Monday 31 May 2010

Venables Baron of Kinderton

 The Visitations of Cheshire (1533 - 1580) record the arms of the baron of Kinderton as:

Venables, Baron of KindertonArms: Quarterly -
1 & 6 Azure, two bars Argent.
2 Argent, a cross flory between four martlets Gules [Golborne]
3 Vert, a wyvern Argent .
4 Argent, three piles in point wavy Sable.
5 Azure, an eagle displayed Argent [Coton]

Crest: A wyvern, with wings endorsed Argent, devouring a child proper. 

Saturday 29 May 2010

Happy Oak Apple Day

I don't live too far away from Boscobel House so today will see a few local celebrations though I wouldn't mind betting that the (English) man in the street if asked what was special about today would most likely think that the question related to the fact that, by coincidence, this is a "bank holiday" weekend and would have no idea that today is Oak Apple Day. My own little heraldic hint to this day is reflected in my choice of an oak tree in the "Goostrey" punning crest. 

The Goldstraw (Goostrey) crest.

 Oak Apple Day or, as it is also known, Royal Oak Day used to be officially celebrated as a holiday in England on 29 May to commemorate the restoration of the English monarchy, in May 1660. I believe that in some parts of the country, the day was also known as Shick-Shack Day or Arbour Day.

It was first declared as a public holiday by Parliament in 1660:

"Parliament had ordered the 29 of May, the King's birthday, to be for ever kept as a day of thanksgiving for our redemption from tyranny and the King's return to his Government, he entering London that day."

Sadly it was abolished (as a holiday, not as a celebration) in 1859 but the occurrences after the Battle of Worcester in September 1651, when the future Charles II of England escaped the Roundhead army by hiding in an oak tree near Boscobel House, are still widely celebrated in Shropshire and elsewhere to commemorate the return of our beloved Monarchy.

Have a Happy Oak Apple Day (and a restful Bank Holiday weekend).

Monday 24 May 2010

For the man who has (or should I say wants) everything armorial

I have just returned from one of my regular, enjoyable, sojourns to Edinburgh; good company, plenty of heraldry and, this time at least, exceptionally good weather. It has become something of a custom to have an informal heraldic show and tell and I thought I would share with you a piece which really is something for the man who has everything - an armorial pepper mill (or pepper pot). It's quite a cute little EPNS pepper mill which came with its own wee case. A snip at £20 or so from a local auction house, its new owner has had a silver escutcheon of his own arms made and attached to personalise it.

An armorial pepper pot

See the small picture inset to give you an idea of the scale. Some of you might recognise the arms.

Friday 21 May 2010

It's NOT a crest part II

I was pleased to learn that, across the border in Shropshire, the recently created  Shrewsbury Town Council has now received its Royal Licence for the transfer of the arms of the former Borough of Shrewsbury said to have first been used in 1623 and derived from the Royal lions in a 13th Century seal with the colours of Roger de Montgomery, Earl of Shrewsbury.

The armorial bearings of Shrewsbury Town Council



It's just a pity that the proper officer of the Council, its Clerk, doesn't appreciate that not only is it not called a crest but it doesn't even have one. The agenda for the Shrewsbury Town Council meeting held on Monday 15th March 2010:

5. Announcements

To receive any announcements from the Mayor or the Town Clerk.

(i) Receipt of the Royal Licence to use the Shrewsbury Town Crest by Shrewsbury Town Council

Monday 17 May 2010

An achievement for Cheshire East

I am informed, this morning by Brian Reed, Democratic Services Manager Cheshire East Council, that the Council received their Grant of Arms from the College of Heralds last Monday.  The news of the Council's official armorial status was reported to the Council's Annual General Meeting on Wednesday last (12th May 2010).

The process officially began at the meeting of the Cheshire East Council held on the 23rd July 2009 when it was formally resolved to petition for arms. At that meeting (a copy of the minutes has been uploaded to the Cheshire Heraldry web site) the members of Council were presented with the draft design which had obviously been the subject of much prior discussion with with the College of Arms.

 It is my understanding, having spoken to officers of the council early in the new year, that the petition was dealt with by Patrick Dickinson, formerly Richmond Herald but now, since 6th April of this year, Norroy and Ulster King of Arms.

 A proposed design for the Cheshire East Council’s coat of arms.

It's an attractive design. The minutes of the meeting show that the the design was explained to those who were present: The garbs (wheat sheaves) are the symbols most associated with Cheshire and feature prominently in the shields of all three predecessor authorities. The combination of three crowns represents the amalgamation of the three boroughs. In the crest an Eastern crown has been used, referring to the fact that the authority covers the eastern half of the county.

The main feature of the crest is a stag, a beast which enhances the grounds of Tatton Park and there were also two gold stags which supported the arms of Macclesfield Borough Council. All four of the previous authorities had lions; a lion has therefore been made one of the two supporters in the new design.

Crewe and Nantwich’s supporters were two griffins; hence the other supporter is a griffin. This has additional symbolism because in classical mythology the griffin was the guardian of treasure. It is therefore provides an allusion to the council’s role as custodian of the district’s heritage. Both the lion and the griffin have garlands of laurel round their neck in the same fashion as the stags in Macclesfield’s coat of arms. They are shown standing on a grassy mound, emblematic of the countryside and wavy blue lines suggest rivers and waterways.
Finally, a single garb and an Eastern crown have been combined to form a simple heraldic badge which will also be used as the seal for the authority.

I look forward to seeing the final grant. Mr. Dickinson and the Members and Officers of the authority are to be congratulated on their achievement.

Saturday 15 May 2010

Smith of Hough

In my regular updates of the images I have just arrived at Smith of Hough. You may recall my post of April 2009 when I undertook the task of updating the arms of The 15th Baron Dudley for his entry in Burke's Peerage. The arms of Smith of Hough feature in the third quarter of the Dudley arms with the second quarter being a newer grant, based upon the Smith arms.

The armorial bearings of Smith of Hough

Smith of Hough
Arms: Azure, two bars wavy Ermine, on a chief Or, a demi lion rampant issuant Sable

Crest: An ostrich proper, holding in the beak a horseshoe

Friday 14 May 2010

City of Chester Charter Trustees

All this recent talk about the City of Chester's Sheriff reminds me that since the reorganisation of local government in Cheshire, ceremonial  items and functions which had previously been held by, and the responsibility of, the former municipal borough of Chester are presently held by The City of Chester Charter Trustees. It is they who, until a parish council is set up for the city of Chester, retain the right to appoint the city Mayor and Sheriff and it is they who hold on trust the armorial bearings granted to the municipal city until they can be assigned lawfully to another corporation (which would be a parish council).


The arms of the City of Chester

Image from Joseph Hemingway's "History of the City of Chester" published 1831  

In 1977 the city council was regranted a "differenced" version of the sixteenth century arms of the predecessor Corporation of the City and County Borough of Chester.

Thursday 13 May 2010

Sheriffs and High Sheriffs

Following on from the post I made on the 24th April entitled "A Roadshow a Sheriff and a coconut" there has been a response from the incumbent Sheriff which doesn't actually throw any light on the conundrum. Her Worship appears to have attempted to answer the question but simply states that the chains of office of the Sheriff and his consort belong to the City of Chester's silver collection and are the arms of the Sheriff; which seems to illustrated that there is no real knowledge of the arms at all. The Sheriff describes the arms as "a chevron between three garbs; surmounted by an Earl's Coronet supported by a lion and wolf.

I have been asked if it is it only Cities that have a Sheriff, or do all local authorities have one?
I believe that the Sheriff of Chester, which is something of an honorary post, is elected from the members of the council by their fellow councillors. This minor local office differs from that of High Sheriff (the current High Sheriff of Cheshire is Mrs. D C Barbour); The appointments of High Sheriffs are (and I quote) "dealt with through the presiding Judge of the Circuit and the Privy Council for consideration by the Sovereign in Council. The annual nominations of three prospective High Sheriffs for each County are made in a meeting of the Lords of the Council in the Queen's Bench Division of the High Court of Justice presided over by the Lord Chief Justice on the 12th November in each year. Subsequently the selection of new High Sheriffs is made annually in a meeting of the Privy Council by the Sovereign when the custom of 'pricking' the appointee's name with a bodkin is perpetuated. Eligibility for nomination and appointment of High Sheriff under the Sheriff's Act of 1887 excludes Peers of Parliament, Members of the House of Commons, European Parliament or Welsh Assembly; full-time members of the Judiciary, including Special Commissioners or Officers of Customs and Excise or Inland Revenue; Officers of the Post Office; Officers of the Navy, Army or Royal Air Force on full pay."

The official badge of a High Sheriff

The official Badge of a High Sheriff

High Sheriff’s Badge
The Queen issued her Royal Licence and Authority for the Shrievalty Association to incorporate the Royal Crown in its arms and badge in 1991. There are only a few institutions which have been licensed to use the Royal Crown in this way and so this is indeed a very rare privilege. The Crown has an ermine border around its base to symbolise the judiciary.

The swords are in saltire (crossed in an x-shape), with the blunt sword representing Mercy and the sharp sword Justice. The Tudor roses symbolise England and the crossed leeks Wales. The wreath of gold oak leaves is representative of the national tree of England.

The official blazon of the badge is: “Two swords in saltire Argent hilts pommels and quillons Or that in bend couped at the point charged upon an Oval Azure environed by a Wreath composed of Oak Leaves Gold with in chief and in base a Tudor Rose Gules upon Argent barbed and seeded proper and in the flanks two Leeks in saltire also proper the whole ensigned by the Royal Crown proper.”

 The High Sheriffs (N.B. High Sheriffs, not local honorary ones) have their own association which is armigerous - The High Sheriff's Association of England and Wales
There is a general history of Sheriffs on line here:

Wednesday 12 May 2010

It's all down to nationality.

In July 1957 The Heraldry Society launched its new coat of arms upon the world in its journal, The Coat of Arms.  

The Coat of Arms of The Heraldry Society

In the same edition its Hon. Editor in Chief, J.P. Brooke-Little, gave his view on "What does such and such a coat of arms mean?". Whilst the piece on the arms of The Heraldry Society clearly sets out an inclusive attitude viz: "the graceful single tressure flory, which has about it a suggestion of Scotland", the editorial comment is undoubtedly written with an English bias as it describes those bearing the same surname as an existing armiger, and seeking to gain a grant of similar arms to the original coat, as being full of pretension and "slightly ridiculous".

To be fair, he does allow one or two exceptional circumstances but the general tenor of the piece is that regardless of the fact that you bear the same surname, if you can't prove a direct relationship and your origins don't stem from within 10 miles of the original armiger's place of residence then you should petition for a coat of arms which bears no resemblance at all to the existing coat.  An entirely English view which strikes a sword right through the entire simplicity of the Scottish system which is perfectly happy to accept the legal fiction that everyone bearing the same surname must be an indeterminate cadet of the "Chief" and therefore entitled to a coat of arms which reflects that of the original.

Now this brings me to a good natured debate I have recently had with an old friend of mine who some time ago obtained a grant of Scottish arms. My friend bears with pride a Scottish surname but is not a subject of the Crown, does not hold a British passport, and resides in the country of his birth which is a republic far away. For years he desperately tried to find a genealogical link with Scotland so that he might obtain a grant of arms, from the Lord Lyon, in memory of his (supposed) ancestor thus allowing him to matriculate arms for himself; all sadly to no avail. Not one for taking such a defeat lying down, and having given up all hope of finding the illusive missing link, he set about purchasing a suitably sized piece of remote Scottish turf and successfully petitioned Lyon for a new coat of arms on the basis that he was now in possession of a piece of Scottish land. The arms he received were, as would be expected, easily identified as belonging to the genre of his Scottish surname; he was accepted without question as an indeterminate cadet.

What of the good natured debate?

I'm afraid that I am apt to pull his leg. You see, my friend now calls himself a Scottish armiger and I insist that he is really simply an American in possession of Scottish arms. I am English with English arms which, because they are matriculated in the Scottish Register, are permitted to be used in Scotland. Having arms recorded in the Register, whether by grant or matriculation, does not change either of our nationalities.

Mohamed Al Fayed, until quite recently, owned an English shop but it didn't make him an English shop keeper ... that is a status he never achieved.

Sunday 9 May 2010

Beware Wikipedia! ARGGGHH – It’s NOT a Crest!

There is presently a discussion taking place between the moderators of wikipedia and the author of the page for Wesley College, Melbourne, which is of interest to me from both a genealogical and a heraldic view point; sadly it is yet another example of the blind leading the blind.

My interest in this entry lies in the fact that a kinsman of mine, one Frank Goldstraw (incorrectly referred to by the author of the piece as Sir Frank Goldstraw) played amateur herald whilst he was in post at the school.  Frank had some local renown as an artist, exhibiting a number of his paintings in Melbourne and Victoria, but I’m not altogether sure that he had a perfect grasp of heraldry. The design he left to posterity leads me to believe that he was aware of the Wesley armorial bearings but appears to have been entirely ignorant of the tincture rules (unless of course he chose to ignore them altogether). It is my belief that he designed the armorial bearings of the College around an image he had seen but had no in depth knowledge of heraldry.

I’ll return to the arms of Wesley College in a moment but first I’d like to address my concerns over the wikipedia conversation. 

My first point is perhaps a minor one but I know that my fellow heraldry addicts will forgive me for my pedantry as it is a concern which is … quite frankly … extremely annoying to us all. I quote the relevant part in the actual entry:

Crest and Motto
A Cigerette [sic] Card featuring the Wesley College's colours and crest (Circa 1920s). The Wesley College crest appeared in the first edition of the college Chronicle in October 1877. It was designed by Sir [sic] Frank Goldstraw, later headmaster from 1893 to 1895. The crest contains a pale blue cross, representing its Wesleyan Methodist Church origins; the Southern Cross; a lion, representing vigilance and constant progress associated with the motto; a book, signifying wisdom to be gained; the bible, recognising the school's Christian association; a lamp, signifying constant light necessary and ready to guide the student in the way of wisdom and a lion’s head, asserting that in struggle, royal courage is a ruling element. The motto Sapere Aude was adopted by the school's founders prior to its opening in 1866 and is translated from Latin as Dare To Be Wise. [End Quote]

Repeat after me:   IT IS NOT A CREST
It is a coat of arms. Yes, it does have a crest but the crest is the thing which is shown above the shield and is normally illustrated on top of the helmet.

OK – so it’s not the end of the world and we know that the vast majority of people who have no knowledge of heraldry think that an armorial achievement complete with all its elements is a crest. All we can do is plod on and do our best to point out what to us is obvious in such a way that we avoid loosing friends.

My second point is perhaps a little more worrying as it concerns the wikipedia watchdogs – the blind leading the blind.
Under a conversation entitled Crest, there is a discussion as to whether or not the coat of arms ought to feature in the page at all with one moderating contributor suggesting that, because he had never seen the “crest” used anywhere, the article should only refer to the College’s logo. His view takes no account of the history of the College or the fact that the “crest” is a part of that history regardless of whether it is used today or not; fortunately another contributor pointed out a number of contemporary usages of the “crest”.
As if it isn’t frustrating enough that a wikipedia moderator almost succeeded in snuffing out a sparse historical record, another contributor then appears on the scene to cast aspersions on the arms themselves on the grounds that there are two versions, a coloured version and a monotone version; which, he asks, is the correct one!  Good Grief.

Obviously too young to remember black and white television and cinema.


Wesley College armorial bearings

I would blazon the arms devised by Frank Goldstraw as:
Arms: Quarterly Argent and Gules, in the first quarter a lion passant guardant Or, in the 2nd and 3rd quarters an open book Argent and in the 4th quarter a hand lamp Or; overall upon a cross Azure four stars of six points Argent.
Crest: Upon a wreath Or and Azure a lion's head erased Or.

The arms of Wesley as recorded in Burke’s General Armory are:
Argent, a cross Sable in each quarter three escallops of the last.
Crest: A wyvern proper. 

The article:,_Melbourne

The moderator's discussion:,_Melbourne

More about Frank Goldstraw:

Saturday 1 May 2010

Artistic License & The Quin's loose their Chief.

Burke's General Armory informs us, in the entry for Quin (Windham-Quin, Earl of Dunraven and Mountearl), that the Earl of Dunraven wishing to perpetuate the more ancient arms of his ancestors, the O'Qins of Munster, obtained from the present Ulster King of Arms the right to bear them [the arms of O'Quin] instead of those assigned to his ancestor, Thady Quin Esq., of Adare, by Carney, Ulster, 29th November 1688. The arms of Thady Quin are recorded in BGA as being Vert, a pegasus Ermine, a chief Or. Crest; A wolf's head erased Ermine.

Why then I wonder did Windham-Henry Wyndham-Quin, 2nd Earl of Dunraven and Montearl, omit the chief when he commissioned two armorial shields to commemorate his inheritance of Adare Manor in 1824?


These two armorial shields were sold last year by Christies for the huge sum of £6'875.00 ($10'368) and the one which is said to represent Quin has definitely lost its chief. Described as Two Irish Antiquarian Painted Pine and Ebonised Armorial Shields circa 1830 - 40 with Quin pegasus and Wyndham chevron, one marked "I.D", 32 in. (81½ cm.) high; 12½ in. (32 cm.) wide they were sold at Christies' sale of 7th may 2009 at their London King Street saleroom.

The Lot Note stated that the shields were:

Commissioned following the Earl's inheritance of Adare Manor in 1824. The shields boast his descent in the Irish peerage with a name derived from the 2nd Century monarch of Ireland, Con of the Hundred Battles and his grandson Quin, who wielded the sceptre in 254. Together with the ancestral portraits and chivalric armour, these heraldically charged shields hung in the Great Gallery, which had been romantically aggrandised in the 1830s under the direction of the architect Lewis Cottingham (d.1847), author of Plans, etc. of Westminster Hall, 1822. In 1839, the antiquarian Earl, a member of the Society for Promoting the Study of Gothic Architecture, recorded that his embellishment of the Gallery with heraldic glass designed by Thomas Willement had given it the handsome air of a Cathedral. He went on to patronise A.N.W Pugin in the 1840s.

These items were way out of my pocket but nevertheless aroused my curiosity for two reasons; because of the missing chief and because I quite like the artistic style. The erased lions' heads flowing over the chevron and the pegasus almost too large for the shield along with the rather unusual, if not rare, inclusion of an actual head inside the helm (somewhat spooky perhaps) make them, to my eyes at least, rather splendid.

College of Arms Newsletter April 2024

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

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