UK Genealogy Archives logo
DISCLOSURE: This page may contain affiliate links, meaning when you click the links and make a purchase, we may receive a commission.

A transcript of the book A Grammar of English Heraldry, chapter 10



DURING the first half of the seventeenth century the application of heraldry to buildings and monuments continued to decline, but the official grants of arms maintained the late Elizabethan standard. Strange to say, heraldry did not cease to flourish under the Commonwealth, and the republican successors of the deposed royalist kings-of-arms from time to time issued grants of quite good character. It is curious to note too, that although the royal arms disappeared with the Monarchy in 1648, the State forthwith adopted the cross of St George as the arms of England, and a harp for Ireland. To these there was added later the cross of St Andrew for Scotland. In 1655; a new great seal for the Commonwealth, designed and engraved by Simon, came into use, and on this there appears a new national shield of arms, with St George's cross in the first and fourth quarters, St Andrew's cross in the second, and the Irish harp in the third, with the lion of Oliver Cromwell on a scutcheon of pretence. Oddly enough this shield is supported by a lion with a royal crown and by a dragon, and surmounted by a helm and mantling with a royal crown and the crowned-leopard crest above.

The post-Restoration heraldry of the seventeenth century, and that of the eighteenth century do not call for any special remark; the monumental part of it being mostly dull and lifeless, and the grants of arms continuing to follow the late Elizabethan and Stewart precedent.

It should be noted that in nearly every case grants of arms include that of a crest also; grants of crests alone are also met with. These crests do not as a rule infringe the condition that they, or models of them, could be worn upon a helm, and they of course vary as greatly in character as do those of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries; but it is as difficult to classify them as it is unnecessary to quote examples.

The final degradation of heraldry is to be seen in the arms and crests granted during the nineteenth century to the sailors and soldiers who distinguished themselves in the great fights at sea and on land with which they were concerned.

Here, for example, are the arms granted to Horatio lord Nelson in 1801, as blazoned in the peerages:

Or a cross patonce sable a bend gules surmounted by another engrailed of the field charged with three bombs fired proper; on a chief of honourable augmentation undulated argent waves of the sea from which a palm tree issuant between a disabled ship on the dexter and a battery in ruins on the sinister all proper.

Lord Camperdown, a few years earlier, was granted arms of like character:

Gules in chief between two cinquefoils (for augmentation) in the centre chief point a naval crown or pendent therefrom by a riband argent and azure a representation of the gold medal conferred upon the first Viscount by George III for the victory off Camperdown thereon two figures the emblem of Victory alighting on the prow of an antique vessell and crowning Britannia with a wreath of laurel below the medal the word CAMPERDOWN and a bugle horn in base argent stringed and garnished azure.

The following is the blazon given by one authority of the arms and crest which were granted, with supporters, to Viscount Exmouth in 1817:

Gules a lion pass ant gardant in chief two civic wreaths or; and for augmentation on a chief wavy argent in front of a city intended to represent that of Algiers a range of batteries flanked on the sinister by a circular fortified castle with triple battlements proper thereon two flags displayed the one barry wavy or and gules (indicative of the presence of the Bey of Algiers within the said castle) and the other of the last, on the dexter and abreast of the said batteries a ship of the line bearing the flag of all admiral of the blue squadron moored also proper;

with this crest:

The bow of a ship with parts of the pennant and bowsprit standing and appearing as a wreck on a rock the waves breaking round her proper.

Lord Vivian was granted, about 1841, another such crest:

Out of waves a bridge embattled issuant therefrom a demi-hussar of the 18th Regiment holding in his right hand a sabre and in his left a pennon gules inscribed in gold letters CROIX D'ORADE.

These, too, are the arms assigned, according to the peerages, to rear-admiral Sir David Milne, who died in 1845:

Erminois a cross moline quarterly pierced or between three mullets two and one azure a chief of honourable augmentation wavy argent thereon a fortified circular lighthouse with a red flag flying flanked on the dexter by a hexagon battery of three tiers of guns with a like flag flying and on the sinister by another battery of two tiers of guns connected by a wall with the lighthouse, all proper, the whole intended to represent that part of the walls defending the town and port of Algiers to which His Majesty's ship 'Impregnable' which bore the flag of the said rear-admiral was opposed in the said memorable attack on the 27th day of August 1816.

Passing over a number of similar compositions granted at intervals during the century, there may be quoted the arms assigned to Lord Kitchener so recently as 1898:

Gules a chevron argent surmounted by another azure between three bustards proper in the centre point a bezant and over all as an honourable augmentation on a pile or two flagstaffs saltirewise, flowing to the dexter the Union flag of Great Britain and Ireland, and to the sinister a representation of the Egyptian flag all proper, enfiled by a mural crown gules, the rim inscribed KHARTOUM in letters of gold.

The following also appeared in The Times only last year:

The armorial bearings for the Commonwealth of Australia authorized by Royal Warrant dated May 7, 1908, and recorded in the College of Arms, have now been altered. These arms, of which we published a drawing on August 1, 1908, were:

ARMS.-Azure; on an inescutcheon argent upon a cross of St George cottised of the field, five six-pointed stars of the second (representing the constellation of the Southern Cross), all within an orle of inescutcheons of the second, each charged with a chevron gules.

CREST.-On a wreath of the colours, a seven-pointed star or.

SUPPORTERS.-On a compartment of grass, to the dexter a kangaroo, to the sinister an emu, both proper.

MOTTO.-"Advance Australia."

This coat, though substantially designed by the Commonwealth Government, was objected to for various reasons in Australia and elsewhere. By a Royal Warrant dated September 19, 1912, which has just been recorded at the College of Arms, the following armorial ensigns were substituted:

ARMS.-Quarterly of six; the first quarter argent a cross gules charged with a lion passant guardant between on each limb a mullet of eight points or; the second azure five mullets, one of eight, two of seven, one of six, and one of five points of the first (representing the constellation of the Southern Cross) ensigned with an Imperial Crown proper; the third of the first, a Maltese cross of the fourth surmounted by a like Imperial Crown; the fourth of the third on a perch wreathed vert and gules and an Australian piping shrike displayed also proper; the fifth also or a swan naiant to the sinister sable; the last of the first a lion passant of the second, the whole within a bordure ermine,

CREST.-On a wreath or and azure a seven-pointed star or.

SUPPORTERS.-Dexter a kangaroo, sinister an emu, both proper.