Canton, (fr. canton, but also franc quartier appears to be often used in this sense): resembles a first quarter of the shield in form, but of smaller dimensions; its size does not appear to be fixed, but is generally about one-third of the chief. In old French cauntel, (i.e.) canton, is used for Quarter, q.v.
When the word is used alone, a dexter canton is intended; it may, however, be placed upon the sinister side, if so blazoned, and when with a bend. Cantons in base occur upon foreign arms, but it is believed are never used in English armory.
The canton is sometimes the only charge in a coat; but generally it is supposed to be an augmentation of the original arms, or a difference.
Argent, a canton sable--Oliver SUTTON, Bp. of Lincoln, 1280-99; Charles SUTTON, Bp. of Norwich, 1792, and Abp. of Canterbury, 1805-28; [also SUTTON, Baron Lexington, 1645, and other families of that name].
Argent, fretty gules, a canton gules--IREBY, Cumberland.
Gul. LONGESPE, dazur, a sis liuncels dor--Soun frer au tel a une cauntel dermine--Roll, temp. HEN. III.
Where there is a bordure the canton always surmounts it, and when borne upon a coat consisting of there charges(2 and 1) it generally covers the whole or greater part of the first. If more than three it generally covers the whole of one, if not of more. In very exceptional cases, however(and then the arrangement must be duly described), the canton itself is partially covered by some ordinary(e.g. a bend).
It is often charged with another bearing, though generally plain, and the most frequent tincture is ermine, which rather tends to bear out a theory that its origin was suggested by some badge of honour placed upon the shoulder of the warrior.
Sable, a lion rampant argent, on a canton of the last a cross gules(i.e. a canton of S.George)--CHURCHILL, Duke of Marlborough. [Arms of Earl of Marlborough, 1689.]
Gules, on a bordure sable eight estoiles or; on a canton ermine a lion rampant of the second; in fesse point an annulet of the third for difference--S.John BAPTIST'S College, Oxford[founded by Sir Thomas WHITE, 1557].
Or, three lioncels passant sable langued gules; on a canton of the second three bezants--GODWIN, Bp. of Bath and Wells, 1584-90.
Monsire Philip le DESPENCER, port barre d'or et d'asur de vj peeces, a une quarter d'ermin--Roll, temp. ED. III.
Azure, six lions rampant argent; on a canton or a mullet gules--KIRBY, Kent. [The arms engraved are from Haseley Church, and perhaps are those of LONGESPEE, Earl of Salisbury, with the canton for a difference.]
Sire Walter TOUX de sable, billeté de or e un quarter de ermyn--Roll, temp. ED. II.
Sire Rauf de ZEFOUL, d'argent, a une croys patee de verd; e en le cauntel un oysel de goulys--Roll, temp. ED. II.
A canton and fesse of the same tincture, as in the arms of WOODVILLE, should join, without even a line to part them. The same remark will apply to the uppermost of two or more bars, when occurring with a canton; but this is not so with a bend. When a canton and chief occur on the same coat the canton overlies it.
Argent, a fesse and canton gules--WOODVILLE.
Argent, two bars azure on a canton of the second a cinquefoil or--PYPARD. [From glass formerly at Haseley.]
Ernaud de BOYS, argent, deux barres et ung canton goulez--Roll of Arms, temp. HEN. III.
Barry of six argent and azure, a chief ermine and a canton of the first--HOTHAM. [In some branches of the family a canton or.]
Barry wavy of six argent and sable, a chief gules and a canton ermine--BARLOW, Derby.
Barry of six argent and sable; a canton quarterly or and argent--BELSTED, Norfolk.
Barry of five argent and gules, a canton as the last; over all a bend sable--Sire Johan du BOYS, Roll of Arms, 1308-14; M. Roger le BOYS, Roll of Arms, 1392-97.