1902 Encyclopedia > Heraldry > Divisions of Arms

(Part 2)


Armorial bearings may be conveniently divided into these of dominion, of a community, of office of concession, family or paternal arms, and arms of alliance. To these may perhaps be added arms of attribution. There is also another division, or rather peculiarity, called canting arms, of which many of the former divisions present examples.

1. Arms of Dominion are those of a kingdom or a feudal lordship. The origin of such arms is often obscure. Those of the Isle of Man are three legs conjoined in triangle at the thigh (fig. 116), probably borrowed from the emblem of Sicily, the ancient Trinacria, found upon Greek vases. The Irish harp is an emblem probably allusive to the instrument of Brian Boroimhe. The origin of the lion of Scotland is also obscure, and of the tressure equally so, though fabled to be
"First by Achaius borne."

Not unfrequently the arms of kingdoms were those of an early sovereign adopted by succeeding dynasties to the exclusion of their own coat. The lions of England were certainly personal to the Plantagenet kings, if not to Henry I.; but they have become national to the exclusion of the arms of the Tudor, Stuart, Brunswick, and Saxon dynasties, just as neither the arms of Baliol, Bruce, nor Stuart ever became the arms of Scotland. The lion rampant azure, crowned gules, so long borne by the head of the German empire, belonged originally to the house of Hapsburg, and was not used by such of the early emperors as were not members of it ; and the bend and alerions of Lorraine only became a part of the arms of the empire after the marriage of Francis of Lorraine with Maria Theresa. It seems indeed to have been the custom of elected sovereigns, as those of the empire and of Poland, to place there paternal arms on a shield of pretence over those of the dominion. Cromwell so placed his arms over those of the commonwealth and William of Nassau over those of England, but they disappeared with the individual who introduced them. On the other hand the arms of kingdoms and lordships are sometimes continued to be used as personal arms by the descendants of their former lords. The great shield of Mary of Burgundy quarters the arms of a number of duchies and provinces. Simon de Montfort thus used the arms of the Honour of Hinkley. Richard de Monthermer (who married the countess of Gloucester, and was, by courtesy, earl of that name) at Caerlavrock, while he bore on his shield his own arms, "or, an eagle displayed vert," on his banner "or, three chevrons gules" for the earldom. So also Humphrey, duke of Gloucester, (died 1146), used on one of his seals the three fusils of Montacute, because he held lands which belonged to that barony. The Book of St Albans says that, if the king grant a lordship to a yeoman entitling him to bear arms, he may take those of that lordship.

Under this head may be described the armorial shield of Great Britain (fig. 1). The arms, gules 3 lions passant in pale or, are for England, and are so borne by the kings of England till the reign of Edward III., who in 1340 quartered with them, in the first quarter, the arms of France, azure, semée of fleurs-de-lys or. Thus they continued till the latter part of the reign of Henry IV., when the fleurs-de-lys were reduced to three. No alteration occurred in the royal achievement during any of the succeeding reigns till the accession of James VI. of Scotland to the throne of England, when that sovereign introduced the royal arms of Scotland into the second quarter, and the arms of the Ireland into the third quarter. The royal arms were thus borne by all the monarchs of the house of Stewart till the reign of Anne, though William III. bore over the quarterings of the royal arms those of his Dutch dominions—the house of Nassan. In the reign of Anne a change again took place, occasioned by the union of England and Scotland ; and the arms of these kingdoms were impaled in the first and fourth quarters (England on the dexter, Scotland on the sinister) ; France was removed to the second ; and Ireland retained its former position. On the accessions of the house of Brunswick in 1714, the fourth quarter in the royal shield gave place to the arms of his Majesty’s German dominions, an arrangement which continued till 1st January 1801, when, upon the Union of Great Britain and Ireland, the arms of France were excluded, England occupied the first and fourth quarters, Scotland the second quarter, and Ireland its old position in the third quarter ; while over all, on an escutcheon of pretence, were placed the arms of Hanover, ensigned wit the electoral bonnet, in 1816 exchanged for the Hanoverian crown. On the detah of William IV. Hanover passed away, and its arms were withdrawn, and the present arrangement introduced. In Scotland, and in Scotch official documents, the Scottish coat is placed in the first quarter. It bears "or, a lion ràmpant, within a double tressure flory-conterflory, gules." There is no positive authority for any early coat of arms being used for Ireland, though the bearing "azure, 3 crowns in pale or" granted by Richard III. to De Vere has been so regarded. From the reign of Henry VII., "azure, a harp or, strings argent," has been regarded as the Irish coat, and as such is inserted into the imperial shield. There is no authority of any standing for a coat of arms for the whole of the principality of Wales, but the coat usually attributed to it is "quarterly azure and gules, 4 lions passant gardant, counterchanged." The ancient princes of Wales would scarcely have adopted the lions of England. Moreover, this coat was never used by any leading chief in either middle or south Wales.

In Scotland arms territorial are much recognized. The dukes of Athole quarter Man. The garbs are quartered by the Erskines for the earldom of Bute. When Archibald Douglas was created duke of Touraine, he placed the arms of that duchy, three fleur-de-lys, on this first quarter, before those of Douglas, Annandale, and Galloway. The dukes of Richmond bear three buckles of for the dukedom of Aubigny. "Paly of 6 argent and sable" are the reputed arms of the earldom of Athole, and "a saltire between 4 roses" those of that of Lennox.

To this head belong arms of pretension, where a sovereign claims de jure a possession which he no longer holds, and sometimes never held, de facto. Thus the kings of England from Edward III. to George III. bore the French lilies, and claimed to be kings of France, and the kings of Sardinia and Naples used the arms of Cyprus and Jerusalem. In fact, nearly all the older sovereigns of Europe used arms of this character. The armorial shield of the house of Austria at the dissolution of the empire affords a number of curious examples of arms of pretension. Besides Hungary, Bohemia, Dalmatia, and Slavonia, it contained Aragon and Sicily, Brabant, Swabia, Antwerp, Flanders, Burgundy, Naples, Jerusalem, Lombardy, and Milan.

3. Arms of Communities are borne by corporations, religious houses, colleges, cities and boroughs,t he Cinque Ports, guilds, and inns of court, some of which were allowed arms from an early period. These are very generally adopted in honour of some founder, great benefactor, or early and distinguished member of the body. Thus Birmingham bears the arms of the barons, of that name, Manchester of the Byrons, Leicester of the Bellomonts Cardiff of the Byrons, Leicester of the Bellomonts, Cardiff of the De Clares. Of religious houses Atherstone bore the arms of Basset ; Garendon of the earls of Leicester ; Kirby-Bellers of Bellers. Of colleges, Balliol and All Souls at Oxford, and Pembroke and Clare at Cambridge, so commemorate Balliol, Chichele, Valence, and De Clare. The Cinque Ports all bears a part of the arms of England. The arms of the guilds and city companies usually contain some allusion to their trade ; those of the grocers are 9 cloves ; of the fishmongers, 3 dolphins ; of the blacksmiths 3 hammers. Of the inns of court, the Inner and Middle Temples bear badges of that order ; Lincoln’s Inn uses the purple lion of the De Lacys, earls of Lincoln ; Furnival’s Inn the bend and martlets of the Barons Furnival. A bishop, as a corporation sole, represents his see and bears its arms, but in Scotland they were early provided with arms, but in Scotland they were of very late introduction. Bishop before the 17th century seem.
to have used their personal arms. Thus Gawain Douglas, bishop of Dunkeld,

"Who gave fair Scotland Virgil’s page,"

and Alexander Douglas, bishop of Moray in 1606, placed the Douglas arms upon their seals. Sometimes, however, this seems to have been combined with some ecclesiastical emblem, for the archbishops of St Andrews placed the cross of St Andrew on their seals, while below were their paternal arms, and the bishops of Glasgow so bore a figure of St Mungo.

5. Arms of Office are not uncommon. The electors and chief officers of the empire each bore some token of their office. The crossed swords so well known on Dresden china were borne by the electors of Saxony ; the sceptre by those of Brandenburg ; the crown of Charlemagne by the electors of Hanover as arch-treasurers. The ancestors of the dukes of Ormond were hereditary butlers of Ireland and bore three covered cups. The kings-at-arms of office. Garter, the principal king, bears "argent, a cross gules, on a chief azure of crown or encircled with a garter of the order buckled and nowed between a lion of England and lily of France," by no means such an example of heraldry as might be expected from the chief herald of England. The knights of St John of Jerusalem augmented their paternal arms with a chief gules, charged with a cross or. Several civic officers in France gave a right to bear arms. Ménage observed of a major of Angers who died upon his election, and was buried with his newly acquired arms—
"Ill étoit de bonne nature,

Et ne fut armé qu’en peinture."

7. Arms of Concession were granted by a sovereign or some feudal superior, sometimes in memory of some great deed, but more frequently to indicate the connexion between the lord and his follower, when they are called arms of patronage. Of the former character was the heart in the arms of Douglas, first used by William I., earl of Douglas 1356, in memory of James Lord Douglas’s mission with Robert Bruce’s heart ; and to this a crown was added in the time of William II., earl of Angus, in 1617. Also the families of De la Warr, Pelham, Vane, and Fane bear arms in allusion to the share of the ancestors of each in the capture of John of France at Poitiers. Sir James a Audley, after Poiteirs, not only divided the Black Prince’s present between his four squires, but allowed them to bear portion of his coat armous, "gules, a fret or," in memory of which the family of Delves still bear "argent, a chevron gules, fretty or, between 3 billets sable" (fig 82) ; and that of Dutton, "quarterly, argent and gules, on the 2d and 3d quarters a fret or." It was probably in memory of the same event the John Touchet, Lord Audley, granted to John and Thomas Mackworth, for services performed by their ancestors and themselves to his ancestors and himself, to bear "party dentelle de sable et d’ hermines, un chevron de gules fretté d’or,"—arms still used by the Mackworths, with a slight addition, and now blazoned "per pale indented sable and ermine, on a chevron gules 5 crosses patée or." Among many similar instances may be mentioned Tatton of Cheshire, who bears "quarterly argent and gules," evidently derived from Massy. Harvey of Ickworth bears "gules, on a bend argent 3 trefoils slipped vert," derived from Foliot, who bore "gules, a bend argent." Staunton of Longbridge, who held by the service of repairing a tower of Belvoir Castle, bore "argent, 2 chevrons within a border engrailed sable," derived from Albini of Belvoir, who "or, 2 chevrons and a border gules." Lowther and Musgrave derived their annulets from Vipont. Moton of Peckleton, Brailsford, Astley of Hillmorton, Besington, bore "argent, a cinquefoil azure ;" "or, a cinquefoil sable ;"
"azure, a cinquefoil ermine ;" and "azure, a cinquefoil or," all derived from the bearings of the Bellomonts, "gules, a cinquerfoil ermine." Hardness, who under De Clare at Tonbridge, bore "gules, a lion rampant debruised by a chevron or ;" and the lords of Avan, Welsh barons under De Clare, bore the three chevrons. Thus also Flamville and Wharton used the maunch of Hastings. "Ermine and checquefoil or," all derived from the bearing of the Bellomonts, "gules, a cinquefoil ermine." Hardness, who held under De Ciare at Tonbridge, bore "gules, a lion rampant debruised by a chevron or;" and the lords of Avan, Welsh barons under De Clare, bore the three chevrons. Thus also Flamville and Wharton used the maunch of Hastings. "Ermine and checquy," from the Newburgh earls, were common in Warwickshire, and the "canton" in Westmoreland, derived from the Lancasters, barons of Kendal. In Douglasdale the "stars" of Douglas preponderate, and in Annandale the "saltire" of Johnstone.

Arms also passed from one friend to another by deep or will, even when three was no blood relationship. Henry de Lacy, the last earl of Lincoln, bequeathed to his friend and executor Sir H. Scrope a lion passant purpure, in augmentation of his coat, and Sir Henry were it accordingly, though for life only. Maud, heiress of her brother Anthony Lord Lucy of Cockermouth, married Henry Percy, earl of Northumberland, 1414. She dieds childless, but bequeathed her lands to the Percys on condition they bore her arms, "gules 3 luces," quarterly with Percy, which they continued to do, and indeed, though without any right, often styled Barons Lucy. To this class also belong arms augmentation, sometimes called additions of honour. Thus Richard II. chose to impale with his own the impute arms of the Confessor, "gules, a cross patone between 5 martlets or," and he granted to Thomas Holland, duke of Surrey, to impale them within a border argent with his own arms. Thomas Mowbray, duke of Norfolk, was also allowed to impale the entire arms of the Confessor, a fatal gift, as it was one f the charges brought against his ambitious descendant Henry Howard. Richard also allowed De Vere, duke or Ireland, t bear for life "azure, 3 golden crowns within a bordure," which seems then to have been regarded as the arms of Ireland. They are found on tiles marshalled quarterly with De Vere. After the victory of Flodden, Henry VIII. granted to the earl of Surrey to augment his arms with a "demi-lion gules through the mouth with an arrow, within a double tressure flowered of the same," to be placed on the Howard bend. Henry used both the pile and the flaunch in his augmentations to the families of his English wives. Seymour bore "quarterly, 1 and 4, or, on a pile gules between 6 fleurs-de-lys azure 3 lions of England ; 2 and 3, Seymour." The augmentation to Howard includes 2 flaunches, that to Catherine Parr a pale. Manners of Belvoir bore "or, 2 bars argent, a chief quarterly azure and gules, in the 1st and 4th quarterly 2 fleurs-de-lys, in the 2d and 3d a lion of Englan, or." The bars were no doubt taken from the Muschamps. The chief and its contents were an augmentation from Henry VIII.

In Scotland an early Lord Seton had a concession from Robert Bruce of a sword supporting a crown, and is blazing star of 8 points within a double tressure or."

Most of the earlier grants or concessions seems intended to commemorate some territorial or genealogical concession, those of the later date some connexion with royalty, or some deed of arms in the field. This Sir Cloudesly Shovel received 2 fleurs-de-lys in chief and a crescent in base in memory of two victories over the French and one over the Turks, and Nelson and other raval commanders received additions rather to be described as sea pieces than as heraldic augmentations.

5. Family and Paternal Arms and arms of succession are such as descend by custom to the male heir. The descendants of females, heiresses, save by special license, can only quarterly their arms. This rule has indeed been much abused, and on every side are seen good maternal names and arms adopted to the exclusion of those less distinguished on the paternal side. Paternal arms are of very various dates and origin. There seem, however, always to have existed certain recognized ruels which the earl marshall had power to enforce. One of the most important of these was that no two persons in the same kingdom should bear the same arms, a practice clearly subversive of the main use of such insignia. Many were the dispute and challenges that arose out of this regulation, of which two of the most remarkable have already been mentioned.

6. Arms of Alliance or heirship were used when those of a great heiress were allowed to supersede the paternal coat. Thus the heiress of Mandeville, earl of Essex, married Say, and their heiress, Beatrice de Say, married Geoffrey Fitz Piers. Geoffrey (died 14 John) became earl of Essex, and their descendants took the name and bore the arms of Mandeville exclusively. William II., earl Warren (died 1148), left a daughter and heiress Isabel, who married Hamelin, natural son of Geoffrey of Anjou and brother to Henry II. He became earl of Surrey, and bore the name and arms and continued the line of Warren. The De la Bisse family, who claimed to descend from the male stock of the De Clares, bore the 3 chevrons differenced with a label of 3 points, though when , in the reign of Richard II. They intermarried with the Staffords, they laid this aside, and adopted "a chevron between three roses." When Gilbert Talbot (died 1274) married Gwenllian, or Gwendoline, the heiress of the Welsh prince Rhys ap Griffith, he laid aside his paternal coat, "bendy of 10 pieces, argent and gules," and adopted that of the lady, "gules, a lion rampant or, within a border engrailed of the field," as still used by the earls of Shrewsbury.

7. Arms of Attribution are altogether fictitious, and such as the heralds of the 15th and 16th centuries indulged in to an absurd extent, proving every hero of antiquity with a coat of arms. The same age that represented the Virgin Mary as versed in the canon law declared that Solomon, as the wisest of men, must have been a good herald, and described the armonial bearings of Achilles and Hector. Perhaps the most extravagant example of this fashion is contained in the work of Dame Juliana Berners, who says: "Of the offspring fo the gentielman Japhet, comes Habreham, Moyses, Aron, and the profetys, and also the kyng of the right lyne of Mary, of whom the gentilman Jhesus was borne, very God and man ;after his manhole King of the londe of Jude, and of Jues, gentilman by is modre Mary prynce of coat armure ;" and again, "The four doctors of holy chirch, Seynt Jeromy, Ambrose, Augustyn, and Gregori, was gentilmen of blode and of cotarmures." At and earlier period, in the reign of Richard II., it was believed that many of the bearings in use had been borne ever since the Conquest, as appears from the evidence in the Scrope and Grosvenor controversy. Almost all the older genealogists attribute coats of arms to ancestors long before they were in use. On the tomb of Queen Elizabeth are emblazoned the arms of William the Conqueror and Matilda of Flanders, and of Henry I. and Matilda of Scotland, and of course pure inventions. It is only of very late years, since a critical spirit has found its way even into heraldry, that these absurdities have been exposed.

8. Canting Arms, the "armies parlantes" of French heraldry, are common to all the preceding classes of arms, and most common in those of the earliest date. Such were the castle and lion for Castile and Leon, the fers de cheval of Ferrars, the lion (löwe) of Louvaine, the luces of Lucy, the sharp-pointed row of fusils of Montacute, the corbeau or raven of Corbet, the herons of Heron, the falcon of Falconer, the greyhounds (levriers) of Mauleverer, the barnacles’ of Bernak, the castle of Chastil, the swine’s head of Swinbourne, the penfeathers of Coupenne , the hirondelles of Arundel, the storm-finches of Tempest, the hammers of Hamerton, the tyrwhits of Tyrwhitt, the hanks of cotton of Cotton, the fusils of Trefusis, the oxen of Oxenden, the fer de Moline of Molyneux, the haxel leaves of Hazlerigge, the Danish axes of Hakluyt, the bazons or bird bolts of Boltesham and Bozon, the bend wavy of Wallop, or Well-hope, the whelk-shell of Shelley, and many more mostly early coats, and borne by considerable persons and families. In fact the practice was introduced whenever the name admitted of it and sometimes when the allusion is very far fetched indeed, as in the boar pig "verses," the crest of DeVere, and the cock for Law, alluding to his cry, cock-a-leary-law! Canting arms were equally common in other countries. In Italy the Colonne, Frangipani, and Ursini families bore a column, a piece of broken, and a bear. They were also common in France, Spain, and Germany.

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