For those unfamiliar, heraldry is the study of family crests and coats of arms, and like anything else deeply studied, it can be a bit complicated. From understanding the rule of tinctures to scrolling through rolls of arms, we at Salisbury House have been doing a deep dive into the crests and coats of arms found throughout the house.
Most are familiar with what a family crest looks like, and Salisbury House’s own Carl Weeks had one.
Family crests are passed down through the patrilineal line, going from father to son (with some elements added to differentiate between father the sons). Crests can be added onto or combined with other pre-existing crests in a process is called “marshaling.” Crest marshaling was done for several reasons, one of which was the celebration of marriage. Carl Weeks did just that for his personal crest, combining the Weeks coat of arms with Chamberlain, Carl’s maternal side.
This style splits the shield in half, showing the paternal family’s crest on the left and maternal family on the right. Another common way to add crests is through “quartering.” Looking at the Chamberlain side of the crest above, we see an example of just that and how it looks when added into other crests.
As time goes on and arms added to the family crests, one creates a “pedigree” of sorts, showcasing the notable families within a person’s genealogy. After hundreds of years, something like this may happen:
The crest depicted can be overwhelming, but there are some things worth noting right off the bat. The first is the shape: this large diamond with the black border marks this as a hatchment. A hatchment is the coat of arms for someone deceased.
The second is the layering, with a larger crest in the back and a smaller over the center. This smaller shield is called an “escutcheon.” This shows the paternal family in the back on the larger shield, and the maternal smaller in front. By adding the maternal crest in front instead of adding more quarters (which was also possible), the lineage of the wife is preserved. The owners of the hatchment would most likely do this if she were a “heraldic heiress.”
This means that the wife in the couple had no living male relatives to carry on the family coat of arms, so it went to her.
To learn who this may belong to, look to the top left corner. When there is quartering in a crest, that quarter is the “original,” if you will, and is the name carried through the family.
With that, we know that the larger crest belonged to the Lempriere family.
And that the smaller crest belonged to the Dumaresq family.
As of right now, we believe that this hatchment is that of Vice-Admiral George Oury Lempriere (m. Frances Dumaresq). However, our research continues as we search through the genealogy of both the Vice-Admiral and the hatchment.
Stay tuned for updates on the hatchment and the other crests at Salisbury House as we discover more.