.......Classical Heraldry .......

The Shape of the Shield (3)

We noted earlier that the display of quarters pulled the proportions of the heater shape to deepen the shield and thereby to reduce the cramping suffered by the charges in the lower part. The arms of the Earls of Strathearn shown here offer a fine illustration of the elegant way in which the simpler charges, the neatly geometrical ordinaries, complement the heater shape without distortion. (It may be noted that in Scotland and in France these arms are said to bear two chevrons, whereas in England and Ireland a chevron, when there is more than one, is a chevronel.)

Arms of Earls of Strathearn
Arms of Fraser of Lovat
Arms of Johnstone
Where the arms are slightly more complex, as in those of Johnstone shown here on the left, the saltire below the chief is distorted perhaps more than the artist would desire, but it is easy to recognise as a saltire. In the Fraser of Lovat arms on the right, the fraises and antique crowns of the 1st and 2nd quarters are repeated in the 4th and 3rd, reduced slightly in size, but easily recognisable for what they are.
Arms of Leslie of Rothes
Arms of Stewart of Atholl
The Stewart of Atholl arms on the left here show how ordinaries can be fitted into the lower quarters by cutting off the parts that would extend beyond the shield, but the Leslie of Rothes arms on the right show that charges other than ordinaries must be reduced in size and are not clipped. The lion rampant of the third quarter does not quite follow the rule of filling the space available, but it is neat and recognisable.
Or a dragon passant Vert
The dragon here on the left fills most of the space available on the heater shield and is immediately recognisable for what it is, but how will it fare when squeezed into the third or fourth quarter of a heater shield? Not very well!
fictional arms
Here on the right, the starting points of the curves have been dropped from the base of the chief to about the mid-point of the shield's side to produce a little more surface area in the lower quarters.
In the 4th quarter the cross has one limb lengthened and one trimmed, and the result appears to be quite natural. But look at the dragons. The blue dragon in the 2nd quarter fills its space neatly and is easily recognisable, but the green dragon in the 3rd quarter is significantly distorted. It fills the space but, although recognisable as a dragon, it is not immediately so.
Arms of Patrick Pirie-Gordon. 9th Laird of Buthlaw
The shield above was drawn to illustrate a specific aspect of design and does not belong to anyone. The shield to the left bears the arms of Patrick Pirie-Gordon of Buthlaw impaling Michell of Glassel and was probably painted around the beginning of this century. The artist has dropped the beginning of the curve to three-quarters of the way down, and has broadened the shield to accommodate the eight quarters. The additional space allowed to the lower quarters gives the artist greater freedom. As such a large number of quarters would not be easily distinguishable in battle, that the shield is not of a shape suitable to be borne in battle becomes less important to the artist and is accepted as fashionable.
On the dexter side Pirie of Waterton is 1 and 4, and Gordon of Buthlaw is 2 and 3. On the sinister side Michell of Glassel is 1 and 4, 2 has not yet been deduced, and 3 is Collingwood.
Arms of De Trafford impaling Franklin
When portraying as many ancestral families as possible (in defiance of the tradition of keeping shields simple for identification, and in defiance of the law that only heiresses transmit arms from the distaff side), the curve has to drop almost to the base of the shield, as here on the right, lest quarters should disappear wholly. (No matter what their number, 4 or 6 or 100 ~ they are always blazoned "quarters".)
The decision to show the bookplate of Sir Humphrey De Trafford without colour was urged by the need to reduce download times (for this is a big picture), but even without colour, which often is not available, some armorial illustration can be attractive (although we have reservations about the use of this as an example to be followed).
Colours are usually indicated by hatching ~ using horizontal strokes to indicate blue, and vertical strokes for red, etc, with silver left as white and gold indicated with dots. The low resolution of computer screens disguises the stroked hatching here.

The De Trafford arms here impale those of Captain James Franklin, formerly of the 77th Regiment, whose daughter, Violet Alice Maude, Sir Humphrey married in 1886. The ancestry represented on the dexter side is 1 Trafford, 2 Venables, 3 Tritten, 4 Massey, 5 Whitney, 6 Thornton, 7 Kingsley, 8 Hellesby, 9 Hatton, 10 Crispen, 11 Ashton, 12 Legh, 13 De La Mere, 14 Kitchen, 15 Aughton, 16 Mason, 17 Culcheth, 18 Culcheth, 19 Risseley, 20 Hindley. The canton of a red hand in the first quarter signifies the De Trafford baronetcy.

An extraordinary omission are the arms of Talbot, for Sir Humphrey's mother was the sister of the Earl of Shrewsbury.


Arms of Imperial Russia
The Shape of the Shield ~ Part One
The Shape of the Shield ~ Part Two
The July-September Contents page
© 1999 The Baronage Press and Pegasus Associates Ltd
From the St Petersburg Collection