Friday 10 June 2022

Heraldic Alphabet 2022

Welcome to my 9th Heraldic Alphabet celebrating International Heraldry Day with coats of arms in the lgbt community. Some nations don’t yet allow women to use shields, only ovals or diamond shaped lozenges. For the sake of uniformity I will only use shields. Let’s start with some basic definitions.

Arms of Office – arms of an institution of which a person was the nominal head, used only during their term of office.

Assumed – arms adopted by a person or family where no heraldic authority exists in their lifetime or location, or are not officially registered if one does exist.

Attributed - arms designed retrospectively to historical or legendary people who lived before heraldry existed.

Family – arms usually borne by the senior bloodline family member. Other family members are often required to add certain differences. Some nations allow all family members to use the arms unaltered.

Marital – Both spouses with a coat of arms can place them side by side on one shield. Heraldic heirs place theirs on a smaller shield or lozenge over their spouse’s. Wives can also display the arms of their husband only.

Personal – a) inherited family arms used by the individual, with or without specific differences; or b) new arms granted by an official heraldic authority.

Quarters – a minimum of 4 divisions of a shield with a different inherited coat of arms in each. Some individuals are entitled to bear many more quarters. The quarters are numbered left to right, row by row.

Without further ado, here is the 2022 Heraldic Alphabet (peers are listed by their title):

A) Alexander the Great (356 BC- 323 BC), King of Macedonia. Attributed arms. Alexander had many coats of arms designed by medieval heralds. This is the earliest I can find. For more information see this article.

B) Countess Erszsébet (Elizabeth) Báthori (1560-1614), serial killer. Family arms granted to her paternal ancestor in 1325. It represents dragons’ teeth, reflecting the legend of the family’s founder killing a dragon. Sometimes the teeth are shown coming from the other side. Over the years the teeth have also became stylised as white triangles. All versions have been used by the family.

C) Sir Henry Channon (1897-1958), Anglo-American member of the UK parliament. Personal arms, probably granted to him in the 1930s after being naturalised as a British citizen. I haven’t found any information about these arms or its symbolism.

D) Olga de Meyer (1871-1931), artists’ model and arts patron. Family arms, being the arms of the Caracciolo family of Naples (Olga’s paternal grandfather was Giuseppe Antonio Caraccciolo Pinelli, 4th Duke of Castelluccio). Olga married twice and could have borne marital arms in each case.

E) Erté (1892-1990), real name Roman Petrovich Tyrtov, Russo-French costume and set designer. Family arms of the Tyrtov family. Erté was a direct descendant of 16th century Tatar warlords who were granted a coat of arms by the Tsar of Russia.

F) Clyde Fitch (1865-1909), US dramatist. Family arms of the Fitch family of Norfolk, UK, from whom Clyde descends. This is an example of a family with “ancient” and “modern” arms. In quarters 1 and 4 are the modern arms adopted around 1633. In quarters 2 and 3 are the ancient arms used before 1633. The crosses are allusive (they allude to the family in some way). When ending in a point crosses are known as “fitchy” or “fitchée”.

G) Capt. Richard Gorges (1876-1944), implicated in the theft of the Irish Crown Jewels. Personal arms as the 3rd son (indicated by the star) of his father. Another “ancient” and “modern” arms. The ancient arms is the blue spiral in the 3rd quarter representing a whirlpool. They are canting arms (i.e. exactly representing the family name – “gorges” is Latin for “whirlpool”). The family were involved in a court case in 1347 over who was entitled to use the blue and yellow checked arms in the 1st quarter. The Gorges lost and had to add the red chevron. In the 2nd quarter are the arms of the Russell family who adopted the Gorges name after becoming their heirs. The 4th quarter shows the arms of Richard;s mother, the heir of the O'Kelly family.

H) Tim Hely Hutchinson (b.1953), publisher. Personal arms as the 2nd son (indicated by the crescent) of the Earl of Donoughmore. In quarters 1 and 4 are the Hutchinson arms; in quarter 2 are the Hely arms, his paternal ancestors who married the Hutchinson heiress; and in quarter 3rd are the Nickson arms, whose heiress married into the Hely family.

I) Francesco Italia (b.1972), Mayor of Syracuse, Sicily, since 2018. Arms of office, being those of the town of Syracuse granted on 8 December 1942 by the Consulta Araldica del Regno d’Italia. The eagle holding a heraldic thunderbolt has been a popular Italian emblem since the Roman Empire, and is said to represent Jupiter. Other sources say it represents Jupiter as Zeus in eagle form when he kidnapped Ganymede. See here for the queer angle on that story.

J) John Sam Jones (b.1956), Mayor of Barmouth, Wales, 2014-15. Arms of office, being those of the town of Barmouth (probably assumed). I can find no record of them being officially granted, though they have been used for over a century and appear on the mayoral chain of office and the council website, amongst other places. The dragon’s head refers to a legendary sea monster said to haunt the shores of Barmouth.

K) Robert King, 4th Earl of Kingston (1796-1867), Anglo-Irish politician. Personal arms as the Earl of Kingston, first known to have been used by his ancestor Sir John King (d.1637) which appear in Sir John’s funeral entry recorded at the College of Arms, London. There is probably no connection between these and the O’Kelly arms (see Richard Gorges above).

L) Frances Norma Loring (1887-1968), US-Canadian sculptor. Assumed family arms, used by her ancestors, the Lorings of Hingham, Massachusetts, descended from the Lorings of Axminster, Devon, UK. However, these arms are recorded as those of the Lorings of Suffolk on the opposite side of the country. I can find no link between the two families. The Suffolk family arms appear on a tombstone of Frances’s ancestral relatives in the Old Granary Burial Ground, Boston, Massachusetts, indicating the family had assumed them before the 18th century.

M) The Mann family. Family arms. Thomas Mann (1815-1955), German writer, his daughter Erika Mann (1905-1969), and two of his sons, Klaus Mann (1906-1959) and Golo Mann (1909-1994), were all members of the lgbt community. The arms was adopted in 1840 by their ancestor Johann Siegmund Mann (1761-1848) upon his election as President of the St. Anna almshouses, Lübeck. Whether they were officially registered or granted is uncertain. The Manns were wealthy merchants and the arms feature Mercury, the god of commerce.

N) Maria Nirod (1879-1965), Maid of Honour at the Imperial Russian court. Family arms of her paternal family, the Mukhanovs of St. Petersburg. In 1903 she married Count Feydor Nirod and could have used his coat of arms. After his death in 1913 Maria became a surgical nurse and partner of Vera Gedroitz (see her arms here).

O) Jayne Ozanne (b.1968), member of the General Synod of the Church of England. Family arms of her paternal ancestors on Guernsey, Channel Islands. Although some sources state that the Ozanne family had a coat of arms in the 14th century this design is more reminiscent of arms often granted in the 16th. My research is incomplete, and Jayne may descend from members of the family who were granted an altered version of these arms in the 18th century.

P) Katherine Phillips (1631-1664), poet, sometimes called “the Welsh Sappho”. Marital arms, being those of her husband, James Phillips, MP (d.1674). James descended from the third son (indicated by the star) of Sir Thomas Philipps (yes, the name is spelt differently) of Picton Castle.

R) Frederick “Russ” Russell-Rivoallan, UNESCO diplomat. Personal arms granted to him on 15 December 2010 by the Canadian Heraldic Authority. Red and white represent Canada, while ermine represents Brittany (whose arms are ermine), the home of his partner, Pierre Rivoallan. The dovetail division symbolises the dove of peace, and the tree represents Brampton, Ontario, where Russ was raised – the city’s flag contains a pine tree.

S) Edith Jemima Simcox (1844-1901), trade unionist and social reformer. Family arms, being those of her father George Price Simcox, the 2nd son (indicated by the crescent) of Thomas Greene Simcox of Harborne, Staffordshire. The arms were granted by the College of Arms on 16 May 1821 to Thomas’s father.

T) Torquato Tasso (1544-1595), Italian poet. Family arms used since the 15th century. Like Gorges above these are canting arms – “tasso” is Italian for “badger”. The horn appears in the arms of the town of Cornello where the family originate. It may also represent a post horn, the Tasso family founded the European postal service. The senior branch of the family were postmasters for the German Emperor who granted a double-headed eagle to replace the horn. The family germanised their name to Taxis and are the ancestors of the Princes von Thurnund Taxis, who still have a badger in the centre of their arms today.

U) Nicolas Chalon du Blé, 2nd Marquis of Uxelles (1852-1730), Marshal of France. Personal arms as the marquis. These are the family arms of the du Blé family, used since the 1200s. The Uxelles title comes through the marriage of an ancestor to the heiress of the Baron d’Uxelles in 1537.

V) Carl van Vechten (1880-1964), American writer and photographer. Family arms, being those of his direct ancestor Teunis Dircksen van Vechten of Utrecht. Teunis migrated to the US in the 1630s. A variation which shows the bar on a red background with battlements only on the top edge of the stripe is recorded in some sources.

W) Mary Spencer Watson (1913-2006), British sculptor. Possible family arms. These are carved into the memorial stone of her father George Spencer Watson in St. James’s church, Piccadilly, London. Although the family can be traced back to 17th century Yorkshire, there’s no clear link between this family and another of the same name living in the same place at the same time, who had a different coat of arms.

Y) Anna Yevreinova (1844-1919), feminist writer and the first Russian woman to earn a Doctor of Law degree. Family arms, granted to her Jewish ancestral uncle, Yakov Evrienov (1700-1772), State Councillor, and inherited by his descendants only. So, technically, Anna would not have been entitled to use them, but I’ve included them out of interest.