A Complete Guide to Heraldry/Chapter 42
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
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:—
|(1) William Robert (Fitz Gerald), 2nd Duke of Leinster, K.P., born 13th March 1749, married 7th November 1775, died 20th October 1804.||(3) Charles (Stanhope), 3rd Earl of Harrington, G.C.H., born 17th March 1853, married 23rd May 1779, died 5th September 1859.||(5) George Granville (Leveson-Gower), 1st Duke of Sutherland, K.G., born 9th January 1758, married 4th September 1785, died 5th July 1833.||(7) George (Howard), 6th Earl of Carlisle, K.G., born 17th September 1773, married 11th March 1801, died 7th October 1848.||(9) Charles (Duncombe), 1st Baron Feversham, born 5th December 1764, married 24th September 1795, died 16th July 1841.||(11) George (Stewart), 8th Earl of Galloway, K.T., born 24th March 1768, married 18th April 1797, died 27th March 1834.||(13) Sir James Graham, 1st Bart., of Netherby, born April 1761, married 28th September 1782, died 13th April 1824.||(15) Colonel James Callander of Craigforth, born 1774, died ——, married (as his 3rd wife) 1776.|
|(2) Hon. Emilia Olivia St. George, dau. of Usher (St. George), Baron St. George of Hatley St. George.||(4) Jane, dau. and co-heir of Sir John Fleming, Bart., of Brompton Park.||(6) Elizabeth, suo jure Countess of Sutherland, born 24th May 1765, died 29th January 1839.||(8) Lady Georgiana Cavendish, eldest dau. and co-heir of William, 5th Duke of Devonshire, K.G.||(10) Lady Charlotte Legge, only dau. of William, 2nd Earl of Dartmouth, died 5th November 1848.||(12) Lady Jane Paget, dau. of Henry, 1st Earl of Uxbridge, died 30th June 1842.||(14) Lady Catherine Stewart, dau. of John, 7th Earl of Galloway, died 20th September 1836.||(16) Lady Elizabeth MacDonnel, dau. of Alexander, 5th Earl of Antrim, died 1796.|
|Augustus Frederick (Fitz Gerald), 3rd Duke of Leinster, born 21st August 1791, married 16th June 1818, died 10th October 1874=||Lady Charlotte Augusta (Stanhope), born 15th February 1793, died 15th February 1859.||George Granville (Sutherland-Leveson-Gower, formerly Leveson-Gower), 2nd Duke of Sutherland, K.G., born 8th August 1786, married 28th May 1823, died 28th February 1861=||Lady Harriet Elizabeth Georgiana Howard, born 21st May 1806, died 27th October 1868.||William (Duncombe), 2nd Baron Feversham, born 14th January 1798, married 18th December 1823, died 11th February 1867=||Lady Louisa Stewart, died 5th March 1889.||Right Hon. Sir James Robert George Graham, 2nd Bart., P.C., G.C.B., born 1st June 1792, died 25th October 1861=||Fanny Callander, married 8th July 1819, died 25th October 1857.|
|Charles William (Fitz Gerald), 4th Duke of Leinster, born 30th March 1819, married 30th October 1847, died 10th February 1887=||Lady Caroline Sutherland-Leveson-Gower, born 15th April 1827, died 13th May 1887.||William Ernest (Duncombe), 1st Earl of Feversham (created 1868), born 28th January 1829, married 7th August 1851=||Mabel Violet Graham.|
|Gerald (Fitz Gerald), 5th Duke of Leinster, born 16th August 1851, married 17th January 1884, died 1st December 1893.=||Lady Hermione Wilhelmina Duncombe, born 30th March 1864, died 19th March 1895.|
|The Most Noble Maurice (Fitz Gerald), Duke of Leinster, Marquess and Earl of Kildare, co. Kildare, Earl and Baron of Offaly, all in the Peerage of Ireland; Viscount Leinster of Taplow, co. Bucks, in the Peerage of Great Britain; and Baron Kildare of Kildare in the Peerage of the United Kingdom; Premier Duke, Marquess, and Earl of Ireland; born 1st March 1887.|
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. per fess 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. Baron's 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 a boo."