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Dolphin, (fr. dauphin): the Dolphin, which is not a true fish at all, according to the system of naturalists, was considered by the older heralds as the chief of fish, just as the lion was the chief of beasts, and the eagle the chief of birds.

It is even used in arms when it is supposed to be a play upon the name of fish, e.g.

Azure, a fesse wavy or between two crescents in chief, and a dolphin in base argent--FISH, Kempton, Middlesex.

Gules, a dolphin or; a chief ermine--FISHER, Whitlingham, Norfolk.

Azure, a dolphin embowed between three ears of wheat or--John FYSHAR, Bp. of Rochester. [From a facsimile of a Parliament Roll, 1515.]

In the Arms of the FISHMONGERS' Company of London, both the Dolphin, and the Lucy, or pike, are borne-intended, no doubt, the one as the type of the sea-fish, the other of those of fresh-water. It is probably due to the same reason that several Lord Mayors, who were members of the Fishmongers' Company, bore the dolphin in their arms; and perhaps also why some seaport towns also bear it, e.g. BRIGHTON.

Azure, three dolphins naiant in pale argent, finned and ducally crowned or, between two pair of lucies in saltire, the sinister surmounting the dexter proper; over the nose of each lucy a ducal crown of the third; on a chief gules three pair of keys endorsed in saltire or--FISHMONGERS' COMPANY.

Gules, a fesse or between three dolphins embowed argent--Sir William ASKHAM, Lord Mayor of London, 1404.

A chevron between three dolphins embowed--Sir John RAINWELL, Lord Mayor of London, and Fishmonger, 1426.

The badge of the County of Dauphiné in France appears from the thirteenth century onwards to have been a Dolphin, an early example of 'Armes parlantes.' It was subsequently borne by the Dauphins, who were sty ed Lords of Auvergne. In the fourteenth century the title of Dauphin being adopted as the style of the eldest son of the King of France, the charge frequently appears. The Arms of the Dauphin, son of Louis XIV., represent in the third and fourth quarters a dolphin, while the crown which serves as the crest is ornamented also with dolphins. The Dolphin is also used in other canting arms, besides those of the DAUPHIN of France, i.e. the Venetian family of DOLFIN, and the English families of DOLPHIN, DOLPHINLEY, DOLPHINTON, and Lord GODOLPHIN.

Although the fish is in reality straight it is always represented embowed, i.e. curved, and this term is often added in the blazon; in more recent drawing it is represented with a double curve, i.e. bowed embowed, though the terms are not used. It is blazoned either hauriant(i.e. upright), or naiant, i.e. in fesse; sometimes also erect. It may be also vorant(i.e. swallowing a fish). It may be fimbriated or finned of a different tincture.


Le comte de FOREST, de goules a un dauffin de mer dor--Roll, temp. HEN. III., Harl. MS. 6589.

Sire Johan de MAULEE de or, a une bende de sable, en la bende iij daufins de argent--Roll, temp. ED. II.

Sable, a dolphin haurient or--DOLFINTON.

Azure, a fesse between three dolphins naiant argent--BARNARD, Essex[also LEMAN].

Argent, two dolphins haurient respecting each other sable, chained together by their necks, the chain pendent or[otherwise an anchor between two dolphins proper]--COLSTON, Essex.

Per pale or and azure, two dolphins erect counterchanged; on a chief gules a covered cup between as many dovecots of the first--COTES, Lord Mayor of London, 1542.

Gules, on a chevron engrailed argent, three dolphins embowed proper--arms ascribed Ralph FLAMBARD, Bp. of Durham, 1099-1128.

Sable, a dolphin embowed argent fimbriated or--JAMES.

Argent, three dolphins haurient azure, finned or--GILROY, Scotland.

Argent, a fesse gules oppressed with two dolphins haurient respectant in pale or, the space between them ermine--BUCKLAND.

Argent, three dolphins haurient azure, finned or--GILROY, Scotland.

Vert, three dolphins embowed naiant in pale argent--DOLFINLEY, Hants.

Quarterly, first and fourth; azure, a dolphin embowed argent; second and third; argent, a cross engrailed sable, in dexter chief an eagle displayed gules--Richard FITZ-JAMES, Bishop of Rochester, 1497, of Chichester, 1504, and London, 1506-22.

Argent, on a bend azure three dolphins of the field, [and Crest a dolphin embowed proper pierced through the sides with two fishing spears in saltire or]--William FRANKLIN, Hertfordshire, 1613.

Dolphins are also used very frequently both as supporters and crests.

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