldry is incredibly important with silver. Hallmarks tell you who made the object, where it was made and when it was made, but the coat of arms will tell you for whom it was made. It’s the final cherry on the cake that leads you to the full story.

I love the sentiment contained in that final sentence, don't you?

And if you'd like to know some of the other things that Mr. Williams-Bulkeley has learned over the course of his 28-year career at Christie's, you can find the full article on-line at


Monday, August 13, 2018

Another Game With Heraldry

There are a few games around that involve heraldry.

Sometimes a "game" can be a task that a few bored heralds may assign to themselves. I was involved with one of these, where six of us, having been left pretty much unsupervised, tried to create a coat of arms consisting of a field and a single standard heraldic charge that everyone who saw it would say was "too complex."

I think we may have succeeded. This is what we came up with:

The blazon is: Gyronny [of eight] lozengy gules and or, and vair, a mascle throughout counterchanged.

Other heraldic games try to combine some fun with education, like the "Heraldic Bingo" game that can be purchased from

Well, the other day over on Reddit, I saw a new heraldic variant of an old game that someone has come up with: Heraldic Telephone. The way it is played is described as:

All the players are organized into a list, and the first person in the list is given a coat of arms that they need to blazon. They send their blazon to the second person in the list, who proceeds to draw a coat of arms using only that blazon. They then send their coat of arms to the next person in sequence and this continues until the final player and all the coats of arms and blazons are revealed!

(If you want to see something of the way it can go, you can see the results of a round played in April of this year at

What an intriguing concept! And it's the kind of thing that could be played on-line or in person with friends with a few pieces of paper. (Well, you'd also want something to write with, and colored pencils or Crayola markers or something similar to draw the coat[s] with.)

What an interesting idea for the next time you're sitting around with some other heraldry enthusiasts and want a fun way to pass the time.

Just a thought.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Heraldry Is ...

I ran across this meme on Facebook the other day, and it seemed too good not to share.

Some would take issue with the specifics stated for one or more of these six steps. Nonetheless, the progression is reasonably apt.

Still, I sometimes suspect that I started out on step one and simply raced through the others to get to step six.

As proof, here's a quick photo of a good portion of my heraldic library. (It extends out of frame both to the left and the right, plus there are some other heraldic periodicals, etc. tucked away in another part of the room entirely.)

It's not a problem. Truly, I could stop anytime. And I'm going to. Very soon. Any day now. Well, maybe I'll wait until after I receive that one book that I pre-ordered. No, wait, there's that two-volume set I've been looking at getting for a while. After that. Then I'll quit. No, really.

Okay, maybe not.

Monday, August 6, 2018

How Genuine Is This Coat of Arms?

This next memorial in St. Margaret's Chapel, Westminster, is another old one, memorializing the death of a man in 1640, as well as two of his children, Richard and Elionor, and Richard's wife Elizabeth.

There's a lot of text on that plaque, not all of which came out entirely legible on either of the two photographs I took of it. (You can click on the image above to see the clearer of the two large pictures of the memorial.) In brief, it is a memorial to Richard Willis, Esq., who died June 21st, 1640 at the Starchamber in Westminster. His wife, Eleanor White, by whom he had eight children, was still living at that time. His son Richard erected this monument. The text then goes on to mention the other family members who are buried nearby.

But, of course, it was the coat of arms at the top of the memorial which caught my eye.

As painted, I would blazon the arms: Quarterly: 1 and 4, Argent three griffins passant in pale sable within a bordure engrailed gules bezanty; 2 and 3, Azure a wolf salient argent langued gules; overall at the fess point a crescent argent for difference. The crest atop the wreath (which ought by right to be argent and sable, not or and azure) is: A demi-griffin sable holding in its talons a poleaxe proper headed (azure?).

The History of the Parish Church of Saint Margaret, Westminster by Walcott, 1847, gives the field in the second and third quarters as sable, and makes the battle axe fully sable like the demi-griffin. So there may be some mis-painted tinctures here.

The real trouble, though, is that I cannot find this coat of arms anywhere. It appears to be a bit of a mashup, and the sort of thing that one might expect to find being sold as "your family crest" by some heraldic bucket shop.

The arms in the first and fourth quarters are similar to - and different from - these two entries in Burke's General Armory for Wills (no second "i"): Argent three wyverns passant in pale a bordure engrailed sable bezanty (Wills, Landarke, county Cornwall), and Argent three griffins passant in pale azure murally gorged argent a border sable bezanty (Sir Charles Wills, K.B., died 1741). The crests are, respectively: A demi-griffin azure wings addorssed holding with both claws a battle axe proper, and A demi-griffin segreant azure murally gorged or sustaining a battle axe proper.

The arms in the second and third quarters may be Downe: Azure a wolf salient langued and armed gules. If the field is truly supposed to be sable, though, the closest match in Papworth's Ordinary of British Armorials is Loude/Louthe/Lowte: Sable a wolf salient and in dexter chief a crescent for difference argent.

As I said, similar but different, both the arms and the crests.

The name on the memorial is quite clearly Willis, and is given as Willis in Walcott's book as well. Yet the arms appear to be a variant of Wills.

So is this coat of arms the product of a bucket shop heraldist? It is certainly possible, because we know that heralds were complaining about the work of some of the painters of heraldry at least as early as 1610, thirty years before this memorial, when John Guillim wrote in his A Display of Heraldrie:

In which respect it were fit that common Painters, the common disorderers of these tokens of honour, were better looked unto; who both in former ages, and much more in these daies, have greatly corrupted these honourable signs, by adding their new fantasticall inventions; that so they might make the things borne in Coat-Armour more perspicuous to the view, or because they would be thought to be well overseen in Heraldry. For indeed they want the eye of judgment, to see and discerne that such is the excellency of these honourable tokens, that the least alteration either by augmentation, diminution, transposition, or whatsoever other means, doth occasion a change in them so great, as that they thereby differ from themselves, not onely in their accidentall, but also in their substantiall parts, and cease to be any longer the same they were before, and their owners are debarred to challenge an propriety or interest in them, in respect of such alteration.  Modica alteratio in membro principali magnam alterationem facit (saith the Philosopher) A little alteration makes a great alteration in a principall part. As the least spot in the Eye, which is the worthiest part of the face, doth more disfigure the same, than ten times so much in any other member of the whole body.

And it was still going on 200 years later when William Berry wrote in his An Introduction to Heraldry:

[E]very coach, house, and sign painter pretends to a knowledge of the science of heraldry, rather than lose the job when offered.

I don't know that the coat of arms for this family memorial is a result of a bucket shop herald, but given the other evidence, I cannot say that it isn't.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

A Portrait of a Young Man

Our next armorial memorial is a charming one to a young man who was taken in what some would call "the bloom of life."

Topped by a carved relief portrait of the young man being memorialized, the inscription taking up the main portion reads:

     Near this Place is Interred the Body of Willm Arnold, Gent. ob:Aug:23:
     1734 Aged 25. He was ftrictly Pious juft & boundless in his Charity:
     Dutifull to his Parents Loveing to his Relations: true to his Friend:
     Humble, Modeft, and good Natured to All. In Painting was a great
     Artist, and has a Fine taste to Mufick and Poetry: his Lofs can
     Never be enough Lamented: his Sister in Justice to his Memory
     Has Erected this Monument.
He when on Earth Fixing his thoughts Above,
Hopes to enjoy eternal Peace and Love.

Once again, as usual, I noticed the shield first, and the rest of the monument after.

Burke's General Armory gives these as the arms of Arnold (Gloucestershire, granted 1653): Gules a chevron ermine between three pheons or.

The History of the Parish Church of Saint Margaret, Westminster by Walcott (1847), gives the same blazon for these arms, but gives us no additional information about young William Arnold. Nor have I been able to find him in any of my usual internet searches. (Lots of other William Arnolds, yes; even one who died in 1734, but aged a number of years older.)

Still, it's a very sweet memorial by a loving sister to her brother, in addition to displaying some remarkably simple heraldry.

Monday, July 30, 2018

The Right Honorable Sir Laming Worthington-Evans, Bt.

Our next armorial memorial is dedicated to the memory of Sir Laming Worthington-Evans, 1st Baronet (1868-1931).

In memory of
The Right Honourable
Sir Laming Worthington-Evans
1868 - 1931
For twenty-two years a Member
of Parliament and for ten years
a Cabinet Minister
Secretary of State for War
1921-1922 and 1924-1929
He served his country in war and peace
throughout his life and died serving

Glorious is the fruit of good labours
and the root of wisdom shall never fall away

Sir Laming has a good-sized paragraph in my 1938 Burke's Peerage, Baronetage and Knightage, which outlines in more detail his political career as Member of Parliament for Colchester, his government offices during World War I, his being made Knight Grand Cross of the British Empire on June 3, 1922, and his assuming by Royal License the additional name of Worthington the day before he was created Baronet on November 15, 1916, among other things.

But, naturally, it was the heraldry that attracted my eye.

At the center top of the memorial are the arms of Worthington-Evans, flanked by the arms of the Borough of Westminster (where he spent so much of his career) (Azure a portcullis on a chief or on a pale azure between two Tudor roses gules and argent a cross flory between five martlets or) and the Borough of Colchester (for whom he served as MP) (Or four pieces of wood raguly conjoined in cross vert each side arm transfixed with a nail palewise sable ensigned by an ancient crown or the arm in base enfiling an ancient cross or and transfixed by a nail bendwise sable).

(As an aside, it seems to me that it would be less convoluted to simply blazon the main charge in the arms of Colchester as a cross raguly vert, but maybe that's just me.)

The arms of Worthington-Evans are blazoned: Quarterly: 1 and 4, Per pale argent and gules a lion passant regardant between two fleurs-de-lis and a bundle of rods banded all counterchanged (Evans); 2 and 3, Azure a saltire engrailed argent between three tridents one in chief and two in fess or (Worthington). The crests are: 1, A lion passant regardant argent the body charged with three crosses moline and resting its dexter forepaw upoin a bundle of rods banded gules (Evans); and 2, A demi-goat proper charged on the shoulder with a saltire engrailed argent (Worthington). The motto is Libertas (Liberty).

Sir Laming was succeeded in the baronetcy by his son, Sir William Shirley Worthington-Evans.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

A Memorial to a Husband From His Wife

It's neither one of the biggest nor one of the fanciest armorial memorials in St. Margaret's Chapel, but it's certainly one of the more touching ones, the memorial to Austen Henry Layard erected by his wife, Enid.

I pray you remember
Henry Austen Layard PC GCB
Discoverer of Nineveh
He served his Queen and his country with all lhis
heart and with all his might while representing
the Boroughs of Aylesbury and Southwark in
Parliament as Under Secretary of State for
Foreign Affairs as First Commissioner of Works
as Minister at Madrid and as
Ambassador at Constantinople
Born 5 March 1817 Died 5 July 1894
Enid L

Sir Henry Austen Layard, PC [Privy Council], GCB [Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath] was, as his Wikipedia article notes, a traveler, archaeologist, cuneiformist, art historian, draftsman, collector, politician, and diplomat. he is best-known, though, as the excavator of Nimrud and Nineveh, where he uncovered a large portion of the Assyrian palace reliefs and, in 1851, the library of Ashurbanipal.

He married in London on March 9, 1869, his first cousin once removed, Mary Enid Evelyn Guest, daughter of Sir Josiah John Guest and Lady Charlotte Elizabeth Bertie. Henry and Enid Layard had no children.

The heraldic portion of the memorial shows two shield accolée (embracing), the husband's alone on the left encircled by the insignia of the Order of the Bath, and the right with the impaled arms of husband and wife. At the top, on either side of the crest, are his initials (HAL) and hers (EL).

His arms are blazoned: Gules a chevron between in chief two mullets of six points or pierced of the field and in base a crescent argent on a chief azure three mullets or. The crest is Out of a ducal coronet a mullet of six points or. The motto (below the shield) is Juvante deo (By the help of God). A second motto (not the wife's from all that I can find) appears above the crest in Scottish fashion, Perseverando (By persevering).

Enid's paternal arms are Azure on a chevron or between three swan's heads erased proper three crosses moline sable.

It's a beautiful little memorial with some very nicely done heraldry upon it.

Monday, July 23, 2018

Two Modern Armorial Memorials

I found these next two armorial memorials in St. Margaret's Chapel, Westminster, to be especially interesting because they appear to be of a new pattern of such memorials. They are dated 1978 and 1990, respectively, but are certainly of a particular type, a horizontal rectangular stone slate (I think. they look like slate, but I suppose they could just as easily be molded concrete stained or colored to mimic slate) containing the memorial language with a square notch extending from the center of the upper edge on which the coat of arms is carved and painted.

The first one is a memorial to Sir Dingle Mackintosh Foot, 1905-1978. He served as a Member of Parliament, for Dundee (1931-1945) and for Ipswich (1957-1970), and was Solicitor General for England and Wales (1964-1967) under Prime Minister Harold Wilson. Sadly, he died on June 18, 1978 in a hotel in Hong Kong after choking on a bone in a chicken sandwich.

His arms are beautifully carved and painted:

The arms would be blazoned Or on a chevron engrailed sable between three lion's jambes erased gules three wheels or. The crest is something like Atop a tower sable sustained by a pair of lion's jambes gules a Cornish chough proper (that is, sable beaked and legged gules). The motto is Pro lege et libertate (For law and liberty).

The other memorial of this type is that of Eric George Molyneux, Baron Fletcher of Islington, 1903-1990. He was a Member of Parliament for Islington East from 1945 to 1970, as well a Minister Without Portfolio from 1964 to 1966 under Prime Minister Harold Wilson. On July 9, 1970, he was created a life peer as Baron Fletcher of Islington in Greater London.

The arms (surmounted by the coronet of a baron), and once again beautifully carved and painted, have echoes of the ancient arms of Molyneux, Azure a cross moline or, as the well as the crest, which here (as then) issues from a cap of maintenance, or chapeau.

The arms here would be blazoned Azure two arrows in saltire points to chief between four crosses moline or. The crest is Issuant from a chapeau gules turned up ermine a cubit arm proper vested sable the hand holding a rolled scroll bendwise sinister argent surmounted by an arrow bendwise point to chief or. His supporters are bowmen from two different periods of English history, and the motto is Labor ipse voluptas (Labor itself is a pleasure).

I always find it interesting to see the various styles, and the evolution of styles, of armorial memorials, and these two are, I think, lovely examples of a modern form of such. Don't you?

Thursday, July 19, 2018

The Idea Wasn't a Bad One, But ...

... the implementation fell a little short.

This is the story of Jordan Webb and his wife-to-be, Kristen Onkka.

In discussing their upcoming nuptials, they - as many couples facing marriage do these days - talked about their options and their preferences. Would she take his surname? Would he take hers? Would they do a hyphenated combination name?

In the course of that discussion, they noted that both of their surnames came to them from their respective fathers. Father from whom they were estranged, and of whom they had memories they would rather not remember.

So they decided to create a new surname for their new family, and came up with Dhacroi, an Irish-Gaelic combination of "two" and "hearts".

So far, so good. (Not necessarily a choice I would have made, but this story isn't about me, so there's that.)

However, and this is where it goes awry, having created a new surname, they thought, "why not dive in and make a family coat-of-arms?"

I mean, he's an avid reader of fantasy novels, many of which have noble houses with their own coats of arms, and what an author of a fantasy novel can do in a book, he could do in real life, right?

Alas, as happens so many times with people who know very little about actual heraldry, its history, its rules, and its meanings, they came up with something that I feel sure has lots of "meaning" for them, but which comes across as something I call "kitchen sink heraldry," since it seems to have been designed by including just about everything, including the proverbial "kitchen sink."

I am not going to go into all of the things that I can find "wrong" about this design. Suffice it say that there are "problems" with it.

It would have been ever so much better if they had consulted with someone (anyone!) who has an understanding of and feeling for heraldry. (It does appear that they looked at one or more of those books or websites which purports to explain the "meanings" of the colors and charges used in a coat of arms, which probably only served to lead them even further astray. For some accurate information about such things, I recommend the MFAQ of the rec.heraldry newsgroup, which can be found at

Anyway, if you have the heart for it, you can find an article with more detail, and a photograph of the loving couple, on-line at