Key, (fr. clef): is a very common bearing in the insignia of sees and religious houses, especially such as are under the patronage of S.Peter; in other arms they are supposed to denote office in the state.
Keys borne singly are usually in pale, and as two keys can be placed in a variety of ways the particular way must be expressed. More frequently the two are borne in saltire(fr. passées en sautoir), but they may be addorsed(fr. adossées). Further, it is necessary sometimes to state on which side the wards(fr. pannetons) of the keys should be drawn. When no direction is given, the key is drawn erect: i.e. with the bow in base. Keys may be interlaced in the bows, or rings.
Azure, two keys in saltire or--See of GLOUCESTER.
Gules, two keys in saltire or--CHAMBERLEYN.
Gules, three pairs of keys in saltire or; on a chief as many dolphins naiant argent--Company of SALT-FISHMONGERS[in stained glass at Canterbury].
Azure, three pairs of keys, two in chief and one in base or; each pair addorsed and conjoined in the rings, the wards in chief--ABBOTSBURY Abbey, Dorset.
Gules, two keys endorsed in saltire between four cross crosslets fitchy or--See(and Deanery) of PETERBOROUGH.
Gules, on a chevron between three keys argent as many estoiles of the field--Matthew PARKER, Abp. of Cant. 1539-75.
Gules, three keys, enfiled with as many crowns or--Robert ORFORD, Bp. of Ely, 1303-10.
Argent, two bends nebulé within a bordure gules charged with twelve pairs of keys addorsed and interlaced with rings or, the wards in chief--EXETER College, Oxford[i.e. Arms of Bp. STAPLEDON, founder, A.D. 1314],
Argent, a bend sinister sable in chief an annulet gules, in base a griffin's head erased of the second, holding in his break a key azure--KAY, co. Durham; also Scotland.
Gules, three keys fessways in pale, wards downwards or--GIBSON, Scotland.
Per chevron dovetail ermine and gules, three keys erect or--KEY, co. Gloucester; also KEY, Lord Mayor of London, 1830-31.
Per chevron gules and sable, three keys or, the wards of the two in chief facing each other, those of the one in base to the sinister--Roger KEYS, Clericus[granted by HEN. VI. 1449].
Azure, three fleurs-de-lis, two and one, and as many keys, one and two, or--SHELLETOE.
Azure, three fleurs-de-lis or, one and two, and as many keys of the last two and one--SHILECORNE, co. York.
Azure, flory and a lion rampant or; over all on a bend gules three keys gold--Benedictine Priory at HOLLAND, co. Lancaster.
Keys occur in the insignia of the following Sees: CASHEL; DOWN AND CONNER; DROMORE; GLOUCESTER; EXETER; JAMAICA; KILLALOE; OSSORY; PETERBOROUGH; QUEBEC; SAINT ASAPH; WINCHESTER; YORK.
Of the following Abbeys and Religious Houses: ABBOTSBURY, Dorset; BATH; BOURNE, Lincolnshire; BROMME, Hants; CHERTSEY, Surrey, ELY; S.Peter's, GLOUCESTER; HYDE, near Winchester; HOLLAND, Lincolnshire; S.Mary de MENDHAM, Yorkshire; MUCHELNEY, Somerset; PENWORTHAM, Lancashire; PETERBOROUGH; PLYMPTON, Devon; THURGARTEN, Norfolk.
Of the following Cities and Towns: MONTGOMERY; PETERBOROUGH; SALISBURY; SAINT ASAPH; BATH; GUILDFORD; TOTNES.
The Deaneries of ST.ASAPH, WELLS, and YORK. (Peterborough Deanery bears the same arms as the See.)