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Marshalling is the art of arranging several coats of arms in one shield, for the purpose denoting the alliances of a family.

Before marshalling was introducing rare instances occur of arms composed, i.e. when an addition of a portion of the arms of a wife has been made to those of the husband. The instance usually quoted(though of most doubtful authority) is that of Henry II. taking an additional lion upon his marriage with Eleanor of Guienne.

Shields accolees.
Shields accolées.

a. Impaling. The simplest and earliest way of placing the arms of a husband and wife was side by side. Shields thus placed are said to be accolées, or in collateral position. Contemporary with this practice, but continuing much longer, was the custom of impaling arms by dimidiation, the dexter half of the husband's arms being joined to the sinister half of the wife's.


This was much practised about the time of King Edward I. The arms of Aylmer de Valence, Earl of Pembroke and Montgomery, and Mary his wife, daughter of Guy de Chastillon, may be taken as an example. They are borne by Pembroke Hall, Cambridge, founded by the latter in 1343.

Barry of ten argent and azure, over all ten martlets in orle gules, for VALENCE.

Vair, three pallets gules, on a chief or, a label of three points azure, for arms borne by CHASTILLON.

In some cases the husband's arms only were dimidiated, the wife's being borne entire. The implement, whether of whole or dimidiated arms, was referred to by Heralds as Baron et Femme.


An early instance of dimidiation, though rudely represented, occurs on a brass in Stanton Harcourt Church, Oxfordshire, which commemorates Sir Richard Harcourt(ob. 1330), who married Margaret, daughter of Sir John BEKE of Eresby.

Gules, two bars or(for HARCOURT) impaled with gules, a cross moline[or sarcelly] argent(for BEKE).

Dimidiation in many cases, however, was found inconvenient, and was exchanged for impaling the coats entire, though bordures, tressures, and orle were usually omitted(as they are still) on the side next the line of impalement.


An an instances of impaling an example form the arms in Dorchester Church, Oxfordshire, is given.

Sable, a lion rampant argent crowned or, for SEGRAVE.

Or, a saltire engrailed sable, for BUTTETOURT.

In a few early instances, in which the wife was of much higher rank than the husband, her arms were placed upon the dexter side; a seal of John of Ghent, as King of Castile and Leon, is an example.

When the wife is an heiress(even in expectation) it is now customary for the husband to bear her arms upon an escutcheon or pretence; but it is evident that until the husband has issue by the heiress, and until the death of her father, he should merely impale her arms; because until then be cannot transmit her inheritance to his posterity. Instances might be cited of husbands bearing their wives' arms both upon an escutcheon of pretence over their own, and also as an implement.

Many modern heralds condemn the practice of a knight impaling the arms of his wife within the garter or collar of his order, but there are may precedents for so doing. The widow of a knight, though she continues to impale the arms of her deceased husband in a lozenge, must of course relinquish his insignia of knighthood.

When a man marries a second wife, he should certainly cease to impale the arms of the first. Some, however, have thought proper to impale both, which may be done in two ways, as shewn in the annexed cuts(figs. 1, 2), the bend shewing the position of the man's arms, and the numerals those of his wives. The other figures shew how the arms of three, five, and seven wives might have been borne, or at least represented. When a widow of a peer marries a second time, her second husband impales her paternal arms only.

Bishops, deans, heads of colleges, and kings of arms, impale the insignia of their offices with their own arms, giving the dexter, as the place of honour, to the former.

b. Quartering. Arms any be quartered for several reasons. First, a sovereign quarters the ensigns of his several states, generally giving the precedence to the most ancient, unless it be inferior to some other. The first English monarch who bore quartered arms Edward III., who assumed,--

Azure, semée of fleur-de-lys or(for FRANCE)

in 1340, three years after his taking the title of King of France, his mother, in whose right he claimed the crown of France, being daughter and heiress of Philip the Fair. He is said to have set the example to others.

The arms, however, of Castile and Leon are quarterly(see ante, under Castle), and are sculptured on the tomb of Eleanor, Queen of Edward I., who died 1296, and thus afford an earlier example. Again, in the Inventory of of the goods of Humphrey de Bohun, Earl of Hereford, taken in 1322, we find--

"j. autre[quintepoint, i.e. quilt,] quartelé des armes Dengleterre et de Hereford."

An early instance of quarterling arms is that of John Hastings, earl of Pembroke, who married King Edward's youngest daughter Margaret, and died 1375. Their arms are emblazoned upon the north side of the king's tomb at Westminster:--

Quarterly, 1 and 4, or, a maunch gules, HASTINGS. 2 and 3, barry of twelve, argent and azure, over all eight martlets in orle gules--VALENCE, impaling 1 and 4 France ancient, 2 and 3 England, being the arms of his wife.

Feudal Arms are sometimes quartered by subjects, as arms of dominion are by princes; and an augmentation is sometimes so borne. But the most common reason for quartering is to shew what heiresses have married into the family.

An elected king, or one succeeding under any special arrangement, generally places his hereditary arms upon an inescutcheon over the insignia of his dominions, as did the Emperors of Germany, and as William of Orange did, when raised to the throne of Great Britain. This has been the usage in the kingdom of Greece.

It was a frequent practice from the reign of Edward III. to that of Henry VIII. for the husband, if he acquired any great possession through his wife, to quarter her arms with his own, and even to place them in the first quarter; or sometimes to give her arms alone; or, reversing modern usage, to give her arms and other, bearing his own in an escutcheon surtout.

The rules attending the Quartering of arms are somewhat complicated, and very according to the attendant circumstances. The general principle is that when a man marries an heiress, all the issue of that marriage are entitled to bear both the maternal and paternal coat quartered; also the quarterings to which the mother may be entitled, so that an escutcheon may be charged with the arms of any number of families. Indeed in an achievement of the KNIGHTLEY family, in the hall at Fawsley, Northamptonshire, there are 334 quarterings.

The manner in which quarterings are acquired will be best shewn by an example. One is therefore given in the three plates annexed, and the frontispiece, which are derived from a pedigree of the WILLOUGHBY family drawn up in the reign of Queen Elizabeth. By attention to the following examples a clearer idea of the system will be obtained than by printing any code of regulations.

Various modes of impaling Wives' arms.
Various modes of impaling Wives' arms.
                Sir Philip MARMION, Knt., nat. circa temp. R. Jo.               
          =Joan, daughter and coheiress of Sir Hugh, Baron of KILPECK.          

Sir P. M. bore the paternal arms alone, viz. Vair, a fesse gules, fretty argent. The arms of his wife(which, according to modern practice, would be borne upon an escutcheon of pretence) were Sable, a sword in pale, point downward, argent, hilt and pomel or. The lady being an heiress, this coat descended to her children.

               JOAN, daughter and coheiress of Sir Philip MARMION.              
                            =Sir Alex. FREVILE, Knt.                            

The arms of Sir A. F. were Or, a cross patonce gules. His wife being a coheiress of the families of Marmion and Kilpeck, bore, or by later usage might have borne, their arms quarterly.

                     Sir Baldwin FREVILE, Knt. son and heir                     
                       =Maude, daughter of .... DEVEREUX.                       

He inherited the arms of Frevile from his father, and those of Marmion and Kilpeck from his mother. As his wife was not an heiress, the coat of Devereux(Argent, a fesse gules, in chief three torteaux) was impaled by him during her lifetime only, after which the family of Frevile had nothing further to do with it.

        Sir Baldwin FREVILE, Knt., Baron of Henley in Arden, son and heir       
      =ELIZABETH, d. and coh. of John de MOUNTFORTE, Baron of Beaudesert.       

The quarters belonging to this Sir B. F. were the same as those of his father, without any addition. His wife inherited the arms of Mountforte(Bendy of ten, or and azure), De la Plaunche(Argent, billetté sable, a lion rampant of the last, crowned or), and Haversham(azure, a fesse between six cross crosslets argent.)

           Sir Baldwin FREVILE, Knt., Lord of Henley in Arden, son and heir     
                       = .. daughter of ... Lord STRANGE.                       

This Sir B. F. was entitled by inheritance to the following quarters--Frevile, Marmion, Kilpeck, Mountforte, De la Plaunche, and Haversham. His wife's arms(Argent, two lions passant gules, armed and langued azure) were borne in the same manner as those of Devereux.

        Sir Baldwin FREVILE, Knt., Lord of Henley in Arden, son and heir.       
         =JOICE, d. and coh. of John, Lord BUTTETOURT, of Welley Castle.        

His mother not being an heiress, he bore his father's quarters without any addition. His lady inherited the arms of Buttetourt(Or, a saltire engrailed sable), Dudley(alias Somerie, or, two, lions passant azure, armed and langued gules), and De la Zouche(Gules, ten bezants, 4, 3, 2, 1), which descended to her posterity.

         MARGARET, daughter and coheiress of Sir Baldwin FREVILLE, Knt.         
             =Sir Hugh WILLOUGHBY, of Willoughby on the Wold, Knt.              

Sir H. W. bore the paternal arms(Or, on two bars gules, three waterbougets argent) alone. His lady inherited Frevile, Marmion, Kilpeck, Mountforte, De la Plaunche, Haversham, Buttetourt, Dudley, and De la Zouche.

             Richard WILLOUGHBY, Esq., son and heir, ob. s. p. 1471.            

He bore the arms of Willoughby, followed by the quarters which he inherited from his mother. His arms, as represented in the plate(see frontispiece), afford an example of the achievement of an esquire complete, viz. shield, helmet, mantle, crest and motto.


Stained glass in the windows and brasses on the floors of churches often afford much assistance in determining family connections through the marshalling of the arms. Annexed are the arms as emblazoned upon the brass at Winwick, Lancashire, of Sir Peter Legh, who died 1527; but who, on the death of his wife, had relinquished his secular position for the priestly office, so that he is represented wearing a chasuble over his armour, but over the former a shield is represented bearing seven quarterings. They are respectively:--

1. Argent, a cross sable, in the dexter chief quarter a fleur-de-lis of the second--HAYDOCK.

2. Gules, a cross engrailed argent--NORLEY[afterwards taken by LEGH.]

3. [? Azure] a chevron between three cross crosslets[? or]--Unknown.

4. Argent, a mullet sable, charged on one point(?) with a bezant--ASHTON.

5. Vert, a cross flory or--BOYDELL.

6. Lozengy argent and sable--CROFT of Dalton.

7. Azure, a chevron argent between three covered cups or--FRECKELTON.

                  Robert LEIGH of Adlington, co. Chester.                       
    =Maud(second wife) daughter and coheiress of Sir Thurston NORLEY,           
               Lord of Norley, &c., and heiress to BOYDELL.                     

The arms of this Robert Leigh were Azure, two bars argent, over all a bend compony or and gules. His marriage was so great a match that the family, now or later, relinquished their own arms, and took those of (2)Norley instead. It seems that by this marriage were brought in the arms of--(3), Ashton(4), and Boydell(5).

                     Piers LEIGH of Hanley, beheaded 1399                       
    =Margaret(first wife), daughter and heiress of Sir Thomas Daniers,          
         Lord of Grappenhall and Brone, widow of Sir John Savage.               

The Leighs did not quarter the arms of Daniers. Probably they never got the lands.

                Sir Piers LEIGH, slain at Agincourt, 1415.                      
       =Jane, daughter and heiress of Sir Gilbert Haydock, Lord of              
                     Haydock and of many other manors.                          
  Sir Piers LEIGH, knighted by Richard Duke of York, at Wakefield, 1460,        
        =Margaret, daughter(not heiress) of Sir Richard Molineux.               
             Piers LEIGH, ob. 1468, in his father's lifetime.                   
      =Mabel, daughter and heiress of James Croft, Lord of Dalton and           
  Claghton, and heiress to her mother, who was heiress of ... Freckelton.       

By this match came in the arms of Croft(6), and Freckelton(7). Their arrangement in the shield upon the brass in anomalous; but such anomalies are not unfrequent.


"Ladies often," says Haines(p. cxiii), "bore arms on their dresses, usually those of their husbands on their mantles or cloaks, and their own on their kirtles or gowns, as at Cardington, Beds, c. 1530; but after the fifteenth century their own are more frequently on the sinister side of the mantle, their husbands' bearings occupying the dexter. The brass of Elizabeth KNEVET, 1518, at Eastington, Gloucestershire, is a good example of a lady in an heraldic mantle." The six quarters represent the families of 1. KNEVET, 2. CROMWELL, 3. TATERSHALL, 4. CAYLEY, 5. BASSET, and 6. BISHOPSDON.

When the number of coats of to which a person is entitled is an odd one he usually fills up the last quarter by repeating the first. The royal arms brought into any family by an heiress(and there are more such cases than might be supposed) are sometimes placed in the first quarter, so e.g. they were borne by Cardinal Pole.

If a man marries two or more heiresses successively, the arms of each will descend only to her own children.

When a man bears a double surname(e.g. DYKE-ACLAND) it is the practice for his first quarter to contain the arms pertaining to those names quarterly, and for the second to contain his own paternal coat. This, however, is a modern usage, and, as it seems, not a very good one.

It is not uncommon, to avoid confusion by marshalling too great a number of coats in one escutcheon, to select a few of the principal, leaving out, for example, the secondary quarters brought in by heiresses. Many families entitled to a hundred or more quarters use but four, e.g. Howard, Duke of Norfolk, has done so for many generations.

In conclusion, it may be observed that quartered arms many be borne on banners, surcoats, and official seals, just as single coats are.

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