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.

And yet, there is nothing borne in Arms, but that it hath his proper and apt signification.

– From Lacies Nobilitie by Sir John Ferne (1586), p83

Ferne goes on to argue that arms do, or should, reflect the reason that they were granted to the first bearer. While there is usually some relationship between the arms and the person or entity that bears them, the symbolism is usually not particularly complex. A beehive is more likely to represent a family history of keeping bees or a pun on the last name than more esoteric concepts like “industry” or “cohesion.”

Let me say this, that this coat-armor being Barry, is interpreted by some learned in blazon, to represent to the bearer, force, valour, courage, or wisdom, whereby he hath repelled any peril or danger imminent to his country or sovereign; the Barre… is taken in the like signification.

– From the Blazon of Gentrie by Sir John Ferne (1586) p243

Like most early attempts to assign some kind of symbolism to heraldic charges (especially the ordinaries), this assertion does not seem to be supported by more reliable sources.

Many other ensigns also are allowed to a king, for the setting forth of his majesty, and to the declaration of his function, as, a Mound or ball of gold, with the cross upon it [orb], to signify, that the religion and faith of Christ ought to be reverenced throughout all his dominions. The scepter also in the one hand signefieth Justice, and the sword in the other teacheth vengeance.

– From The Blazon of Gentrie by Sir John Ferne (1586), p144

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 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)