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FITCH of Little Canfield ~ Part III

Fytche Arms

Also shown in the corners of the brass over William's tomb are four instances of the Fytche arms. These are formally described as "Vert, a chevron between three leopard's faces erased or." This formulaic blazon [Fr. blason] or description is in archaic quasi-French, but it means that the tincture or basic color is green and that the chevron and three erased (torn off) leopards' heads are gold. Although these animals may look more like lions, lions are almost always shown in profile, whereas these full-face images represent the standard depiction of leopards. (
vide Editor's note at foot of page)
Arms of Fitch or Fytche
The lion's companion is the leopard. What might be the true form of this beast was a dark thing to the old armorist, yet knowing from the report of grave travellers that the leopard was begotten in spouse-breach between the lion and the pard, it was felt that his shape would favour his sire's . . . Then a happy device came to the armorist. He would paint the leopard like the lion at all points. But as the lion looks forward the leopard should look sidelong, showing his whole face . . . [W]riters on armory protested that a lion did not become a leopard by turning his face sidelong, but none who fought in the field under lion and leopard banners heeded this pedantry . . . [10]
The arms shown in Figure 6 are not rubbings; they are illustrations which must have been added later. In particular, there is no large shield at the top center of the brass. And although the smaller shields do illustrate the approximate positions of the arms on the brass, they are not accurate representations. Figure 7 is a rubbing made from the actual Fytche arms on the brass, showing the crescent moon which denoted William's cadency or position as second son. William probably adopted his arms from the virtually identical (and much older) Wentworth arms,[11] shown in Figure 8. As Sir Anthony Wagner stated, "There are cases of one man granting away his arms to another . . . Sometimes such cessions accompany grants of land . . . [8]
Arms of Wentworth
from the book
As we have seen, William bought Lindsell Hall in 1556 and Camoys Hall in 1557 from Thomas, Lord Wentworth. He may have added the crescent to imply that he had inherited the arms from his father. To the best of the author's knowledge, however, William was the first Fytche to use these arms. In 1699, when a Sir Comport Fytche of Kent was petitioning for a grant of the Fytche arms (to be discussed further, below), it would have been to his advantage to show that William's father, Thomas, had already used the arms. Robert Dale, Richmond Herald at the College of Arms, evidently visited Lindsell and reported ". . . the arms torn away,"[12] though the author, who has examined the stone on several occasions, has seen no evidence of anchor holes or other marks in the stone, which might indicate that a piece of the brass had been removed. In 1898, an Essex Review article reported of the brass that, "It is well engraved for the period, in excellent condition, still perfect in all its parts and thoroughly characteristic of its kind."[28]
The earliest recorded instance of the Fytche arms appears to be in Pedegrees Hereldry Armes painted and Inblason, a large, vellum bound notebook, begun in 1520 by Sir Thomas Wriothesley, Garter King of Arms, the principal officer of the College of Arms, from 1505-34.[31] Also known as the Letter H Roll, this collection of arms and pedigrees, now at the Society of Antiquaries in London, includes later 16th century additions by others. Page 256, on which the Fytche entry appears, is not among those identified by the Society as having been made by Wriothesley himself, and is probably one of the later additions. The arms are in black ink with initial letters indicating the colors for the tincture, the chevron, and the leopard's heads. The one peculiarity of the entry is the legend accompanying the drawing, which reads "ffytch De north." Since Little Canfield could hardly be considered in the North, Thomas Woodcock, the present Norroy and Ulster King of Arms, thinks it may simply have been "an abbreviation or misreading of some place-name in Essex."[32] But the legend may well have given rise, as much as a hundred years later, to the mythical 13th century "John Fytche of Fytche Castle in the North," who appears on the vellum pedigree of Figure 18.

Children (these three, one other daughter, and one other son[2]) by first wife, Elizabeth:

11 i William, bur. All Saints, Little Canfield, 5 Nov. 1561.

12 ii Eleanor, mentioned as deceased in her father's will 1577;
[1] m. Rooke Greene, Esq.[1] d. Little Sampford, Essex, 9 Apr. 1602,[26] eldest son and heir of Sir Edward Grene and Margery Allington.[26] Rooke (or Rocus) succeeded to his father's estate at Little or New Sampford. He was "a valiant confessor of the faith, suffering imprisonment and fines for 20 years," because he was a recusant, a Roman Catholic who failed to attend services of the Church of England. ("Though all our Recusants be the King of Englands subjects, yet too many of them be the King of Spaines servants."[27]) Following 1581, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, he appeared frequently in presentments in Essex Quarter Session Rolls, one entry reading "Rocus Greene remains in the gaol in Colchester."[26]

13 iii Mary, mentioned as deceased in her father's will 1577;
[1] m. Toppesfield, Essex 1556,[9] Francis Mannock, Esq.[1] of Stoke Nayland, Suffolk,[6] d. 3 Nov. 1590,[9] son of William and Audry (Allington) Mannock.[9]

Children (these three and one other son) by second wife, Anne:

+ 14 iv Thomas, b. abt. 1560.

15 v William, b. abt. 1562; mentioned in his father's will, 1577;
[1] d.s.p. unm. Paris, 21 Nov. 1611 aged 49.[22] William took the vows of a Franciscan novice at Douai in 1586, as Brother Benedict of Canfield, a Capuchin friar. He returned to England with a companion in 1589. The two were arrested as priests and imprisoned in the Tower of London, from which Canfield was later transferred to Wisbeck Castle. In 1592, he was released by Queen Elizabeth I, at the request of Henry IV of France, and returned to the continent to become Master of Novices and Guardian of the Convent at Rouen. The caption in Figure 9 reads,

The venerable Father F. Benedict, Englishman, Capuchin priest. The Lord taught him discipline and wisdom, confirmed in him the grace of his spirit, and filled his heart with understanding. He died in the year of Our Lord 1611, in the 49th year of his age, the 25th of his conversion, on the 21st day of November.

The banners read,

You are my servant, O Israel, in you I shall be glorified.


I cannot be glorified except in your cross Lord Jesus.

The book on the table is open to display, "Life in His wishes."[13]

Interest in Benet Canfield, as he was known in France, was revived by the publication of Grey Eminence by Aldous Huxley, in which Canfield's method of prayer, first set out in The Rule of Perfection, is described.

16 vi Sir Francis, bp. Little Canfield, 5 Sep. 1563;
[21] mentioned in father's will 1577;[1] knighted 1604;[7] will 3 Oct. 1608;[5] d.s.p. 12 Oct. 1608;[19] will proved, Commissary Court of London (Essex, and Herts.), 12 Jan. 1608/9;[5] m. (as her 2nd husband[9]) Margaret Tyrell,[7][9] dau. and co-heir, with her 3 siblings, of Edmund Tyrell, Esq., of Beches, Rawreth, Essex,[9] and wid. of John Daniell of Acton, Suffolk Co.[19] After Sir Francis d. Margaret m. (3) Francis Jocelyn.[26] In 1587 Francis sold the manor of Albyns, which he had received from his father, to Sir John Wood.[9] He purchased Thundersley, Apr. 1595, from Richard White and prob. sold it in 1619 to Robert Wiseman.[9] He also received Great Canfield Park from his bro. William.[1] When Sir Francis d. he named his nephew, Sir William, No. 20 below, as his heir.[9] Sir Francis's arms are described as having a "bordure bezantée," meaning the border contained gold roundels, like gold coins.[11] (Editor's note ~ the border is red, a bordure Gules bezantée)

Margaret "in her own right enjoyed" the manor of Ramsden-Barrington or Barnton, Ramsden Bellowes, Essex.
[9] She, too, was a recusant (see Rooke Greene above). From 1600 to 1603, the last four years of the reign of Elizabeth I, she was fined each year in amounts from £40 to £80. On 5 Apr. 1605, she was presented by her parson to the Bishop of London "for that she hath not come to her parrishe church by the space of theis three yeres." Margaret's third husband was also a recusant, and together they were fined in 1609 and 1610.[26]
[1] F. G. Emmison, Elizabethan Life: Wills of Essex Gentry & Merchants. (Chelmsford, Essex: Essex County Council, 1978), pp. 81-83. [2] Brass, All Saints Church, Little Canfield. [3] Fitch pedigree, op. cit. [4] Thomas Wright, The History and Topography of the County of Essex. (London: George Virtue, 1836), Vol. 2, p. 260. [5] E.R.O., M.F.C., Will of Sir Francis Fytche, Commissary Court of London, Essex & Herts., A9355, Vol. E. [6] Walter C. Metcalfe, ed., The Visitations of Essex. (London: The Harleian Society, 1878), Vol. 13, pp. 51, 111, 197, 325, 526. (These "Visitations" must be viewed with suspicion; many are spurious, and are not drawn from actual Visitations by the Heralds of the College of Arms.) [7] Anthony Richard Wagner, English Genealogy. (London: Oxford University Press, 1972), p. 227. [8] A. R. Wagner, Heraldry in England. (Penguin Books, 1946), pp. 14, 193. [9] Rev. Philip Morant, The History and Antiquities of the County of Essex. (London: 1763-1768), Vol. I, pp. 204, 265; Vol. II, pp. 361, 415, 445, 457, 461, 462, 463. [10] Oswald Barron, "Heraldry" in Encyclopedia Britannica, 11th Edition, 1910/11, p. 325. [11] Sir Bernard Burke, The General Armory. (London: Burke's Peerage Ltd., 1884), Vol. 1, p. 349. [12] Index card at College of Arms. [13] Translation by Tom Kozachek, Newbury Street Press. [14] Marc Fitch and Frederick Emmison, Feet of Fines for Essex, Vol. 5. (Oxford: Leopard's Head Press, 1991), pp. xi, 54, 62, 89, 165, 199. [15] R. B. Pugh, ed., The Victoria History of the Counties of England. (London: Oxford University Press, 1956), Vol. IV, Essex, p. 225, citing C142/184/34; CP25(2)/129/1647. [16] Photo courtesy Charles Fitch-Northen, Paignton, S. Devon, England. [17] Courtesy Manuscripts Dept., The British Library, London. [18] Courtesy Committee on Heraldry, New England Historic Genealogical Society. [19] E.R.O., M.F.C., Card Index (Names), A9355, F/N.I. [20] G. Eland, ed., At the Courts of Great Canfield, Essex. (London: Oxford University Press, 1949), p. 131. [21] E.R.O., M.F.C., Little Canfield Parish Register extracts taken 1 Feb. 1699, T/A 901/3. [22] E.R.O., M.F.C., A9355, Fitch pedigrees, F/5. [23] William Addison, Essex Worthies, (London: Phillimore & Co. Ltd., 1973), p. 35. [24] Morant, op.cit., Vol. 2, p. 446, citing Inquisition, 21 Elizabeth, 19 January [1579]. [25] Rubbing made by a parishioner of All Saints Church, Little Canfield, and presented to the author. [26] Essex Recusant. (Brentwood, Essex: Essex Recusant Society), Vol. 1, pp. 58-61; Vol. 2, pp. 115, 116; Vol. 6, pp. 80. 86; Vol. 12, pp. 94, 95. [27] Oxford English Dictionary, citing R. Johnsonís Kingdom & Commonwealth. 32. [28] Miller Christie and W. W. Porteous, "On Some Interesting Essex Brasses" in The Essex Review, Vol. 7, p. 39. [29] Courtesy National Portrait Gallery, London. [30] Courtesy E.R.O., Mint Binder, Stappleford Abbott. [31] Society of Antiquaries, London, mss. 476, p. 256. [32] Letter of 23 Sep. 1997 from Thomas Woodcock, College of Arms, London. [33] E.R.O., M.F.C. A9355, framed items.

Editor's Note ~ A close examination of the leopards' heads on the brass discussed at the head of this page shows them to be caboshed, not erased, the animals' beards and whiskers giving a false impression of the torn edge of heraldic erasure.
Fitch ~ Early Generations, Part I
Fitch ~ Early Generations, Part II
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The Baronage Content Page January-February 2000
© 1998 John Townsend Fitch