Heraldry of the West of England




The snippet of a pedigree of the Brune family, shown above, mentions three coats of arms.  The arms described are (presumably*) those preferred in 1623, Brune [azure, a cross moline or] quartering Rockley [lozengy ermine & gules] as shown below.

The “drawing of arms in the margin Plate II fig. 5” is reproduced as shown next.

This shield carries the impaled arms of Brune and Rockley, and is associated, in the pedigree, with Maurice Brune who married an heiress of Rockley.  No surprises there.

The “drawing of arms in the margin Plate II fig. 6” is reproduced next shown.  It is stated as having been taken from a seal of Maurice Brune, son of Maurice Brune, and is dated 1342.

This is interesting enough.  The question is, “why did young Maurice not simply use the quartered arms of his parents, as his descendants did subsequently?”  The inclusion of a coat of arms of one family in a single quarter or canton on another coat of arms is not unique, but it is not the common way of showing inherited arms.  If there is a general rule covering such cases, I’d be happy for someone to tell me what it is.

In this case, however, there is another anomaly, which may allow an explanation.

There is, in the same 1623 Visitation, another pedigree of Brune.

This second pedigree shows only one Maurice Brune.  If it is correct, then the impaled coat and the coat from the seal belong to the same person.

If that were the case, then possibly, the impaled arms were used at a time when the Rockley lady was not actually the heiress, having one or more brothers.

Just as possibly, the arms on the seal were used after male heirs of Rockley had died.  The usual way, since heraldry settled into its current conventions, for a man to show that his wife is a heraldic heiress is to display her family arms on an escutcheon in the centre of his shield.  This escutcheon of pretence shows, more or less, that the husband has taken on his wife’s family obligations of offence and defence.

It is not unreasonable to suppose that the inclusion of the Rockley arms in a single quarter on Maurice Brune’s paternal arms had the same meaning as was later given to the escutcheon of pretence.


* I say that Brune quartered with Rockley was “presumably” their favoured version.  The Brunes had acquired other quarterings by 1623, Sturmy and Martin at least.  They may have used them when or where they wished.  The Visitation however suggests that they were only in the habit of using the two quarterings.  Also a monument in Puddletown erected for John Brune, the youngest person shown in the 1623 pedigree, shows just the Brune/Rockley quarters impaled with the arms of his wife.