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A transcript of the book A Grammar of English Heraldry, chapter 3



ONE noticeable feature in the rolls of arms is the frequent occurrence of shields that are similar, and differ only in their colouring, or the exchange of one charge for another, or by some small addition. This usually indicates either relationship, or a desire to distinguish between different members of a family, or to show the feudal connexion between one house and another.

Fig. 73. Roger
Mortimer 'le

Fig. 74. John
Mortimer of

Fig. 75. Roger
Mortimer of

Thus in the Great Roll, Roger Mortimer bears the well-known arms of his house (Fig. 72), which may be translated literally. 'barry gold and azure with the chief paly and the corners gyronny with a silver scutcheon.'

Fig. 76. Hastang

Roger Mortimer 'le oncle' has the same arms with the scutcheon of ermine (Fig. 73). John Mortimer of Herefordshire charges the silver scutcheon with a saltire gules (Fig. 74), and another Roger, also of Herefordshire, with a purple lion (Fig. 75); while Henry Mortimer changes the blue of the original arms to red. Five Staffordshire knights in the same roll, all of the house of Hastang, furnish another interesting group: Robert, the head of the house, bearing 'azure a chief gules (or party fessewise gules and azure) and a lion gold'; while his son John adds to the same a silver label.

Fig. 77. Early form of label from the shield (quarterly gules and gold a baston sable and a label silver) of Henry de Laci earl of Lincoln in Westminster abbey church

Another Robert Hastang bears the lion with a forked tail (Fig. 76); Richard Hastang adds to the original arms a silver baston; and Philip Hastang bears the lion silver instead of gold.

Perhaps the most familiar instance of differenced arms is the shield of the Prince of Wales, who bears the royal arms of his father the King with a silver label. The label is of quite early origin, and consists of a narrow stripe crossing the top of the shield with three, four, or five tags, or 'pieces' as they were called, hanging from it (Fig. 77). There is no meaning in the number of pieces, nor any rule as to the colour of labels, and the pieces themselves often carried charges like roundels or castles, or were checkered or of ermine. Another early way of differencing was to enclose the paternal arms with a border, as did Thomas of Woodstock, the youngest of Edward III's sons (Fig. 78); and during the fourteenth century some of the bishops differenced their father's arms with an engrailed border, like those of the founder of Trinity Hall in Cambridge (Fig. 79). The blue and silver gobony border of the Beauforts is another familiar case of differencing (Fig. 80).

Fig. 78. Thomas of Woodstock duke of Gloucester (Old France and England quarterly with a silver border)

Fig. 79. William Bateman bishop of Norwich (Sable a crescent ermine and a border engrailed silver)

Fig. 80. Beaufort

A distinction between the arms of a father and his younger sons was often made by adding some small charge, like a crescent, star, or martlet, but the difficulty of continuing such a scheme logically has led to its disuse to a very large extent.

It was customary from quite early times for the daughters of a house, whether married or single, to bear their father's arms undifferenced; it was therefore but natural that a man should wish to show his connexion with another house by displaying the arms of his wife with his own. This was done at first by simply setting them side by side, or on other equal terms.

Fig. 81. The Cinque Ports. (England halved with azure three gold hulls of ships)

But at quite an early date husband and wife sometimes showed heraldically that they were one by 'dimidiating' or 'halving' the two shields of their arms and then joining together a half of each to make one shield. A good illustration is at hand in the arms above referred to as drawn by Matthew Paris before 1253, which include, amongst others, a shield with a fer-de-moline or millrind halved with a rampant lion. The well-known arms of the Cinque Ports, first found on the Dover seal of 1305, furnish another early example (Fig. 81). Halving arms could however rarely be done without producing odd or inartistic effects, as in the examples just cited, and early in the fourteenth century it was abandoned in favour of a more logical combination.

Fig. 82. Cookesey (Silver a bend azure and three gold cinqfoils pierced on the bend) impaling Harcourt (gules two gold bars), from a brass at Kidderminster

This consisted in 'impaling' or 'departing' the whole content of the two shields side by side in one, and this way of displaying the arms of man and wife still holds (Fig. 82).

It is not easy to say when impaling first came in, but in the inventory of the ornaments in the vestry of Christchurch, Canterbury, taken in 1315-16 a cope given to the church on his consecration and profession by Peter Quivil, bishop of Exeter, in 1280, is described as 'Capa Petri Exoniensis Episcopi cum scutis bipartitibus de Baudekino.'

Much about the same time that arms began to be impaled they were quartered together, as in the shields of Castile and Leon on the tomb of Queen Eleanor (Fig. 83), or of Old France and England on the tomb of King Edward III, first adopted by him in 1340.

Fig. 83. Quartered shield of Queen Eleanor on her tomb in Westminster abbey church
(From Heraldry for Craftsmen and Designers)

The Queen's quartered arms are among the earliest, since they were brought in on her marriage to King Edward I in 1254. Another early example is to be found in the Great Roll in the arms of Sir Simon Montagu, which are described as 'quarterly silver and azure in the azure quarters the griffins of gold and in the silver quarters the daunces of gules.' (Quartile de argent e de azure en les quarters de azure les griffons de or en les quarters de argent les daunces goules.)

Fig. 84. Phelip (Quarterly gules and silver with an eagle of gold in the quarter)

Fig. 85. Despenser (Quarterly silver and gules fretty gold with a baston sable)

Both in Queen Eleanor's case and that of King Edward III the quartered arms represent two kingdoms under one sovereign, but the same principle was extended later to represent a dignity, such as an earldom or barony, to which a man became entitled by descent or marriage, or to show that he was the inheritor of some estate through a wise and prudent marriage on the part of his father. Such quartered arms must not, of course, be confounded with arms like those of the Phelips (Fig. 84), or the Says, or the Despensers (Fig. 85), whose shields were quarterly from the first.

Good examples of arms quartered for dignities are to be found among the enamelled stall-plates of the Knights of the Garter at Windsor, Thus Sir Hugh Stafford ( ob . 1420)

Fig. 86. Arms of Hugh Stafford lord Bourchier (1 and 4, Stafford with a molet sable on the cheveron; 2 and 3, silver a cross engrailed gules and four water-skins sable). From his stall-plate at Windsor

quarters with his own arms those of his wife Elizabeth, in her own right baroness Bourchier, on which account he was summoned to parliament as lord Bourchier (Fig. 86). After his death the lady married another K.G., Sir Lewis Robsart ( ob . 1431), who also through her became lord Bourchier, and quartered her arms with his own. Another Stafford, Sir Humphrey, who succeeded his

Fig. 87. Seal of Humphrey Stafford earl of Buckingham, Northampton, Essex, and Perche, as captain of Calais and lieutenant of the Marches, 1442
(From Hope's Stall-plates of the Knights of the Garter)

father when a child as earl of Stafford, became on the death of his mother (Anne, sister and heir of Humphrey duke of Gloucester) in 1438, earl of Buckingham, Northampton, Essex, and Perche, His shield on his seal (Fig. 87) is accordingly quarterly of (1) Buckingham, (2) Bohun of Hereford and Essex, (3) Bohun of Northampton, and (4) Stafford.

Fig. 88. Arms. from his stall-plate, of Richard Nevill earl of Salisbury, lord Montagu, and lord Monthermer

In 1424 Richard Nevill, son of Ralph earl of Westmorland and the lady Joan Beaufort, married Alice, daughter of Thomas earl of Salisbury, and became in right of his wife earl of Salisbury, lord Montagu, and lord Monthermer. He accordingly quartered with his own arms, which were 'gules a silver saltire and a label of Beaufort,' those of Montagu quartering Monthermer (Fig. 88). His brother William married about 1426 Joan, daughter and heir of Thomas lord Fauconberg, whom he succeeded in the title, and quartered his arms with his own. One other interesting example in connexion with a dignity is furnished by the stall-plate of Thomas lord Stanley (ob. 1458-9), who quarters with his own quartered arms those of the kingdom of Man, of which island he was lord.

The stall-plates also afford instances of arms quartered through succession to estates, Thus Sir William Arundel (ob. 1400) quarters with his paternal arms those of his mother, daughter and co-heir of John lord Maltravers (Fig. 89), and William lord Willoughby ( ob . 1409) those of his grandmother, who was daughter and co-heir of Robert Ufford earl of

Fig. 89. Arms of Sir William Arundel, K.G., from his stall-plate

Fig. 90. Arms of William lord Willoughby, K.G., from his stall-plate

Suffolk (Fig. 90). Sir John Grey of Ruthin, as an eldest son, differences with a silver label the arms of his father, Rainald lord Grey of Ruthin, who in 1391 became lord Hastings on the death of his relative John Hastings earl of Pembroke, and quartered with his own arms of Grey those of Hastings quartering Valence (Fig. 91). A similar example is afforded by the plate of Sir John Astley, who differences with an ermine label the arms of his father Sir Thomas Astley, quartered with those of his mother, daughter and heir of Sir Robert Harcourt (Fig. 92).

Fig. 91. Arms of Sir John Grey of Ruthin, K.G., from his stall-plate

Fig. 92. Arms of Sir John Astley, K.G., from his stall-plate

Another way of marshalling arms by a man who has married an heiress is by superposing the lady's arms in a smaller shield upon the middle of his own shield. Such superposed shield is now called 'a scutcheon of pretence.' A good early example is afforded by the seal of Richard Beanchamp earl of Warwick, who bears upon his quartered shield of Beauchamp and Newburgh a small quartered shield of Clare and Despenser for his second wife (m. 1423), Isabel, daughter of Richard lord Despenser and earl of Gloucester, and widow of Richard earl of Worcester (Fig. 93). The seal of John Tiptoft, engraved probably on his creation as earl of Worcester in 1449, gives another instance (Fig. 94). It shows the quarters of Tiptoft and Powis (the earl's mother) with a superposed shield of the arms (1, Montagu; 2 and 3, Monthermer;4, Nevill with a label) of his first wife Cecily, daughter of Richard Nevill earl of Salisbury, and widow of Henry duke of Warwick.

Fig. 93. Arms of Richard Beauchamp earl of Warwick, with a scutcheon of pretence of the arms of Clare and Despenser

It has ever been lawful for a man to impale his arms with those attaching to any office or dignity he may hold. Bishops, for instance, have impaled their arms with those of their cathedral church or see since at least the end of the fourteenth century, and abbots and priors were wont to do the same as regards the arms of their abbey or priory. Deans of secular churches, heads of colleges, the Regius professors at

Fig. 94. Seal of John Tiptoft earl of Worcester, 1449
(From Hope's Stall-plates of the Knights of the Garter)

Cambridge (since 1590), and the kings-of-arms, have also had and have the same privilege. It is not, however, regular for a man to combine with such official arms those of his wife, and if he be a knight of an Order like the Garter, he must not encircle with the Garter or Collar of any Order an impaled shield, but only his own arms. Should a man who is a widower marry again, he may cease to marshal the arms of his first wife; but he may also, should he will, continue to bear them, with those of his second wife, impaled with his own. The same rule holds as to the arms of a twice or more times married lady.