PROOF OF ANCESTRY
IF any heraldic term has been misunderstood in this country, "Seize-Quartiers" is that term. One hears "Seize-Quartiers" claimed right and left, whereas in British armory it is only on the very rarest occasions that proof of it can be made. In England there is not, and never has been, for any purpose a real "test" of blood. By the statutes of various Orders of Knighthood, esquires of knights of those orders are required to show that their grandparents were of gentle birth and entitled to bear arms, and a popular belief exists that Knights of Justice of the Order of the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem in England need to establish some test of birth. The wording of the statute, however, is very loose and vague, and in fact, judging from the names and arms of some of the knights, must be pretty generally ignored. But Peer, K.G., or C.B., alike need pass no test of birth. The present state of affairs in
this country is the natural outcome of the custom of society, which always recognises the wife as of the husband's status, whatever may have been her antecedents, unless the discrepancy is too glaring to be overlooked. In England few indeed care or question whether this person or that person has even a coat of arms; and in the decision of Society upon a given question as to whether this person or the other has "married beneath himself," the judgment results solely from the circle in which the wife and her people move. By many this curious result is claimed as an example of, and as a telling instance to demonstrate, the broad-minded superiority of the English race, as evidenced by the equality which this country concedes between titled and untitled classes, between official and unofficial personages, between the land-owning and the mercantile communities. But such a conclusion is most superficial. We draw no distinction, and rightly so, between titled and untitled amongst the few remaining families who have
held and owned their lands for many generations; but outside this class the confusion is great, and to a close observer it is plainly enough apparent that great distinctions are drawn. But they are often mistaken ones. That the rigid and definite dividing line between patrician and plebeian, which still exists so much more markedly upon the Continent, can only be traced most sketchily in this country is due to two causes--(1) the fact that in early days, when Society was slowly evolving itself, many younger sons of gentle families embarked upon commercial careers, natural family affection, because of such action, preventing a rigid exclusion from the ranks of Society of every one tainted by commerce; (2) the absence in this country of any equivalent of the patent distinguishing marks "de," "van," or "von," which exist among our neighbours in Europe.
The result has been that in England there is no possible way (short of specific genealogical investigation) in which it can be ascertained whether any given person is of gentle birth, and the corollary of this last-mentioned fact is that any real test is ignored. There are few families in this country, outside the Roman Catholic aristocracy (whose marriages are not quite so haphazard as are those of other people), who can show that all their sixteen great-great-grandparents were in their own right entitled to bear arms. That is the true definition of the "Proof of Seize-Quartiers."
In other words, to prove Seize-Quartiers you must show this right to have existed for
Self. Parents. Grand- Gt.-grand- Gt.-gt.-grand-
parents. parents. parents.
1. Your Father's Father's Father's Father.
2. Your Father's Father's Father's Mother.
3. Your Father's Father's Mother's Father.
4. Your Father's Father's Mother's Mother.
5. Your Father's Mother's Father's Father.
6. Your Father's Mother's Father's Mother.
7. Your Father's Mother's Mother's Father.
8. Your Father's Mother's Mother's Mother,
9. Your Mother's Father's Father's Father.
10. Your Mother's Father's Father's Mother.
11. Your Mother's Father's Mother's Father.
12. Your Mother's Father's Mother's Mother.
13. Your Mother's Mother's Father's Father.
14. Your Mother's Mother's Father's Mother.
15. Your Mother's Mother's Mother's Father.
16. Your Mother's Mother's Mother's Mother.
It should be distinctly understood that there is no connection whatever between the list of quarterings which may have been inherited, which it is permissible to display, and "Seize-Quartiers," which should never be marshalled together or displayed as quarterings.
Few people indeed in this country can prove the more coveted distinction of "Trente Deux Quartiers,"the only case that has ever come under my notice being that of the late Alfred Joseph, Baron Mowbray, Segrave, and Stourton, for whom an emblazonment of his thirty-two quarters was prepared under the direction of Stephen Tucker, Esq., Somerset Herald.
After many futile trials (in order to add an existing English example), which have only too surely confirmed my opinion as to the rarity of "Seize-Quartiers" in this country, it has been found possible in the case of the Duke of Leinster, and details of the "proof" follow:--
The following are the heraldic particulars of the shields which would occur were this proof of "Seize-Quartiers" emblazoned in the ordinary form adopted for such a display. The arms are numbered across from left to right in rows of 16, 8, 4, 2, and 1.
1. Duke's Coronet(Ribbon of St. Patrick): Argent, a saltire gules (Fitz Gerald).
2. Lozenge: Argent, a chief azure, over all a lion rampant gules, ducally crowned or (St. George).
3. Earl's Coronet (Ribbon of Hanoverian Guelphic Order): Quarterly ermine and gules, in the centre a crescent on a crescent for cadency (Stanhope).
4. Lozenge: Argent, a chevron gules, a double tressure flory and counterflory of the last (Fleming).
5. Duke's Coronet (Garter): Quarterly, 1 and 4, barry of eight or and gules, over all a cross flory sable; 2 and 3, azure, three laurel leaves or (Leveson-Gower).
6. Lozenge (surmounted by Earl's coronet): Gules, three mullets or, on a bordure of the second a tressure flory counterflory of the first (Sutherland).
7. Earl's Coronet (Garter): Quarterly of six, 1. gules, on a bend between six cross crosslets fitchée argent, an inescutcheon or, charged with a demi-lion rampant, pierced through the mouth with an arrow, within a double tressure flory counterflory of the first; 2. gules, three lions passant guardant in pale or, in chief a label of
three points argent; 3. chequy or and azure; 4. Gules, a lion rampant argent; 5. gules, three escallops argent; 6. barry of six argent and azure, three chaplets gules, in the centre of the quarters a mullet for difference (Howard).
8. Lozenge: Sable, three bucks' heads caboshed argent (Cavendish).
9. Baron's Coronet: Per chevron engrailed gules and argent, three talbots' heads erased counterchanged (Duncombe).
10. Lozenge: Azure, a buck's head caboshed argent (Legge).
11. Earl's Coronet (Ribbon of Thistle): Or, a fess chequy argent and azure, surmounted of a bend engrailed gules, within a tressure flory counterflory of the last(Stewart).
12. Lozenge: Sable, on a cross engrailed between four eagles displayed argent, five lions passant guardant of the field (Paget).
13. Baronet's Badge: Or, on a chief sable, three escallops of the field (Graham).
14. Lozenge: Arms as on No. 11 (Stewart).
15. Shield: Quarterly, 1 and 4, sable, a bend chequy or and gules between six billets of the second; 2. azure, a stag's head caboshed or; 3. gules, three legs armed proper, conjoined in the fess point and flexed in triangle, garnished and spurred or (Callander).
16. Lozenge: Quarterly, 1. or, a lion rampant gules; 2. or, a dexter arm issuant from the sinister fess point out of a cloud proper, the hand holding a cross crosslet fitchée erect azure; 3. argent, a ship with sails furled sable; 4. perfess azure and vert, a dolphin naiant in fess proper (Macdonell).
17. As 1. but no ribbon of K.P.
18. Lozenge: Arms as 3.
19. Duke's Coronet (Garter): Quarterly, 1 and 4, as in 5; 2, as in 5; 3. as in No. 6.
20. Lozenge: As No. 7.
21. Barons Coronet: As No. 9.
22. Lozenge: As No. 14.
23. As No. 13, but with ribbon of a G.C.B.
24. Lozenge: As No. 15.
25. As 17.
26. Lozenge: As No. 19.
27. As 21, but Earl's coronet.
28. Lozenge: As No. 13, but no Baronet's Badge.
29. As 17.
30. Lozenge: As No. 9.
31. Arms: Argent, a saltire gules. Crest: a monkey statant proper, environed about the middle with a plain collar, and chained or. Supporters: two monkeys(as the crest). Mantling gules and argent. Coronet of a duke. Motto: "Crom aboo."
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