Arms of Roger de Lacy

Baron of Halton 1199-1211 (1170-1211)

From p122 of Lacies Nobilitie by Sir John Ferne (1586)

Blazon: Per quarterly I and IV or and gules a bend sable and a label of three points argent (Lacy), II and III or a lion rampant purpre (Cotentin)

Roger received the castle and barony of Pontefract through Albreda de Lisours. (Ferne has her as Roger’s mother, but other sources point to her as his grandmother; I am not sure of their exact relationship.) He was not born a Lacy; his father, John fitz Richard, was the baron of Halton and grandson of Nigel de Cotentin. Roger assumed the Lacy name and arms as a condition of his succession to the properties of Pontefract.


For the Duke of Normandy did bear in his targe of Mars 2 Lions passant guardant of the Sun… and then, by the marriage of Eleanor, daughter and heir to William Duke of Aquitaine (that bare in a Shield gules, a Lion passant, guardant Or) the third Lion was also added to the coat of Normandy.

– From Lacies Nobilitie by Sir John Ferne (1586), p105-6

This is one of my favorite heraldic origin stories, not least because it’s very likely to be true. The blazons for Normandy and Aquitaine are easily verifiable, and the combination of those two arms into England’s iconic coat is elegant and satisfying.

Arms of Nigel of Cotentin

Baron of Halton c. 1071-1080 (?-1080)

From p122 of Lacies Nobilitie by Sir John Ferne (1586)

Blazon: Or a lion rampant purpre

According to Ferne, Nigel was granted the barony of Halton by his cousin Hugh Lupus for his service against the Welsh at the Battle of Rhuddlan. He also held the office of constable of Chester.

[W]hen as a Gentleman of coat-armor hath married an heir to a Gentleman of coat-armor, and hath issue by her, that issue as heir, beareth the Arms of his father and of his mother in his Shield quarterly, and it is called Coat quartered plain, or rather, a Shield quartered plain.

– From Lacies Nobilitie by Sir John Ferne (1586), p102

Ferne also goes on to describe arms diverse quarterly, where different ancestral coats are displayed in each quarter, and arms quarterly quartered, which would occur when two people with arms quartered plain marry and have children. The configuration described here is by far the most common.

Arms of Ilbert de Lacy

de Lacy

(1040?-1093?), Lord of Pontefract and Baron of Blackburnshire 1072-1093?

From p122 of Lacies Nobilitie by Sir John Ferne (1586)

Blazon: Per quarterly or and gules a bend sable and a label of three points argent

Ferne is more than willing to heap effusive praise on the Lacys via their arms. First, he claims that per quarterly is the superior division of arms, due to its resemblance to the Christian cross; then, he insists that the combination of or and gules (or Sol and Mars according to the planetary system of tinctures) represents martial prowess tempered by “constancy and faithfulnesse” (101). Finally, he asserts that the sable of the bend represents the mourning of the bearer’s enemies, which seems like a stretch.

Wherefore the bearing of this beast, was fitly applied to a king’s progeny: fortitude and magnanimity is denoted in the Lion.

– From Lacies Nobilitie by Sir John Ferne (1586), p91

[In reference to the arms of William Longspée] While Longspée seems to have been an adept military commander, it is more likely that the lioncels are a reference to the English royal arms than any personal characteristics.

Arms of Lacy and Longspée

Lacy and Longspee

Arms of Henry Lacy, Earl of Lincoln and Salisbury and Margaret Longspée

From p95 of Lacies Nobilitie by Sir John Ferne (1586)

Blazon: Per pale baron and femme per quarterly or and gules a bend sable overall a label of three points argent and gules and  azure six lioncels or

Ferne seems to be giving Lacy his grandfather’s arms, but there is ample evidence, including from contemporary sources, that Lacy actually used the arms or a lion rampant purpre.