Heraldry & the possible origins of the
Townley Achievement at Long Whatton
Preamble by Val Stevens: The Townleys and the Manor House, Long Whatton.
The tall house opposite The Falcon pub in Long Whatton is known as The Manor House. From 1753 until 1945 it was home to generations of the Townley family. Before 1753 it had been a simple farmhouse with a fair bit of land behind, but when Charles Townley brought his young wife here to live, he put a grand 'Georgian' extension on it. Charles was a London boy, the son of a merchant. But his mother had been a Long Whatton girl, daughter to William Wilde, Gent. of Long Whatton. So it is possible the house and farm belonged at one time to Charles's mother or his grandfather. Whatever the case, the Townley family lived in the house for nearly 200 years, and descendants of the family still live in the village. Charles himself continued to work in London, rising to the position of Garter King at Arms, and being knighted by King George III. The crest of the Townley family in Long Whatton is a falcon.........
“The Desire for Recognition” by Vic Taylor
|We are dealing with a coat of arms related
to a premier herald: his role in that craft or profession
would be used to create a shield like the one found as an
engraving (or drawing) in Long Whatton, and pictured here.
You can view a larger scale copy here
Heraldry is attractive visually, essentially in its DESIGN features, and this attraction seems a motive for this illustration.
History & Genealogy, though, are also part of studying heraldry:
(a) to find the heraldic reasons for any particular design or multi-combination of designs – especially in this Townley engraving or drawing; and
(b) to show political / social purposes, beyond simple visual recognition.
Such considerations, which seem to have motivated Charles Townley also, are a key to how heraldry originated as a means of Recognition, both in its perhaps over-emphasised military or tournament elements and in how a person’s place in society is displayed by his/her coat of arms.
What might have become a conflict in the purpose of heraldry – Recognition for Allegiance / Rallying – i.e. in War or Jousts, versus Recognition for Display / Statement – i.e. in placing someone distinctively in a social rank - can be resolved by acknowledging that they are interlinked, and would come together in warfare for strategic political bargaining (i.e. ransom), not necessarily for a full financial return, but to ensure that campaign gains were retained and key opposition players were kept out of further action.
|In the absence of real or feigned
fighting, of course, recognition was certainly still
important, but for STATUS / DEFINITION:
your coat makes clear who you are and what your antecedents
are – this is especially telling with respect to our
Townley engraving, and would be particularly important in
the 16th/17th/18th Centuries, with the proliferating rise of
the gentry and the significance of arms for
“Families of Consideration”. This latter phrase I
found in correspondence about position and connections while
researching the wonderful set of coats of arms decorating
the hallway in Thrumpton Hall, Nottinghamshire. A 1789
letter between John Wescomb Emerton and his brother Nicholas
(married to Lucy Marshall) is about arrangements for
painting onto a coach the combined Wescomb-Marshall
escutcheon. One half of these arms is shown in figure 01 at
These Marshall arms are clearly of the branch of the family marrying into the Wescomb-Emerton line owning Thrumpton at this time, with prestigious descent from the famous William, Earl of Pembroke, Marshall of the Realm under Henry II, and virtual Regent in Henry III’s minority.
However, a shock for John Wescomb Emerton: in the arms on
Nicholas’s landau , the gold and green halves had been reversed. In
the same run of correspondence, John Wescomb Emerton also notices
that the Wescombs have been using wrongly-reversed arms for their
own Somerset forebears, proven by referring to the house copy of the
18th Century Edmondson’s “Heraldry”. This sadly caps other
Wescomb-Emerton family-members’ lifetime of searching for
correctness and authenticity, and for “Consideration”: John’s
despairing final cry is: “How came we to reverse it?”
Again, display / statement is the point here – “Here I am – know me for who I am and what I bring with me or inherit”: I’ll explain later this concept of “bringing with me”, the key to understanding heraldry, & especially how a shield like our engraving is created – who you are, and what heraldic inheritance you “bring with you”. The centre and raison-d’être of an Achievement, though, is the shield, and without it you can’t have the full collection of heraldic display that an armiger (who can legitimately bear an authenticated coat of arms) can claim– you see an Achievement in our Townley arms here – shield, crest, mantling and motto – almost the full works!
A simple shield nowadays seems very rare, perhaps unknown - i.e., a more complex shield stems from the need to define yourself clearly against others – Saxon / Viking shields were often depicted one-colour, but from quite early medieval times at least one other colour is usually found. The simplest variation is to divide the shield, and I’ll use a couple of names you’ll recognise from history and literature as examples – e.g. halves (parti per pale – in figure 02: Waldegrave – the shield is blazoned as per pale argent & gules), or quarters (quarterly - in figure 03: Falstaff – quarterly or & azure)
Recent contact with the College of Arms tells us that the family shield of Sir Charles Townley (both his father and grandfather were also named “Charles”), when our man became knighted as Garter King of Arms, was superficially like 03 above, recorded as follows: quarterly, 1 & 4 Townley; and 2 & 3 Wilde. Although we come later to look closely at the Charles Townley multi-shield, for the moment it is enough to say that I have used the word “superficially” above because the reasons for the quartering are different - 03 is a simple colour-combination, whereas the “official” Townley-Wilde shield at the College of Arms is to record, by quartering, each part of our subject’s lineage via his father’s and his mother’s families.
For example, divisions into sixths (quarterly of six) must not be confused with the simple division of a shield. As in the case of our Townley engraving (quarterly of eight), we have the use of multiple divisions (sometimes only two or four) as a way of including, via marriages, OTHER coats of arms, not just a way of dividing up colours – if any of the coats that make up quarters also contain quarters, then they could be included too – that’s not our problem here – BUT there is a famous, perhaps ultimately pointless, example of a coat of 322 (!) subordinate coats, Lloyd of Stockton, where intermarriages with cousins in other branches of the same families way back into Welsh history / legend mean that the same quarters keep turning up. How this multiplicity of coats could all come about should be clearer when we later look more closely at the Townley coat concerning us here.
| A comparable display to our
Townley coat of arms is found at Flintham Church,
Nottinghamshire, for the Disneys – see figure 04 at right:
This chancel window represents the line of the family up to Daniel Disney (1656-1734), Kirton & Lincoln, who became Vicar of Swinderby, Lincs, held the living of Flintham Church, and owned the Hall beside it for a time.
The 9 "quarters" (in order, top > bottom, left > right) represent:
1) Disney of Swinderby & Norton Disney, Notts (i.e. Daniel’s father’s branch of origin)
2) Dive (the earliest noble marriage into the family;
3) Disney of Lincoln (a coat brought in by the Dives, derived from Amundeville, who
handed over their Conquest possessions to the Dives);
4) Neville of Notts (arguably);
5) D'Eyncourt of Lincs/Yorks;
6) Crosholme of Notts;
7) Harbin of Lincs;
8) Hussey of Notts;
9) Clinton of Notts
(all are in this Disney line, up to the 18th century).
In other words, your shield reflects the marriages in your line with the women of other armigerent families, starting with the earliest known up to most recent times. Whereas, like so many depictions of arms, the Disney coat above is in glorious technicolour, our Townley achievement is in shadings / hatchings of various sorts: the type of shading indicates the colour, so a drawing or engraving such as this can be used as a black-and-white plan for a coloured plaque, flag, piece of stained glass, or whatever – the hatching/shadings are as in 05 below -
- and the fur ermine is drawn with black spots on white, as in the field of qtr 8 of the Charles Townley drawing. It is worth commenting on the Sable hatching of the first Townley quarter (qtr 1) – it should be dense cross-hatching, BUT on our engraving it so much so that it looks almost solid - there is maybe some covering up here – do you see signs of some other full colouring showing through in qtr 1? – this may be significant in what I say later about the design Charles Townley created. Hatching is therefore often a clue as to how to “read” shields (and other aspects of an Achievement) if they are created on stone, wood, metal, or other carved, engraved or moulded media.
Crests, Mantling, Mottos
Taken together, these, with the shield, make up what is called, in the technical heraldic sense only, the armiger’s Achievement – it does not refer to deeds of prowess. As you can see in the illustration, there is more to the whole achievement than the shield, but everything else is really there only to tell us more about the shield and its owner.
The Crest first of all. Not everyone has one, and crests are shared by disparate and unconnected armigerents – they seem chosen at will, provided the College of Arms accepts your right to have one. Theoretically a crest should have a helmet to stand on, but, as we see with this Townley shield, there is no helm, because, at this time, Charles Townley is not yet even gentry.
Why the falcon is chosen by Charles Townley, I am not sure, although I believe that there exists some sort of reference to his being “falconer to the king” – it would seem appropriate, though, that there is a pub called “The Falcon”, near where Charles Townley found his in-laws in Long Whatton. Charles Townley, who should know, as a herald (but … watch this space! ), merely has, in our shield, the device of a perch to hold the bird, which is at least logical and aesthetically pleasing, although the perch is itself impossibly perched on a wreath or torse of what looks like black and ermine (or red and ermine, maybe to reflect the red in the Moore colours - Fairbairn’s “Crests” describes the Townley crest as also having a red ribbon round the perch). The two tinctures for the torse, as for Mantling, are what are known as livery colours, and survive in horse-racing.
The Mantling (sometimes called the Lambrequin) should dangle from the helmet of an arms-bearer. In our coat, it seems more like a floral decoration, whereas it is generally thought now to be a stylised version of the cloth Crusaders would wear to protect their necks, perhaps the whole helmet, against the sun – it would, in the course of a campaign, soon be in tatters, so would come to look at times like rags or even vegetation, a bit like acanthus leaves, which would be consistent with the style of drawing mantling in the first part of the 18th Century, with even garlands of flowers draped round it, as here. It is usually in the two main, livery tinctures of the shield - for Townley in qtr 1, and in several of the sub-shields, this should be black and white (although here the pattern is indistinct and perhaps just decorative). Mantling should be from a helm, but Charles Townley has possibly gone against heraldic commonsense and used his imagination here to show mantling apparently growing out of the shield itself, and clearly not from the torse, which would have been used to hold the mantling in place.
Mottos are not obligatory, but several people have them, and they are often shared. The meaning for Townley seems to be “it is more fitting to be virtuous than noble in blood” - the implication that blood alone won’t make you a good man suits someone whose honours came more by virtue of his work than by birth. If you look up the Townley motto, though, you will find probitas verus honos, and also tenez le vraye, which imply much the same as we have here, so it looks as if Charles Townley was perhaps ringing the changes a little in order to provide a bit of distinction for himself. There may be, as we shall see, a touch of unwitting irony in Charles Townley’s choice of motto.
Heralds – College of Arms, Heralds’ role, characters, power
Heralds probably began as messengers of landowners, especially with estates all over a region, the likely origin of their having recognisable coats (tabards), and of their thus having certain rights of access and self-protection. This diplomatic role eventually made them arbiters of custom, conduct and outcomes in battles and tourneys (you may recall Mountjoy, the French herald in Shakespeare’s play, the epitome of courtesy and authenticity in acknowledging the claims of Henry V’s victory in the Battle of Agincourt). From this position heralds developed the role of authentication of rights of armigers to bear the arms they claimed, which added a significant political and social dimension to their work or position.
This role of authentication became developed into the system of supervision descending from the College of Arms (chartered by Richard III), where the Earl Marshall heads a system that grants arms and oversees heraldic usage and practice in England and Wales – let us now look at the way in which our Charles Townley may have been involved in this system as it operated in his time.
At the time of our Achievement, he was simply York Herald. In this role, he was inferior, in rank if not in independence of action, to Norroy, the Herald King who looked after England roughly north of the Trent, and superior to the lesser Pursuivants. While our Charles Townley was York Herald, he appears to have made many sketches or drawings related to his office (some of which I believe are held in Long Whatton), and our Achievement here is probably one of these. What sort of a herald was he? Hard to say for sure, but we can look at the sort of heralds there were at the end of a truly critical period of English history: as a perhaps undesirable consequence of a movement we may shorthand as “The Rise of the Gentry”, in which society changed through many inter-linking movements, a whole new world wanted to use armorial display, not least to define position and possessions.
Thus, the procedure of heraldic Visitations during the 16th and 17th Centuries became a vital method of authenticating your arms and whether you should have them. Heralds were put into a position of great power and potential corruption, and, to some, self-importance seems to have overcome ethics: there is some suspicion about their total commitment to altruism. Let’s pause here to look at Sir Charles Townley’s personal / family coat (see figure 06 below) adopted while in his position as Garter King :
It is clearly different from the usual or “general” Townley arms (as in qtr 1 of the engraving), in that another mullet (star) or has been added to the otherwise plain fess (broad horizontal band) sable – it uses an existing element in a new way, and an annulet (ring) gules has been superimposed. Here, Sir Charles Townley (years after the Achievement we are largely discussing here) has made a distinct change, and it might be assumed that he has in some way wanted to mark his position more. Sir Charles Townley, by virtue of his job, seems consistent with a trend of 16th to early 18th Centuries heralds to make a mark to show gentrification via office?
What is even more interesting is that Sir Charles Townley has used, not the general Townley coat, as we see in the Long Whatton achievement, but a development of the specific one granted, I believe, by Lord Stanley, when, at the Battle of Hutton Field in 1481, he knighted Sir Richard Townley. (an ancestor, by his marriage to Margaret Clarke of ROYLE, of Charles Townley’s branch of Townleys) on behalf of Edward IV - here the plain black fess was differenced by a single silver star, not the gold one here. The College of Arms recognises the coat depicted above, but does not specify the colour or arrangement of star or ring, which may have been guessed by the designer. We might speculate whether the possible covering-up in the hatching of qtr 1 in our coat is, in fact, a shading-out of an earlier attempt to make an unauthorised (or maybe just experimental) change to the basic Townley shield before Charles Townley’s marriage and later elevation to superior positions in the heraldic hierarchy.
As a herald, and especially later as Clarenceux Herald (southern England) & then Garter King, Charles Townley would have practised and authorised a major part of heraldic genealogy – the Marshalling of “multi-shields”.
“Marshalling” is the skill of arranging the parts of a coat of arms to reflect accurately the lines of armorial heritage that any armiger can legitimately claim. The method is as follows: in its simple form, if a man marries a wife who is of a family that bears arms, such as, hypothetically, a Waldegrave man marrying a Falstaff woman (see figures 02 & 03 above), these are the results relevant to our case here: if the wife is a non-heiress, the arrangement is blazoned as parti per pale/ impaled – eg, a Waldegrave marries a Falstaff non-Heiress (see figure 07):
In its simplest form, Waldegrave-Falstaff descendants of this marriage would bear coat as in figure 08 above.
Logically, you might find this sort of quartering repeating itself but it becomes unwieldy (as in the Lloyds coat mentioned above). Sir Charles Townley in our shield simply and meaningfully tries to show the discrete coats of other “families of consideration” which play a part in his own blood line. The principles for such choices emerge as follows, if we look at this diagram of the possibilities of our shield – here is a hypothetical distribution (see figure 09). The principle is to look for the furthest back you can go to see which wives “bring in” their father’s arms, or to look for the next female marrying in down the line who “brings in” her father’s arms.
Now let’s look at the details of this family scenario in our actual Long Whatton engraving. We seem to have:
Qtr 1 - Sir Charles’s branch of the line are known as the Townleys / Towneleys / Thunlays, etc., of Royle in Lancashire, descended from a very ancient line where surnames became slightly changed as inheritances were passed on. Because, at the time of creating the drawing, Charles Townley was the eldest son of his father while his father was still alive (hence the label gules – the “toothed” red bar overlaying the top), he has the arms blazoned: argent a fess sable, three mullets in chief of the second, a label gules.
Qtr 2 – the first female marrying into the Royle
line of Townleys is Isabella de Rixton, who marries John Towneley in
the second half of the 14th Century – she brings in her father’s
arms of - argent, on a bend sable three covered cups of the field.
Qtr 3 – next to bring in arms is Joanne White, who married Nicholas Townley of Littleton, Middlesex (now in Surrey, near Shepperton Studios – by this time a number of Royle Townleys had moved south in solid middle-class professions, and the surname spelling had largely dropped the first “e”) – he is great grandfather of our Charles Townley. The arms Joanne White brings in are – paly of six or and azure, on a chief of the second a griffin passant as the first.
Qtr 4 – a tricky one, although the attribution is clear enough - Chilton: or, on a chevron gules three cinquefoils of the field, on a bordure azure 10 bezants [This coat presents intricacies too complex to comment on here: they can be summarised by saying that the line from Chiltons to the Qtr 5 father of Elizabeth Mocket is only by virtue of her being co-heir with a sister who can claim Joanne Chilton as a great-great-grandmother; that the Chilton coat should follow Mocket (ie qtrs 4 & 5 should be in reverse order), since this Chilton ancestor is “brought in” by Mocket; and that the particular way in which the bordure is elaborated suggest association or patronage, rather than direct blood-line, thus probably making Joanne Chilton a kind of “armorial ancestor-cum-patron”, a sort of feudal dependence.
Qtr 5 – Elizabeth Mocket married William White,
part of the line leading down to Joanne White’s marriage to Nicholas
Townley, the great grandfather of our Charles Townley, the likely
designer of our shield. or, on a chief azure, three cinquefoils of
Qtr 6 – this coat is hard to relate to any history or pedigree of anyone mentioned so far – the attribution is pretty conclusively for the name Carpenter or Carter, both of whom are : azure, two lions rampant combatant or [There are some teasing suggestions of Carpenters in legal collaborations involving Whites, but the coat should therefore come after White (qtr 3), who would have “brought it in”. My guess is that Carpenter is therefore included as someone whom the line of White + Mocket >>> White + Townley depended on in some way, again, another kind of prestigious association or feudal patronage] [At Thrumpton Hall, mentioned above, whilst there is no multi-coat like our Townley shield here, we do find two or three shields in the display of family arms that are not of relations, but clearly of wealthy associates.] The next two, though, are very clear:
Qtr 7 – Charles Townley’s father married into
the Wilde family of Long Whatton, and the rest, as they (and
particularly yourselves) would say, is history – the coat is
blazoned: argent, a chevron engrailed sable, on a chief of the
second three martlets of the field.
Qtr 8 – “brought in” by Sarah Wilde is her mother, Joan Moore, from Appleby Parva, and the coat she brings is : ermine, three greyhounds courant sable, collared gules, on a canton of the last a lion passant or, in chief a crescent sable This coat (with the crescent to denote the second son of a man in his father’ lifetime) is almost the same (only the red dog-collars in the Appleby Parva coat of arms are different) as that of the Moore who was Lord Mayor of London in 1682. His canton contains the same lion (“of England”), and is described as “for augmentation”, which suggests an honour granted maybe for his position or his service in the rôle. Boutell makes the point that some augmentations were to distinguish one name-holder from un-related bearers of the same name, so our shield, by default, seems to make a relationship between this Lord Mayor of London and our Leicestershire Moores. Charles Townley, with an eye to the “Consideration”, would have picked up on this.
Thus, a ROUGH Pedigree of the Townleys down to (Sir) Charles might look something like figure 10 below:
There is, of course, no ninth quarter for Charles Townley’s wife Mary, because he wasn’t married by the date of this drawing – and it’s uncertain whether his wife was of an armigerent family. If there were a ninth coat, it would probably have necessitated the multi-shield’s being divided into three rows of three (like the Disney window at Flintham Church, 04 above).
We have seen earlier that a herald in the years leading up to
this period of history might not necessarily have been expected to
be lily-white, actually in himself or in how he, even mistakenly,
appeared to others, but it’s interesting to conclude this glimpse
into Charles Townley’s work and attitudes by our being aware that
the he was not highly rated by his contemporary heralds or later
historians of the College of Arms, because of some monopolistic
venality, and the aggressive nit-picking versified here by Henry
Hill, 18th Century Windsor Herald:
“[Grose] had no great taste for Heraldry, but …
When captious Townley has the least pretence
To e’en the smallest share of common sense,
Then Hawkes and Doves shall marriages contract”
Some recommendations for you about books I use, which you might like to look at:
“Heraldry in National Trust Houses” - Thomas Woodcock & John Martin Robinson - National Trust
“An Introduction to Heraldry” – Stefan Oliver – Chancellor Press
“The Illustrated Book of Heraldry” – Stephen Slater – Hermes House
[Grab one – often going cheap now – absolutely& readably super!]
“The Observer’s Book of Heraldry” – Charles MacKinnon of Dunakin – Frederick Warne
[This book is a collector’s item – hang onto this gold dust if you find one!]
“Heraldry: Its Origins and Meanings” – Michel Pastoureau – New Horizons Series, Thames & Hudson
"Heraldry: Sources, Symbols and Meaning” – Ottfried Neubecker (plus JP Brooke-Little) - Little, Brown & Company
These will all refer you to the Standard Works of Reference – Burke, Papworth, Fairbairn & Boutell
By all means look at our website, to see some musings on Heraldry – www.vicandchris.com
Tell me if you think I’ve made an error - I’m open to anything I can LEARN from!
Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me on 0115 937 5459
Vic Taylor, March 2008