Some writers, says Boutell, describe the leopard as the issue of the pard and lioness, and they assign the unproductiveness of such hybrids as a reason for its frequent adoption in the arms of abbots and abbesses.
From Fictitious and Symbolic Creatures in Heraldry by John Vinycomb, p198
A curious character, partly real and partly fictitious has been ascribed to the lybbard or leopard of heraldry. It was said to be the offspring of a lioness and a panther, the Northmen or Normans, according to some authorities, having adopted that beast of prey, noted for its rashness, as typical of themselves, so characterised by boldness and impetuosity.
From Fictitious and Symbolic Creatures in Art, p194
Some other big cats featured in heraldry, besides the lion. From left to right, top to bottom: the heraldic tyger; the Bengal tiger; the leopard; the cat-a-mountain. All are shown passant, except the cat-a-mountain, which is passant guardant.
(Reposted with permission from eidolan– see source for original post.) Upper left: I. Thomas Wriothesley, Earl of Southampton- Azure a cross or between four doves close argent II. Stephen Gardiner, Bishop Chancellor- Per pale the first gules two keys in bend or … Continue reading →