Buddy Jackson wrote in with the following request for help.
Would appreciate some interpretation of the following.
From page 292– NOTES AND QUERIES– By William White
Edmundson gives for “Jackson of Yorkshire,” “Argent, on a chevron sa., between three eagles’ heads erased azure, as many cinquefoils of the field, on a chief or two anchors in cross of the third between as many trefoils slipped of the last, each charged with twelve bezants.” I have sometimes thought these might be their arms. The anchors point to a seafaring folk, as these were.——W.F.Marsh Jackson
Thanks for any comments. My “seafaring” Jacksons came from Yorkshire. Traced back to around 1600, with no known connection to the many Yorkshire Arms.
First off, that is an amazingly busy coat of arms and violates several of the inviolable rules of heraldry before the blazon is half-way through — but as we are talking about heraldry, I’ve learned that inviolable rules get eaten for breakfast. So before I dismiss the legitimacy of the arms based of such ancient strictures, I’ll do a bit of research.
The book mentioned in the text you provided is no doubt A Complete Body of Heraldry by Joseph Edmondson, Esquire. F.S.A. (1786) which is a very impressive book in two volumes which tried valiantly to put all heraldic knowledge of Great Brittan into one bound set — including some 50,000 coats armor. Luckily for us all, this fantastic book was digitized by Google from an original held by the University of Michigan, so you can find it online through Hathi Trust (hathitrust.org). I also found the first volume on books.google.com, but not the second.
About page 210 of volume II of A Complete Body of Heraldry I found the following entry:
An important rule about heraldry in most European traditions is that if arms have been used long enough or were recorded in a suitably ancient work, then despite any other problems with their composition or provenance, they become proper arms.
It is also worth noting that Edmondson lists several other Jackson from Yorkshire as well, some of them have arms which are variants of this one, implying they are related to the first. If you are trying to identify which Jackson you are descended from there will be a good deal of tough genealogical work required to get your answer.
Parsing the blazon relies upon some straightforward rules of heraldic grammar, but even those straightforward rules can get confusing when a coat of arms is this full of “stuff”. You can read more about blazon here. But I will walk you through each of the parts here to help answer your included questions.
Argent, on a Chevron Sable, between three Eagles’ Heads erased Azure, as many Cinquefoils of the field, on a Chief or two Anchors in cross of the third between as many Trefoils slipped of the last, each charged with twelve Bezants.
One thing to always be careful of in Blason is the word Or which in British heraldry will mean the heraldic metal gold, not the conjunction denoting an alternative.
The first, second, third language used refers to the colors mentioned in the blazon:
First — Argent (Silver)
Second — Sable (Black)
Third — Azure (Blue)
Forth — Or (Gold)
Of the Field — the same color as the field or background of the arms.
Armorists used these terms to avoid saying the same word repeatedly in their blazons; however, it often adds a level of unneeded confusion in more complicated blason. Likewise “as many” just means the same as the number of the previous charge. Replacing that ordinal language with the actual tinctures we have:
Argent (silver), on a Chevron Sable (black), between three Eagles’ Heads erased Azure (blue), three Cinquefoils Argent (silver), on a Chief Or (gold) two Anchors in cross Azure (blue) between two Trefoils slipped Azure (blue), each charged with twelve Bezants.
Slipped refers to the leaves and stem of the charge, either telling us they are present or alerting us of they are colored differently than the rest of the charge.
A Bezant is the name for a Roundel which is Or (gold) so no additional tincture information is required.
The two Anchors are in cross meaning they cross each other, making an X or cross shape.
Once we have all those bits straightened out we can start to build our emblazon.
As you can see, the tiny Bezants on the Trefoils (clovers) have little to offer to the overall look of the arms, but may have been added at some point to add a difference to some older coat of arms.
Despite W.F. Marsh Jackson’s assertion that the anchors point to a seafaring folk, the way symbols in heraldry work that is not necessarily the case. Most often the symbols or charges used in heraldry are chosen because they sound like some word that has relevance to the bearer of the arms, a name, nickname, deed or battle, a place they lived, or traveled to; this kind of use of charges is called punning or canting arms. Then there are occupational considerations, like assumed by the writer — it is worth noting however, bearing a coat of arms was an expensive honor which was (and still is) out of the reach of common workers, this rather diminishes the number of times that kind of literal (or in this case littoral, if you excuse the pun — but as I’ve mentioned armorists have a weak spot for them) meaning of symbols such as anchors might have. Lastly there are larger symbolic meanings of each charge, traditionally the anchor could represent one who gives respite in the midst of extreme adversity, and it also serves as an old Christian symbol for Hope.
I hope this answered your questions and good luck on your search through family history.
Do you have a heraldry question you need answered? Ask Herald!
Originally posted 2014-07-01 19:11:16.