1902 Encyclopedia > Heraldry > Funeral Escutcheons

(Part 18)


Some of the most valuable records in the College of Arms are the certificates of funerals conducted under their superintendence and authority. These gorgeous and expensive ceremonials have happily fallen into disuse, save on very rare occasions, and f or royal persons or eminent public characters. The last private funeral conducted with anything, like the ancient ceremonial was that of Charles, earl of Shrewsbury, in 1828. All that is now usual is the suspension of a shield of arms in a large black lozenge-sbaped frame called a hatchnient or achievement against the wall of the house of the deceased. It is usually placed over the entrance at the level of the second floor, and remains for from six to twelve months, when it is removed to the parish church. Even this custom, scarcely consistent with living in hired houses and burying in cemeteries, is falling into disuse, though still not uncommon.

If for a bachelor, the hatchment bears upon a shield his arms, crest, and other appendages, the whole on a black ground. If for a single woman her arms are represented upon a lozenge, bordered with knotted rib-bons, also on a black ground, If the hatchment be for a married man (as in fig. 155), his arms upon a shield impale those of his wife ; or if she be an heiress they are placed upon a scutcheon of pre-tence, and crest and other appendages are added. The dexter half of the ground is black, the sinister White. For a wife whose husband is alive the same arrange-ment is used, but the sinister ground only is black. For a widower the same is used as for a married man, but the whole ground is black; for a widow the husband’s arms are given with her own, but upon a lozenge, with ribbons, without crest or appendages, and the whole ground is black. When there have been two wives or two husbands the ground is divided into three parts per pale, and the division behind the arms of the survivor is white. Colours and military or naval emblems are sometimes placed be-hind the arms of military or naval officers. It is thus easy to discern from the hatchment the sex, condition, and quality, and possibly the name of the deceased.

In Scottish hatchments it is not unusual to Place the arms of the father and mother of the deceased in the two lateral angles of the lozenge, and sometimes the 4, 8, or 16 genealogical escutcheons are ranged along the margin.

Undertakers are fond of substituting, "In coelo quies or some such commonplace for the family motto. This is irregular.

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