Arthur Charles Fox-Davies.

Armorial families : a directory of gentlemen of coat-armour (Volume 1) online

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Bookes & Registers, and may give Armes to vertuous and well deserving Persones, and Extracts of
all Armes, expressing the blasoning of the Arms undirhis hand andseall of office ; For Which shall
be payed to the Lyon the soume of Tuentie merkes by Every Prelate &Nobleman, and Ten merks
by every Knight & Baron, and five merkes by every other persone bearing Armes and noe more :
And his Mat'" hereby Dispenses with any penalties that may arise be this or any proceiding act
for bearing Armes, befor the Proclamation to be issued hereupon. And it is Statute & Ordained
with consent forsd that the sd Register shall be respected as the true and unrepeallable rule of
all Armes and Bearings in Scotland to remain with the Lyons office as a publict Register of the
Kingdome, and to be transmitted to his Successors in all tyme comeing : And that whosoevir
shall use any other Armes any manner of way, aftir the expireing of year & day from the date



Cbe abu0e of ^vm0 xix

of the Proclamation to be issued hereupon in maner forsd shall pay One Hundred pounds money
toties quoties to the Lyon, and shall likewise escheat to his Maiestie all the moveable Goods & Geir
upon which the fds Amies are engraven, or otherwise represented. And his Maiestie with consent
forsd Declaires that it is onlie allowed for Noblemen & Bishopes to subscrive by their titles ; And
that all others shall subscrive their Christned names, or the initiall letter thereof with there
Sirnames, and may if they please adject the designations of their Lands, prefixing the word Of
to the fds designations. And the Lyon King at Armes and his Brethren are required to be carefull
of informeing themselvis of the contraveiners heirof , and that they acquaint his Maiesties Councill
therewith, who are hereby impowered to punish them as persones disobedient to and contraveiners
of the Law. It is hkewise hereby Ucclaired that the Lyon and his Brethren Heraulds are Judges
in all such causes concerning the malversation of Messingers in their office, and are to enjoy all
other pri viledges belonging to their Office which are secured to them by the Lawes of this Kingdome
and according to former practice.

Under a strict interpretation of the above Act, this opportunity of " matriculation " of
ancient Scottish Arms could be held to have long since lapsed. I am in no way speaking for
Lyon, nor do I wish to in any way hamper his discretion, but I believe it to be correct, and
consequently it cannot be too widely known that the present Lyon King is by no means averse,
if satisfactory evidence can be produced, to still exercise his prerogative and discretion, and
matriculate at the present date Arms which can be shown to have been authoritatively borne
prior to the passing of the above Act.

In Ireland the powers of Ulster King of Arms are best defined by the Patent creating the
first Ulster. This can be seen in " Rymer's Foedara," but most of the powers of Ulster King
are recited in the Patent of each successive occupant of the office.

Owing to the fact that the records in Ulster's Office are not so complete as is the case in
England, Ulster King of Arms has the power in his discretion to confirm Arms which it can be
shown have been continuously borne for a certain number of generations (I beheve four), even
though they may have been previously of no legal authority, and this power is continually
e.xercised ; but as a general, nay, an almost invariable rule, some mark is placed upon the Arms,
though usually a very trifling one, to distinguish in the eyes of the learned those Arms borne
by virtue of a confirmation from those for which the right has been fully proved.

Briefly, then, to sum up, to establish the right to bear Arms in England it is necessary to
prove legitimate male descent from some person to whom a grant of Arms has been made, or
from some person to whom Arms were confirmed at the Visitations ; in Ireland, the same, or
else from some person to whose descendants Arms have been confirmed. Failing this, there is
no alternative, but to obtain a grant of Arms yourself, or, if you be of Irish descent, and can
produce the necessary evidence, a confirmation. In Scotland, if you are the heir male of a grantee,
or of any one to whom Arms have been matriculated, you are entitled to bear these Arms ; if
you can only establish a junior descent, you must have the Arms matriculated to yourself,
e\'en if it be your father who is the grantee ; if you cannot show any such descent, you must
petition for a grant.

Now with regard to the bogus display of Arms, there are sins of omission and sins of commission.
Very few people indeed claim less than they are entitled to, and the only sin of omission of any
consequence is the cool disregard which is paid to the marks of illegitimacy. A person of
illegitimate birth has assuredly no Arms. Many people will tell you that it is simply a question of
placing what they colloquially term the " bar sinister," upon the escutcheon, in exactly the same
manner as a second son in England or Ireland may charge his Arms with a crescent, the third
with a mullet, the fourth with a martlet, and so on.* But this is not the case at all. He must
either do one of two things. He must petition for a grant of Arms, in which case he is under no
necessity to disclose his illegitimacy. But he wiU have an entirely new coat-of-arms granted to
him. Or else he must first prove of whom he is the natural son, and then petition for a Royal
License to bear the name and Arms of his putative father. If he adopt the latter course,
and the Royal License be granted to him, he will find he is permitted to bear the Arms with " due
and proper marks of distinction." Now the grant of a perfectly new coat with no mark of
illegitimacy, costs exactly the same as the grant of the old one with these " due and proper marks,"
so that if a man deliberately elects to proclaim his relationship to any family, it is only fair to
other and legitimate members of that family that the manner of his relationship should also be
indicated, for his birth cannot be an equivalent of their legitimate descent.

* The laws of Anns only provide differences for nine sons of the same father. A correspondent wrote to me in
good faith, to ask what his difference would be as the twenty-first surviving son of the same father and mother. I was
forced to admit I did not know. I wonder what would be done.



XX Cl)e at)U0e of ^tm0

I grant it is through no fault of the man himself, and consequently I refrain from giving any
list of those whom I know to be offending in this respect. There are several in the " Peerage,"
and matters are certainly made easier for them by the fact that these ' ' due and proper marks of
distinction " do not always figure upon their Arms therein. This is very unjust to their legitimate
relatives, and it is breaking the law of Arms, and is not in keeping with the terms therein recited,
upon which the Royal License to bear the name and Arms was conceded to them.

And concerning this colloquial term " bar sinister." There cannot possibly be such a
thing, for the " bar " in Armory is neither dexter nor sinister. The term is merely a misnomer
for " bend sinister." The bend sinister is given in all heraldic books as an ancient mark of
illegitimacy ; but it has long since been discarded, and is now never granted on a shield, though
a bendlet wavy sinister is sometimes, in fact nearly always, placed across the crest. A baton
sinister, which is a bendlet sinister couped, is the mark reserved for Royal illegitimates, but it is
not universal. I can call to mind at the moment no coat-of-arms correctly in use at the present
day upon which the bend sinister occurs save the Shiffner coat (which I believe is of foreign
origin) and the Burne- Jones coat, and in these it does not occur as a mark of illegitimacy ; nor
do I know of any coat in use which bears the mark which the laws of Arms are said to provide
for the base-born son of a noble woman. I find the mark now in use is not generally known
even amongst those who profess to have made some study of Heraldry, and I am only aware of
one book in which it is mentioned ; and curiously enough it is not a mark of illegitimacy at all
in Scotland : though, knowing its English character, I believe it is a little fought shy of even
there. Consequently, as I have not the least desire to make it in any way more difficult for
those who have the misfortune to bear it, I have no intention of advertising what it is. The
only other sin of omission that I know is the objection some few people have to the double coat
consequent upon a double name. For instance, if your name be Jones, and you get a Royal
License for yourself and your descendants to bear the additional name of Smith, and to bear the
Arms of Smith quarterly with those of Jones, that quarterly Smith-Jones coat becomes one
indivisible coat, and you have no more right to separate it again than you would have to discard
half the charges upon a simple coat because you didn't like them.

But when we come to the sins of commission, their name is legion. In the first place, by
the law of Arms, the right of bearing either crest or motto is denied to a lady. In the olden days
a Joan of Arc was a wild exception, and it was universally conceded that no woman was capable
of wearing a helmet. The " new woman " may have changed this into a fiction in her crusade
against her complementary sex, but in the far-off ages Amazons, either Christian or Barbarian,
were an unheard-of quantity, and the laws of Arms were irrevocably constructed centuries ago.
Anyhow the fiction (I daren't call it anything else) did exist, and consequently, as the crest was
then an ornament inseparable from the helmet, the right to a feminine display thereof was denied.
It is so still. The motto, anciently the " cri-de-guerre " likewise, the shield also. Now the
domain of the " lady e-f aire " in olden time was at the spinning-wheel — -would that it were so
still — and the " distaff " was a peculiarly feminine ornament and prerogative. The distaff was
supposed to resemble the heraldic lozenge in form and figure — -it does so in some slight degree.
Consequently the law of Arms allows a maiden lady to bear the Arms, upon a lozenge, which
appear on her father's shield. When left a widow, she impales her late husband's Arms with
her father's, and bears that combination upon a lozenge. Now here is another Uttle anomaly.
Heraldic law knows no Married Woman's Property Act, and concedes them no " separate estate,"
and consequently in his lifetime the husband bears the Arms " for his wife," and the impalement
takes its place in his shield and under the protection of his helmet. If the wife be an heraldic
" heiress " (the exact meaning is explained later on), though he is at hberty still simply to
impale the coat if he prefer, the husband is allowed instead to place the Arms of his wife's family
upon a smaU escutcheon in the centre of his own shield, called an " escutcheon of pretence,"
because through his wife he " pretends " to the representation of her family. And if the said
heiress survives her husband, she usually places her father's Arms on the same escutcheon in the
centre of a lozenge of her husband's Arms. And the " fiction " of the feminine non-ownership
of Arms is kept up further. By the English law of Arms, a " difference " mark is ipso facto
provided for the second and all younger sons to place upon their father's coat-of-arms. There
are none for daughters, each bearing exactly the same Arms and differences as the father bore.
But the Scottish law, which provides that all younger sons shall have no Arms until a matriculation
of their father's with a difference shall have been made to them, allows all the daughters to bear
their father's Arms upon a lozenge, and allows the husbands to impale these Arms without further
" difference."

But the point is that widows and unmarried girls must show that they have no helmet to



Cfie ^him of arms xxi

protect them ; in other words, they must bear their Armorial Insignia upon a lozenge (the same
figure as a diamond upon a pack of cards), and they must not use a crest.

And now, on the subject of the conjunction of the /\.rms of man and wife, I will not inflict
upon you the old heraldic jargon of " baron et femme," but the rule is simply this. First of all
find out whether your father-in-law is or was legally entitled to bear Arms. Don't think that
because you are entitled to bear Arms anything will do for an impalement, because it
won't. Both of them must be irreproachable. Then divide your shield by a straight
line down the middle ; place the whole of your own Arms on the dexter side,* and place the
pronominal coat of your wife's father in the remaining half. This is called " impaling "
the two coats.

If you are not entitled to Arms yourself, you are not at liberty to take the Arms of your wife's
family. Her rights to bear or transmit any Arms or quarterings, whatever they are, become and
must remain dormant until such time as you or the descendants of your marriage with her choose
to establish a right to Arms in the male line. If you are Commander, a Companion, or a knight
of any Order having the right to surround your own escutcheon with the ribbon or collar of the
Order, you must use two escutcheons. On the one are simply your own Arms so surrounded,
and on the other your own Arms impaled with those of your wife's family ; the idea being that
your knighthood is personal to yourself, and that you cannot share it with your wife. Just the
same, a bishop cannot share his episcopal rank with his wife, and he has to use two escutcheons
if his wife be entitled to Arms. The Scottish Anglican bishops and the Irish AngUcan bishops
created since the disestablishment of the Church in Ireland, and all Roman Catholic bishops,
have no Arms for their sees. If a woman be of higher rank than her husband, or possess rank in
her owTi right, she cannot share it with him. For instance, take a peeress in her own right. By
right of her heirship, the husband would place the Arms of the family upon an escutcheon of
pretence upon his own, and he is allowed to place her coronet above the escutcheon of pretence,
but he has no right to her supporters, or to place her coronet above his own escutcheon. Here
again two escutcheons must be used, for on the sinister side of his own he must repeat her father's
Arms upon a lozenge, surmounted by her coronet and between her supporters. In the same
way the husband could not claim a share in a double-headed eagle, if the wife's family were
entitled to display Arms upon it.

There is one other point. Care must always be taken that the whole pronominal coat of your
wife's father be impaled. If he have a double name and a sub-quarterly coat, you must impale
the whole of the coat which stands for his surnames. Further, by the Scottish law of Arms you
do not become ipso facto entitled to quarter Arms ; you are only entitled to bear the coat which
has been matriculated to you in Lyon Office. If you want quarterings introduced, you must
get a fresh matriculation and after they are matriculated you cannot drop them without
rematriculation ; so that, if you go north of the Tweed for your wife, you must be careful to
impale everj^thing that has been matriculated to her father. Now in England the practice is
different. I distinctly say it is not illegal or incorrect in the slightest degree, but at the same time
it is considered rather " bad form " to impale more than the simple coat which stands for your
wife's surname. Your wife's father may be entitled to fifty quarterings, but if the name be
Smith, you simply impale the Arms of Smith.

The next point is, what constitutes an heiress ? The heraldic meaning of the word is very
different from its colloquial usage. Neither land nor money have anything to do with it. An
heiress in Heraldry need not possess or transmit the value of one brass farthing. What she must
transmit is the representation of her father or her family. If her father have no sons she is an
" heiress," of if she have sisters a " co-heiress." If she have brothers she is not an heiress unless
or until the issue of these brothers has become extinct. If the brothers die leaving no sons, but
leaving daughters, these daughters become the heiresses and not the sister. If the issue of the
brothers eventually becomes absolutely extinct both in the male and female lines, then the sisters
(themselves, if ahve, or if not in their descendants) become the heiresses, even though the extinc-
tion may not occur for hundreds of years. On marrying an " heiress " or " co-heiress," as I have
said, a man is allowed, but not required, to place the Arms of her family upon an escutcheon of
pretence in the centre of his own, and his children are entitled by the English law to take as
quarterings the whole of these Arms and quarterings which their mother was entitled to transmit,
and add them to anything their father may have possessed. Occasionally — but very very seldom —
a woman may be an heiress to her mother but not her father, or vice versa, and in these cases
special rules apply. By the Scottish law, if you inherit quarterings you must get them matricu-

* This is another heraldic fiction. You are always supposed to look at a shield from behind, so that the dexter half
is really the half upon your left-hand side, as you look at a shield in the ordinary way.



xxii Clje atJime of S[rm0

lated to yourself before using them. The English law does not make the registering of them
compulsory, but apart from the desirabihty of perpetuating evidence, it is always advisable to
submit your claim to the officers of the CoDege, and get your right adjudicated upon and recorded
and allowed before assuming quarterings ; so very often some or all require careful investigation,
and, speaking advisedly, so few people, even amongst those who have made a study of Armory,
know how to marshal them correctly.

But two points I would draw special attention to are these : No woman is an heiress until the
death of her father. There is always the possibihty of his marrying again and having sons, so
that until your father-in-law is dead you are only at liberty to " impale."

You do not necessarily quarter your mother's Arms. Find out if she be an heiress. And
even if your mother be an heiress, and her mother an heiress as well, you cannot quarter the Arms
of your grandmother's family until you have proved that your mother's father was also entitled
to Arms. One faulty coat invahdates everything that comes after it. So that, before you draw
up wonderful schemes of quarterings, find out if all the coats will hold water. Quarterings seem
to be an especial weakness of some people. I had a claim to nearly lOO sent up to me not long
ago along with a claim to a dormant Baronetcy. Even the very first coat could not be substan-
tiated. But some families are undoubtedly entitled to a very great number. The Lane-Fox
family have proved 136, and Sir Lambton Loraine's children will have very nearly as many, and
I fancy so would Sir Humphrey de Trafford if he went to the trouble of proving them. I am told
that the Duke of Northumberland is entitled to over 500, but I doubt it. Anyhow, at the Herald's
College, I beHeve, the record is held by the family of Lloyd of Stockton, who have proved and
recorded 323.

Now a word or two about crests. At the pubhcation of my edition of " Fairbairn's Book of
Crests," one of my reviewers gave himself away at the very commencement of a long and very
appreciative review, by the remark that the book " would commend itself to those who, whilst
not aspiring to the dignity of a coat-of-arms, rightly thought themselves entitled to something
more than a mere monogram, and so laid claim to possessing a crest." With all due deference
to the aforesaid gentleman, such an idea is utterly wrong. At the present moment, though
there is many a coat without a crest, I beheve I am correct in saying, there is not a single crest
legally in existence that is not part of a complete achievement. I am afraid the abominable
advertisement so famiUar to our eyes, " What is your crest and what is your motto ? " &c., is
much to blame for this very erroneous idea. At the beginning of Armory the crest was an extra
distinction — much the same as supporters are at the present day — and the old Heraldry books
allude to a time when none below the rank of a knight were entitled to display a crest.
Consequently many of the really old coats have no crest belonging thereto, and it can generally be
shown that amongst ancient families the crest is of more recent date than the Arms. One exception,
and only one, have I come across, and though I have mentioned the matter to several Officers of
Arms, I can learn of no other. This is the Buckworth crest — one of the two belonging to Sir
Charles Buckworth-Herne-Soame, Baronet. The Arms were exhibited at the time of the Visita-
tions, and though the crest was passed the Arms were not, but the Arms were rectified at a later
date. That is the only case I know.

So may I impress the fact that you cannot have a crest unless you are legally entitled to a
coat-of-arms.

Another abuse with regard to crests is the promiscuous bearing of two, three, four, or five
crests. I have never seen more than five in England. The law in the United Kingdom is
that you can, in the ordinary matter of course, only possess one. Probably the abuse has crept
in with the craze for double surnames. If you obtain a Royal License to bear a double or treble
surname, you probably acquire the right — but such right only in accordance with the terms of
the Royal License — to bear one crest for each surname ; or even if you change your name, and
yet obtain permission to quarter the Arms for the new and the old surname, you would be
entitled to two ; but if your Royal License distinctly state that you shall bear the new name and
Arms " in lieu of " the old one, then you have only the right to the one. If you want the two,
you should take care the terms of the petition make provision for that. The late Duke of
Buckingham and Chandos had five, but he had five surnames (Temple-Nugent-Brydges-
Chandos-Grenville) ; and I know of no greater number legitimately used in the
United Kingdom.

Of course, there are exceptions. When a family obtain a grant of Arms, and then subsequently
prove their right to an older grant, they become entitled to both coats and both crests ; but
this does not apply to two or three matriculations in Scotland. The last matriculation supersedes
everything of a previous date.



Clie ^bu0c of 3cm5 xxiii

Duplicate crests often occur through one being a crest of augmentation, as in the cases of
Lord Combermere, Lord Gough, Lord Nelson, and many others. There are some few instances
where additional crests have been granted without being crests of augmentation ; but this is
very exceptional. Lord Garvagh, Lord Bute, and Lord Camden are cases I can call to mind.

A point with regard to crests that is plainly an abuse is the encircHng of them (and coats-
of-arms as well for the matter of that) with Garters, or with ribbons, whether bearing mottoes
or not. This is a privilege confined, and very strictly, to Knights, Commanders, and Companions
of the various Orders. Consequently an ordinary individual is very wrong in adorning his
achievement in this manner. Even if the motto upon the Garter be changed, it can only be
said to shghtly lessen the offence. Yet there are several families legitimately possessing mottoes
employed by one or other of the Orders.

And, as to another little weakness, if your crest should legally be borne upon a wreath, don't
place it upon a chapeau, or issuing from a coronet.

In England the College of Arms disclaims all jurisdiction over mottoes. If it is wished, any
motto, to which no objection offers, is painted below the emblazonment in the margin of a Patent,
but, save in rare instances, it is not mentioned in the wording, and forms no part of the grant,
and it is a comparatively modern innovation for it to be inserted even in the painting ; so that
the rule for those people who come within the jurisdiction of the Heralds' College is this, that
unless the motto is specially mentioned in the wording of the Patent, or unless it be charged upon
the shield itself, or in some way attached to and forming a constituent part of the crest, any
motto may be assumed, altered, or discarded at the pleasure of the wearer. As far as the laws
of the College are concerned, you can quote a psalm or a scene out of Shakespeare in your escroll