E. V. de Vermont.

America heraldica : a compilation of coats of arms, crests and mottoes of prominent American families settled in this country before 1800 online

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Online LibraryE. V. de VermontAmerica heraldica : a compilation of coats of arms, crests and mottoes of prominent American families settled in this country before 1800 → online text (page 1 of 26)
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Letter-press by Haiglu S: Dudley,
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Preface — Page VIII., last paragraph of the foot-note. The Appendix gives much more fully than had
been promised the list mentioned.
Page XI., Line 27. For Ricdstap read Rictstap. [Misprint repeated in the first sheets of the

Page XL, Line













For Sicben niacher's read Sicbenvtacher.

For maculd read macula.

For /., 612, read //., 612.

For Bcthnnc read Bcthunc. [Through the whole notice.]

¥or pelletd x&diA pclletce.

For d' Hantcrive read d'Hauterivc.

For valdc read valde.

Fory'i' read ye.

For Twnshcnds read Townshoids.

For Savior read Saviour.

For cinque-fields read cinque-foils.

For erased read couped.

For chequey read chequy. [Misprint repeated four or five times.]

For quarterly read quartered.

For coitrant read trippant.

For Wainii'rights read Wainwright.

Suppress vested before arm.

For ermine read ermines.

For si'jcant read segrcant.

For ar(? read w.

For i-z>/'j read exists.

For displayed read elevated.

For Poietien read Poictiers.

Read gules, on a canton, azure, a crescent, etc.

For scjeant read sejant.

For in point read z« /'(rjf.

For Ormande read Ormonde.
Line before last. For f?7?z. read erminois.

21. Yor rayonc'c read rayonnce.
Two lines before last. For Coorkington read Workington.
Line 26. For Motto given read Si sit prudcntia. [If there be prudence.]

1. The Motto is translated : Press close upon those who take the lead.
47. For Quartered read Quarterly.

2. For Lowthroppe read Loictkroppcs.

Line 10.











HE reader does not expect the author, or, rather, compiler of this work to expatiate,
in solemn periods, upon the anti-democratic features of heraldic devices, such a dis-
cussion having become, indeed, too comnionplace to deserve the least notice from
intelligent and thoughtful people.

No, it is not in any way true that the preservation in the archives of a few
American families, and the outward use they may desire to make of the coats of
arms belonging to them legitimately, could, at any time, l)ecome a peril to our republican institutions.
Nor is it truer that the popular form of our national and state constitutions necessitates the
suppression of such heirlooms ; nor could our lawgivers, by thus acting, succeed in installing on a
forced footing of social equality the descendant of ten generations of personages distinguished for their
courage, their learning, their high moral and intellectual standing, and the self-made and newly-enriched
citizen, born, as it were, of yesterday, to all the refinements of life and of thought, and boasting of
his being "his own proud ancestor." Before the civil law, in the midst of the duties as well as
of the privileges of public life, absolute and undoubted equality. But in History, in the Past,
nearly always in social intercourse, imperious, logical, needed classification, which no protest can either
evade or destroy.*

Far be from us. the thought of enunciating here any personal opinion — of developing a theory.
We sim]5ly wish to state a fact, — a clear, self-evident fact. — however unpalatable it may seem to many
of our fellow-citizens. But such a fact made itself apparent, in all its possible consequences, from
the earliest days of our young repubhc, and still we find that the Washingtons, the Adamses, the
Franklins, the Jays, the Livingstons, and many others among the founders of our liberties, used daily
their own armorial bearings, and did not conceal their satisfaction in thus connecting the Present with
an honored Past.

Why should we then — we, their descendants, enjoying now the \vork of their wcll-.spent lives —
assume the right of interpreting differently the result of their thoughtful deliberations? They did not
erase the Past, but linked it by firm ties to the Future. Gentle blood they did not proscribe, as
did the French Convention, but they placed it, as it were, at the pinnacle, well in view — not as a

""Free to every one to have esteem or contempt for gentle blood. Euripides preferred to it riches; Me-
nander, virtue; Plato, glory; Aristotle, talent; Socrates, wisdom; St. Jerome, holiness. In a word, every one m.ay
place gentle descent on a different point of the scale of comparison. But, that will leave it a fad. It does exist
with its political history in the past, and its decided social influence in the present." — Gr.vMER DE C.\SS.\(.;n"AC : llis-
toirc dcs Classes A'obles.


master, but as an honored guest. And nowhere more than amongst the descendants of the Virginia

Cavaliers, of the gentlemen of the "Mayflower" and of Winthrop's expedition, and of New fork's

aristocratic Knickerbockers, was fountl that true spirit of libertv the practical working t)f which made
us all what we are.*

Let us therefore follow, with meekness of heart, such worthy and decisive examples. And, even
should we not belong to the favored few, let us concede ungrudgingly to every family of old and
gentle descent among us the right to preserve and use freely these relics of the past — not as the toys
of a sickly vanity, but as an inheritance of unblemished honor, as the visible tokens of an unforgotten,
never-to-be-sullied familv recortl, saying with old Homer : " Our ancestors we must gladden, never
sadden, by our lives."


S, therefore, all men of a sedate mind and of good common sense recognize that a crusade
against armorial bearings, in this country, is not to be countenanced or even thought of,
let us turn our attention to the real danger in the matter, refusing to di,scuss any
longer the advisability of proscriptive measures.

It is a well-known fact that, besides the few heraldic emblems brought over
from the old countries by some of the first cmigrants.f there are to be found in
America thousands of armorial devices used without a twinge of conscience hv families with absolutely
no right to bear any coat of arms, and knowing the fact to be such.

Far back in the X\'III. century' we find the counterfeiters' work begun, and, in Boston itself,
— in cultured, high-toned Boston — a number of fifth-rate arti.sts, struggling for a bare j^ittance, and bent
on finding it at any risk, began to circulate, to suit the fanc)' of their wealthy patrons, coats of arms,
invented as well as painted or engra\-ed by themselves the origin of which is to be found either in

" It is not out of place to remark here that each State of the Union, as soon as it obtains its admission into
the national body politic, has at once a coat of arms designed — mostly, we regret to say, on an unheraldic and some
what too picturesque a style — for use as a state emblem on its banners and seals.

Even in modern times, official notice has often been taken of family coats of arms, as in the case of the New
Capitol at Albany, where we find sculptured above the six dormer windows opening on the large middle court the
armorial devices of the families of Stuyvesant, Schuyler, Livingston, Jay, Clinton, and Tompkins, every one of these
families having furnished to the Empire State several distinguished public servants.

t It should be remembered that those men of pluck and decision, who sought in a foreign land that
religious or political liberty which was denied them at home, — the Cavaliers of Virginia, the Puritans of New Eng-
land, the Huguenots exiled from cruel France — were, most of them, men of good family; for, in those days, a large
sum of money was required to equip a vessel, or even just to pay for passage on such a long voyage, and to
provide means of subsistence when arrived at one's destination.

Let us quote here, in reference to the social status of the New England emigrants, a very conclusive argu-
ment inserted by W. H. Whitmore, the father of American heraldry, in his review of SlllRLEV's Noble and Gentle Men
of England. It will show to the reader how many of the emigrants of the XVII. century, although styded merchants
or yeomen, may have belonged, and, in fact, probably did belong, to families of gentle blood, entitled to coat-armor.

" Few points seem less investigated," writes JMr. Whitmore, " than the origin and position of the farmers and
merchants of England after the cessation of tlie Wars <A the Roses. We find repeated instances of gentlemen by


some heraldic cyclopsedia, consulted at random, or, more frequently, in the ever-fertile imagination of
the inventor.

Of course, our own century, especially in its second half, during this astounding period of
material prosperity enjoyed since the late war, has opened, and still opens, a wide door to such unpun-
ishable forgeries. Vanity had to be satisfied ; the nouveaux riches had to be smuggled, some way or
other, into the charmed circle ; and so the jewelers, the stationers, the carriagemakers, insisted on
granting, of their own accord, to their vainglorious clients, some of the far-famed heraldic devices of
the European grandees.* Thus, it came to pass, that all through Great Britain, Ireland, France, and
the Netherlands, new and unexpected branches began to spring out of ancient genealogical trees, this
miraculous connection being usually established under the weak pretense of similitude in the patro-
nymic surnames.

Since then, all the Derbys, the Buckinghams, the Spencers, the Hamiltons, the Churchills, the
Grays, and tutti quanti, enjoying on American soil such high-sounding appellations, believe themselves,
or try to have themselves believed, to be the true and undoubted possessors of the coats of arms
borne by the mighty Dukes and Earls of Old England, f Better still, or, rather worse, hundreds of
families amongst us, having kept, with the care of true-blue Protestants attached to the Bible of their
fathers, a clear record of their descent, both paternal and maternal, attempt, nowadays, to graft them-
selves, boldly and bodily, upon some aristocratic tree, trying thus to forget, and to have others forget,
the humble, perhaps even menial origin of their forefather, the emigrant.

birth engaging in the commerce and the manufacture of the larger cities. We find, also, many examples of the
division of lands, whereby the younger sons of good families became freeholders, and thus dropped socially, a grade,
to the rank of yeomen. We are still without data, however, to show whether this was the rule or the exception.

" To us the question is an important one. The great emigration hither [New England] was that led by Win-
throp ; and, as we have tried to prove, it contained a considerable proportion of gentry, recognized as such prior to
their removal. The remainder of the colonists were undoubtedly yeomen, tradesmen, and mechanics, but most evi-
dently not of the lowest class.

" In fact, if we were to accept Macaulay's picture of the country gentleman of the day we should consider
them as of the superior class. A large majority of them, as witnessed by our early county records, could read and
write ; they were capable of self-government, and were prompt to devise satisfactory solutions for the problems pre-
sented by their new life. We doubt if as much could be said of five thousand colonists now to be taken from the
lower classes of England.

" Hence our abiding faith that the result of all investigation in England will result to the credit of our
ancestors, will establish the value of their heraldic evidences, and free them from the suspicion of that weakest form
of vanity, the assumption of a false social position."

* Mr. Cussans, in his Hand Book of Heraldry, p. 307, writes :

" There are probably more assumptive [heraldic for bogus~\ arms borne in America than anywhere else. Nor
are the bearers of such arms to be so much blamed as the unscrupulous, self-styled heralds, who supply them. The
advertising London tradesmen, who profess to find arms, are, for the most part, less anxious to give themselves the
trouble of examining the requisite documents — even if they possess the necessary ability to do so, which many cer-
tainly do not — than they are of securing the fee. If, therefore, they cannot readily find in the printed pages of
Burke, they do not hesitate to draw from the depth of their ' inner consciousness,' as Carlyle expresses it. Many
American gentlemen, consequently, engrave their plate and adorn the panels of their carriages with heraldic insignia
to which they have no right whatever ; and this, too, tlwugh they may have an hereditary claim to arms as ancient
and honorable as those of a Talbot or a Hastings. Nor have native professors of the science been behindhand in
distributing their worthless favors. The names of Thomas Johnson, John Coles, and Nathaniel Hurd, (Boston
heraldic painters of the XVIII. century), are notorious in New England as those of manufacturers of fictitious arms
and pedigrees."

fAs far back as 1807, the notorious Rev. Samuel Peters, in his Life of Hugh Peters, asserted, without taking
the trouble of furnishing any proofs nor authentic data, that, in the time of Cromwell, many scions of the noblest
houses of Old England came over here to escape the rule of the Protector, and that their descendants still graced


^g^^tjifHERE lies evidently the danger, if systematically falsifying family traditions and gene-
alogical connections may be termed a danger. Here it is that honest men ought to
come to the front, helping thus to rescue poor, naked, unguarded Truth, obstinately
pushed back into her native well.

Some countries, conservative but not blindly retrograde in most of their insti-
tutions, never ceased to protect, by force of law, heraldic property on the same basis
and for the same reasons that they defend any other form or kind of private property.
And if, in our land, public opinion, as yet but imperfectly enlightened on the subject, may not
be ready to accept the creation of a Herald's or a Jiidge-at-Arms office, whose interference should
prevent or punish any wrongful assumption of coat-armor, it seems to us all the more important that
impartial, studious, and high-minded experts, — as thoroughly versed in the intricacies of genealogical
problems as in the arduous work of deciphering heraldic enigmas, — should volunteer to pass judgment
on these matters, presenting, in due time, for public discussion, the results of their minute inquiries
concerning the exact status of American families making use of coats of arms and crests.

Thus would be collected, under the glaring and unrelenting light of public opinion, and with
the help of every fair-minded and competent citizen, a complete and final list of American families,
emigrated before 1800, and having proved peremptorily their ancestral right to coat-armor.

Such a task has been attempted in these pages.

Their author does not follow in the footsteps of any similar publication — none such having ever,
to his knowledge, been systematically compiled in this country. A few indefatigable workers, busy in
other fields of literary labor, collected, it is true, since 1851, many of the documents we have wrought
here into a whole, and, to the survivors of this small company of investigators, — one of them a thorough
scholar in matters heraldic — we address now our hearty and well-deserved thanks. Their names will
be found often inscribed in the bibliographical part of each separate notice, and reference to their
valuable works thus indicated.

And now it would seem that, these few preliminary remarks having established fully our aim
and purpose, we should leave this book to its fate, habent sua fata libelli, did we not feel it our
clearly-set duty to notice and to contradict, in a few short paragraphs, a most curious error, found

this land with their presence. Thus, the Rev. Historian (?) mentions the following personages as having taken refuge
in New England :

1. A certain Thomas Seymour (of the Ducal house of Somerset);

2. Three brothers of Lord Stanley, Earl of Derby ;

3. A certain William Russell (of the Ducal house of Bedford);

4. A Pierrepont, legal heir to the (now extinct) Duchy of Kingston;

5. A Montague, a younger scion of the Earls of Sandwich ;

6. A Graham (of the Ducal house of Montrose) ;

7. A Clinton, of the Earls of Lincoln ; etc., etc.

We shall have occasion to discuss several of these descents still persisted in, in this century, and made more
conspicuous by the fact of some Americans of that name having reached prominent situations among us. At the
end of this work will be found a list of over fifty American families having assumed the coats of arms of Peers of
the British Empire.


upon the lips of the great majority of our fellow-citizens, and having thus obtained — in spite of its
utter absurdity, — the force and popularity of an axiom.


^E hear it constantly repeated in America, that every family surname, and,
especially, every surname of a Britannic or of an Irish origin, is entitled
to certain armorial devices ; and that such a coat of arms does exist
somewhere, at the disposal of the patient searcher. In other words, that,
if, at some remote or more recent period, a Jones, a Brown, a Smith,
having distinguished himself in the service of the state, or in the favor
'f "Y of the sovereign, was granted, by royal letters patent, some sort of

armorial devices, from that day and hour, every living, or yet-to-be-born, Jones, Brown, or Smith, can
lay his hand, at his good pleasure, upon the said coat of arms, and adopt it as his family emblem.

We can hardly be expected to discuss with any amount of seriousness a fiction so radically
opposed to truth and common sense. We shall, therefore, settle the question in a very few words,
borrowed from the vocabulary of European heraldic science.

A coat of arms is and remains the exclusive property of that person who either established his
prescriptive right to it — being a gentleman 0/ old race, — or received it in more recent times by royal
deed of concession. Only his lineal descendants,* not his collateral relatives, can pretend to it ; and
his own brother [we speak here, of course, of the conceded, not of the prescriptive right to coat-
armor] is no more entitled to it than any other confessed pretender.

If the branch thus distinguished becomes extinct, the collateral relatives may inherit the family
estates, if such an entail has been provided for, or if, in the absence of any will, they come first in
the line of succession ab intestato. But, in no case does that coat of arms come over to these col-
lateral relatives, except through a clear and especial manifestation of the royal good pleasure expressed
in a new and distinct concession.

Be it, therefore, well understood by all the Browns or Brownes of the United States, that the
fact of our inserting in this compilation the coats of arms having descended, in a regular line, to the
Brownes or Browns of Salem, of Watertown, of Rye, would not justify them in taking forcible pos-
session of said coats of arms if they count not amongst the direct issue of the original Brown of
Salem, Watertown, or Rye.

And, if the Smiths of Scarsdale, if the Andrews of Farmington, if one of the many Anderson
families of New York, have been made prominent in the same manner by regular grants of armorial
bearings, let us protest against all the Smiths, the Andrews, and the Andersons, whose names crowd

* Maternal descent from a gentlewoman can not give a right to coat-armor to the descendant of a man not
having inherited nor being himself the grantee of armorial bearings. Cussans so expresses this absolute rule, fre-
quently violated in this country :

" If an ignobilis, that is, one without armorial bearings, were to marry an heiress, he could not make use of
her arms ; for, having no escutcheon of his own, it is evident that he could not charge her shield of pretence, neither
would their issue — being unable to quarter — be permitted to bear their maternal coat." — CusSANS : Hand Book of
Heraldry, p. 757.


the directories of our large cities, adopting for their note paper, their plate, their carriages, these old
heirlooms of royal creation, having descended to people of the self-same surname.

Let them remember, instead, and keep wisely in a privileged corner of their memory, this absolute
principle : That " Only a direct ancestor, having borne by right a coat of arms, can give his descend-
ants a similar privilege, and obtain for them an honest footing amongst the Americans entitled to coat-
armor." No half rule on the matter; it is all or nothing. To violate this absolute law, governing
despotically every heraldic assumption, would be only to add ridicule to untruth ; and, with the pro-
gressive enlightenment of their fellow-citizens on the subject, such psendo-gtxA^xX.y would soon be found
out and treated as it deserves to be — with perfect and justified contempt.

In settling this question in such a decisive, and, perhaps, somewhat uncharitable manner, the
author of America Heraldica gives one more positive proof of his strong will not to add unduly
one cubit to the stature of any American citizen ; but only to recognize in every one what is his
by birthright — cuiqtie stitim, — completing and rendering manifest to the public mind a classification
already established by facts and data.


:^OMING to the end of this long introduction, we wish to point out, in this last division:

1ST. What class of candidates to armorial honors our researches include.
2D. What period of time these researches comprehend.

3D. What systematic procedure has been applied to the present classification.


Desirous to insert in this volume no documents but those of a general interest, we
have concentrated our attention upon the families whose origins are comprised in the following enu-
meration :

A. Families descending from titled noblemen.

B. Families descending from European landed gentry.

C. Families descending from personages having occupied high offices in their native country,
or in the Colonies of the New World.

D. Families descending from the Lords of the Manors of New York.

E. Families descending from the leading Huguenot exiles.

F. Families descending from the gentlemen mentioned in the Boston Gore Roll of Anns, as
usin - already armorial bearings in 1700-1720.*

* The Gore Roll of Arms is a collection of ninety-nine coats of arms, painted by hand, and having been once
the property of a Boston carriagemaker, by the name of GORE, who lived in the early part of the last century, and
consigned in a book the armorial bearings of his most prominent customers. A complete description of this valuable
document is found in the Boston Heraldic Journal, of August, 1865. It has always been admitted that the coats of
arms included in this compilation were, to a large extent, bona fide, and deserved to be treated as such.


These five headings include Knickerbockers, Cavaliers, Puritans, Quakers, Huguenots — the main
springs from which flowed, all over this wide continent, the fertilizing waters of emigration and civi-


All families whose coats of arms are found in America Heraldica were settled in North
America before A.D. 1800.


Our researches were governed by the following rules :

Being given a family making use of armorial bearings, we enquired, first of all, after the name
of the first emigrant, direct ancestor of that family. Having obtained also the date of his emi-
gration, we set to work to find out :

A. What had been his European origin, and whether he belonged, by well-established lineal
descent, to a family entitled to coat-armor.

Online LibraryE. V. de VermontAmerica heraldica : a compilation of coats of arms, crests and mottoes of prominent American families settled in this country before 1800 → online text (page 1 of 26)