Man has long used pictorial representations to symbolize various aspects and events of their lives. Ancient man would paint themselves, their shields etc to either scare the enemy or assist in identification. Cohorts of Roman soldiers painted their shields with emblems to identify their particular cohort. Modern man is very used to trade marks and other logos used to identify products and services or organizations, and indeed, heraldry is still used today, not just by individuals but often by countries, cities etc. Heraldry clearly falls into this history of imagery but also has its own very distinct heritage, usage and regulatory environment1.
Heraldry is a broad term, encompassing the design, display, and study of armorial bearings (known as armory), as well as related disciplines, such as vexillology, together with the study of ceremony, rank, and pedigree. Armory, the best-known branch of heraldry, concerns the design and transmission of the heraldic achievement. The achievement, or armorial bearings usually includes a coat of arms on an shield, helmet, and crest, together with any accompanying devices, such as supporters, badges, heraldic banners, and mottos.
The understanding of heraldry is also important for geneological purposes. Tracing the changes to a coat of arms over time can provide good evidence of eg marriages where a portion of the wife’s family coat of arms became incorporated into the husband’s coat of arms or where other achievements of the holder of the coat of arms are recorded on that coat of arms.
Two examples of Hungerford coats of arms are shown below.
FitzJohn/Hungerford: This coat of arms came to Sir Walter Hungerford (1308-1355) on his marriage to Elizabeth Fitzjohn in c1329-1330, to which she brought the Fitzjohn inheritance of lands from her father Sir Adam Fitzjohn of Cherill, Wiltshire. This shield subsequently appears on all Hungerford coats of arms, usually impaled or quartered with Heytesbury, and various others. The Heraldic Blazon (ie description in heraldic language of a coat of arms) reads: Sable, two bars, argent, in chief three plates argent.
The Hungerford motto is Et Dieu Mon Appuy and translates as God is My Strength.
Hungerford/Heytesbury:2 This coat of arms was used by Sir Thomas Hungerford in 1375 and shows the Fitzjohn coat of arms (Sable, two bars argent, in chief three plates argent) quartered with the Heytesbury coat of arms (Per pale indented gules and vert, a chevron or).
Sir Thomas Hungerford (c1340-1398), who was Speaker of the House of Commons, purchased feudal lands in the Hundred of Heytesbury in 1375. The transaction was completed in 1382. These lands were previously owned by Maude de Heytesbury, his great grandmother. In Kirby, JL, ed, The Hungerford Cartulary; A Calendar of the Earl of Radnor’s Cartulary of the Hungerford Family, Vol 49, Entry 807, Farleigh Montfort, 29 Sep 1382, it quotes:
As Thomas Hungerford, knight … has entered … all the manors, lands and tenements of Heytesbury … and is now in full possession, … they now release to him, his heirs and assigns all rights to them.
The Hungerford family has certainly left its mark clearly in heraldic records. A number of articles about heraldry have been published in various HAFS Journals and a list of these appears below:
- Hungerford Heraldry by Ronald H Prentice – Nov 1994 Vol 2 No 4, p13
- What Does Heraldry Mean? Pt 1 by Ron Mathieson – May 2000 Vol 5 No 3, p2
- What Does Heraldry Mean? Pt 2 by Ron Mathieson – Nov 2000 Vol 5 No 4, p17
- Hungerford Heraldry Pt 1 by Ron Mathieson – May 2001 Vol 6 No 1, p24
- Hungerford Heraldry Pt 2 by Ron Mathieson – Nov 2001 Vol 6 No 2, p16
- Hungerford Heraldry Pt 3 by Ron Mathieson – May 2002 Vol 6 No 3, p24
- Hungerford Heraldry continued by Lesley Jane Abrahams – Nov 2015 Vol 13 No 2 p 34
- Deciphering the Heraldic Achievement of Sir Edward Hungerford (1596-1648) by Stanley Wayne Hungerford – Nov 2016 Vol 13 No 4, p 8.
In addition, the following links also provide a wealth of information about heraldry:
- The College of Arms.
- Pronunciation: “Heightsbury” or “Hetts-b’ry” in 19th century, or “Hatesbury”.