GRANTS OF ARMS
THE heraldry of the fifteenth century is further illustrated, both in kind and language, by the documents known as grants of arms.
The origin of grants of arms is somewhat obscure. One obviously spurious example claims to be as early as 1306, and several other grants purport to date from the reign of Edward III. An undoubted grant by King Richard II to Otho de Maundell in 1398 confirms to him the arms, 'gules three gold leopards with silver crowns about their necks,' stated to have been granted to his father, Peter de Maundell, by letters patent of King Edward III. In 1389 King Richard also granted arms, 'silver a cap azure with an ostrich feather gules,' to John de Kyngeston, and by a patent of 1393-4 authorized Thomas Mowbray, the earl marshal, to exchange the white label about the neck of his gold leopard crest for a silver crown upon its head.
Quite a number of early grants emanate from private individuals, and empower some kinsman or friend and his heirs to bear arms which the grantor is able to transfer to him. Thus Camden prints a grant of 1348-9 from Robert de Morley, marshal of Ireland, to Hobert de Corby, of certain arms that had descended to him by the death of Baldwin de Manowes. A more probable grant is one of 1392, whereby Thomas Grendale grants the arms of his cousin and heir, John Beaumeys, which had descended to him, to William Moigne, knight. Another that may be quoted is a charter of Humphrey earl of Stafford and of Perche, dated 13th August 1442, granting to Robert Whitgreve these arms
Fig. 133. Whitgreve
'azure a quatre points dor quatre cheverons de gules'; and for a crest, a helm with a blue mantling furred with ermine, and a crown and a demi-antelope all of gold. These arms it will be seen may correctly be blazoned as 'nine pieces azure and of Stafford,' and it is interesting to notice that in the collection of fifteenth century arms just described one Richard Whitgreve of Staffordshire, probably a brother or near kinsman of Robert, 'beryth Stafford and sylvyr ix pecys' (Fig. 133).
By letters patent of 14th January 1448-9, King Henry VI granted arms (Fig. 134) to his foundation of King's College at Cambridge in unusually florid terms, which may thus be translated from the Latin of the original:
Fig. 134. King's College,
In a black field three silver roses, having in mind that our newly founded college enduring for ages to come, whose perpetuity we wish to he signified by the stability of the black colour, may bring forth the rightest flowers redolent in every kind of sciences : to which also, that we might impart something of regal nobility which might declare the work truly regal and famous, we have ordained to be placed in the chief of the shield parcels of the arms lawfully due to us in our Kingdom of England and France, party of azure with a flower of the French and of gules with a gold leopard passant.
Similar letters patent were issued the same day granting arms to the King's foundation of Eton College in like terms, but substituting 'three lily flowers silver' for the three roses in the King's College arms (Fig. 135). King Henry also granted on 30th January 1448-9, to his beloved clerk Nicholas Cloos, for his services in connexion with the building of King's College, these arms: 'silver a cheveron sable with three closed lily-flowers on the cheveron and on a chief sable three silver roses' (Fig. 136); and on 19th May 1449, to Roger Keys, clerk, for similar services as regards Eton College, 'party cheveronwise gules and sable three gold keys' (Fig. 137). This grant was also extended to Thomas Keys, brother of Roger, and his descendants.
The King's and Eton grants, which are still in the possession of the colleges to which they were issued, take the usual form of letters patent, with the great seal appended in
Fig. 136. Nicholas Cloos
Fig. 137. Roger and
green wax, and the shields of arms painted in the middle. The Cloos and Keys grants were no doubt similar, but the arms are only described as hic depicta, and not blazoned as in the college grants.
Several other grants of King Henry VI are entered, with the above, on the Close Rolls of his reign, in each case with a drawing of the arms. These are blazoned in only one case, that of the arms granted on 11th March 1444-5 to Bernard Angevin, one of the King's counsellors in Aquitaine: 'Quorum quidem armorum campus est de asura cum uno leone ungulato et linguato de goules ac cum decem floribus per circuitum vocatis Augevins de argento.'
The only other known early grant under the great seal is that by King Edward IV in 1472 to Louis de Bruges, seigneur de la Gruthuyse, who had been created earl of Winchester for his kindness to Edward when in exile. This grant is now in the British Museum, and has in the middle an illumination of the arms, which are described as 'dasur a dix Mascles dor enorme dung Canton de nostre propre armes Dangleterre, Cestassavoir de goulez a ung lipard passaunt dor armee dasur ' (that is, 'azure ten gold mascles with a canton of our own arms of England, that is to say of gules with a leopard passant of gold armed azure'). These arms are based upon the old arms of the earldom of Winchester, which are blazoned in the Great Roll as 'de gowles a vij losenges de or.'
One of the earliest grants by a king-of-arms is that to one of the London livery companies, the Drapers', by Sir William Brugges, Garter, in 1439. John Stowe, who says he has seen the original grant (now lost), gives the blazon as 'Troys Royes de Soleil issuantz hors de troys nnes de flambs coronez de troys Corones Imperiales Dore assiser sus une escne Dazure.'
These arms must be a misdescription of the original arms assumed by the Company, which were apparently three pyx-canopies, in the form of lawn or linen veils (such as drapers sold), hanging from beneath triple crowns; this being the usual English fashion.
Of nearly the same date as the above there are recorded a number of grants or confirmations of arms by heralds or kings-of-arms to individuals, but by what authority there is nothing to show.
After the middle of the fifteenth century such grants, whether to London livery companies or individnals, became more common, but the heraldry, as a rule, is of good character, and of similar restrained simplicity to what had hitherto prevailed.
These early grants differ in appearance from the royal letters patent in having the arms depicted in the left-hand margin, and being sealed with the seal of the herald or king-of-arms issuing them.
In connexion with these royal, private, and official grants it is interesting to read the opinion of Nicholas Upton as translated in the famous Book of St Albans, first printed there in 1486. After reciting the several derivations of arms from (1) a father, mother, or other predecessor, or (2) by acquisition through merit, as in the arms of France by King Edward III, or (3) by grant from a prince or 'of sum other lordys,' the writer says:
The faurith maner of whise we have thoos armys the wich we take on owre owne propur auctorite. as in theys days opynly we se. how many poore men by thayr grace favoure laboure or deservyng : ar made nobuls ... and of theys men many by theyr awne autorite have take armys to be borne to theym and to ther hayris of whoom it nedys not here to reherse ye namys. Never the lees armys that be so takyn they may lefully and frely beer. Bot yit they be not of so grete dignyte and autorite as thoos armys the wich ar grauntyt day by day by the autorite of a prynce or of a lorde. Yet armys bi a mannys propur auctorite take: if an other man have not borue theym afore: be of strength enogh.
And it is the opynyon of moni men that an herrod of armis may gyve arms. Bot I say if any sych armys be borne by any herrod gyvyn that thoos armys be of no more auctorite then thoos armys the wich be take by a mannys awne auctorite.