The Boynton family and the family seat of Burton Agnes/The Arms of the Family

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The Coat-of-Arms of this family is Gold, a fess between three crescents gules. The earliest example of this coat is to be found on the seal of Ingeram de Bouintune, attached to a deed at Durham, where the shield is differenced by a label of three points.[1] The deed is undated, but as it concerns a gift of Ingeram and Joan his wife, it may be referred to about the middle of the 13th century. This coat (without the label) is to be found in the Roll of Arms of the time of Richard II,[2] where it is assigned to Thomas de Boynton. It is impossible to say what the origin of this bearing is, but I am inclined to think that the crescents were derived from the badge of the Percy family.[3] The coat occurs on a small round seal at Burton Agnes attached to a deed of William Boynton, Esq., by which he grants to Henry Percy, Earl of Northumberland and others, his manors in the County of York, 6 Henry VI (1427). The seal of Thomas de Boynton (about 1400), attached to a Durham deed displays the three crescents placed back to back, each enclosing the letter B.[4] The same Thomas de Boynton also seals with a trefoil, which was a device used by his son Henry.

There is another shield of arms borne by this family, namely. Gold on a cross sable, five bulls' heads caboshed silver. This device was the subject of a dispute between Sir Robert de Boynton and Sir William de Aton in 1375. Both claimed the right to this bearing, and Lord Percy was called in to decide which knight had the right to the coat. An account of this dispute so far as the particulars are known, is printed in the 12th volume (pp. 263-266) of the Journal of the Yorkshire Archœological Society. Lord Percy gave judgment in favour of de Aton, and he on the 5th April, 1375, granted the bearing in dispute to de Boynton and his heirs for ever, in the following terms:—

Soit cogn. a tous par ceste escript endente fait a Semer le cinq jour D'aprill L'an de Grace 1375. Que come Monsr. Willm̃ de Aton le pere en presence du Sire de Percy chalengea Monsr. Robert de Bointon des Armes q'il portoit cestaseauoir d'or ou une crois de sable et cinque testes de boef (sic) d'argent en la crois. Les quelles auantditz Monsr. William et Monsr. Robert apres lougs controuerses es ses mis'reut en le iudgment du Sire de Percy susdit. Le devantdit Sire de Percy par bone deliberation agarde les armes avanditz a Monsr. William de Aton susdit come chief des armes entiers et droit heriter dicelles. Et lau'ndit Monsr. Willm̃ de Atton a graunte par cestes endentures enseales de son seal au susdit Monsr. Robert de Boynton et a ses heires ᷉q desore en avant ils aient les armes d'or, ou une crois de sable et cinqz testes de beof (sic) sans empechement de luy on de ses heires par tous iours. En tesmoigne de quelle chose a la partie de ceste endenture vers l'auandit Monsr. Robert de Boynton Monsr. Will'm de Aton susdit a mys son seale, et a la partie demourant deuers Monsr. Willia' susdit le deuant nomē Monsr. Robet (sic) de Boynton a mys son seale les jour lieu et lan susditz.

Sigillū Willm̃ de Aton
Vetustate adeo complanatum
erat hoc sigillū quod præter
crucem nihil descerni poterat.[5]

A representation of the only known seal of Sir William de Aton is given in the XIIth Volume of the Yorks. Archœo. Journal, p. 264, but no bulls' heads appear on the cross. There is no known reason why Boynton should have borne this coat; de Aton may have derived the plain black cross on the gold ground from the Vescis. In 1316 Sir Gilbert de Aton, father of Sir William, probably took the cross of the de Vescis, as sole heir to that family. Previously he had been the heir and representative of Warin de Vesci, of Knapton, a younger son of that house, and it has been suggested that Warin added the five bulls' heads as a difference.[6] The Sir Robert de Boynton who contended for this coat, was of Hunmanby[7] and it would appear that this particular bearing should belong to that branch of the family. This coat is also given by Glover[8] for Boynton. In a 16th century North Country Book of Arms,[9] this coat is given for Boynton quartering Gules a leaping goat silver with horns gold.[10] What the origin of this device is, has not been discovered, nor why it occurs on the Boynton shield. On the slab of Henry de Boynton and his wife Isabella (Lumley) at Gilling (near Richmond), Henry's feet rest on a goat. There is at Durham a small seal of Christopher Boynton (1437) bearing a goat's head erased. The Boynton's have for a very considerable period used a black goat guttée d'éau, bearded, armed and hoofed gold, as a crest.

The Boyntons of Sedbury bore Gold, on a fess between three crescents gules, a lion passant of the first. This coat Papworth gives for Sir Thomas Boynton, of Acklam in Cleveland, Co. York, for Sir Thomas Boynton, of Sedbury, on the authority of Glover's Ordinary and also for Boynton of Barmston (Baronetcy, 1618).[11] Harl. MS. 521 gives this coat without the lion passant for "Christopher Boynton" who so far as I find was of the Sedbury line. Tonge's Visitation[12] gives for Boynton, of Sedbury, Or between three crescents, a fess gules, charged with a lion passant (guardant?) sable (or?).

Over the south door of the chancel of South Cowton Church occur two shields of arms, above each are the words "+ pofer Boynton." One shield bears on a fess between three crescents, a lion passant, impaling a bend between two saltires engrailed, the second bears. On a fess between three crescents, a lion passant, impaling two lions passant, for Strangeways.

On the slab of Sir Henry Boynton (died 1531) and Isabella his wife, the arms of Boynton are displayed thus—On a fess between three crescents, a lion passant.

Other devices on seals used by the Boyntons are as follows:—

An oval pointed seal of William de Boynton at Burton Agnes bears a dog, like a setter, collared, and the legend S. WILLI DE BOVINTUNE. This seal is attached to a deed of c 1270.

At Durham is a seal of William of Boynton[13] of an oval shape 1¼in. by ⅞in., bearing a bare headed man with robe to his knees, rope round his waist and the fringed ends of a stole (?) coming over his shoulder. He holds a chalice in his hands.


Also at Durham[14] is another seal used by William de Boynton (1331-33)—possibly the same man as the last William—oval in shape ⅞in. by ¾in. and bearing a king seated holding a sword in his right hand and a sceptre in his left. On the sinister side a figure kneels and prays to him.

S' SHO . . . . . . . . . . IM.

For a considerable period the Boyntons have used for a motto the words Il tempo passa, but what the origin of this is, is not known.

  1. From information supplied by C. H. Blair, Esq. Misc. Chart. 2056.
  2. Edited by Willement in 1834.
  3. It is suggested that the crescents of the Ogle family are so derived. That family bears Silver, a fess between three crescents gules. Arch. Aeliana II, 3rd Ser. 246.
  4. Misc. Charts. 4425.
  5. Yorks. Archœo. Journal, Vol. XII. p. 264. Ancestor IX, 216.
  6. Y. A. S. Jour. XII, p. 265.
  7. See page 49.
  8. Glover's Ordinary quoted by Papworth.
  9. Arch. Æliana III (3rd Ser.), p. 257.
  10. The Bucktons of Buckton bore a goat leaping. Members of this family aften occur in the MSS. at Burton Agnes. Can the goat be derived from them?
  11. Papworth' s British Armorials, p. 814.
  12. Sur. Soc. XLI. p. 42.
  13. Misc. Charts., 2061, 2062.
  14. Misc. Charts., 4381, 6051, 5006.