A GLOSSARY OF
TERMS USED IN
A NEW EDITION
With One Thousand Illustrations
THE use of heraldry is far more extensive today it was in medieval times. Decorative and symbolic today, heraldry seems to have increased in popularity with the centuries, so that there is a distinct and even urgent need for a quick and authentic reference work for this science of recording genealogies and blazoning arms or ensigns armorial.
Here are the ancient and established terms, as distinguished from later, fanciful terms which may have little foundation in fact, and thus little more justification than an exercise of ingenuity on the part of later writers.
Many of the illustrations in this appealing volume are based upon material found in early manuscripts, brasses, stained glass and sepulchral monuments, but they are all presented in their illustrative rather than in their archaeological and historical aspects.
Painstaking research among the Rolls and Visitations in the British Museum have paid off in authenticity and consequent admiration for this work. And the beauty of this compelling compilation lies in its simplicity of presentation and convenience for quick reference.
A complete synoptical table presents the chief terms under logical headings and in systematic order. This is followed by the completely alphabetized terms which are set off and embellished by 1,000 illustrations. Words such as charge, bearing, ordinary, tincture field, fess, and many others than take on new meaning and luster for the student as well as those wise in the ways of heraldry and old world lore. And heraldry gains new adherents; it is destined never to die. This work was originally published by James Parker and Company in 1894.
IT is now nearly fifty years since my father published a work entitled, "A Glossary of Terms used in British Heraldry."
The book had been out of print for several years, and finding that it was still enquired for, and that it had not been actually superseded by more recent works, I determined some little time back to reprint it. As no author's name appeared to the book, and as my father held left me no details as to the circumstances attending the original publication, I thought I would myself be responsible for such revision as would be necessary for a new edition, since in years gone by I had paid some attention to Heraldry as a branch of Archæology.
At the first glance at the work I thought this could be done very readily and in a very short time, but after revising the first few sheets I was troubled with the large number of general statements respecting various charges without examples given of their occurrence in any coat of arms. The result was that I came to the conclusion that several fanciful terms, for which I found no authority further than the exercises of ingenuity on the part of writers of the seventeenth century, might be omitted, or at any rate should be distinguished from ancient and established terms which had been actually adopted in recognised coats of arms. Also, as regarded the more ancient charges, it seemed to me that examples ought to have been given from the early Rolls of arms which have been preserved. I further found that it was necessary to follow some more systematic arrangement with regard to synonyms and the grouping of terms more or less allied to one another, and whose separate treatment left the description somewhat obscure. To assist in this I decided to place a large number of the Terms at the foot of the page with cross references to the words under which the charge would be found described, either under another name or in its relation to similar charges; and with these cross reference I thought it well to place such words as only required a very brief explanation.
In adopting this new system, the frequent omissions, transpositions, and very considerable additions left practically hardly anything of the original printed copy standing.
I was tempted at times to go into historical questions, but this would have added much to the extent of the work, and would not have been consistent with its purpose. I feel, however, the history of the rise and progress of Heraldry remains to be written--not culled from the fanciful treatment by the sixteenth and seventeenth century writers on the subject, but based upon the material supplied by the illustrations which early Manuscripts, Brasses, Sepulchral Monuments, Stained Glass and the like afford. It is true that many of the illustrations in the present volume are derived from these sources, but they are presented in their illustrative rather than in their archæological and historical aspect.
I should mention that after I had gone some little way with my task an interleaved copy of the Glossary, with several notes by the late Mr.Wyatt Papworth, come into my hands. As the author of that laborious and useful work, "An Ordinary of English Arms," his reference to it, and additional notes were of much help. And I should acknowledge that the ordinary itself was also of great assistance to me.
I should further add that the copy of the whole had been prepared, and actually about half of it had been printed, when I received a letter from Mr.HENRY GOUGH, who I learnt had projected and assisted very largely in the original compilation, and indeed had been mainly responsible for the first edition. He in the kindest way possible offered to look over the proofs. As at times I had begun to be very much disheartened at the difficulties which seemed rather to increase as I went on, I gladly accepted his generous offer of help, and availed myself of many notes and suggestions which he sent to me.
With respect to the long delay which has intervened since the first announcement that the book was in the press, I should state that I found the work was growing to such an extent under my hands and required so considerable an amount of uninterrupted attention, that I transferred all my MS. notes and my books of reference to my residence at Fyfield, looking upon the work rather as a recreation than as a matter of business. Further, I had there also the great advantage of my eldest daughter's assistance, who made herself thoroughly acquainted with the principles which I adopted in compiling the work, as well as with the original material, by researches amongst the Rolls and Visitations preserved in the British Museum, and who, besides, rendered me considerable aid in supplying some 250 illustrations which it seemed to me were required above and beyond those which appeared in the first edition. The main part of the work had been practically finished while I was residing Fyfield. Having, however, been obliged from a sudden and terrible domestic affliction to leave that place, with all its happy memories, the proofs and incidental papers were packed up. For a long while they remained so, as I had not the heart to set again to the work(connected as it was with so many sad associations), and draw up the tables and indices and complete all that was necessary for issuing the book to the public. Feeling, however, that I had allowed it to remain too long unfinished, and with an effort I have now completed the indices and introductory remarks, so that the last sheets might be printed off and the book sent to the binders.
I am well aware that the editorial work involving such an amount of research and technical knowledge should have been entrusted to a more competent hand, and had I foreseen when first I began bow different the labour would prove from that of simple revision, I should not have attempted it.
Oxford, October, 1894.
THIS work, following the title of the order book, is called a Glossary, the object being primarily to describe and explain the several terms connected with the study of Heraldry which a reader is at all likely to meet with.
The terms are put in one complete alphabetical order; a few of less importance, or where only a line is required to explain them, or where they are best explained under some other term, are, for the sake of saving of space, printed at the foot of the page in somewhat smaller type.
Most of the recognised Heraldic terms are derived from the old Norman French of the thirteenth and fourteenth century; but have acquired different interpretations in process of time, together with different modes of spelling. The use of these words has been illustrated as far as possible by quoting examples from the early Rolls, a list of which will be found given at p. 325 of the Glossary. There exist some few others, but these are the more important.
A great deal of additional Heraldic nomenclature, however, is derived from writers of the sixteenth and seventeenth century. To search out the name of the writer who first used each term, and in what sense he used it, and how far succeeding writers have adopted or misapplied the terms, would be laborious work to a compiler, tedious to the reader, and wholly useless in result. All that has been done is to give a sufficient description to enable the reader to interpret the terms when he meets with them in any Heraldic, Genealogical, or Topographical works, which he may consult. A list of the chief Heraldic writers, often termed 'Authorities,' will be found given under the word Heraldry in the Glossary, p. 323.
But besides these there are a large number of ordinary and every-day terms, including names of plants and animals, as well as of inanimate objects, which have been adopted as charges by families, sometimes possibly from some historic event, but more often because of the play upon the name. It has been thought necessary to take note of these, not so much with a view of description as with that of shewing what families use them; how they are generally represented; and what tinctures are applied to them.
In a few cases Crests, Supporters, Badges, &c., have been noted, and especially where the animal or abject does not occur amongst charges.
It will be seen at once that these various classes of Terms have to be treated in a variety of manner. In nearly all cases, however, examples are given of the use of the older terms from the earliest instance in which they are found employed. In the case of modern terms, either characteristic examples of the words are selected, or else cases where the charges, &c., are borne by well-known families. As a rule the French equivalent is given, as in many instances there is much similarity, and in others it may be useful where French works on Heraldry have to be consulted. Occasionally also examples of modern French coats of arms are introduced by way of illustration. In describing the terms it has not been thought well to enter to any extent into the various discussions arising from opinions of writers; the object has been to explain the actual use of the terms. Neither has it been thought necessary, as regards the more modern Coats of Arms, to go behind such substantial works as Burke's "General Armory," Papworth's "Ordinary," and similar compilations. It has been considered that, as a rule, the compilers of those books made use of the best information.
While primarily the object of the work, as has been said, is to describe and explain terms used in Heraldry, and more especially in the blazon of Coats of Arms, the practical side of Heraldry has not been overlooked. Under such articles as Marshalling, Arms, Achievements, and the like, several of the rule of Heraldry are introduced. Also the various Titles of Nobility, &c.; Orders of Knights; Heralds, &c., will all be found in the Glossary, with such information given in a condensed form as it is thought will be of use to those students of Heraldry who pursue the subject otherwise than as an adjunct of Genealogical and Archæological enquiry.
It has been attempted, as far as possible, for the sake of condensation, to bring similar terms together, and it is thought that the cross references at the foot of the page will afford every facility for finding any word: for the sake, however, of assisting those who use the book to grasp the principle of the arrangement, a very full SYNOPTICAL TABLE is given after this Introduction, in which the terms are arranged under several headings in systematic order; and such terms as are found in the Alphabetical Glossary being given in italic, those following the chief term will be found described beneath the same. Apart from the use which it has been to the compiler, and apart from that which it may be to those who use the book, it is thought that such a synoptical view will not be otherwise than interesting, as shewing the vast range of subjects over which those who have had duly assigned to them(or unduly taken to themselves)coats of arms have extended their choice. Objection may perhaps be taken to the classification of the Ordinaries and Conventional Charges as not being one generally recognized. There is so much disagreement, however, amongst writers, that it has been thought better to adopt an independent system, guided rather by convenience then by any so-called authority.
The Synoptical Table, it will be observed, it not confined to Ordinaries and Charges themselves, but is extended to the several midifications of form or position to which the charges are subject, as well as the various general Heraldic Terms, Titles, &c., which belong to the application of the study of Heraldry. In fact it has been attempted to classify and arrange under it, in systematic order, all the words which occur in the Glossary.
But few abbreviations have been used. The very slight space saved by such, rarely compensates for the trouble which they sometimes give in interpreting them.
The INDEX OF NAMES at the end of the volume will give
easy reference to the families whose arms are blazoned as illustrations of the
terms described in the book. The spelling followed is that adopted in the source
from which the blazon has been taken. As it comprises nearly four thousand references
to the coats of arms blazoned, it cannot be without some use to Genealogist. As
far as possible repetition has been avoided, but in so large a series of examples
this has not been always possible.
Return to Main Index