The illustrations in the present volume are all of them given in conjunction with the verbal descriptions. Perhaps it may here be explained also that the attempt has been made to illustrate every British coat of arms which is still in use amongst those which are included in these pages. But many coats of arms are described which are those of corporate bodies long since extinct, and no attempt has been made to illustrate those.
The heraldry of impersonal arms is, of course, the same science of heraldry that is described in many text-books, and at the risk of being again accused of never losing an opportunity of advertising my own books, let me suggest my " Complete Guide to Heraldry " as a text-book which will probably answer most requirements of that nature.
The illustrations, following the prevailing custom, are given in outline only. Accompanied as these illustrations are in every case by the verbal blazon, any indication of colour on the drawings seems unnecessary. Most of those who will refer to this book will know the elementary rules which will enable the blazon to be applied to the illustration.
In fact, little more is necessary than a knowledge of the names of the metals, colours, and furs. "Or" is gold, "argent" is silver, "gules" is red, "azure" blue, "vert" green, "sable" black, and "purpure" purple. Ermine is white with black spots, "ermines" black with white spots. " Erminois" has a gold ground with black spots, " pean " is a black ground with gold spots.
It should always be remembered that the first word applies to the colour of the shield.
A knowledge of the ordinaries is useful, but as a drawing always accompanies the blazon this is hardly essential ; but the ordinary rules observed in relation to blazon will repay a little attention.
The word " Blazon " is used with some number of meanings, but practically it may be confined to the verb " to blazon," which is to describe in words a given coat of arms, and the noun " blazon," which is such a description.
Care should be taken to differentiate between the employment of the term " blazon " and the verb " to emblazon," which latter means to depict in colour.
It may be here remarked, however, that to illustrate by the use of outline with written indications of colour is termed " to trick," and a picture of arms of this character is termed " a trick."
The rules to be employed in blazon are simple, and comparatively few in number.
The commencement of any blazon is of necessity a description of the field, the one word signifying its colour being employed if it be a simple field ; or, if it be composite, such terms as are necessary. Thus, a coat divided "per pale" or "per chevron " is so described, and whilst the Scottish field of this character is officially termed " Parted " [per pale, or per chevron], the English equivalent is " Party," though this word in English usage is more often omitted than not in the blazon which commences " per pale," or " per chevron," as the case may be.
In a "party" coloured field, that colour or tincture is mentioned first which occupies the more important part of the escutcheon. Thus, in a field " per bend," " per chevron," or " per fess," the upper portion of the field is first referred to ; in a coat " per pale," the dexter side is the more important ; and in a coat " quarterly," the tinctures of the ist and 4th quarters are given precedence of the tinctures of the 2nd and 3rd. The only division upon which there has seemed any uncertainty is the curious one "gyronny," but the method employed in this case can very easily be recognised by taking the first quarter of the field, and therein considering the field as if it were simply " per bend."
After the field has been described, anything of which the field is sem6 is next alluded to, e.g. gules, seme-de-lis or, etc.
The second thing to be mentioned in the blazon is the principal charge. We will consider first those cases in which it is an ordinary. Thus, one would speak of " Or, a chevron gules," or, if there be other charges as well as the ordinary, " Azure, a bend between two horses' heads or," or, " Gules, a chevron between three roses argent."
The colour of the ordinary is not mentioned until after the charge, if it be the same as the latter, but if it be otherwise it must of course be specified, as in the coat : " Or, a fess gules between three crescents sable." If the ordinary is charged, the charges thereupon, being less important than the charges in the field, are mentioned subsequently, as in the coat : " Gules, on a bend argent between two fountains proper, a rose gules between two mullets sable."
The position of the charges need not be specified when they would naturally fall into a certain position with regard to the ordinaries. Thus, a chevron between three figures of necessity has two in chief and one in base. A bend between two figures of necessity has one above and one below. A fess has two above and one below. A cross between four has one in each angle. In none of these cases is it necessary to state the position. If, however, those positions or numbers do not come within the category mentioned, care must be taken to specify what the coat exactly is.
If a bend is accompanied only by one charge, the position of this charge must be stated. For example : " Gules, a bend or, in chief a crescent argent." A chevron with four figures would be described : " Argent, a chevron between three escallops in chief and one in base sable," though it would be equally correct to say : " Argent, a chevron between four escallops, three in chief and one in base sable." In the same way we should get: "Vert, on a cross or, and in the ist quarter a bezant, an estoile sable " ; though, to avoid confusion, this coat would more probably be blazoned : " Vert, a cross or, charged with an estoile sable, and in the first quarter a bezant."
This example will indicate the latitude which is permissible if, for the sake of avoiding confusion and making a blazon more readily understandable, some deviation from the strict formulas would appear to be desirable.
If there be no ordinary on a shield, the charge which occupies the chief position is mentioned first. For example : "Or, a lion rampant sable between three boars' heads erased gules, two in chief and one in base." Many people, however, would omit any reference to the position of the boars' heads, taking it for granted that, as there were only three, they would be 2 and i, which is the normal position of three charges in any coat of arms. If, however, the coat of arms had the three boars' heads all above the lion, it would then be necessary to blazon it : " Or, a lion rampant sable, in chief three boars' heads erased gules."
When a field is seme of anything, this is taken to be a part of the field, and not a representation of a number of charges. Consequently the arms of Long are blazoned : " Sable, seme of cross crosslets, a lion rampant argent." As a matter of fact the seme of cross crosslets is always termed crussilly.
When charges are placed around the shield in the position they would occupy if placed upon a bordure, these charges are said to be " in orle," as in the arms : " Quarterly, azure and gules, a lion rampant erminois, within four cross crosslets argent, and as many bezants alternately in orle"; though it is equally permissible to term charges in such a position " an orle of \e.g. cross crosslets argent and bezants alternately]," or so many charges " in orle."
If an ordinary be engrailed, or invected, this fact is at once stated, the term occurring before the colour of the ordinary. Thus : " Argent, on a chevron nebuly between three crescents gules, as many roses of the field." When a charge upon an ordinary is the same colour as the field, the name of the colour is not repeated, but those charges are said to be " of the field."
It is the constant endeavour, under the recognised system, to avoid the use of the name of the same colour a second time in the blazon. Thus : " Quarterly, gules and or, a cross counterchanged between in the first quarter a sword erect proper, pommel and hilt of the second ; in the second quarter a rose of the first, barbed and seeded of the third; in the third quarter a fleur-de-lis azure; and in the fourth quarter a mullet gold" — the use of the term "gold" being alone permissible in such a case.
Any animal , which needs to be described also needs its position to be specified. It may be rampant, segreant, passant, statant, or trippant, as the case may be. It may also sometimes be necessarj' to specify its position upon the shield.
With the exception of the chief, the quarter, the canton, the flaunch, and the bordure, an ordinary or sub-ordinary is always of greater importance, and therefore should be mentioned before any other charge ; but in the cases alluded to the remainder of the shield is first blazoned, before attention is paid to these figures. Thus we should get : " Argent, a chevron between three mullets gules, on a chief of the last three crescents of the second " ; or " Sable, a lion rampant between three fleurs-de-lis or, on a canton argent a mascle of the field " ; or, "Gules, two chevronels between three mullets pierced or, within a bordure engrailed argent charged with eight roses of the field."
If two ordinaries or sub-ordinaries appear in the same field, certain discretion needs to be exercised, but the arms of Fitzwalter, for example, are as follows : " Or a fess between two chevrons gules."
When charges are placed in a series following the direction of any ordinary they are said to be " in bend," "in chevron," or " in pale," as the case may be, and not only must their position on the shield as regards each other be specified, but their individual direction must also be noted.
A coat of arms in which three spears were placed side by side, but each erect, would be blazoned : " Gules, three tilting-spears palewise in fess " ; but if the spears were placed horizontally, one above the other, they would be blazoned : " Three tilting-spears fesswise in pale," because in the latter case each spear is placed fesswise, but the three occupy in relation to each other the position of a pale. Three tilting-spears fesswise which were not in pale would be depicted 2 and 1.
When one charge surmounts another, the undermost one is mentioned first.
In the cases of a cross and of a saltire, the charges when all are alike would simply be described as between four objects, though the term "cantonned by " four objects is sometimes met with. If the objects are not the same, they will be specified as being in the ist, 2nd, or 3rd quarters, if the ordinary be a cross. If it be a saltire, it will be found that in Scotland the charges are mentioned as being in chief and base, and in the " flanks." In England they would be described as being in pale and in fess if the alternative charges are the same ; if not, they would be described as in chief, on the dexter side, on the sinister side, and in base.
When a specified number of charges is immediately followed by the same number of charges elsewhere disposed, the number is not repeated, the words "as many " being substituted instead. Thus : " Argent, on a chevron between three roses gules, as many crescents of the field." When any charge, ordinary, or mark of cadency surmounts a single object, that object is termed " debruised " by that ordinary. If it surmounts everything, as, for instance, " a bendlet sinister," this would be termed "over all." When a coat of arms is "party" coloured in its field and the charges are alternately of the same colours transposed, the term counter- changed is used. For example, " Party per pale argent and sable, three chevronels between as many mullets pierced all counterchanged." In that case the coat is divided down the middle, the dexter field being argent, and the sinister sable; the charges on the sable being argent, whilst the charges on the argent are sable.