Arms of Audley and Quincy

Audley and Quincy
Arms of ‘Hugh de Audley, Baron of Heighley’ and ‘Mabel de Quincy’

From p43 of Lacies Nobilitie by Sir John Ferne (1586)

Blazon: Per pale baron and femme; the first gules a fret or, the second gules six mascles 3, 3, and 1 or

Robert de Quincy and Hawise de Chester only had one daughter, Margaret; there is no evidence of anyone named “Mabel.” Moreover, while there was a Hugh de Audley (the first Earl of Gloucester in its third creation) with the same arms pictured here whose family held Heighley Castle as a seat, he would not be born until 1291, and thus was unlikely to have wed any offspring of Robert and Hawise.

Ferne claims that “Armes Fretty should signifie sorrow and tribulation to the bearer… if any quick [living] thing be oppressed with the Fret, then it may be a just sign of heavinesse.” (69)

Arms of Henry Wriothesley

2nd Earl of Southampton (1545-1581)

Blazon: Party of six; I azure a cross or between four crows close argent; II argent a fret gules, on a canton of the last a lion passant or; III argent five lozenges conjoined in pale gules within a bordure azure charged with seven bezants; IV per pale indented gules and azure, a lion rampant or; V argent on a chevron between three crows close sable, a crescent or for difference; VI sable a chevron or between three cross crosslets fitchy argent; all impaled with per quarterly I and IV chequy or and azure, a fess gules fretty argent and II and III argent a lion rampant per fess sable and gules

The Fret is formed by two palets in saltire, and braced in the center with a mascle; it is called by some authors the Harrington’s Knot, as composing their coat armour, though not solely appropriated.

– From Inquiries into the Origin and Progress of the Science of Heraldry in England by James Dallaway, p460 (1793)

Arms of Francis Talbot

5th Earl of Shrewsbury (1500-1560)

Blazon: Per fess, the first party per pale of five; I azure a lion rampant within a bordure or (Talbot); II gules a lion rampant within a bordure engrailed or (also Talbot); III argent five bendlets gules; IV barry argent and azure, an orle of martlets gules (Valence); V gules on a saltire argent (Neville), a martlet sable for difference; the second party per pale of four; I argent a bend between six martlets gules (Furnivall); II or a fret gules; III argent two lions passant gules (Strange?); IV argent a lion rampant sable

Crest: On a chapeau gules turned up ermine, a lion statant or

Supporters: Two talbots proper

Mantling: Gules lined ermine

Motto: Prest d’accompli (ready to accomplish)

The Cat in the Dairy-House Window

“The Cat in the Dairy-House Window” is not, as far as I am aware, an actual coat of arms representing any family or region. Instead, it is part of a very, very old satirical anecdote, though what it is satirizing depends on the teller. Sir John Ferne’s The Blazon of Gentrie, published in 1586, is the earliest written instance of this tale which I can find.

The text is written as a conversation among several travelers of different social classes, which centers on the values of the nobility and the technical points of heraldry. The herald (and Ferne’s authorial stand-in) Paradius, asks the knight, Torquatus, to blazon the coat shown above. Torquatus gives the following blazon: “Sable, a Musion passant guardant Or oppressed with a fret gules of eight parts, nails argent.” (188) The farmer, Collumell, surprised that “Arms should not have been of such trifling things,” breaks in to offer his own blazon: “the Cat in the milk house window.” Paradius takes the opportunity to mock Torquatus by telling him that he and Collumell are equally correct, since Torquatus had confused a lattice for a fret. However, Paradius goes on to mock Collumell’s understanding of the arms as undignified, attributing them to a vassal of King Childebert of France who captured King Gundemarus of Burgundy in battle. (The cat was the symbol of Burgundy).

However, in subsequent tellings, the tale seems to have evolved into a parody of the elevated language of blazon. In Quentin Durwald (1830), Sir Walter Scott sarcastically attributes Paradius’ account to the Burgundian herald Toison d’Or, who is “too learned to be intelligible.” (ch. 33) In this version, the jester’s blazon of “the cat looking out at the dairy window” is received as a good joke, and the pompous herald ends up being chased by the royal hounds. This revised version is much more popular than the original; Fox-Davies quotes Scott’s account in A Complete Guide to Heraldry in 1909, and John Vinycomb’s Fictious and Symbolic Creatures in Art, published the same year, refers to Scott’s interpretation as well. (258; “The Heraldic Muison”)

Seal of Richard Neville

From Inquiries into the Origin and Process of the Science of Heraldry in England by James Dallaway, p447

16th Earl of Warwick, (1428-1471), c. 1440

Blazon: Per quarterly; I per quarterly i and iv gules a fess between six cross crosslets or (Beauchamp), ii and iii chequy or and azure, a chevron ermine (Newburgh); II per quarterly i and iv argent three lozenges conjoined in fess gules, ii and iii or an eagle displayed vert armed and langued gules (Montagu); III gules a saltire argent (Neville), a label of three points of the last, on each point two bars azure (Lancaster); IV per quarterly i and iv or three chevronels gules (De Clare), ii and iii per quarterly argent and gules a fret or, overall a bend sable (Despencer)

Supporters: On the dexter a bear rampant, on the sinister a griffin rampant segreant (tinctures unknown)

The dexter crest appears to be some kind of bird rising, possibly an eagle. The sinister looks to be a griffin’s head and wings. Unfortunately, I cannot find any sources to confirm either the crests or the supporters.

Seal of Hugh Despenser the Younger

From Inquiries into the Origin and Process of the Science of Heraldry in England by James Dallaway, p446


Blazon: Per quarterly I and IV argent a bend sable, II and III gules a fret or

The arms are also shown on Despenser’s shield and the trappings of his horse on the front side of the seal. Despenser the Younger is also one of the few historical examples of abatement for treachery. He was executed in 1326 for defending the extremely unpopular Edward II from Queen Isabella and Roger Mortimer’s invasion, and his arms appear in the Banqueting Hall of Cardiff Castle upside down, though it is not clear whether this was as per decree of the Heralds’ College or a statement of distaste by the builder or patron.