Arthur Charles Fox-Davies.

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B.H. K.

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Given By




















At the outset of these few pages, by way of introduction to this revised edition of
my " Book of Public Arms," I wish to emphasise the keen and generous, and at the
same time disinterested, interest which my publishers, Messrs T. C. & E. C. Jack,
have taken in the book.

The previous edition contained only the arms of Towns, Counties, and
Universities. The additions to these categories alone in the intervening score of
years would have justified a new edition from the mere consideration of available
material. But as I wished to make the book as perfect as possible I decided,
and Messrs Jack were agreeable, to extend the book so that it should- include
every British impersonal coat of arms in existence. That meant adding the arms
of Schools, Colleges, Societies, Trading Companies, Colonies, Hospitals, Episcopal
Sees, etc., etc. That I have endeavoured to do, and the object in view in this edition
has been to include every single coat of arms of an impersonal character. How far
I have succeeded remains to be seen. Through the great kindness of Lyon King
of Arms and Ulster King of Arms, who have both allowed me access to their
records, I can confidently say that every genuine impersonal coat of arms included
in their Scottish and Irish records will be found in this book. And let me here
tender my grateful thanks for the assistance given me by Sir J. Balfour Paul, C.V.O.,
Lyon King of Arms, and Capt. Neville Wilkinson, C.V.O., Ulster King of Arms,
and to F. J. Grant, Esq., Rothesay Herald and Lyon Clerk, and G. D. Burtchaell,
Esq., Athlone Pursuivant of Arms, for the enormous help and assistance they have
given me. I am, as my readers must be, very grateful to them.

Nobody is ever permitted the same facilities with regard to the College of Arms.
The different constitution of that Corporation prevents it. But I have not met with
any hindrance. Every help has been given me within the limits which are per-
missible, every question I have asked any officer of arms has been answered, and
I know many of the officers, and I have badgered my friends there to what I think
must have been the limits of their patience. And I do wish to put on record that
some of them — knowing I was engaged upon this book — when they have come
across some strange coat which they have thought I might like to include have sent
me the details unasked. I have had help there far beyond anything I expected or
had a right to expect, and I most gratefully tender my thanks to all those at the
College of Arms who have helped me. My debt to them is heavy. But I cannot
guarantee I have everything from their records. There may still be treasure-trove
for writers who follow me. I probably have got all the ancient grants, for Berry, the
Registrar of the College of Arms at the close of the eighteenth century, gutted the
Grant Books for his " Encyclopaedia Heraldica," and got sacked for doing so. Of the
b V


grants since Berry's time I am a bit doubtful that I have them all. I have written
broadcast to every public body that I knew was using arms, or thought h'kely to
be, and I cheerfully acknowledge the fact that very few of my letters have remained
unanswered. There is none of the disinclination to give nie full details with regard
to impersonal arms that I met with in the editing of my book " Armorial Families "
and in the editing of" Burke's Landed Gentrj-," and I have nearly always been supplied
at my request with full particulars and with the dates of grant. These details have all
been checked at the College of Arms, and the information I print may be relied upon
as far as it is humanly possible to guarantee work of mind and pen, both liable
always to unintentional lapse into error. If the English impersonal coats in this book
are not complete, I feel confident they are not far short of being so, and I am fairly
confident that my book may also be entirely relied upon on the point of whether
any given coat of arms is genuine or otherwise. I think I have every genuine impersonal
coat of arms. I think I have, but I am not sure. At any rate I have done my best.
Of the bogus impersonal coats I can only say I have included every one of which
I have had knowledge, if it had serious claim to consideration. Bogus arms one can
only deal with if one comes across them. Naturally there must be many of which
I have never heard.

There is, however, one class of impersonal arms which I have entirely ignored.
I refer to the arms of the ancient abbeys and other monastic establishments. They
are all long since extinct, and any interest in them, if there be any, can be only of an
entirely antiquarian character. Scores of them are recorded in some form or another
in the College of Arms, but I know of no official formal record of a grant or con-
firmation to any such body as an existing corporation. Such records as exist are
incidental records of extinct bodies. There is scarcely a religious foundation to
whicn there are not several coats of arms attributed. The whole subject is confusion,
resulting from the painstaking attempts of bygone antiquaries to convert into coats
of arms devices from seals. Some, of course, were used as and intended to be coats
of arms. Some were purely personal to a particular individual. The bulk, I strongly
believe, were never intended to be regarded as more than mere seal devices. It
is impossible to get at the truth, and the truth, if it could be ascertained, matters
so little that I have thought it wisest to leave the whole category alone. The
information is seldom wanted, and the bulk of it is already in print for the use of
students and inquirers.

In addition to the British coats to which I have alluded, this volume will be
found to include many foreign coats of arms. As to these I do not pretend to the
slightest knowledge whether they are genuine or bogus. I have made no attempt
to verify them, and I accept no responsibility for them. I have tried to obtain
correct information, and I have done the best I could to obtain the arms of all
Foreign Countries, and of the Principal Foreign Cities. For foreign arms in the
volume I make no higher claim. They are merely included in the hope
that they may be useful to my readers, but I do not pretend that the in-
formation I give concerning them even approximates in value to the information
I give as to British arms. As to these I hope and believe the details may be



absolutely relied upon. As to foreign arms I merely give the information as
the best I can get.

Subject to the liability — a liability I personally am painfully conscious of — of
all human work to carry the risk of error, I honestly believe my book may be
depended upon as to the accuracy of the details of the arms and the statements
of facts as to whether the arms are or are not recorded. The Scottish and Irish
ones I speak of with confidence. I searched the registers myself, and, as to the
Irish Records — some of which are far from being grant books — I had the invaluable
assistance of Mr G. D. Burtchaell, Athlone Pursuivant of Arms. In Ireland, where
Visitations were practically never made and where the registers of Ulster's Office
before the eighteenth century admittedly might be more perfect, there is a tendency
of thought which admits as proof of the right to arms many things such as draft
grants and the private papers of dead and gone officers of arms to fill up possible
gaps. To what extent such evidences are actually proof might be questioned were it
not the habitual practice of Ulster's Office to stretch the point in their favour. I
don't think that any Irish coat I have included is likely to be disallowed. In
Scotland there is a hard and fast line. The Register is the register, and a coat is
in it, or not in it. There is no half-way house, no matter what may be the value
of various other records as proof of ancient user entitling a coat to be matriculated,
and not granted, to win its way into the charmed circle of authorised arms.

With regard to the records of the College of Arms the position is this. There is
a proper record by docquet or copy of grant of every coat of arms that has ever been
granted by Letters Patent. I don't know exactly upon what basis of authority we
find, as we do, records of most of the ancient impersonal arms in the Visitation Books.
Most of the ancient City and Town arms which are genuine are to be found there,
but I am bound to say that frequently the essence of the record seems to be the
registration of the common seals of the Corporations rather than their arms.
Where arms are recorded as arms, or where the device of the seal is plainly armorial
and the tinctures are tricked, there is no difficulty, but there are one or two cases
concerning which it is difficult to speak with assured certainty. The Visitation Books
are official records, and a perfect record therein is, of course, conclusive admission of
right. But there are of some coats of arms contemporary enrolments at the College
of Arms in books which are neither grant books nor visitation books — books
which are principally the painstaking work of bygone officers of arms, the records
their industry created. Some, of course, can be dismissed at once as quite accurate
but of no validating authority — evidence of user but not evidence of right. But
there are one or two which cannot be lightly dismissed, and for that reason I would
like to add the warning that I am not entirely certain as to all of the records, and
though all of the coats which I state to be " recorded in the College of Arms " are
so recorded, I cannot in every case in which I use the words guarantee the quality
and authority and the validity of the particular book in which the record appears.
Then there are a number of visitation records in which the arms without their
tinctures are to be found. These are formally, I believe, held to be imperfect
records. Then take such an example as the record of the arms of the Middle



Temple. At the Visitation of the County of Northampton a family of the name
of Temple exhibited and claimed the familiar cross and iamb. To that family the
arms were disallowed, the reason entered in the Visitation Book being, " These be the
arms of the Hon. Society of the Middle Temple." But there is no proper record of
these arms to the Middle Temple, or of any of the arms of the Inns of Court, for
the Inns of Court, not being Corporate Bodies, were not in the seventeenth century
regarded as competent either to bear arms or receive a grant of arms. More recent
precedents may have altered this, but in view of the facts, what is the value, as a
determining factor of right or no right, of that entry in the Visitation of the County
of Northampton ? I hold it is entirely negligible, but I am bound to add that a
distinguished officer of arms has expressed to me the contrary opinion. I may
perhaps add that this uncertainty does not arise as to personal arms. The officers
of arms had powers of compulsion which they could and did apply to the individuals
they summoned to attend them at the Visitations. The lists of "disclaimers" show
how they did their work. I have never seen the name of a Corporate Body in the
list of " disclaimers," and on that I base my belief in their exemption from compulsory
appeai'ance. There has, of course, in bygone days quite as much as in modern times,
been the home-made manufacture of coat-armour, but there has been an additional
factor in respect of the arms of impersonal corporations. There has always been
the desire to do honour to and to perpetuate the memory of the founder by the
adoption of his arms. It is a highly laudable sentiment in the abstract, but in
operative fact it is illegal. Suppose a School to commemorate its founder, the

last Earl of X , were to style itself "The Earldom of X ." It would not be

allowed a vote in the House of Lords. In the same way it would have no right
to the arms of the Earl, which were probably granted by Patent with as definitely
specified and as well understood a remainder as was his Peerage.

But there are scores of Colleges, Schools, and other-institutions which are sinning
in this way, and as the use of the arms in many such cases goes back for a prolonged
period, and as practically every such body so circumstanced before the Visitations
was " allowed " the arms of the founder, I feel practically certain that if one joint
petition were lodged by all the Schools and Colleges so circumstanced at the moment,
praying that His Majesty would' be graciously pleased to issue His Royal Licence
that they might continue to use the arms of their founders, that such a petition would
be granted. There is, however, the further difficulty — e.g. the case of Harrow School
— that in some cases the founders themselves had no right at all to the arms
attributed to them. And I fancy a Royal Licence would hardly be granted in
such a case as Shrewsbury, where the founder was a king, and the use of the Royal
Arms would therefore be involved.

But Dulwich College and Charterhouse are cases in which 1 feel pretty certain
a Royal Licence would be granted if it were applied for.

Grants of arms are never made in the ordinary way to Colonies. The arms
of a Colony or of a self-governing Dominion are assigned by Royal Warrant under
the Sign Manual of the Sovereign. Though there are certain fees payable upon
the issue of such a warrant, it is nobody's business to initiate the application



therefor, and these Colonial warrants have been sadly neglected. But another
factor has been in existence. With that sublime interference with which one
Government Department encroaches on another the Admiralty has published in
the official book of authorised flags the devices for the various British territories
beyond the seas which it considers suitable for use upon the flags of the
Governors of the different Colonies. Most of these are wrong and usually ap-
palling. Then in another direction we have the Mint supplying seals with devices
more or less heraldic, and there has been always the native imagination inventing
home-made coats of arms which found their way on to the official stationery and
often even on to the coins and postage stamps. Then we even got to the length of
the Colonial Office authorising a flag for Australia, which I have always thought
was the extreme limit. The Royal Warrant assigning arms to any territory ought
to have preceded the making of its first seal ; but the actual fact was that until a few
years ago Jamaica, Gibraltar, Nova Scotia, Cape Colony, and Canada were the only
Colonies which had genuine arms, whereas every Colony used something or other.

I hope I am not telling secrets when I say that it was no high-browed desire
for righteousness which initiated the recent reform. As a matter of fact the require-
ments of the Victoria Memorial in front of Buckingham Palace proved to be the
operative factor. But I do want to enter my protest against the ghastly enormities
which have been perpetrated by Royal Warrant under the guise of Colonial arms.
The great bulk are appalling monstrosities. There is no other way of describing
them. What could be worse, for instance, than the arms of the Leeward Islands? —
and these are official. Some of the earlier Colonial arms — Jamaica, Nova Scotia,
and Newfoundland — are arms to which no exception can be taken. The arms,
moreover, granted in the reign of Queen Victoria to Canada and its Provinces,
or to Cape Colony, are quite good. But there has recently been a large number of
Warrants issued to Colonies. There seems to be about a large proportion a
uniform level of artistic rottenness which surpasses all previous conception. The
fault lies with the Colonies, which have insisted on the perpetuation of existing

There are many Towns in the self-governing Dominions which are using bogus
arms or have no authentic arms ; in fact, the only towns outside the United Kingdom
to which grants have been made are: — Kingston (Jamaica), Bombay, Calcutta, Cape
Town, Pretoria, Johannesburg, and Sydney.

Very few British counties have as yet obtained arms. In England it was held that
nobody existed in a county competent to bear arms until the formation of the County
Councils. In most cases the arms of the County Town did duty, but there were cases
in which separate arms for the county were in use ; Middlese.x, Kent, and Surrey were
instances. But since the formation of the County Councils several grants have been
made. West Sussex was the first, Shropshire was the next ; then came Lancashire,
Middlesex, Norfolk, and Somerset. The London County Council, after a particularly
iniquitous heraldic career, has at last obtained a grant, no doubt because the
fees were forthcoming from a private source, as indeed was the case with both
West Sussex and Shropshire.



In Scotland arms were matriculated in iSoo for "the County of Perth" and in
1890 "the Council of the County of Berwick." The only other county arms in that
kingdom are those matriculated in 1889 by the Commissioners of Supply for the
County of Renfrew.

There are no county arms in Ireland ; but arms for the four provinces of Ulster,
Munster, Leinster, and Connaught officially exist, although one is puzzled to know
to what or to whom they are assigned or by whom they are borne.

There has never been any objection raised to the granting of arms to Cities
and Towns of a corporate nature, and at the present time grants are even
being made to Urban District Councils, Erith and Twickenham being cases
in point.

The next category of impersonal arms is to be found in those of the Episcopal
and Archiepiscopal Sees. These call for little comment. It seems to be well
established that the pallium stands for the status or rank of Archbishop rather
than for any area of jurisdiction. Though the different archiepiscopal coats now
have certain variations and are stereotyped into coats of arms, it is unlikely that
these variations are in reality any more than former artistic differences of a universal
type. The arms of the Anglican Episcopal Church Sees in Scotland and Ireland
lapsed with the disestablishment of those churches, and the Welsh coats will follow
suit. There would really seem no objection to a continuance of their use if a Royal
Licence from His Majesty were to be obtained. By the conjunction of various sees
the marshalling of the various coats would become necessary. With one or two
exceptions the whole of the British Episcopal arms outside the United Kingdom
are utterly bogus. A coat of arms is not a necessity, and if the Church desires
that her Bishops should use impersonal arms upon their seals, it should take steps
to have these properly called into being.

It should be noted that the mitre of a Bishop and an Archbishop are the same.
The Bishop of Durham, and he alone, has the right to encircle the rim of his mitre
with a coronet.

The rest of the impersonal arms call for little comment. Any corporate body
having perpetual succession and a common seal have the right to obtain a grant
of arms, and certainly arms exist in cases where this qualification is at any rate
doubtful. Nowadays Schools, Colleges, Universities, Banks, Insurance Offices, and
Railway Companies, Hospitals, and Charitable Societies are amongst those bodies
which have obtained grants of arms.

The arms of the Livery Companies of London and other cities, a large pro-
portion of which are quite genuine, present in different places a uniformity of motive
which is puzzling, and at first sight apparently indicative of copying or usurpation.
The real explanation, however, is to be found in the antecedent devices in general
use as trade signs. Few have survived to the present day, though the barber's pole
and the three balls of the pawnbroker are familiar to us all. In the same way the
three escutcheons of the shield worker and painter were universal throughout Europe,
and survive in the arms of the Painters and Paynter-Stayners Companies. These
old trade devices, with more or less modification, have given the basis of design



when by incorporation trade bodies have been called into being competent to receive
grants or confirmations of arms.

It is a matter of considerable uncertainty what helmet shall be used with an
impersonal coat of arms. Personally I myself think it is greatly to be regretted
that any crest has ever been granted to an impersonal coat of arms. Impersonal
arms originated either in territorial arms of sovereignty, in guild devices, or in flags.
Putting aside the first-named, which so far as the Sovereign was concerned had
a personal character, there was neither need, nor use, nor any reason for the
existence of helmet or crest. None of the ancient impersonal arms had crests, and
I am afraid it must be admitted that the beginnings of crests for impersonal coats
lay in the desire of the Kings of Arms to grant them, but behind this desire lay,
not the endeavour to extract fees, but the necessity of bringing corporations under
their control, and I am confident that the bulk of these early grants of crests were
nothing more than the bait to tempt corporations to acknowledge authority and
record the arms they were using. The grant of the crest created the opportunity of
recording and confirming the arms. The earliest of such grants date from the fifteenth
century, a period before rank was denoted by the style and shape of the helmet. I
know of no rules and can simply state the facts within my knowledge. With regard
to the arms of Colonies, very few date back to the Stuart period. I have never seen
a Royal Warrant of this period for the purpose. I very much doubt if an original is
still in existence, but arms of Colonies which are of ancient origin appear always to
be represented with the Royal helmet. This, one would imagine, is correct; there is
certainly no reason why any other helmet should be used. But the majority of
Colonial arms are quite modern. I can call nothing to mind granted between the
reign of Charles II. and the reign of Queen Victoria. The modern Colonial warrants
have no helmet and mantling either painted upon them or recited in the wording of
the warrant. A number of them certainly have crests, but these are simply placed
on wreaths above the escutcheon without any intervening helmet or mantling. From
these facts, the conclusion I draw is, that the correct helmet and mantling for
a colony should be that of the Sovereign, and I shall adhere to that opinion until
I come across an actual warrant which uses a different helmet. With regard to the
arms of counties, it should be remembered that until the passing of the act creating
County Councils there was no body in any county competent to bear arms or to
obtain a grant of arms. But in Scotland at any rate a grant had been made to
" The County of Perth " and to the commissioners of supply for the County of
Renfrew. These grants I have always doubted the real validity of, but they exist.
Perth, though it has a crest, was emblazoned without a helmet. Berwick had no
crest, but Renfrew was emblazoned with the helmet of an esquire. The English
counties, of course, had no arms, but in one or two cases — for example, Kent and
Middlesex — arms had by long repute been attributed to counties, but in no case
was there any reputation of a crest, and so the question of the helmet did not
arise. After the passing of the County Councils Act the first council in England
to obtain a grant for the county was West Sussex : that had no crest and con-
sequently no helmet. The next was Shropshire, which likewise and very



properly was also without a crest; and it would have been well if these two
precedents had stereotyped the absence of a crest as proper to the arms of
a county. The next county to obtain a grant was Lancashire, which in the
pride of its wealth went for arms, crest, and supporters. In this grant the

Online LibraryArthur Charles Fox-DaviesThe book of public arms : a complete encyclopædia of all royal, territorial, municipal, corporate, official, and impersonal arms → online text (page 1 of 39)