1902 Encyclopedia > Heraldry > Debased Heraldry

(Part 13)


Of debased heraldry there is no lack of examples, and a few are ancient. Thomas de Insula, bishop of Ely (1345-61), bore gules, three bezants, on each a crowned king, robed sable, doubled ermine, sustaining a covered cup in his right hand and a sword in his left, both or. No doubt, like the arms of the sees of Chichester and Salisbury, this extraordinary coat was meant to be painted on a ban-ner. Camden granted a great number of coats, mostly of a complex character, and since his time heraldic taste has not improved. Tetlow (granted 1760) bore "on a book erect gules, clasped and leaved or, a silver penny argent, thereon written the Lord’s Prayer; at the top of the book a dove proper, in his beak a crowquill pen sable." Other grants show negroes working in a plantation, Chinese porters carrying cinnamon, &c. The grants to Lord Nelson and his gallant captains, and to the elder Herschel, are utterly unheraldic. It can scarcely be wondered at that Lord Chesterfield, correcting the Garter of his day, re-marked, "You foolish man, you don’t understand your own foolish business."

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