Heraldry of the West of England

Harris of Hayne – a niggle



The Harrises of Hayne in Lifton, Devon were a cadet branch of the Harrises of Radford.  The coat of arms of the elder branch, as described in the heralds’ visitation of Devon, was “Sable, three crescents argent.”  The younger branch, as described in the same visitation, bore “Sable, three crescents within a bordure argent.”

William Harris (d1590) and his son Arthur (d1628) and daughter-in-law Margaret (d1634)

Buuut – look at the shields on the monument  to three of the Haynes branch, William, his son Arthur and his son’s wife Margaret – the edging round the Harris arms is no wider than the edging round the arms they are impaled with, none of which include a bordure.  In other words, the edging is just edging and the Harris arms are not shown as having a bordure.



The memorial to John Harris, one of Arthur’s sons, is ambiguous.  Is that broken line round the shield meant to show a bordure, or is it just decoration?

Memorial to John Harris, 3rd son of Arthur


The Harris arms on the grave slab of Sir Arthur Harris Bt, died 1685, grandson of Arthur, include the bordure quite distinctly, as a much wider edging than that drawn around the impaled arms of his wife Theophila, daughter of John Turner.

From grave slab of Sir Arthur Harris, grandson of Arthur

Since Sir Arthur was the eldest son of the eldest son of the Arthur in the monument, they should have born the same arms (except for the baronet’s badge added to Sir Arthur’s shield.)

Inscriptions on the monument state that it was repaired and beautified in 1762 and 1795.  By that time the Radford branch seems to have been extinct, so my first thought was that the beautifiers had subtly altered the C17th shields, suppressing the bordure, to make it appear that the Haynes branch was more senior than it was.  On further observation and reflection that view can be seen to be unfair.  There are at least two memorials of daughters of the Haynes branch -Blanche, Arthur’s sister, and Margaret, his daughter.  Both of these memorials, in Kelly church and in Lifton respectively, were untouched by the beautifiers.  Neither shows a bordure.

It looks more likely, then, that the bordure was not adopted until the  time of Sir Arthur Harris.  This would confirm my suspicion that, quite commonly, younger sons did not differentiate their arms from those borne by the head of the elder branch.  Only when they saw themselves as being a separate family, in this case when young Arthur won his hereditary title of baronet, did they see the need to adopt different arms.


Three other observations:

The arms of Blanche Kelly, nee Harris, appear to show a star between the crescents at the top.  I think that is a bit of graffiti, partly because I can’t see any warrant for having it there, and partly because it is wonky.

One shield on the monument does not match the person over whose head it is placed.  The leftmost shield, Harris impaled with Wyndham, shows the arms of John, the son of Arthur and Margaret, who married Florence Wyndham.  Presumably it was John who originally paid for the monument.  The centre shield is for Harris impaled with Davells, the arms of Arthur married to Margaret.  The rightmost shield is for Harris impaled with Greville, the arms of William married to Mary (daughter of Sir Fulke Greville and his wife Elizabeth, Baroness Willoughby de Broke)

Risdon, in his note-book more or less contemporaneous with the monument, gives the arms of Christopher Harris of Radford as “Sable, three crescents within a bordure argent.”  Taken with the arms in the monument, this would appear to reverse the ownerships given in the Visitation.  It would, however, be odd that the cadet branch had more complicated arms than the senior branch, and, if the Radford branch owned the border, Sir Arthur’s arms are even less explicable.