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Arms of the Stevensons and Stephensons in Scotland.

arms of Stevinstone of that Ilk
Stevensons and Stephensons are found all over the British Isles from the earliest times of hereditary surnames, and in Scotland they are held to form “an honourable community” of indeterminate cadets of an unknown chief. They are not the only such clan, and these pages have already discussed two others, the Andersons and the Patersons.

As with most names, early spelling varied widely, and one of the versions of Stevenson surprisingly accepted by Lyon Court (see right) was “Stevinstone”, about which this writer has some reservations, Stevenston(e) appearing to be a quite distinct surname.

Stevinstone of that Ilk
as noted by Sir James
Balfour of Denmilne
and Kinnaird, Bt
Lord Lyon 1630-1657
However, Stevinstone of that Ilk was noted (see above right) as bearing three falcons’ heads, as was the Alexander Stevenson who matriculated these arms (see left) in 1891 when Sir James Balfour Paul was Lyon King of Arms. The Scottish heralds thus seem at one time to have accepted the bond between falcons’ heads and the name of Stevenson, but, looking at the shields below, which feature cocks, perhaps it was with birds’ heads. The two on the left were noted by Lyon Depute Stodart as being borne by Stevensons in the time of Charles I; the third is in Workman’s Ms as being borne by Steinsone (1565-66).
Arms of Alexander Stevenson
It has not been found possible to define any line governing the development of Stevenson arms, even among the Chief’s descendants. Stevinsounne of Herdmandshiels (see left) is noted in Workman’s Ms as descended of Stevenston of that Ilk, but in 1693 Alexander Stevenson of Chesters, noted as a grandson of a younger son of Herdmanshiels, recorded (see right) Argent on a chevron between three fleurs-de-lys Azure a cross moline of the field, on a chief Gules three mullets Or ~ the addition of two fleurs-de-lys and, on the chevron, a cross moline, and a change of tincture for the mullets and the fleur-de-lys in base..
Arms of Alexander Stevenson of Chesters
arms of Sir Archibald Stevenson
Earlier, in 1674, Sir Archibald Stevenson M.D. recorded the arms illustrated above far left. The other four shields are of closely related kinsmen (black chief, gold stars, red chevron and fleurs-de-lys) showing clear differences for cadency ~ first by the change of the charge in base, and then by variations of the chief’s partition line. Others in this branch have matriculated with an invected chief and a wavy chief, and one by changing the gold stars to silver.

This article was prompted by a reader’s query about the oldest Stevenson/Stephenson arms on record in Scotland (which ought to be perhaps those of the Chief). Although this is a fairly old family, two Stevensons having signed the Ragman Rolls at the end of the 13th century, it is not possible, in this writer’s view, to blazon the Chief’s arms with certainty. The best that can be done is to confirm that today the generic arms of the indeterminate cadets of the clan feature a chevron, a chief with three mullets, and either birds’s heads or fleurs-de-lys. Although Stevenson arms with a chief were borne as early as the 16th century, it is probable that Stevenson arms without a chief are older in origin.

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