1902 Encyclopedia > Heraldry > Marshalling of Arms

(Part 16)


Marshalling is the disposing or arranging of such coats of arms as have to be included in one shield. Blazoning deals with the particulars of each coat, marshalling with its position as regards other coats. Arms maybe arranged per pale or impaled, or the shield may be divided into as many squares as may be required, when it is said to be quartered, The first coat, that of the bearer, may or may not be repeated in the last quarter as may be required to make up an even number of squares, which, though not necessary, is desirable.

For a time armorial bearings were purely personal, and intended to supply a want only felt by the wearer of armour. Hence, at first, females do not seem to have used them, and when a place was found for them on armorial seals, the coat was regarded as that of their father, and therefore not differenced. For a time they seem to have had a separate shield. On one of the seals of Margaret of France, queen of Edward I., his three lions are displayed upon the point of her tunic, and on her right hand is a shield of France, on her left, one with a lion rampant. On the reverse is a shield of England, and around it, outside, a border of France. Margaret Bruce of Skelton married Robert de Ros. Her seal (1280) bears her effigy, somewhat defaced, so that nothing can be distinguished on her dress, but on her right is a shield of Ros on her left one of Bruce.

A well-known seal, date about 1347, is that of Joan, daughter of Henry count of Bar, by Eleanor daugliter of Edward I. by Eleanor of Castile. Joan was widow of Warren, earl of Surrey. Her seal is circular, with nine compartments. In the centre is Warren for her husband ; above and below, England for her grandsire; right and left are two barbels for her father. These four are on lozenges. In the four corner compartments are—(1) and (4) a lion for Leon, and (2) and (3) a castle for Castile, for her grandmother. This is a sort of nebulous quartering.

To this succeeded the allotment to the wife of the sinister half of the husband’s shield, displayed as though two shields had been divided vertically and united, omitting therefore the adjacent half of each coat. This is called dimidiation, and the shields so joined constitute an im-palement. Another seal of Margaret of France illustrates this practice. In it half of England impales half of France. There is a good example of dimidiation in the tomb of William de Valence at Westminster, where Valence impales Clermont-Nesle, both dimidiated. An early German seal combines half an eagle with half a lion in this way. The arms of the Cinque Ports are remarkable examples of dimidiation. In each, the lions of England are dimidiated with the arms of the special Port. That of Hastings pale dimidiated, Dexter, gules, three lions passant gardant or ; Sinister, azure, three demi-hulks of ships argent. Sometimes one of the coats only was dimidiated. Eleanor (Montendre) was widow of Guy Ferre. Her seal (1348) has a shield of Ferre, a cross moline and over it a bâton, dimidiated, impaling Montendre, a lion within an orle of trefoils. The lion is whole. The seal of Elizabeth, wife of Sir Lawrence Berkerolles (fig. 126),—azure, a chevron or, between three crescents argent, impaling a lion rampant,—is a good example of an impalement without dimidiation (date 1392).

Usually the lady has the sinister side, but in the seal of Marion, wife of Sir William Dalziel (1392) this is reversed, as it is in the im-paled shield of John of Gaunt, where his wife, a daughter of Peter of Castile and Leon, has the dexter side. Dimidi-ation is not applicable to all coats. A canton on the sinister coat would be lost, and a chevron be converted into a bend. The tressure, orle, and border were usually, not always, dimidiated; and although this form of impalement has fallen into disuse, these charges are still borne dimidiated, as may be seen with the border and tressure on the tomb of Mary, queen of Scots. I p

When the lady was the last of her race, various modes were devised for the conservation of her name and arms. Thus on the death (1193) of Robert de Lacy, last of the line of Pontefract, John, constable of Chester, half-brother to Robert by his mother, took the name and arms of Lacy, and was ancestor of the earls of Lincoln of that name. In the same century Isabel, heiress of Earl Warren, married

Hamelin Plantagenet, who took the namel and their chil-dren bore the arms of Warren; and so with the Mandevilles, earls of Essex.

Sometimes a coat was compounded of the two families. Thus Mr Planché is of opinion that the bend was added to the paternal coat of Bohun, on the marriage with the heiress of Milo, earl of Hereford. Scottish seals show many examples of such composition. Eustacea Colvile, widow of Reginald le Chein, in 1316, bore a cross moline, square pierced, for Colvile, between four cross crosslets fitchy for Chein. About the middle of the 14th century began the practice of placing the arms of females upon a lozenge. As early as 1347 Elizabeth D’Arcy so bears her arms, as in 1356 does Maud Fitz Payne. The seal of Joan Beaufort, widow of James I., affords the earliest Scottish example.

The first step towards a regular method of preserving heraldically the memory of a family extinct in the male line seems to have been taken in Spain by a process now known as quartering. Eleanor of Castile, queen of Edward I., has upon her tomb a shield divided into four quarters, in the first and fourth of which is Castile, and the second and third Leon. The practice, though not finally regulated, was approved, for on the seal of the "She-wolf of France," queen of Edward II., the shield is quartered (1) Eng-land, (2) France, (3) Navarre, (4) Champagne, mixing up confusedly the arms of husband and wife, as they also are upon the shield of Philippa of Hainault, queen of Ed-ward III., who bore quarterly, (1) and (4) England, (2) and (3) Hainault and Holland. A very early instance of regular quartering occurs in the will of Humphrey Bohun, earl of Heref ord, dated 11th August 1319, by which he be-queaths a courte-point quartered with the arms of England and Bohun. This is five years before the accession of Edward III., and makes it probable that the quartered coat of William de Foix at Winchester is original.

Under Edward III. quartering came into general use. The king led the way by quartering France and England, and the earl of Pembroke followed, quartering Hastings and Valence. John Hastings, his son, commemorated on his shield his father’s match with Ann daughter of Margaret, duchess of Norfolk, a co-heir of Thomas of Brotherton, and this affords an early instance of the precedence often given in quartering to the royal arms. John Hastings bore quar-terly of four—(l) and (4) Brotherton (Plantagenet), (2) Hastings, (3) Valence; and, on another example—(1) and (4) Brotherton, (2) and (3) Hastings quartering Valence. This latter arrangement of sub-quartering shows a consider-able advance in the system. Henry IV. combined quarter-ing with dimidiation in a shield long preserved in the window of Christ Church, Newgate, which bore France and England quarterly, impaling France with a bend gobonny, and Navarre quarterly, dimidiated, for Joan of Navarre. In this case the lst and 3d quarters were removed, and the sinister bearings thus reduced to what may be better blazoned as party per fess, (1) Navarre, (2) France. The French sometimes quartered diagonally, called "Écartèle

en sautoir." The old kings of Sicily thus divided their shield: party per saltire, (1) and (4) Aragon, (2) and (3) Swabia. This plan never found favour in England, where a regular system of quartering sprang up, and has continued in use. A quartered shield, though of no special family, is shown by fig. 12.

At first the arms of an heiress were impaled by her husband, but latterly they were placed on a central inescutcheon designated an escutcheon of pretence. The children divided the shield into four quarters, and placed the paternal coat 1 and 4, the maternal 2 and 3. If a second heiress came in, she was placed in No. 3 ; if a third in No. 4; if more, the shield was divided as required. The following pedigree will explain the system. In it all the descents that di'd not bring in an heiress are omitted.


1. Monthermer : or, an eagle displayed vert.

2. Montacute : argent, three fusils conjoined. in fess gules.

3. Neville : gules, a saltire argent.

4. Newburgh: checquy or and azure, a chevron ermine.

5. Mauduit: argent, two bars gules.

6. Beauchamp: gules, a fess between six cross crosslets or.

7. Le Despenser : quarterly, 1 and 4 argent, 2 and 3 gules, a fret or over all a ribbon sable.

8. De blare: or, three chevrons gules.

9. Clarence: quarterly France and England, a label of three points argent, each charged with a canton gules.

10. Gloucester : quarterly France and England, a label of three points ermine, on each point a canton argent.

The armorial bearings of each generation will be as follows :—

1. Monthermer alone. 2. Montacute impaling Monthermer. 3. Neville impaling quarterly, 1 and 4 Montacute, 2 and 3 Monthermer. 4. Newburgh alone. 5. Mauduit impaling Newburgh. 6. Beauchamp impaling quarterly, 1 and 4 Mauduit, 2 and 3 Newburgh. 7. Le Despenser impaling De Clare.

6. R. Beauchamp : quarterly of four—1 and 4 Beauchamp 2 Mauduit, 3 Newburgh impaling quarterly of four—1 and 4 Le Despenser, 2 and 3 De Clare.

3. R. Neville : quarterly of four—1 and 4 Neville, 2 Montacute, 3 Monthermer ; impaling quarterly of six—1 and 6 Beau-champ, 2 Alauduit, 3 Newburgh, 4 Le Despenser, 5 De Clare.

9. George, duke of Clarence : France and England quarterly, impaling Isabel Neville quarterly of nine—1 and 9 Neville, 2 Montacute, 3 Monthermer, 4 Beauchamp, 5 Mauduit, 6 Newburgh, 7 Le Despenser, 8 De Clare.

The above, being a well-known and very noble pedigree, has been selected to illustrate the system of quartering, which is explained by the shield (fig. 127), thus emblazoned :—

1, George, duke of Clarence ; 2, Neville, who brings in 3, Monta-cute ; 4, Monthermer; 5, Beauchamp, who brings in 6, Mauduit 7, Newburgh ; 8, Le Despenser ; 9, De Clare.

Unfortunately the several bearers of these arms were fanciful, and some-times gave precedence to one and some-times to another coat, and indeed never used the whole, which would have crowded their shields and caparisons. The four woodcuts, figs. 128-31, will illustrate this.

They represent the great seals of Richard Beauchamp, earl of Warwick, who married Isabel le Despenser, and Richard Neville, carl of Warwick, who married Anne Beauchamp.

Beauchamp quarters the arms of his wife, but makes De Clare impale Le Despenser, while himself impales Newburgh. The blazon would thus be quarterly of four grand quarters—I. and IV., Beauchamp impaling Newburgh; II amd III., De Clare impaling Le Despenser (fig. 128). On the counterseal (fig. 129) the earl bears on his shield Beauchamp and Newburgh quarterly, and on his caparisons Beauchamp, Newburgh, De Clare, and Le Despenser also quarterly.

The other is the seal of the king-maker. As lord of Glamorgan he gives precedence to Le Clare and Le Despenser, and bears quarterly of four quarters—I. and IV. Quarterly, De Clare and Le Despenser; II. And III., Montacute and Monthermer; Neville not appearing at all. The crests are those of Beauchamp and Montacute. The remaining supporter is the Neville bull, muzzled, and below are ragged staves for Beauchamp (fig. 130).

The counterseal gives on the shield Neville above with a label, and ther swan crest on the helmet. The caparisons are quarterly of four grand quarters: I. quarterly—1, effaced; 2 and 3, Newbough charged with five pards’ heads, jessamt fleurs-de-lys for Cantelupe; 4, Beauchamp; II. and III.—1 an d 4, De Clare; 2 and 3, Le Despenser; IV.—1 and 4, Beauchamp; 2 and 3, Newburgh (fig. 131).

The rules were also departed from where the royal arms were quartered, as by Devereux, Hastings, and Stafford, when it was usual to place them in the first or second quarter out of their genealogical order. Also in certain cases the quarterings of an heiress are not broken up, but borne combined as a sub-quarter, sometimes called a grand quarter. Thus the royal arms always form a special quar-ter, and probably the arms of Howard, quarteriug, as they always do, Brotherton, Mowbray, and Warren, would be so treated.

The English mode of quartering is defective, inasmuch as it affords no proof of purity of descent on both sides. A new man whose father married a Talbot or Clinton heiress would combine their ancient quarterings with his new coat, and few would be the wiser. On the Continent and in Scotland the system is far more perfect, and the quarter-ings include all ancestors and ancestresses of every kind. There a man who can prove the arms of his father and mother has two quarters ; of his grandfather and grandmother, four; and so on. The following scheme, supplied from the family records of Mr C. J. Middleton, registrar of the prerogative court, the representative in the male line of a Scottish family, the Middletons of Fettercairn, two of whom were earls of Middleton, will explain this. It gives, or nearly gives, the well-known "seize quartiers," without which, in former days, scarcely any important office was ever to be obtained :—

When John de Foix, count of Candale, was about to marry Joan, daughter of William de la Pole, duke of Suffolk, by Alice Chaucer, the "probatio nobilitatis" was sought for, though with little success, in England :—

"1, Petitur informatio lineae De la Pole, et primo quaenam fuerit mater Gi de la Pole ; 2do. Quinam fuerint ejusdem pater et mater ; 3tio. Quaenam fuerit uxor Thomae Chaucer seu mater Aliacie, &c. . . . Placebit arma gentilitia familiarum Pole, Chauceri, et aliarum, quae, apponuntur in superioribus loculamentis, indicare, aut pictura cum debitis coloribus, aut scriptura, per armorum figuras et colores."

This sort of escutcheon at once placed before the eye the heraldic history of the family for four generations.

Bishops, deans, kings-at-arms, and the heads of certain corporations wear their paternal arms impaled by those of their office. No provision is made for the wife.

Single women or widows bear their arms upon a lozenge. Widows and peeresses use their husband’s supporters. Peeresses in their own right use their own. But no lady uses crest or motto.

A commoner who marries a peeress in her own right uses two shields. On the dexter are his own arms with those of his wife on a scutcheon of pretence ensigned with her coronet; on the sinister the lady’s arms alone on a lozenge with supporters and coronet. If the lady be only a dowager peeress, and not an heiress, there are also two shields. On one the husband impales her arms in the ordinary way; on the other are the lady’s arms, &c., as a widow, impaled by those of her first husband, with his sup-porters and coronet, but no crest, and the arms in a lozenge.

A baronet of England or Ireland bears a sinister hand couped gules on an inescutcheon or a canton. It is blazoned "argent, a sinister hand, couped at the wrist and ap-paumée, gules." Those of Nova Scotia bear argent on a shield of pretence, Scotland ensigned with a crown.

Bacon of Redgrave, the premier baronet, bears gules, on a chief argent two mullets pierced sable (fig. 133).

A -knight of an order surrounds his shield, usually a cartouche, with the ribbon and motto of the order. If married he takes a second and sinister shield, and thereon impales his wife’s arms, the whole within a plain ribbon.

A widower marrying a second wife divides his shield tierce per pale, and places his own arms in the centre, his first wife’s on the dexter, his second’s on the sinister side. For a greater number there is no strict rule. A certain Sir Gervase Clifton who survived seven wives, placed himself in the centre of the shield, and his wives around him. The widow of two husbands may divide her lozenge tierce per pale, and place her first husband on the dexter side, her second in the centre, and herself in the sinister place; or she may divide the dexter half on her lozenge per fess, and place the arms of the first husband above, and those of the second below.

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