The Sources

The list of coats of arms of the West Country, (Fox’s Armory of the West Country) found here, was compiled from several published sources and from actual examples found in the counties of Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Somerset and elsewhere.  The published sources are listed below.

Abbreviation – Author – Editor – Title – Publisher – Publication Date
AF – “Fox-Davies, Arthur Charles” – na – Armorial Families – “T.C. & E.C. Jack, Edinburgh” 1895
awc – “Baring-Gould, Sabine” – na – An Armory of the Western Counties – “James G. Commin, Exeter” 1898
bca – ? Pollard, George – na – A brief collection of armory chiefly relating to Devon & Cornwall – unpublished – ms3532 in Library of Exeter Cathedral c1620
Carew – “Carew, George and Holland, Thomas” – na – “Sir George Carew’s scroll of arms 1588, with additions from Joseph Holland’s collection of arms 1579” – Devon Notes & Queries 1901
Ecc Ant – “Oliver, Rev Dr George” – na – Ecclesiastical Antiquities in Devon – “W.C. Featherstone, Exeter” 1840
GA – “Burke, Sir Bernard” – na – A General Armory – “Harrison, London” 1878
Gilb – Gilbert G.S. – na – Historical Survey of the County of Cornwall Vol 2 – “Congdon, Plymouth” 1820
HB – “Vowell alias Hooker, John” – na – A Catalogue of the Bishops of Devon and Exeter – unpublished – ms3548e in Library of Exeter Cathedral “1583, 1659”
HCN – “Jewers, Athur John” – na – Heraldic Church Notes from Cornwall – “Mitchell & Hughes, London”
HoM – “Watson, W. G. Willis” – na – The House of Martin – “William Pollard, Exeter” 1906
IW – “Izacke, Richard” – “Izacke, Samuel” – “An Alphabetical Register of Divers Persons, who by their Last Wills …” – privately printed 1736
MB3 – “Lysons, Daniel & Lysons, Samuel” – na – Magna Britannia Vol 3, Cornwall – “Cadell, London” 1814
MB6 – “Lysons, Daniel & Lysons, Samuel” – na – Magna Britannia Vol 6, Devon – “Cadell & Davies, London” 1822
MonDev – “Oliver, George” – na – Historic collections relating to the Monasteries in Devon – “R. Cullum, Exeter” 1830
NQDC – na – “Amery, Amery & Rowe” – “Devon & Cornwall Notes & Queries
(magazine published from 1900 onward)” “James G. Commin, Exeter” 1900
NQSD na Norris & Mayo “Notes & Queries for Somerset & Dorset
(magazine published from 1890 onwards)” – “J. C. Sawtell, Sherborne” 1890
Ord – “Papworth, John W.” – na – Ordinary of British Armorials – “T. Richards, London” 1874
Pole – “Pole, Sir William (1561_1635)” – Pole – Collections towards a description of the County of Devon – “Nicholls, London” 1791
RNB – “Risdon, Tristram” – “Dallas, J. & Porter, H.G.” – The Note-book of Tristram Risdon 1608-1628 – “Elliot Stock, London” 1897
RNB – “Risdon, Tristram” – na – Images are copied from the unpublished illustrations on which Dallas & Porter based their blazons. unpublished – ms3531 in Library of Exeter Cathedral 1628
RSD – “Risdon, Tristram” – nk – Survey of the County of Devon – Rees & Curtis 1811
SDt – Thomas Gerard – na – Coker’s Survey of Dorsetshire c1625 – “Wilcox, London” 1732
TG1 – na – “Nichols, John Gough” – Topographer and Genealogist Vol 1 – “John Bowyer Nichols & son, London” 1846
Trigg – “Maclean, Sir John” – na – The Deanery of Trigg Minor –  “Nicholls, London; Liddell, Bodmin; ” 1876
VC – na – “Vivian, Col. J. L.” – “The Visitations of Cornwall – 1530, 1573, 1620” – “William Pollard, Exeter” 1887
VC16 – na – “Vivian, Col. J. L.” – The Visitation of Cornwall – 1620 ” – Harleian Society, London” 1874
VDt15 – “Harvey, William” – “Metcalfe, Walter C.” – The Visitation of Dorsetshire 1565 – “William Pollard, Exeter” 1887
VDt16 – St George & Lennard – “Rylands, John Paul” – The Visitation of the County of Dorset – 1623 – “Harleian Society, London” 1885
VDv15 – na – “Colby, Dr F.T.” – The Visitation of the County of Devon – 1564 – “William Pollard, Exeter” 1881
VDv16 – na – “Vivian, Col. J. L.” – “The Visitations of the County of Devon – 1531, 1564, 1620” – “Henry S. Eland, Exeter” 1895
VDv16C – St George & Lennard – “Colby, Dr F.T.” – The Visitation of the County of Devon 1620 – “Harleian Society, London” 1872
VEW1 – na – “Howard, J.J & Crisp, F.A.” – The Visitation of England & Wales vol 1 – privately printed 1893
VEW5 – na – “Howard, J.J & Crisp, F.A.” – The Visitation of England & Wales vol 5 – privately printed 1897
VEW18 – na – “Crisp, F.A.” – The Visitation of England & Wales vol 18 – privately printed 1914
VH16 – “Benolt, Cooke & Phillipott” – “Rylands, W. Harry” – “The Visitations of Hampshire – 1530,1575,1622 & 1634” – “Harleian Society, London” 1913
VG16 – Chitty & Phillipot – “Maclean, J & Heane, W.C.” – The Visitation of the County of Gloucester 1623 etc. – “Harleian Society, London” 1885
VS15 – na – “Weaver, F.W.” – The Visitations of the County of Somerset – 1551 & 1575 – “William Pollard, Exeter” 1885
VS16 – St George & Lennard – “Colby, Dr F.T.” – The Visitation of the County of Somerset – 1623 – “Harleian Society, London” 1876
VW15 – “Harvey, William” – “Metcalfe, Walter C.” – The Visitation of Wiltshire 1565 – “William Pollard, Exeter” 1897
Wor – “Prince, John” – na – Worthies of Devon – “Edward Upham, Exeter” 1810
WP – “Westcote, Thomas” – “Oliver, Rev Dr George & Jones, Pitman”  – A View of Devonshire in MDCXXX with a Pedigree of most of its Gentry – “William Roberts, Exeter” 1845

Martyn imp Sacheverell +

Between them, the sources contain a mixture of arms that people did use, arms they should have used, arms they might have used and, in a few cases, arms that may be purely imaginary.  The editor of the list makes no claims for the accuracy of the sources and little or no judgement as to their reliability.

The “Visitations”

The “visitations” were investigations made by heralds into the usage of coats of arms, county by county in England.  One or more heralds visited a county, and those who claimed the privilege of bearing a coat of arms came to the herald with evidence of their right, which was duly recorded and approved (or not, in some cases.)  The visitations used as sources were made in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.  By this time the use of armorial bearings had been common among the gentry for about four centuries but had largely changed from its practical purpose of identifying a warrior enclosed in armour to a more ceremonial use of declaring a kind of social status.

Maybe, as a matter of definition, coats of arms described in the heralds’ visitations can be described as “correct,” because the heralds decide what is correct.  However, even if that degree of correctness be acknowledged, it is limited to the moment of writing.  The pedigrees shown in the record of a visitation often contain many names and but one coat of arms.  It can be reasonably asserted that the herald acknowledged the right of his informant to bear the given coat of arms, but it cannot be assumed that any other person named in the pedigree used the same coat.

It must be noted that the sources used are the nineteenth century editions of the visitations, not the original manuscripts.  Each editor declares his sources and the way in which he has treated them.  This editor makes no claim to equal them in scholarship, and is merely a collator of information, now easily accessible, provided by those who spent years poring over dusty manuscripts, quill in hand, in dim-lit reading rooms, libraries and rectory drawing-rooms.

Tremaine 9q esc Clotworthy and Hawkins +

The “examples”

Where coats of arms are found on funeral monuments, they can be taken as showing what arms were actually in use, with or without the sanction of the heralds.  Indeed, it can be seen that evidence from such monuments was subsequently accepted by heralds as justification for the use of coats of arms by descendants.

Where coats of arms are included for decoration or otherwise, for example carved in church fittings such as pulpits, bench ends, fonts or roof bosses, their accuracy must be considered far more suspect.  In general, even if they are accurate depictions of a coat of arms, it is not safe to claim their use by any particular person.  More often than not, they are not coloured, and may therefore equally be the coat of arms of several different families.  Even where they are coloured, those tinctures may have changed over time by the natural degradation of paint or by inaccurate restoration.  Also the artists may not be so careful as to produce accurate coats of arms, and even, in some cases they cobble together devices or badges from the coats of arms of different families.

Coat of arms of William Pole in St Andrew's church, Colyton, Devon
Arms of William Pole, the father of the Antiquary

Major sources

The Armory includes (subject to the usual caveats of errors and omissions,) all the coats of arms described in the books listed below.  The Armory is not, of course, limited to those sources.

Heraldry of Cornwall

The coats of arms of Cornwall are mostly taken from:

The 1530, 1573 & 1620 Heralds’ Visitations of Cornwall;
Gilbert’s Historical Survey of the County of Cornwall;
Magna Britannia volume 3 by the brothers Lysons.

Heraldry of  Devon

The main sources for the coats of arms of Devon are:

The  1533, 1564 & 1620 Heralds’ Visitations of Devon;
The Carew Scroll of Arms;
Pole’s Description of the County of Devon;
Isacke’s Register of Wills;
Prince’s Worthies of Devon;
Magna Britannia volume 6 by the brothers Lysons.

Heraldry of Somerset and Heraldry of Dorset

The main sources for the coats of arms of Somerset and Dorset are:

The 1551, 1575 & 1623 Heralds’ Visitations of Somerset;
The 1565 & 1623 Heralds’ Visitations of Dorset;
“Coker’s” Survey of Dorsetshire circa 1625.

West Country heraldry

Sources covering the heraldry of the four western counties are:

Baring-Gould’s Armory of the Western Counties;
A Brief Collection of Armory probably by George Pollard;
Risdon’s Note Book.