Letters of the Alphabet(fr. lettres) are occasionally employed as charges. The following instances will suffice to shew the different ways in which they have been used. The letters may be old Text, or Greek, or Roman, and hence the type should be stated.
The signification of the letters of the charge is not always apparent. When an M occurs it is no doubt as a rule intended for MARIA or MARY.
Sable, on a fesse between two cinquefoils in chief argent, and on a mount in base three sprigs of oak proper, acorned or, the text letters ABCDEF of the field--LANG.
Gules, three text S's or--KEKITMORE.
Argent, a chevron(another two chevrons) between three text T's sable--TOFTE.
Azure, a cross argent charged with the letter x, in the fesse point, and the letter i, in the honour point, both sable--CHRIST CHURCH PRIORY, Canterbury. [These letters were evidently intended as a contraction of the word Christi. Since the Reformation the above insignia have been used for the Deanery, the ancient letters having generally been changed to x and i.]
Argent, a cross gules with a letter r in the centre--City of ROCHESTER.
Party per chevron argent and sable, in chief the Greek letters A and of the second, in base a grasshopper of the first; on a chief gules a lion passant guardant or--Greek Professorship at CAMBRIDGE, granted 1590.
Sable, on a pale argent a Greek upsilon gules--CLARK, London, granted 21 Jan. 1604.
Argent, on a cross azure the letter M crowned or--arms ascribed to William, de ST.MARY'S CHURCH, Bishop of London, 1199-1221; Simon MEPHAM, Archbishop of Canterbury, 1328-33; Simon SUDBURY, alias TYBOLD, Bishop of London, 1362; Archbishop of Canterbury, 1375-81.
Per chevron or and vert, in chief the letter M sable, in base a falcon of the first--John MARSHALL, Bishop of Llandaff, 1478-96.
Gules, on a fesse argent a Roman A--ALTHOUN.
Per pale, sable and argent, three Roman B's counterchanged--BRIDLINGTON PRIORY, Yorkshire.
Or, a capital Z gules--DE ZEDDES.
Argent, a fesse between three S's sable--SHUGLEY, co. Chester.
Azure, a lion rampant argent resting his dexter hind-foot on the letter H--Town of HORSHAM, Sussex.
Sometimes figures and astronomical signs are used.
Azure, three figures of 7 two and one--BERNARD.
Per fesse argent and or, a fesse wavy azure between a sword and a branch of laurel in saltire proper passing a ring of the astronomical character of Mars[ ] sable in chief, and the stump of a tree, one branch sprouting from the dexter side thereof issuing from water in base proper--STOCKENSTORM, Maasstrom, Cape of Good Hope, Baronet, 1840.
Azure, on a fesse between three mullets of six points or two characters of the planet Venus sable--THOYTS, Sulhamstead, co. Berks, and London; granted 1788.
Sometimes a combination of letter are used, and this especially in canting arms and in Rebuses. Names of various kinds, both of places and persons, are found inscribed sometimes with, at others without, scrolls. See e.g. ACRE, under Sphinx; NAKSIVAN, under Ararat; EMMANUEL, under Escroll, &c.
Argent, on a chevron between three cock's heads erased, the two in chief respectant sable, an escallop-shell or, in chief the letters A L azure--ALCOCK.
Azure, a paschal lamb couchant with the banner all argent; round the head a nimbus or, in base the letters P P of the last--Town of PRESTON, co. Lancaster.
Azure, in chief a scroll argent inscribed B R E, in fesse a tun of the second--BRETON.
Gules, a bugle-horn stringed and garnished within the word RIPPON in orle[i.e. in pale the letters I and N, in chief the letters R and P, and in fesse those of P and O]--Town of RIPON.
The word eye under an antique ducal coronet--Town of EYE, Suffolk.
Per chief embattled azure and gules; in chief the letters JOHES or; in base a tun of the last thereon the letters BRIT sable--The late John BRITTON. F.S.A.
Sable, a lion rampant argent holding between the paws a mural crown or, a canton ermine thereon pendent by a riband gules fimbriated azure a representation of the medal presented for services subinscribed WATERLOO in letters sable--CHURCHILL.