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A transcript of the book A Grammar of English Heraldry, chapter 6



AN analysis of the early rolls of arms, both pictorial and descriptive, illustrates very clearly the simplicity which is so characteristic of all English heraldry down to the sixteenth century. The rolls themselves date for the most part from a few years before to not long after 1300; but as the principle of hereditary arms was by then fully established, the heraldry of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries is practically that of the preceding period, with one or two innovations which will be noted in their place.

One of the earliest of the written rolls is that in the Heralds' College (MS. L. 14), known as Glover's. It dates from about 1280, and out of a total of some two hundred and fifty shields as many as eighty are formed by simple combinations of the ordinaries; another thirty consist of ordinaries with charges on or about them; and twenty others are simply quarterly, checky, vairy, bendy, barry, gyronny, or masculy. Of the remainder, twenty-six have lions or leopards, one an ox, and two have eagles. The ox ( ung kene ) is appropriately borne by Rowland de Okstede, as are three boars' heads by Adam de Swyneburne. So, too, Thomas Corbet has two black corbeaux or corbies, Odinel Heron three herons, and Geoffry de Lucy three luces or pike (Fig. 115). Nicholas de Moeles bears 'two bars with three molets in the chief,' and Roger de Merley 'barry of silver and gules with a border of azure and gold merlots in the border.' 'Merlots' or martlets occur in several other arms; also 'papegayes' or popinjays and black cocks. Rauf de Gorges quite properly has a whirlpool (Lat. gurges ), described as 'roele dargent et dazur,' and

Fig. 115. Lucy ( gules three
luces breathing gold

Fig. 116. Montagu

William Montagu three montes acuti , which are blazoned or described as 'ung fesse engrele de trois pieces' (Fig. 116). A ray of the sun is the sole charge of one shield, and another has a crescent in a border of martlets, Other charges occurring in the roll are roses, sheaves, scutcheons, scallops, fleurs-de-lis, maunches or sleeves, bouces or water-skins, crosslets, stars, breys or hempbreakers, cinqfoils and sexfoils, horseshoes ( des fers ), and pillows ( horielers ). Roundels of silver or gules called 'torteux' or 'torteaulx' and of gold called besants likewise occur.

In six cases the field is simply fretty, in one strewn with billets (Fig. 117), and in another sown with besants (Fig. 118).

Besides five shields with ordinary crosses (in one case between charges, in another with charges upon it) there are five others with crosses paty, "patonce,' or 'floretee,' forked crosses, and a 'false cross,' that is, a cross with the middle part cut away to show the field. In a similar way an ode is called a 'false scutcheon,' and six flat rings are

Fig. 117. Gacelyn
( gold sown with
billets sable

Fig. 118. Zouche
( gules sown with
gold besants

Fig. 119. John de
Vipount ( gules six
false-roundels gold

'faux rondelettes' (Fig. 119). In one case a shield with six 'mascles' has them 'voided of the field' (Fig. 121).

The so-called Roll of Caerlaverock, to which reference is often made, is not properly speaking a roll at all, but a poem giving an account of the siege of Caerlaverock castle in 1300, with descriptions in French of about one hundred arms and banners of the earls, barons, and knights who were there. The terms used are similar to those of the Great Roll.

The Great Roll, as it may be called for convenience, was compiled by some unknown hand and for some unknown but apparently special reason, between 1308 and 1314, and contains the blazons or descriptions of the arms of more than eleven hundred persons, arranged for the most part under the counties in which they held their lands. It is therefore a document of the highest importance, not only from its length, but because it probably determined for a long time forward the plain and simple language of medieval heraldry, a subject to which further reference will be made later. It also includes the arms of a large number of those who fought at Caerlaverock, and of the signatories to the famous Barons' Letter of 1300-1, whose armorial seals can thus profitably be compared with the blazons of the roll.

The contents of the Great noll are of similar character to those of Glover's Roll, and include, like it, a large number of arms based simply upon combinations of the ordinaries. There is still confusion between engrailed and indented: the former term being usually restricted to crosses, saltires, bends, and bastons; the latter to chiefs, fesses, and borders. But many 'indented' borders are known to have been really engrailed. The matter does not become clearer when the 'cross engrele' of Eustace de la Hache is found to be engrailed (Fig. 39) on his seal, but indented on his counter-seal (Fig. 120); or when William le Marechal's 'bende engrele' appears plainly on his seal as indented of five pieces; or when the Caerlaverock poem describes Elys Daubeny's 'fesse endente' as engrailed. Engrailing and indenting were therefore the same thing, though not always drawn in the same way. It is interesting to note that engrailing is not yet extended to a cheveron. Another point worthy of notice is that in this and other

Fig. 120. Gold a cross
indented or engrailed
Eustace de la

Fig. 121. Gules seven
gold lozenges voided.

The earl of Win-

early rolls lozenges and mascles are exactly the opposite of the same charges to-day. Thus the arms of the earl of Winchester are blazoned as 'de gules a vij losenges de or,' which contemporary seals show to be what are now called 'mascles' and Glover's Roll blazons the same arms as 'mascles voydes de champ' (Fig. 121). The earl of Kent, on the other hand, has 'mascle de ver e de gules,' or what is now 'lozengy vair and gules.'

As might he expected from its greater length, the roll under notice brings in many more kinds of charges than Glover's Roll. These include wivers, griffins, bears and leverers ; heads of boars, beasts ( testes-de-bis ), wolves, stags, and of cats; cocks, eagles, corbies, herons, 'merelots,' popinjays, falcons and 'girfauks,' as well as silver feathers and eagles' wings. Dolphins, luces, herrings, scallops, and shields with barry or wavy fields, represent the waters; and trefoils, sheaves of wheat and barley, burdock and mulberry leaves, an oak tree and chaplets, the products of the earth, as well as the roses, cinqfoils and fleurs-de-lis before noticed; while a sun's ray, crescents, and molets or stars come from the skies. Manufactured articles comprise bernaks or breys, besants of gold and silver, bouces, bosons or birdbolts, the staves called bourdons, buckles, cups of silver, cushions, gloves, hammers, horseshoes, pitchers, rings, and roundels pierced and plain, rowels or pierced molets, a lady's sleeve (in several cases with her hand also), chess-rooks, trumpets, vans or winnowing baskets, and Danish axes. Castles and a battled fesse are the only reminders of building. Lions or lions rampant (Fig. 122) are very popular, and are often adorned with crowns and collars; they likewise appear with forked tails. Three or more lions are called lioncels, Lions passant or walking also occur, and a single case of a leaping lion (Fig. 123). Leopards, or lions that look at one, are always walking, and sometimes crowned (Fig. 124), Lions are gold, silver, and of all colours, as well as of ermine and vair, or powdered with drops and billets. They also occur with barry and fretty coats, and as demilions only.

Fig. 122. Gold a lion rampant
The earl of Lincoln

Fig. 123. Gold a leaping lion
Roger Felbrigg

Fig. 124. Gules a leopard silver with
a crown of gold.
Warren del Yle

Fig. 125. Silver three falcons
John le Fauconer

At least fifty of the shields blazoned in the Great Roll belong to the punning class called canting or allusive arms. A few of these appear also in Glover's Roll. The majority are evident enough, such as the 'eschalops' of Eschales, the herrings of Herringaud, the cocks of Cockfield, the trumps of Trumpington, the falcons of John le Fauconer (Fig. 125), the bourdons or staves of Bourdon, the boars' heads of the Swynefords and Swyneburnes, the roses of Rossell, the barnacks or bernacles of William Bernak, the axes of Hakelut, the wheat-sheaves of Schefeld, and the 'leverers' or greyhounds of Mauleverer, So Adam Martel bears martels or hammers; Adam Videlou and John de Lou, wolves' heads or testes de lou ; Richard de Catesburi, testes de cheures or cats' heads; and Richard de Burlingham a triplet of bears ( ours ). Rauf Cheyndut has a cheyne or oak tree, and Guy de Ferre a fer-de-moline . A lion with a pinzon or chaffinch on the shoulder is borne by Giles Mountpynzon, and two bars and a quarter with a castle in the quarter by William del Chastel, Hugh de Morieus has three foiles de moures or mulberry leaves; two of the Wauncy family gaunz or gloves; while John and Giles de Argentin and William le Boteler appropriately display silver cups. Piers Bosoun and Thomas de Boltesham bear bosouns or bird-bolts, while Rauf de Zefoul has a cross with a fowl ( oysel ) 'en le cauntel,' This last term occurs several times in both Glover's and the Great Roll, and refers to a charge set in a corner, like that above a bend, with which it is generally associated.

But few varieties of the cross are specified in the Great Roll. The plain cross throughout, or 'crois passant' as it is called in several early rolls, is the most common, and it is also found engrailed. The cross paty, or that with splayed ends, which were often split into three divisions, also occurs, as well as the cross with the ends flowered ( les chefs fleurettes ) or sprouting with fleurs-de-lis. The 'crois recercelee' which occurs once, and a second time voided, is clearly a variety of the 'fer-de-moline' or millrind (which occurs seven times in the Great Roll) with its forked extremities curled outwards. Small crosses paty of a flat ended type, or the crosses later called crosslets, were used for the 'crusily' or cross-powdered fields of many shields in the roll.

Reference has already been made to the 'differencing' of arms in order to distinguish those of near relations, like father and son, or to connote feudal connexions. A number of instructive examples are afforded by the Great Roll.

Elder or eldest sons seem usually to have differenced their paternal arms with a label azure, but when the field or the principal charges were already blue, then with a label of silver or of some other colour. Labels of gold, silver, vert, gules, barry, checky, gobony, 'of Pembroke,' 'of Valence,' etc. also occur in the roll. Arms are likewise frequently differenced, apparently by other than the eldest sons of a house, with an azure or other coloured baston, with a border indented, with a Lend, and more rarely with a quarter, a cheveron, or a field powdered with crosses.

The whole question of differencing as regards the Great Boll is however in a fluid state, and there occur such cases as a son merely piercing the molets on his father's bend, or adding a molet to a quarter, or indenting the father's plain border. One nephew adds a bend ermine to the family arms borne by his uncle, and another exchanges his uncle's blue label for a gold one. Three brothers Manley difference the arms of their house, 'gold a bend sable,' by respectively adding on the bend three eagles, three dolphins, and three wivers, all of silver.

Hugh de Plecy bears 'silver six rowels gules' which John de Plecy differences with a

Fig. 126. Henry of Lan-
caster ( England with a
baston azure

label azure, and his son with an azure baston. Several arms suggest that just as a blue label was the mark of the eldest son, so a blue baston may have denoted a grandson. Thomas earl of Lancaster, for example, bears the arms of his father, England with a label of France; but the arms of his brother Henry of Lancaster were England with a baston azure, which he perhaps bore as a grandson of King Henry III (Fig. 126).

The Great Roll also contains a large number of arms of kinsmen of various degrees differenced by such methods as reversal of tinctures, change of ordinary, alteration or modification of charges, etc. Like the arms of sons, these can hardly be claimed as following any definite rule, and it is often very difficult to trace the exact relationship of the bearers.

Bastardy does not seem to have been specially marked so early, and a solitary instance in the roll, of the arms of 'Sire Johan Lovel le bastard,' merely adds to the paternal 'wavy of gold and gules,' a label of azure with molets of silver.