William Berry.

Encyclopaedia heraldica; or, Complete dictionary of heraldry (Volume 1) online

. (page 1 of 153)
Online LibraryWilliam BerryEncyclopaedia heraldica; or, Complete dictionary of heraldry (Volume 1) → online text (page 1 of 153)
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The mental activity which characterises the present age is as indefatigable in the
discovery of matter for occupation as it is ardent in the pursuit of it. New paths of know-
ledge have been struck out and fresh lights have been thrown upon the old ; sciences are
rapidly changing their forms, and present at each change the appearance of another advance
towards maturity : and history sees all her most important events of every date re-examined
and re-stated with an ihgenuW and research which, at least, add to the stock of informa-
tion ; and, by placing each fadj in every possible light, contribute to the confirmation and
establishment of that which is tie true one.

In this eager pursuit of kn\ w ledge, Heraldry has not been overlooked : connected
as it is with history, with antiquities, an d many existing distinctions, it presented itself at
too many points not to secure very gVeral attention; and the desire to become acquainted
with its language and its laws is obsevably diffused to a very wide extent. The growing
desire for information on this subject ht= not hitherto been met with proportionate zeal in
communicating it, and digesting and prWing it in that form which is best adapted for
instruction, and suited to the taste and fa^ion of the times.


This slowness in providing informa'on in any attractive form may, perhaps, be
accounted for, by the little distinction to be gained in treating a subject which afforded
no scope to the exercise of genius, in which nO^ew theories could be advanced, no claim
to originality preferred ; and where all that was r qu i re d was to collect and arrange matter,
in its very nature unchangeable, and already befo^ the public, but not in a way to answer

\ b


its present wants. To this it may be added that, till lately, the science has been almost
solely in the hands of professional men, or professed antiquaries, and for them the books
in which it was contained seemed to possess, in their scarcity, their antiquity, and their
quaintness, a propriety, which any modern alteration would destroy.

A more popular form is, however, undoubtedly necessary for that large and in-
creasing class of persons who are now desirous of an acquaintance with Heraldry ; to whom,
if they gained nothing more, it would be an important consideration to save the time use-
lessly employed in toiling through matter altogether uninteresting, or at least at that par-
ticular moment, when satisfaction upon some single point may be all that is desired.

In one particular, the older writers on the subject have fallen into a fault character-
istic of the age in which they wrote the attempt to carry back their relation to the earliest
possible date. To begin at the beginning, as it is emphatically termed, seemed to be
considered essential by every historical writer, and not to be shunned for any deficiency of
authorities or probability." Thus, like all other histories, the history of Heraldry had its
fabulous, its traditionary, and its authentic periods. The writer of the present day no
longer feels it incumbent upon him to maintain the existence of the science through all
these periods, as necessary to the dignity or utility of his subject. The first of the three,
comprising the whole duration of ancient history, he is at liberty at once to reject. There
is a line between ancient and modern history more distinct thai could be expected to occur
in the course of the actions and manners of successive gererations of men in the same
countries. All the institutions of the former perished and gave way to others totally dif-
ferent in the latter : the legal code, known by the name >i the civil law, can scarcely be
called an exception to the truth of this remark, since it was lost for centuries was
discovered by accident; and, in its second promulpition, was, to all intents, a new

In ancient history, thus distinguished from modern, no traces of the science of
Heraldry, properly so called, are to be discoverer In the countries of modern Europe,
on the contrary, it sooner or later occupied ? very prominent station; in no instance,
however, can any confidence be placed in the .apposed proofs of it earlier than the Cru-
sades. Seals, which were employed to attes- documents in behalf of individuals, were
likely to exhibit very early proofs of the emroyment of family armorial distinctions. Now,
the use of seals on written documents was 'ltroduced into England by the Normans, upon
their first settling in this country. These however, contain no trace of armorial bearings,
and it may be thence concluded that sue- did not exist. The superior civilization of the
country from which our Norman princf came, the authority of victors, and the influence


of the court, were sure to transfer into this country whatever was in fashion on the
Continent. As the use of seals had been introduced into this country by the Normans
at the Conquest, so it may be supposed they introduced, as soon as they were adopted
elsewhere, the additions made to them of armorial bearings. Seals of this kind were
not employed here till the time of Richard I. which may be assumed to have been no
distant follower of the establishment, in this country at least, of some of the principal laws
of Heraldry.

Of the condition of the science, from this time to the reign of Edward III. little
can be known, or even conjectured ; that it had appointed officers seems necessary to its
existence at all, but, with one exceptbn, it does not appear by what name they were dis-
tinguished, or what authority they possessed. That intimate connexion with France,
which was occasioned by the claims of the English princes to the crown of that country,
seems to have led to the establishmerj of heraldic officers, with the names and capacities
which they still possess : at least, sudi establishment is contemporaneous with the inva-
sions of France. Edward the Third ^pointed four of the six heralds, who form a part
of the present constituted body ; his (successor appointed other officers, and these were
collected into a college, and acted togfcher by order of Henry the Fifth ; and, by Richard
the Third, were granted a charter and 'ery extensive privileges. At this period, and for
some time after, their dignity and pcver may be considered to have been at the highest :
the honours, of which they were th^guardians and regulators, were not too widely ex-
tended to escape from their jurisdict'^, and the full exercise of their powers was not felt
grievous by a people, who were not vet grown jealous of their personal independence.
When, however, the desire of a gfta.tr degree of freedom began to diffuse itself, they had
a long struggle to maintain with/tha more numerous class, who were eager to assume
those proofs of gentility, in wh|ch hey were desirous of rivalling those with whom
wealth and education had giveij thqn some grounds of equality ; that easy method of
smoothing difficulties, which latf tines have furnished, had not yet been sufficiently re-
ceived. When the increased liferty bf the subject rendered it impossible for the Heralds
to prevent, by the exercise of tmr poller, the illegal assumption of arms, a way to escape
from the guilt was compassionacly devised, and it was discovered that the act might be
legalised by the payment of afcpecific sum. This arrangement, by placing the desired
object within the reach of all, ridered the exercise of its authority no longer invidious to
the College ; and though it doenot directly interfere with the unauthorized assumption of
arms, in some degree checks jf by lowering in public estimation such as have not the
sanction, which, it is known, lay be obtained if applied for in the proper way. The
Herald is no longer the uncipromising champion of the privileged few, the terror of

b 2


new men, and budding gentility : if he is known to have objects of hostility, it is also
known how he may be conciliated ;

" Si te nulla movet tantae pietatis imago

At ramiim hunc (aperit ramum qui veste latebat)
Agnoscas tumida ex ira tuni corda residunt.'-

These amicable relations, however, between the Herald and the Public, were not
brought about at once, nor till great political revolutions had taught the former that their
only hope to retain some influence with their refractory subjects was in offerino- a friendly-
embrace to all who were willing to approach ; and tjius compensating the defiance of the
disobedient by multiplying the number of their wiling supporters.

So early as the reign of Elizabeth, the grovjtig spirit of freedom began to quarrel

with the monopoly of honours by the favoured poi idn of the community, and the Heralds

found themselves frequently called upon to resist the encroachment upon their privileo-es

and defiance of their authority. This was particuirly the case in the ordering of funerals

then the favourite scene for the display of heralic honours, and a constant warfare was

carried on throughout the country, between the provincial kings, or their deputies, and

the painters and undertakers, whom interest unitedvith their ambitious employers. Such

continued to be the state of things during this and he succeeding reign, and it can easily

be supposed what turn they took from the events o the following one of Charles the First.

The journal of Sir William Dugdale exhibits someimusing instances of the summary but

ineffectual means employed by him, in vindicationof his authority in his own province,

and of the emulous pertinacity with which unwarancd achievements were alternately

defaced and restored. This was in the earlier times >f tlat Prince; in the events with which

his career closed, all undue privileges of feudal orgin either perished or received a fatal

wound. It was then that the Earl Marshal's cout wa suppressed; a late establishment,

most unfit for the season, and most strongly oppose! in rinciple and still more in practice

to the spirit of the times. Edward Hyde, afterwards Erl of Clarendon, who brought it

before the notice of Parliament, related there someof its proceedings, which were,

indeed, of a character to endanger the existence of te Court, even if it had been of

higher authority and older date : as it was, they lookd like the passionate exercise of

authority, which had no hopes to maintain itself but by -rror, and, instead of supporting,

hastened its downfal. With the fall of arbitrary powei in the government, fell all that

was arbitrary in the constitution of the College of ''eralds : without the power of

punishing, they ceased to oppose, by other means thanmblic opinion, the invasion of


their former rights ; even the useful custom of visitations was considered too inquisitorial
for the altered state of society, and perished with the last of the Stuarts.

From that time to the present the official business of Heraldry has been prosecuted
in its contracted sphere, unofficiously, without noise, and without odium. The chartered
and corporate association of its professors has proved necessary to the wants of a country
possessed of hereditary titles, and in which the changes and acquisition of wealth are
continually exalting new families to a position in which it is right and expedient to invest
them with such distinctions as have been once bestowed upon the old. And, though the
pageantry of Heraldry is no longer forced upon private individuals, and seldom sought
by them, it is maintained, on all public solemnities, with undiminished pomp and
scrupulous accuracy. Neither has the science been suffered to remain a mystery in the
hands of its professional followers : there have always been those who have devoted
themselves to the study of it, from natural inclination and with uninterested zeal. To
the exertions of these we are indebted for the collection of much useful information, and,
to their example, for preserving and extending a taste for the study. At no time has this
been so prevalent as at the present ; and, when it is considered how many are personally
concerned in it, how much it is connected with some most interesting periods and
events, and how frequently it proves a useful auxiliary of the historian and still more of
the biographer, it is natural that this taste should increase rather than diminish. To
gratify the wants of the Public, in this respect, is the intention of the present work ; and,
to suit the purpose of all, the object of the arrangement. It is not attempted to teach the
science in a gradual, systematic manner ; yet the whole of the information necessary to
be acquired is contained under a different form. The learner must select his own course
of study, and, having done so, will find upon each subject, as he takes it in its turn,
whatever has been established concerning it by usage or authority. In the Introduction,
a brief sketch of the essential parts of the science is given, which will be some guide to
the student in what order he may most profitably prosecute his investigations. The
engraved arms of individuals, though not intended for that purpose, will, also, prove a most
valuable help ; in them, compared with their blazoning in the Dictionary of Arms, he
will find excellent illustrations of heraldic terms ; and, which is more peculiarly their
advantage, familiarity and practice in the method of blazoning. Thus, it is hoped that
even the beginner will be enabled to find his way to the elements of the science as here
presented ; while, to readers of every other kind, the form of a Dictionary will afford
unusual advantages, presenting the subject of their inquiry, readily and separately, before
their view, with all the benefit of conciseness, because unconnected with extraneous
matter, and, s, as complete as the compared and selected results of former


writers can render it. In a science, of which the principles have been long settled,
little of novelty remained to be discovered ; what was required was to collect, from the
rare, or cumbersome, or ill-assorted existing materials, all that could be relied upon and
whatever was useful. This is what has been attempted to be accomplished in the present
work ; with what success must be pronounced elsewhere ; but no where so properly as here
can it be stated that, on those subjects, in which access to private documents, or badges, was
necessary for obtaining correct information, such have been freely and kindly granted to
the inspection of the Author ; and he trusts he shall not be considered less sensible of
the favours, because he is precluded, by their number, from every public acknowledgement
beyond this general one.


Although every heraldic term, or subject connected with the science of Heraldry, will be found
under each specific head, in alphabetical arrangement, in this Dictionary, properly explained, technically
and otherwise, with references, in general, to an engraved plate, in order that it may be the more
clearly understood, yet, to such as may not be well versed in the science, or wholly unacquainted with
it, a kind of Grammar of Heraldry, if it may be so termed, cannot prove otherwise than interesting as
well as useful, and the following general outline of its composition is given, by way of introduction, which
a reference to the Dictionary and Plates will more fully explain.

The Shield, upon which the various devices of Heraldry are depicted, has varied in shape with
the caprice of the times, as the fertile imaginations of whimsical heralds, engravers, and painters, have
suggested, but seldom bearing any very near resemblance to the shield of the warrior, actually used in
the field of battle, single combat, or tournament ; which will, however, be found more fully treated
upon under the several heads of Achievement, Buckler, Target, &c. but more particularly
under that of Escutcheon.

The Points of the Shield, or Escocheon, are so termed from their pointing out the precise part of
the field upon which any charge is to be borne at that particular place, and are called

The Dexter chief point ; The Navel, or no?nbril jooint ; The Middle base point ; and

Middle chief point ; Dexter base point, called by Sinister base point, called

Sinister chief point ; the French, dexter flanque by the French, sinister

Honor, or collar point; point; flanque point.
Centre, or fesse point ;

The Tinctures, Metal, or Colour of the Shield, its several partitions and charges, (the
whole ground or surface of the shield, or escocheon, being termed the field, and allusively so called
from these commemorative charges, or symbols, being originally won in the actual field of battle, or, in


civil cases, in the field of honourable career in service to the state, or to record acts of virtue, generositv,
and the like,) are as follow : viz.

Metals Or being gold, and

Argent, silver, generally depicted white.

COLOURS Gules being red;



Azure .... blue ;

Taivney, or

[ being orange ;

Vert .... green ;



Sable .... black ;


.... dark red, or murrey

Purpure. . . . purple ;

These several metals and colours, in ancient blazon, are sometimes designated by precious stones
and planets ; and the capricious whim of even blazoning the tinctures by the elements, celestial signs,
seasons, virtues, &c. may be found under the terms Blazon and Colour, where curious paradigms of
these strange fancies are inserted.

Furs are, likewise, used in coat-armour, and are as follow:

Ermine, ermines, erminois, pean, vair, vaire, varry-cnppy, or varry-tassa, and erminites, will
be found particularly described under Fur.

As these furs are depicted in Heraldry as spotting over the whole ordinary, or charge, it may be
the more regular way to notice next a somewhat similar kind of powdering, or rather sprinkling, which
represent drops of various liquids, termed Gutte, particularized under this term in the Dictionary.
They are as follow :

Gutte d'huile, or 1 , .',-'..

-,,.,,. } painted vert, or green colour, and representing drops ot oil ;

Gutte a olive, J

Gutte de larmes, painted to imitate drops of water, and representing tears ;

Gutte de Veau, the like, but not borne for tears ;

Gutte d'or, drops of liquid gold ;

Gutte de poix, drops of liquid pitch, and painted black ; and

Gutte de sang, red, representing drops of blood.

Small crosses, of various formation, fleurs-de-lis, and the like, are often borne strewed, as it were,
all over the field, which is termed seme, or semme, of cross crosslets, fleurs-de-lis, &c. as the case may
happen to be.

RouNDLES, or circular pieces of metal and colour, taking various names, according to the tincture,
are, likewise, very common bearings in coat armour, and being often borne strewed all over the field,
ordinary, and charge, may be next noticed. They are called as follow :

The Bezant, depicted or, or gold, represents the ancient coin of Byzantium, or Constantinople.

Plate, argent, or silver, supposed, likewise, to represent a coin.

Pomeis, vert, or green, representing an apple.

Hurt, azure, or blue, the hurtleberry, by some supposed to represent a wound.

Ogress, or "> sable, or black, called, also, by some old heralds, gunstones, as representing

Pellet, > balls of lead and iron.

Torleaux, gules, or red, said to represent cakes, bowls, or toounds.



Golpes, purpure, or purple, also said to imply wounds, and by some a pill, or bolus.
Oranges, lenne, or tawney, the fruit so called.
Guzes, sanguine, or murrey colour, a red hot ball.

Fountain, divided horizontally, by wavy lines, into six pieces, painted alternately argent
and azure.
Some of these, when strewed over the field, or charge, are termed seme, but others vary in the
term, the powdering- with bezants being called bezantee , plates, platee ; and piellets, pellettee.

The Lines of Partition, used in the division of the field, upon which partitions the various
charges are borne, which diversify the numerous coats of arms, and render each family distinct, will be
found under this head.

The Ordinaries, which are the principal bearings in coat armour, and which will be found under
this head generally, and separately under each particular term, are, with the exception of the tressure,
formed of liues crossing the field in various ways, and are called as follow :

1. The Chief.

2. Pale.

3. Bend.

4. Fesse.

5. Bar.

6. Escocheon.

7. Cross.

8. Saltier.

9. Cheveron.
10. Giron.

11. Quarter.

12. Pile.

13. Flasque.

14. Tressure.

15. Fret.

16. File.

17. Border.

18. Orle.

19. Inescocheon.

20. Canton.

These Ordinaries are borne with and without other charges upon them, and so various are the
different devices used in the multiplicity of bearings, consisting of animate and inanimate things, it is
scarcely possible to say what may be met with in coat armour, although all of the more general sort ot
bearings, such as men, beasts, birds, fishes, reptiles and insects, implements of husbandry and trade,
instruments of destruction used in warfare, crosses of various formation and appellation, (which will be
found alphabetically arranged under the general term of Cross,) flowers, fruits, trees, plants, shrubs,
leaves, &c. may be referred to in the Dictionary, and further elucidated by explanatory plates in most

Subordinate Ordinaries, sometimes so called from being diminutives of the others, are as
follow :

Of the CniliF-

-the Fillet.

Of the Bend the

Garter, or


.. Bar,



Cost, or

Bars, Gemelles, and

Collice, aud

Cot I ice.



. . Pallet and

Cheveron ..



Couple Close


. . Bcndlet,

Cot I ice.

The Pall, Lozenge, Mascle, Fusil, and Rustre, are very common bearings in coat-



armour, all of which will be found particularly described under each term, and explanatory engravings,
for farther elucidation.

Thus, from Tinctures, Furs, Lines of Partition, Ordinaries, Subordinaries, and Charges,
variously disposed at different points of the escocheon, are formed the armorial bearings of individuals
and families, honourable in their first achievement, and, with laudable ambition, continued by their
descendants, as a lasting- memorial of heroic deeds, and other notable actions worthy of record, which,
otherwise, might have been long forgotten ; nor have these symbols of renown been uselessly displayed
to rising generations, who, emulous of the glory of their ancestors, have added new laurels to the
paternal wreath, and obtained grants of honourable augmentations as resplendent as the first mark of
honour which graced the shield of the warrior when the days of chivalry were in their zenith, and feats
of manhood in joust and tournament succeeded the more sanguinary conflict of contending valour in
the field or wounded honour in the rage of single combat.

The Crest, which was of much later device than the armorial bearings on the shield, was
introduced more readily to distinguish leaders and commanders in the heat of battle ; and, in more
peaceable times, was adopted by their followers or retainers as a cognizance, or badge, but, in the
course of time, became generally attached to the coat-armour, with other decorations, such as the
Helmet, Mantling, Motto, and Supporters, which, by certain rules and regulations, and the introduction
of coronets, and other badges of distinction, mark the dignity of the bearer, whether Gentleman,
Esquire, Knight, Baronet, Baron, Viscount, Earl, Marquis, Duke, Prince, or Sovereign, and may
be referred to in the Dictionary under each appellation.

Distinctions of Families, termed, also, Marks of Cadency, Differences, Brisures, and
Filiations, are certain distinctive marks in coat-armour, for the royal family as well as private individuals,
to denote the first, or eldest son, second, third, fourth, and other sons, which will be found particularised
under this head in the Dictionary, and, also, in an explanatory plate. The sons should bear these filiations
on the Crest likewise, ever placing their own mark of degree on that of their father ; the daughters bearing-
only that of their father, and none for themselves the female branches of the royal family being alone
an exception to this general rule, who bear certain distinctions described in the above reference.

Online LibraryWilliam BerryEncyclopaedia heraldica; or, Complete dictionary of heraldry (Volume 1) → online text (page 1 of 153)