Framptons of Dorset

It’s a bit of a cheek to blog this puzzle, as there are still Framptons at Moreton who could probably resolve it in a few moments, but it has kept me amused for a day or two, and I’m not there yet.

I’m currently working my way through quartered coats of arms in the list to get each quarter shown in its own right and cross-referenced and stuff and I noticed an oddity.

In the 1565 Visitation of Dorset, the arms given for Frampton are “Sable, three bars argent; in chief three crescents or.”



In 1623, the arms for Frampton were described in the Visitation as, “Argent, a bend gules cotised sable.”

frampton-moretonNow, I know that this coat must be right, ‘cos I’ve seen it on the sign of the Frampton Arms pub in Moreton, but I thought I’d check in Burke’s “General Armory.”  Aha! The three bars are for Frampton of Upwey, I saw, and the bend is for Frampton of Moreton.  Simple.

Except – in the 1565 pedigree, the Framptons are of Moreton, and have not obtained Upwey.

The 1623 pedigree shows, or appears to show, a cadet branch at Upwey,  Note also, that the other branch shown in the pedigree is the even more junior branch living at Buckland Ripers.  The Moreton lot are only shown by an inference that will be seen to be false.  The coat given, however, is that which Burke says is for the family at Moreton.


Can Burke and the pub both be wrong?

I tried to match up the pedigrees from the two visitations, but that did not reveal much.  However, when I read the Frampton pedigree described in Burke’s “Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Commoners of Great Britain” there seemed to be a glimmer of an explanation.

I drew out the pedigree, to try and make some sense of it.

Frampton of Moreton pedigree

This extended pedigree shows that the ownership of Moreton jumped a number of times to junior branches.  In particular, it jumped in or about 1600.


The two sons of Robert of Moreton (extreme left) died before he did.  His younger brother John and nephew George obviously had enough to do on his newly acquired manor of Upwey.  Francis was in holy orders and childless.  By a family arrangement, Moreton passed to the next brother William.  At the time of the 1623 Visitation, Moreton had passed down to William’s son, also William, who does not show in the Visitation pedigree at all.

So, whose arms are described in 1623?

frampton-of-moreton-pedigree-bApart from the family at Upwey, the 1623 pedigree shows the family of the fifth brother, James Frampton of Buckland.  James or his son James was one of the two signatories on the pedigree, the other being George of the Upwey branch.

Following from the 1565 Visitation, the arms “Sa. 3 bars etc.” should now belong to the Upwey branch of the family, as stated later by Burke.  It looks as if James, the fifth brother, has chosen a completely new coat of arms, striking out as it were as head of his own family rather than staying as the baby branch in a family with more big brothers than anyone could possibly want.  Surprise! Surprise, then, that within two or three generations, the senior branches are all extinct or otherwise engaged, and James’ descendants become the lords of Moreton, with their own coat of arms.

Except that is rubbish.  The genealogy is right, but look closely at the quartered arms as described in the 1623 Visitation. The last line reads “Over all four a martlet for difference.”

You don’t put a difference mark on a new coat of arms.  The martlet, by the convention that prevails sometimes, might indicate the fourth son, or fourth surviving son, which would be James.  It would also mean that James’ coat of arms was carried without the difference mark by James’ father John 6 – John Frampton of Moreton, who died in 1557.  He, John 6, and presumably all his sons, must therefore have used “Arg, a bend gu. cotised sa.” before 1565.

Edit:  “Must have used”  is a rash statement.  The notes on the coats-of-arms of the wives of the Framptons suggest that the arms borne by the Framptons of Upwey were inherited from Joan Marshall, the wife of John 5 in the cadet branch of the Framptons.  John 5 and his son and elder grandson had a lesser part of the inheritance of the senior branch, and none of that part inherited from Alianor Browning.  Following a common custom, that cadet branch may well have adopted the shield of the Marshalls.  This coat of arms could then have been used by John’s great-grandson, John 6 d.1557, and any of his sons born before the death of Uncle Roger through whom the inheritance of the elder branch came to the younger.  Following the death of Uncle Roger, his nephew would have become entitled to the arms of the senior branch, but under no obligation to change from using the arms he was born to.  The same applies to any of John’s children born in the life-time of their great-uncle Roger.  Younger children would have been entitled to the arms of the elder branch or the younger branch from birth.  James, having inherited the elder branch’s estates, would naturally have adopted their arms, applying the difference to the arms his father was entitled to use, whether or not he ever did use them in practice.

Over to you, faithful reader – and while you are working that out, perhaps you could find out which Frampton married an heiress of Ledred, as none such are mentioned in the pedigrees.

15 thoughts on “Framptons of Dorset

  1. Any clue when Sir Lord Mayor William Frampton who married Katherine Tregonwell was born and where? When they married?
    Their daughter Elizabeth Frampton born 1635 married in 1653 Dr. Daniel Wills of Northampton who was born in 1633 son of Nicholas Wills and Annyes Brown.


    1. Three Williams Frampton in a row owned Moreton. The entry in Burke’s “Landed Gentry” states that the William (2) Frampton who married Katherine Tregonwell was born on 7th April 1607 and died 16th August 1643. His eldest son & heir, William (3) was born in November 1629, which limits the marriage date to a fairly small timeframe. All three Williams, presumably, were born in Moreton, Dorset.
      None of these Williams seems to have been knighted, so they would all have been “William Frampton esquire,” rather than “Sir William Frampton.” I don’t think that any of them was a Mayor, and certainly not “Lord Mayor.” (In the 17th century, I think, only London and York had a “Lord Mayor,” and neither of them had a Lord Mayor called William Frampton.)


      1. Thank you so much! You are truly on top of things 🙂 Do you have any record of Elizabeth Frampton in 1653 to William Olive?


  2. I have seen an Elizabeth Frampton daughter of William and Katherine (Tregonwell) but I did not see a marriage to a William Olive.


    1. Genealogy sites seem to give alternative birth places (Northampton and Doncaster and Dorset) for Elizabeth Wills (Frampton)(Olive). I strongly suspect that there were two people, “Elizabeth Frampton” and “Elizabeth Olive Frampton.” The first was the daughter of the Framptons of Moreton, Dorset. The second, from unknown parents in Northampton or Doncaster, who married Dr Daniel Wills.

      Example genealogy site entry –

      A page which gives sources for Elizabeth Frampton married to William Olive –
      It’s an easy step from there to her marriage to Daniel Wills.


      1. I have the marriage dates for Elizabeth to Dr. Daniel Wills. She died while he was imprisoned in Warwick Castle dungeon for 6 months for not placing his hand on the bible and swearing to the church of England. He being a Quaker, would not do so. *He was imprisoned several times before he was exiled to the “American Penal Colony” on the ship “Kent”. While he was in the dungeon, Elizabeth died, leaving several little ones alone (I am sure friends took them in). I am trying to sort out what was her actual maiden name. Frampton or Olive. I have found both,
        So from what you have noted that it appears her maiden name was indeed Frampton, but not connected to the Framptons of Dorset. Thus William Frampton of Dorset is not her father. Hum this can truly be confusing. Thank you.


  3. You’re welcome. Of course, my “strong suspicion” is not evidence of anything, and is certainly not proof. If you follow up the source of Elizabeth’s marriage to William Olive it may confirm whether her father was “of Morton” or elsewhere. As you say, though, we can be fairly sure that she was born a Frampton.


  4. Excellent article(s). I recently found a connection to the Frampton family and have been slowly going through source material. Are you familiar with “The History and Antiquities of the County of Dorset” by John Hutchins (1774)? Volume 1 pp. 144 – 149 discusses Moreton and the Framptons in detail – some of it not quite right – but there is a detailed description of the arms that decorated the manor house. I’m not familiar with some of the abbreviations he uses, such as “E. of Derby” – I assume it’s a reference to someone’s arms. I am also wondering what the 4 arms are that are on the side of the tomb of Walter Frampton (d1388) in St. John’s on the Wall church in Bristol? They do not seem to match up with any other Frampton arms I have found. Last Q: are you familiar with a Frampton arms containing “a griffin with a mullet”? My ancestor apparently used this on a seal in Philadelphia (where else if a mullet’s involved) and I found only one such reference in Fairburn’s Family Crests.


    1. Thanks.
      “E of …” in Hutchins’ descriptions means “Earl of …” “E. of Derby” is “Earl of Derby,” who would have been a member of the Stanley family. “D. of …” is “Duke of …,” so “D. of Norfolk” is “Duke of Norfolk,” a member of the Howard family. Coats of arms associated with most if not all of the names Hutchins mentions can be found in the main list on this site. Where there are more than one coat of arms associated with the name, it would be a matter of educated guesswork to know which one was actually present in the house.

      I believe that the Framptons of Dorset are a completely separate family from the Framptons of Bristol. I would guess that the latter took their name from Frampton-on-Severn, a village up-river from Bristol and close to Gloucester. On the tomb you mention, the Frampton arms are “Argent, a chevron between 3 lions’ gambs (feet) sable, all within a bordure engrailed gules.” As for the other arms on the tomb, they are for other families possibly related by marriage to the Bristol Framptons. The red shield with the chevron and crosses is well known as the device of the Berkeley family. My guess at the others would be FitzJames (the gold dolphin on blue,) Draycott, one of whose heiresses married a FitzJames, (the black cross engrailed,) and Freeman (the gold lozenges on blue.) There are other options.

      Fairbairn does not mention which family or branch of Frampton used the griffin crest. The Dorset Framptons’ crest is a greyhound, and has been such for centuries. The crest, displayed on a helmet, need not match with anything shown on the shield, but griffins have lions’ legs so there is a tenuous connection between a shield showing lions’ gambs and a griffin crest. The William Frampton associated with Penn in Philadelphia was a Bristol merchant, but I have no idea whether or not he was lineally connected with the Framptons (also described as merchants) who founded St John’s on the Wall three hundred years earlier.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks for the rapid response. William Frampton (Philadelphia) parents were Thomas Frampton and Elizabeth Jay (according to some; I haven’t verified their work yet). They descend from Walter Frampton, a younger son of John Frampton and Elizabeth Willoughby.

        So the Walter Frampton who died in 1388 and is buried in Bristol is not the Walter Frampton, the father of John Frampton who married Elizabeth Stawell? I was beginning to have my doubts since there was no cross-over of the shields. More than one source seemed to say the mayor of Bristol Walter was the progenitor of the Frampton of Buckland Ripers & of Moreton lines.

        William Frampton of Philadelphia had a seal, not a Coat-of-Arms, that some say it was a griffin. There is/was a seal attached to Bond taken out by his widow – the seal belonged to one of the witnesses; maybe someone got mixed up because it’s a bond for Elizabeth to be the administratrix of William’s estate and they saw the attached seal and attributed it to William (Who, of course, had been dead for a month before the bond was posted).

        Your articles are great; so much information and documentation. Thanks for the work. I have yet to go through all the arms described in Hutchins; maybe the “Argent, a bend gules, cotised sable” will show up.


  5. Forgot to mention the Hutchins book has a pretty detailed account of what James Frampton (d.1523/4) did when he made Moreton manor over for religious purposes. He set up a 15-yr trust and the profits were used to hire 2 priests and a clerk; mass was to be said every day in the isle (aisle?) of the Holy Trinity – a chantry added onto St. Nick’s. James illegitimate son James could inherit if he lived to 30 yo, had a lawful heir, …it goes on with what masses are to be said on what day, etc. The trust could’ve been extended another 15 years so John Frampton got it between 1638 and 1653. Hutchins seems to say that he set up several trusts in Dorset and Wilts – I assume they all would have had similar terms. Wish he had named the trustee(s) – have a feeling it was someone in John’s line.

    BTW: did you ‘get’ the north wall painting of a cask and a raspberry plant – very clever.


  6. I do not think that the Walter of Bristol (died 1388) is the same man as Walter of Moreton (died 1389.) None of the given pedigrees can be treated as Gospel, but …
    The pedigree of the Moreton (Dorset) Framptons given in Burke’s “Landed Gentry” makes Walter of Moreton the son of John who was MP for Dorchester in Dorset. Walter was MP for Melcombe Regis in Dorset and his land holdings were also in that county. His son John was MP for Dorset and so down the line.
    James Dallaway, in “Antiquities of Bristow in the Middle Centuries,” gives a brief pedigree of the C14th Bristol (Gloucestershire) Framptons. It reads Walter d1357 -> Walter d1388 ->Walter d1394 ->Walter d1423 -> John, with just a couple of brothers and a nephew. Dallaway also shows the arms as displayed on the tomb in St John’s, and quotes a Latin text describing the first Walter as a worthy merchant of Bristol.
    The pedigrees and biographies of the Moreton and Bristol Framptons do not appear to match at any point, except that they both had a Walter living at the same time.

    Neither the heralds’ visitations nor the pedigree given by Hutchins nor that in “Landed Gentry” mention any Walter as a son of John & Elizabeth Frampton. Neither do those sources mention any descendant Thomas married to Elizabeth Jay. I repeat that the pedigrees are all suspect to some extent, but there does not appear to be any connection, early or late, between the Dorset Framptons and those of Bristol.

    People often get confused between “crest” and “coat of arms.” Strictly speaking, the crest is only a decoration on the top of a helmet, while the coat of arms is the design painted on a shield (or worn on a surcoat.) Both may be hereditary, and used on a seal. As you pointed out, Fairbairn confirmed that the seal contained the crest used by some person or family of the name of Frampton. If the seal was William’s, it could (very tenuously) suggest that he was cousin or descendant of the man whose tomb is in St John’s on the Wall.

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    1. My Southworth ancestors had different crests while their Arms remained the same. Blazons make sense if you know how heraldry works. Unfortunately many don’t. You’re so right about the Visitations being wrong – the 1565 Dorset one is wrong about Moreton. Completely misses James, the illegitimate son of James, and his wife Avice. But, knowing how they were written tells me that whoever was trying to claim the arms, said what was needed to get them. Anyone disputing their claim had to, first, find out that it was made and second, challenge it. It still goes on with the Southworth arms being awarded in the 1950s based on a bogus pedigree – and one that the Herald’s Office could easily disprove but chose not to.

      I had concluded that William Frampton was from Bristol because of his connection to Charles Jones and to William Penn, both Bristol men. I have yet to try to uncover the source of the information about his parents.

      Regarding the premise of this article: Hutchins states that these arms (according to the Heralds Office as corrected in 1753 by James Laney, herald) were first noted in 1385 as belonging to John Frampton who also held Moreton. He thought there was a connection between Moreton and the arms – being a reward for some unidentified service to the King. It would have been nice if he referenced his source(s) for this claim.

      Supposedly, again Hutchins, states that Walter Frampton who died in 1389, held the manor of Upwey when he died. I assume this came from an Inquisition post-mortem but he does not say that, nor does he state whether he held some, half, or all of the manor. As I understand it, Upwey consisted of two parcels – one north of Dorchester called Little Piddle and one near Upwey which was sometimes called Waybaiouse (but this name was irregularly used and applied). Little Piddle went to the Rabayne, then Deverels, before returning to the Framptons. The other moiety went to Edward I and then disappears – I wonder if it was this moiety that Walter held in 1389?


      1. In defence of the heralds’ visitation pedigrees, your comment “whoever was trying to claim the arms said what was needed to get them” is true enough, but not in the cynical sense that they told lies. They only “needed” to show a single line of descent from an armigerous ancestor. Collateral branches did not need to be shown, especially where those lines had died out. This does not make the visitation pedigrees bogus, merely limited to what was directly relevant, and sometimes frustrating and confusing to us.

        Illegitimate children, of course, needed never be shown in a pedigree validating the use of arms, because such children had no right to inherit or transmit their paternal arms. This does not indicate any prejudice against the child. The inheritance of arms was based on the courteous supposition that women were faithful to their promises. If a woman was not married to the father of the child, she was not bound by any promise to him and so there could be no assumption made concerning the fathering of her child. (What the rules are today may, of course, be quite different.)

        My reading of Hutchins (page 146) is that Walter d1389 (Hutchins’ [B]) did not hold Upway. His grandson, Robert [D], had a life interest in some land in Upwey, in right of his first wife, Alice Deverel. Little-Piddle was also part of her holding, though not otherwise associated with Upwey. Those lands returned to Deverel heirs on Robert’s death. James [E], Robert’s son by his second wife, added, presumably by purchase, the moiety of the manor of Upwey to the Frampton family holdings.


  7. I based the comment on the accuracy on a research paper that checked the accuracy of the published pedigrees against the correct pedigrees and found between a 60 and 70% accuracy, depending on the year and the location. About half of the incorrect ones were minor – such as James, son of James being missed – as the mistake did not affect the current holder’s status. The remaining 15 – 20% were significant insomuch as the person claiming the arms were not entitled to do so. This last figure were those that were improperly claimed and recorded whether or not a challenge had been filed. The number of successful challenges was extremely low – 2% I believe. The authors continued with stating that though the problem was initially singular, e.g. Dorset 1623, it was magnified over the years as the incorrect Visitation was later used to bolster subsequent claims in which the claimant relied on the incorrect information in the Visitation. It’s interesting reading; I believe I have the reference for it somewhere, but I can’t put my finger on it at the moment. Describes the mechanics of a Visitation and how the claims were made public and what one had to do to find out there even was a claim made on ‘your’ arms and then how a challenge was mounted and what followed.


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