In the church of St John the Baptist, Ashton, Devon, there is a fine monument to Sir George Chudleigh, 1st baronet, died 1657, and his lady Mary Chudleigh, nee Strode, a noted writer of her day.
For the amateur herald and ruin-bibber, the best bit of the monument is the panel showing the arms of women married into the Chudleigh family. The game is to identify all the coats of arms. The lad thought that might amuse me for a day or two, and he was not wrong.
The arms top centre are obviously enough Chudleigh, “ermine 3 lions rampant gules,” impaling Strode, “argent, a chevron between three coneys sable.” Top left, as you look at it, is a red hand on white – the sign that Sir George was a baronet.
For the rest, there are four columns (A, B, C, D, for want of a better name) of six shields, offering various degrees of difficulty.
The first bunch were the easy ones – coats of arms unusual in form and well known.
B1 – Champernon – Gules, a saltire Vair between 12 billets Or
D1 – Paulett – Sable, three swords in pile Argent hilted Or
A4 – Kellaway – Argent, two grosing irons in saltire Sable between four pears Proper
C4 – Stourton – Sable, a bend Or between 6 fountains
D4 – Speke – Argent, 2 bars Azure, a double-headed eagle displayed Gules
D6 – Fortescue – Azure, a bend engrailed Sable cotised Or.
And D5 was obviously Strode again.
The next move was to look at the “Chudleigh of Ashton” page in the Heralds’ Visitation of Devon.
First question, did the arms already identified match Sir George’s ancestors as shown in the pedigree? Some did, but others not quite, or not at all. Stourton and Speke were there OK. Strode was his wife, of course. Fortescue his daughter-in-law; fair enough, presumably his son paid for the monument. Champernon was the second wife of one of Sir George’s ancestors, and Paulett the third wife of another; so not actually ancestors of Sir George. Kellaway was not shown in the pedigree at all, so, was the attribution right?
Another thing I noticed was that the arms did not seem to be in any useful order, so there was to be no help in that way.
Next, using the pedigree, was to find other wives whose arms should be displayed. Direct ancestors were Prowse, Beauchamp, Merton, “Radigund daughter of ?,” Kirkham, Hody, Wadham and Stretchley. And since a couple of the coats already identified were from wives from whom Sir George was not descended, then maybe Beaumont, Pomeroy, Tremayne, and Novant would be there. And maybe Nonant, because another second wife was heiress, not of her father but of her mother, a Nonant.
So, searching my master list for suitable variants to match the names –
Prowse – Sable, three lions rampant Arg – B4
Beauchamp – Vair – B5 (but so dim I would not have guessed if I had not been looking for it)
Merton – Azure, three bends Argent – C1
Kirkham – Argent, three lions rampant Gules, a bordure engrailed Sable – C3
Hody – Argent, a fess per fess indented Vert & Sable, cotised Sa – a bit dubious, but if you can convince yourself that the fess is paticoloured, then C6
Wadham – Gules, a chevron Or between three roses Argent – D2
Stretchley (the weasel!) – Argent, a lion rampant Gules – B6 (not)
Beaumont – Barry of 6 Vair & Gules – C2
Pomeroy – Or, a lion rampant Gules, a bordure engrailed Sa – A3
Tremayne – (this should have been in the instantly recognised list) Gu, three arms conjoined Or – C5
Novant (and Nonant – same family a century or so apart) – same arms as Stretchley – Argent, a lion rampant Gules.
That left A1, A2, A5, A6, B2, B3, D3 still to find, and, if we haven’t forgotten, Kellaway to confirm.
At this point, I made a slight detour to the quartered arms on the top of the monument.
Chudleigh, Merton, Strechley/Nonant and Prowse were there, but who were the other three?
A search in the master list, and a look at the Visitation, confirmed that “Or, on a chevron Azure between three roses Gules three bunches of grapes Or” belonged to Gould (Golde) and was a quarter inherited via Strechley.
The chevron between three birds had many candidates.
“Or, on a chevron Sable three bezants” (also D3 on the board) had none, neither in my master list nor elsewhere in the usual sources, which was surprising for such a simple coat of arms.
So, the tale is now nearing its end, back to the board. I used the master list to find candidates for the so far unidentified arms. Amongst the candidates for A5 was Fitzwalter. The Visitations did not help, but a Google search for “Fitzwalter” and “Chudleigh” led me, by devious routes to Transactions of the Devonshire Association No 31 . This included a description, by one Maxwell Adams, of Ashton church, with a full listing of the coats of arms on the monument.
I now know that the coat I ascribed to Stretchley (and it was indeed used by some of that name) belongs in this context to Nonant. The mysterious chevron sable with three bezants was once “Or, on a chevron Azure three cinqfoils Or” which is a coat used by Strechley.
There are still a few niggles – what is the connection with the Chudleigh family of the arms shown in the panel but not in the pedigree? What was Radigund’s maiden name?
There will be a postscript to this, but for now I leave you with the panel, named according to Maxwell Adams’ list.