The honorable degree of a Baron, is so privileged, in the laws of Arms and constitutions of Caesars… yea they are said to be, of some majesty.

– From The Blazon of Gentrie by Sir John Ferne (1586), p132


Arms of le Meschin and ‘de Vere’

le Meschin and de Vere

Arms of Ranulf le Meschin, Earl of Chester 1120-1129 (1070-1129) and ‘Maud de Vere’

From p42 of Lacies Nobilitie by Sir John Ferne (1586)

Blazon: Per pale baron and femme; the first azure three garbs or, the second per quarterly or and gules, in the second quarter a rowel argent(?)

Ferne gives le Meschin credit for originating the azure-and-or arms of Chester (though I cannot verify the use of these arms before Hugh de Kevelioc ascended to the title in 1153). The garb, unsurprisingly, is said to represent “perfect
notes of aboundaunce” and “the fruite of that most happy mother peace.” (49) Ferne takes time to specifically commend the heraldic use of agricultural symbols: “[A]nye instrument appertaining to the tilling & earing of the earth, or
any fruit or seed proceeding and growing by the industry of man, maye bee borne in Armes, and it is good armory.” (51)

I cannot find any evidence that anyone named “Maud de Vere” existed. Historically, Ranulf le Meschin wed Lucy of Bolingbroke. (The previously-mentioned William de Roumare was her son from her second marriage to Roger Fitzgerold de Roumare.)

However, the information on Ferne’s family tree, as well as the coat of arms, seems to indicate some connection to the de Vere family which is not borne out by other available evidence. Ferne’s depiction of the arms has some clear
differences – the colors of the quarters are reversed, and the molet is pierced and in the wrong quarter.

Arms of de Briquessart and le Goz

Briquessart and le Goz

Arms of Ranulf de Briquessart, Viscount of Bessin 1066? – c. 1089 (?-c. 1089) and Margaret le Goz

From p42 of Lacies Nobilitie by Sir John Ferne (1586)

Blazon: Per pale baron and femme; the first or three barrulets gules, the second azure a wolf’s head erased argent

The family tree lists Margaret’s husband, improbably, as John Bohun (the most well-known individual of that name was approximately 300 years younger than de Briquessart and bore a completely different coat of arms). However, the text makes
it clear that Ferne is referring to de Briquessart; he states that he was also called “Randulph” and misattributes their son’s appellation of “le Meschin” or “the younger” as the father’s surname.

It is unclear whether the wolf’s head was granted to Hugh d’Avranches or his father; Ferne’s family tree seems to indicate the latter, since Margaret would not have had any right to bear her brother’s arms, but the evidence for this is

But in later times, the ensigns and marks of Knighthood, by the sword, are observed, to be a girdle and sword gilded, and girded to his side: as also, a pair of spurs gilt, to signify… the reward of his horsemanship and that he is a Chevalier.

– From The Blazon of Gentrie by Sir John Ferne (1586), p109

Arms of Hugh d’Avranches


Arms of Hugh d’Avranches (also known as Hugh Lupus, or Hugh the Wolf), Earl of Chester 1071-1101 (c. 1047-1101) and Ermentrude of Claremont (possibly not an armiger)

From p42 of Lacies Nobilitie by Sir John Ferne (1586)

Blazon: Azure a wolf’s head erased argent

The view of the wolf Ferne presents is extremely dim; it “signifieth craft, subtiltie, greedinesse of mind, inordinate desire of that with apperteineth to another, to sowe discord and sedition.” He seems determined, though, to put a
positive spin on the d’Avranches arms, claiming that if someone “can by force and strength roote so evil a member from out his commonwealth,” he would be entitled to bear a wolf’s head erased (i.e. torn from the body). (41) Burke’s Peerage, however, gives a somewhat more plausible origin for the nickname (and possibly the arms as well): his ferocity in battle against the Welsh. Although Ferne asserts that d’Avranches “bare himselfe in all his actions with great honor
and maiesty,” the negative connotations of the wolf could have applied as well; he was a notorious glutton for most of his life and apparently sired several illegitimate children. (45)