Friday 21 March 2008

A Jurisdictional Enigma

Some years ago I had occasion to briefly meet with a gentleman from The United States of America who bore what I understand to be legitimate Scottish armorial bearings with a remarkable likeness to those of a the very old Cheshire family and I have to say, it gave me a feeling of unease. Now I ought to say that I have nothing against the gentleman himself  but unfortunately, throughout our brief meeting, I had no opportunity to question him about his armorial bearings.  I do however know that Major Randal Massey of Dunham acquired a new grant of arms (and recognition of his territorial designation "of Dunham") after purchasing a piece of land in Orkney, naming it Dunham, and thus coming under the jurisdiction, as the owner of land in Scotland, of the Lord Lyon. I'm a little uneasy with the naming of a new piece of land "Dunham" but it is not the use of the name Massey of Dunham which concerns me in this note, it is the armorial bearings Lyon granted anew to Major Massey.

I have not seen the Letters Patent so have no detail other than the image reproduced on the web site of the Society of Scottish Armigers but the arms of Major Massey appear to be:

 Massey of Dunham (modern Scottish)
Arms: Quarterly Gules and Or, in the first and fourth quarters three fleur-de-lis Argent, a canton Argent for difference.
Crest: A demi-pegasus with wings displayed quarterly Gules and Or.

Now take a look at the arms of Massey of Coddington (Cheshire)

Massey of Coddington (ancient English)
arms: Quarterly Gules and Or, in the first and fourth quarters three fleur-de-lis Argent, a canton Argent for difference.
Crest: A demi-pegasus with wings displayed quarterly Or and Gules

These arms appear to be identical with the subtle difference in a reversal of the tinctures in the quartering of the crest alone. I seem to remember that when the College of Arms granted me my own armorial bearings they were careful to check to see that there were none similar in Scotland. It does not appear to me that a similar exercise took place in reversal when the Massey of Dunham arms were granted!

Note also the motto which is pure Massey of Dunham-Massey of Cheshire. Major Massey is clearly proud of his surname but I have to have reservations over the reasons (or indeed how!) Lyon was persuaded to grant arms all but identical to those used lawfully by an ancient and landed English family.

Monday 17 March 2008

Cadency marks - heirs and graces.

First off, I would like to say that I thoroughly enjoyed my monthly visit to the Cheshire Heraldry Society Lecture on Saturday even though I was suffering from the onset of a cold. The lecture was given by the Chairman of the society, Harold Storey and it was patent to see that not only was he knowledgeable on his hobby of collecting bookplates but also extremely enthusiastic. We were pleased to be shown numerous photographic slides which represented but a tiny fraction of his collection; a collection which began over fifty years ago when, after reading a chapter on the hobby in Lynch-Robinson's Intelligible Heraldry, he thought that as there couldn't possibly be anyone else collecting bookplates, he might as well be the first!

He soon learned that not only wasn't he the first, he was also a long, long way behind the real enthusiasts .... indeed, in the early days of his collecting, he was concerned that the cost of sevenpence ha'penny ( a tuppence ha'penny stamp, plus another enclosed on a stamped addressed envelope for the anticipated reply and then yet another on a thank you letter to those who had sent him a plate) might break the bank!

Judging by the size of his collection, not only wasn't he put off by the cost but I think he may well have caught the others up by now.

When we are out and about, attending lectures or just generally observing what heraldry is to be seen, we shouldn't always accept at face value and without question, what we see. Amongst the many examples of bookplates shown by Harold, I noticed one which, to me at least seemed to be rather strange in the way the label, denoting that the plate belonged to an heir apparent, was displayed. I questioned the chosen method of display and one of the Society's long standing members "strongly disagreed" - Harold kindly allowed some debate to take place but I am afraid that a combination of the heat of the room and the imminent onset of a heavy cold coupled with a respect for the member who challenged my view, meant that I simply did not have the will to press forward my argument and as a consequence I think that I may have failed to make my point at all clear.

On the basis that I am feeling a wee bit better and declaring that of course I will allow a right of reply if my views are once again challenged, I re-state my case here for all to see.

I regret that I don't have an image of the bookplate in question but it showed the cadency mark of a crescent (second son) upon which was displayed a label. I illustrate a "generic" example of what I saw below:

My instinct was that this was not a proper use of cadency and that this particular choice of display was wrong. It is my view that once an English armiger chooses to use a cadency mark to denote where he stands in the pecking order of the family, that cadency mark then becomes a permanent part of the arms; it therefore seems logical to me that his heir apparent ought to use the label in exactly the same way his cousin, who is heir apparent to the undifferenced arms, would.

Unlike all the other cadency marks, which are permanent, the label is not permanent and its function is to boldly bebruise the arms of the father during his lifetime.

Once an armiger has decided to use cadency marks to mark his place in the family he has in effect created an entirely new set of arms; the arms of a cadet branch of the family. It is a perfectly proper rule, though proven to be unwieldy in practice, to place one cadency mark on top of another to denote, say, the third son of a second son of the house. To see a martlet on top of a crescent would be perfectly proper but to include a label in this scheme, is, in my view at least, silly.

Once the second son has created his new coat of arms thus:

His heir apparent should use a label thus:

In sum, I do not think it at all appropriate to use a label as a minor mark of cadency upon another mark of cadency.

Wednesday 12 March 2008

Some Favourite Bookplates

The Chairman of The Cheshire Heraldry Society, Harold Storey, will be giving this weekend's lecture on his hobby of collecting bookplates.

Details of time and venue can be found on the Society web page.

The badge of the Society was designed by Lesley Holt.
The blue lion is from the Macclesfield arms, the sword from the Chester arms  and the garb on the lion's neck is to indicate Cheshire.

Sunday 9 March 2008

The end is nigh.

When I last visited Macclesfield to attend a Cheshire Heraldry Society lecture I took a photograph of the entrance to Macclesfield Bus Station, for no other reason than it features, as do many of the bus stops in the area, the pseudo-armorial logo adopted by Cheshire County Council.

Now I don't actually dislike this logo, indeed to an armorist its origins are quite plaint to see, but it doesn't sit well with me simply because it pretends to be heraldic but isn't. The County Council has a perfectly likable coat of arms which is described on their own website as "one of the most beautiful in England" so why, I wonder, did they consider it necessary to turn it into a logo? Worse still, their arms are not "Azure, a garb Or" as the logo would pretend to nod towards, and which is in fact the coat of arms of Grosvenor, but are in fact "Azure, a sword erect between three garbs Or".

Cheshire, as a county, may be inextricably linked with the Grosvenor family but Cheshire County Council is not the Grosvenor County Council and it is doubtful if it could ever be considered proper for a County Council that has arms of its own to use the arms of the Grosvenor family.

Why have I embarked on this rant?

Well, the logo reminded me that for Cheshire County Council the end is indeed nigh. The Government in its wisdom has announced that the six district councils and the county council in Cheshire will be abolished and replaced by unitary local government.
There were two proposals for unitary government in Cheshire:

A single Cheshire Council with local decision making or two unitary councils (City of Chester and West Cheshire Council and East Cheshire Council). The Government have decided to create two new unitary councils in Cheshire.

There will be a lot of upheaval in the transition, all no doubt with the aim of saving money. A small, and possibly insignificant plea from this armorist is that the two new unitary authorities have the inclination to petition for armorial bearings anew. I am not hopeful.

Indeed I fear that even if the inclination is there, unless some imaginative herald finds a way to transfer the arms of Cheshire County Council by way of Royal licence to one of the new authorities, those arms so rightly described as "one of the most beautiful in England" may well find themselves consigned to the dustbin of history. That will be a pity.

Friday 7 March 2008

Clive or Clyff of Hurley [Huxley]

 It is impossible to proof read your own work!

I've been preparing a talk for The Cheshire Heraldry Society and in doing so I have created afresh the images I will need. Looking back on the early images I have done for the Cheshire Heraldry web site, even I can see how much I have improved! Why, I wonder, did I decide to use grey for Argent/silver? I also spotted one horrendous mistake in the emblazonment of Clive or Clyff of Hurley [Huxley]. I don't know why but in the second quarter I emblazoned a fess cotised Gules when I should have emblazoned a bend cotised Gules.

Clive or Clyff of HurleyArms: Quarterly of six coats -
1 and 6 Argent on a fesse between three wolves' heads erased Sable as many mullets Or.
2. Ermine on a bend cotised Gules three crescents Or. [Huxley]
3. [Sable] three garbs [Or]. [Styche]
4. Gules, a lion rampant Or between three crosses formee fitchee Argent.
5. Quarterly Argent and Sable four cocks counterchanged.

1. Crest:  On a mount Vert a griffin passant Argent, ducally gorged Gules.
2. Crest: A wolf's head erased quarterly per pale indented Argent and Sable. 

Incorrect version:

Correct (and improved) version:

Like a good wine, I'm improving with age!

A New Lord Lyon

I take this opportunity to congratulate the new Lord Lyon whose appointment has been announced today. Readers of this blog may remember that way back in June last year, when speculation was rife that Lyon Blair was to retire, my feeling was that W. David H. Sellar, Bute Pursuivant of Arms, would be appointed.

The official announcement confirms that I was right:

Lord Lyon King of Arms

The Queen has been pleased, on the recommendation of the First Minister, to appoint Mr William David Hamilton Sellar, Solicitor, to be Lord Lyon King of Arms.

Mr Sellar succeeds Robin Blair, LVO, WS who has held the office of Lord Lyon since 2001.

Her Majesty is also to appoint Mr Sellar to be Secretary of the Most Ancient and Most Noble Order of the Thistle.

Mr Sellar qualified as a solicitor in 1966. After two years with the Scottish Land Court, he joined the Faculty of Law at the University of Edinburgh where he is now an Honorary Fellow.

The Lord Lyon has both administrative and judicial functions. The administrative functions include the granting of armorial bearings to individual persons and corporations. The Lord Lyon's judicial functions include ruling on who has the right to bear an existing coat of arms, and the authorisation of matriculations of differenced Arms. The post is part time - three days a week, with a salary range of £56,000 - £78,500 pro rata.

The Lord Lyon is appointed by Her Majesty The Queen under section 3 of the Lyon King of Arms (Scotland) Act 1867. The Office of the Lord Lyon is situated in New Register House, Edinburgh.

David Sellar, aged 67, is a graduate of the Universities of Oxford (History) and Edinburgh (Law). He qualified as a solicitor in 1966. After two years as a legal assessor with the Scottish Land Court, he taught in the Faculty of Law at the University of Edinburgh. He is now an honorary fellow of the Faculty. He is joint author of the Saltire Society's Scottish Legal Tradition (1991), and has written on the history of various branches of Scots law, including marriage, divorce, incest, homicide and unjust enrichment. He has published on the Lordship of the Isles and on the origins of many Highland families, including the Campbells, MacDonalds, MacDougalls, MacLeods, Lamonts, MacNeills and Nicolsons.

He was O'Donnell Lecturer (in Celtic Studies) at Edinburgh in 1985, Stair Society Lecturer in 1997 and a Rhind Lecturer in 2000. He has been a Member of the Ancient Monuments Board for Scotland, Vice-President of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, Literary Director of the Stair Society, Chairman of Council of the Scottish History Society and Chairman of the Conference of Scottish Medievalists. He has also served on the Council of the Scottish Genealogy Society and of the Heraldry Society of Scotland. He was appointed Bute Pursuivant of Arms in 2001.

The appointment followed public advertisement of the post and a selection board met to interview a short-list of candidates and provide a recommendation to the First Minister.

Wednesday 5 March 2008

Dering Roll of National Importance

Most enthusiastic followers of English heraldry will know that the Dering Roll has recently been sold at auction to a foreign buyer and is under threat of export. The Culture Secretary  is prepared to grant an export licence unless there is a fairly robust UK counter offer by April the 19th.

I understand that the British Library have already expressed an interest in raising the funds to purchase the manuscript but nevertheless, I have felt it prudent to email my local MP and I would urge those who also have an interest in keeping this important manuscript within these shores to do the same.

You find the email address of your local MP here

 My letter is copied below for your information:

Dear Mr. Wright,
The Dering Roll has recently been sold at auction and is under threat of export.

The Dering Roll was produced in England in the last quarter of the 13th century. It is eight and a half feet long and contains the coats of arms of approximately one-quarter of the English baronage of the reign of King Edward I. As the earliest surviving English roll of arms it is a key document of medieval English knighthood. As a statement of the knights who owed feudal service to the constable of Dover Castle, it carries outstanding local as well as national significance.

The Culture Secretary is prepared to grant the export licence unless there is a fairly certain offer by April 19th.  Given the short time period available to raise over £200,000 there is a very real chance that this historic document will be lost.  Can you please contact the Culture Secretary to ensure at the very least a photographic facsimile is made available to the British Library before export?

Thanking you in anticipation.
Yours sincerely,
Martin Goldstraw

Thomas Weigh Jones (Herald Painter)

A friend of Cheshire Heraldry has kindly sent to me an extract from The Nantwich Guardian of 1892:

Nantwich Guardian (Cheshire, UK) dated Wed Feb 3rd 1892 page 5.
Death notice for Thomas Weigh JONES (1803-1892)

“On Friday there passed away, at the residence of his son-in-law Mr Hudson, Woodlane Terrace, London Road, Nantwich P.P.G.M. (past presiding grand master) Thomas Weigh Jones. The deceased gentleman was in his 89th year, and had suffered a prolonged illness.

“He was a Cestrian (native of Chester) and came to Nantwich in 1827 to work for the late Mr. Charles Welsh, coach-builder as herald painter and pencil hand.

“He was a man of strong religious principles which were early instilled into him by a pious mother and which actuated him all through his long life. He frequently walked from Nantwich to Chester, a distance of 20 miles, and started on Sunday mornings so as to be in time for the morning service at the Cathedral. He was devotedly attached to the services held in that venerable pile.

“Mr. Jones was initiated as an Oddfellow in 1837, and passed through the various offices in a most meritorious manner. He was one of the pioneers of the Order in this neighborhood, and he and a few others were the first to establish a widow and orphans' fund in what is now the Nantwich and Crewe district. It afforded him the utmost pleasure to see the fund prosper and to be the means of accomplishing so much good and to recognize in it a powerful lever for lifting the load of human misery. His cheery countenance and  urbanity of manner brought pleasure and comfort to many a sick and dying brother.

“He served the office of Corresponding Secretary of the Nantwich District of Oddfellows for 28 years, and upon his retirement in 1877, through advancing years, he was presented with a beautiful illuminated address in a gilt frame and a purse of 50 sovereigns. The high esteem in which he was held by his brothers is embodied in the following paragraph in the address  "While contemplating the high position our order has attained to, we recall with pride and satisfaction the part you have performed in this great and important work. With quiet and unobtrusive perseverance, with ardent zeal, which though never abating, was always considerate of the opinion of others, with a self-sacrificing desire to spend and to be spent for the good of the Oddfellowship, but, above all, to a steady adherence to right principles, which were best calculated to promote peace and goodwill amongst the brethren you have performed the onerous duties which have so long been entrusted to you to the satisfaction of the members, to your own credit, and to the admiration of the Order generally. In you we have had the opportunity of showing the watchwords of our Order -- friendship, love and truth -- fully accomplished and your inspiring patience, kindness and courtesy under the most trying circumstances have won for you the golden opinions of all."

“Mr. Jones had a thorough knowledge of heraldry, and was often consulted on that subject by the late Mr. W. S. Tollemache of Dorfold Hall, Lord Crewe, and other county families; in fact, there was scarcely one of the old nobility and gentry in Cheshire whose armorial bearings and crests he had not painted at some time. The writer of this notice has some acquaintance with heraldry, and has seen the work of different artists, but there was a boldness and character in the production of Mr Jones which were lacking in others.. Even down to within a few months of his death he was able to paint flowers and scriptural texts in a marvelously skillful and artistic manner, and it was one of his delights to paint and present to his young friends texts from the Bible which had been his guide through life and which no doubt will long be prized and treasured up by their possessors now that the venerable artist has been called away to join the Grand Lodge above. The funeral is fixed for this Tuesday, and a report will appear in Friday's Guardian.”

College of Arms Newsletter April 2024

 The latest College of Arms Newsletter for April 2024 is now online .

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