The Abuse of Heraldry ~ 1

A correspondent has forwarded to us a picture which is allegedly a "coat of arms" granted by "Burke's Peerage" ("the age-old authority on such matters") to President Clinton. We were asked to comment.


"Clinton coat of arms" from "Burke
An explanation was provided ~

The cross crosslet fitchée sable in dexter base and the mullet gules pierced of the field in sinister base were claimed to represent the Clinton families of England and Ireland.

The red lion (!) on the cartouche is said to honour Hillary Clinton (a lion being the emblem of St Hilary in France). The gold anchor, a trademark found on Chelsea china, is said to honour the President's daughter.

The broken fetters held by the bare-breasted sinister supporter symbolise freedom from slavery and male domination (presumably a cause near to the President's heart!).


The torch clasped by the beak of what we suspect is meant to be a gryphon's head represents education and progress. The pipe of peace held by the dexter supporter pays tribute to "the attempt of the President to bring tranquillity to the world". The white rabbits lurking on the compartment, wrapped by the empty scroll, refer to "national growth" (not fecundity then).
The comments ~

1. Burke's Peerage was once an accepted authority on heraldry, but that Burke's Peerage went into liquidation many years ago. The Receiver sold the rights to use the name and the logo of the company (the logo was the coat of arms of the son of its founder) to a partnership that now licenses the name and logo to other companies. Among these has been the fraudulent Halberts of Bath, Ohio, which sold lists of telephone numbers masquerading as family histories. Now there appears to be a group of paintbrush wielders pretending to be heralds.

2. The original Burke's Peerage was founded in 1826. Set against 900 years of heraldry, this hardly justifies the description of "age-old" ~ even if that Burke's Peerage still existed. Moreover, no Burke's Peerage entity has ever had the power to grant arms.
3. The quality of the artist's work is unbelievably poor (look at examples of other artists' work in these pages). The eagle is an abomination. The "native American" (Burke's description) dexter supporter has a death's head face. St Hilary's lion is a childish scrawl.
4. The pretended symbolism is typical of those used to persuade the gullible that there has always been a "language of heraldry" which the cognoscenti may flaunt by flinging outline shapes onto a shield, but the crowning absurdity is the inclusion of charges borne by other Clinton families when the President's paternal surname is Blythe, not Clinton (his stepfather's surname). Heraldry is based on hereditary blood relationships.

Return to the July-August 2001 contents page
Return to the home page
© 2001 The Baronage Press and Pegasus Associates