Heraldry of the counties of Cornwall, Devon, Somerset and Dorset:
containing descriptions of about 10,000 coats of arms from books ancient and a bit less ancient
and as found around the West Country
The list is ordered by family name, (I believe that makes it technically an “armory,” rather than an “ordinary.”) As a computerised list, however, it is easy enough to search for a coat of arms by description. The authors whose works have been ransacked to make this armory used varied styles and spellings. Within this list, the original descriptions have been transcribed, as far as possible, into a common format.
The common format aids computer searching. It must be noted, however, that the sources may include slightly different information. A “fish palewise blue” from one author and a “fish hauriant azure” from another will both be described as a “fish hauriant Az” in the Armory. A “luce hauriant” would remain as such in the list, even though a luce is a kind of fish. A “fish azure” would be listed separately from a “fish hauriant azure,” even though the sources might have been describing the same coat of arms.
This Western armory is mainly a compilation of the heraldic information from a number of sixteenth, seventeenth and nineteenth century descriptions of Devon and Cornwall, and the heralds’ visitations of Cornwall, Devon, Dorset and Somerset.
The list includes hundreds of pictures of examples currently to be found in churches etc. of the West Country and elsewhere. Where identification of the arms has not been possible from a West Country source, the list has been augmented by information from a standard source such as Burke’s “General Armory” or Papworth’s “Ordinary of British Armorials.”
A list of the sources can be found on The Sources page
Many of the arms are illustrated either in monochrome or in colour.
Many of the monochrome line illustrations are stolen from Coker’s “Survey of Dorset,” Gilbert’s “Historical Survey of Cornwall” or from Prince’s “Worthies of Devon.”
The livelier line illustrations are taken from the Note Book of Tristram Risdon, “Liber Tristram Risdon.” Apart from nine included in the text version produced by J. Dallas and H.G. Porter in the 1890s, Risdon’s illustrations have not, as far as we know, been published previously. Risdon’s original manuscript is kept in the Cathedral Library at Exeter.
Historic tinted or monochrome illustrations have been taken from “A brief collection of armory …” an early seventeenth century manuscript by unknown authors (see here for more information) and from John Hooker’s “Cataloug of Bishops of Devon and Exeter.” Both of these manuscripts are held in the Library of Exeter Cathedral, and their illustrations, as far as this editor is aware, have not previously been published.
Dallas and Porter acknowledged their debt to the Dean & Chapter of Exeter Cathedral and I can echo their thanks, especially in respect to the library staff through whose friendly assistance illustrations from Risdon, Hooker and the “brief collection of armory” are now included.
The modern colour illustrations have been created by the editor, for the most part, using Inkwell Ideas Coat of Arms Design Studio or Drawshield, with a bit of help from Paint or Paint 3D. The latter has been used also to tint monochrome line drawings.
The Armory is a work in progress. The list is expanding so it is better to keep a link to this page, rather than to download the .pdf file.
There is a group of coats of arms labelled as “unnamed.” These were either described in sources or found in churches without having any attribution to a person or family. Any information on these would be welcome.
Many of the quartered coats of arms contain quarters for which the editor has not yet found any justifiable attribution. The editor would welcome any information on these as well.