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Journalists' &
Authors' Guide to Heraldry and Titles


Coat of Arms

Heraldic Achievement

Metals, Furs and Colours

Clans, Badges and Tartans

Differencing Chapter One

Differencing Chapter Two

Differencing Chapter Three

Differencing Chapter Four

Differencing Chapter Five

Differencing Chapter Six

Differencing a.k.a. Cadency

Chapter Seven

The Inescutcheon

Arms of Gifford - in pretence and quartered

HE INESCUTCHEON, a small shield in the centre of a coat of arms, is today most often associated with an escutcheon of pretence ~ that is, the paternal arms of an heiress brought into a family by marriage and now destined to be quartered by her descendants (right).
In early times, however, before this practice became usual, the inescutcheon could be used for cadency. (It can be notionally considered to be used in that way here, for the original arms of this branch of the Hay family had been differenced by change of tincture to become Azure three escutcheons Argent. The adoption of the Gifford quarter allowed this cadet branch to revert to the undifferenced arms for the first and fourth quarters, but it can be seen that the use of the inescutcheon of pretence to mark the marriage to the Gifford heiress would also have acted as sufficient difference.)
The Mortimers were an influential family in the 13th and 14th centuries and bore a variety of seemingly unrelated arms. Among these is a group of coats bearing an inescutcheon of which the basic coat, borne by Edmund de Mortimer, Lord of Wigmore, was Barry Or and Azure on a chief of the first two pallets between two base esquires of the second, over all an inescutcheon Argent. (A base esquire is the square parted per bend or per bend sinister that is often used with compony bordures to “turn the corner”.)
Arms of Edmund de Mortimer Arms of a Roger Mortimer
Arms of a John Mortimer Arms of a Roger Mortimer
The four shields above, left to right, are those of Edmund de Mortimer, Roger Mortimer, John Mortimer, and another Roger Mortimer.
Arms of Mortimer of Richards Castle Arms of a Henry de Mortimer
Possible arms of an early Mortimer
Not all members of this branch of the Mortimers differenced their arms with variations on the inescutcheon. The Mortimers of Richards Castle used a bend gules overall, and Henry de Mortimer changed the gold and blue tinctures to gold and red.

It is possible that the basic silver inescutcheon was itself a difference and that the original arms were as shown above right. However, we have been unable to find any record of them in this form. Any reader who knows of them without the inescutcheon is urged to contact the Editor.

In the Armorial de la Toison d’Or we can find other examples of the inescutcheon used to difference. For example, the Seigneur de Lannoy bore the basic coat of Argent three lions Vert ducally crowned Or, and his kinsman Hue bore this within a red engrailed border.

Le Behge de Lannoy then differenced this coat with an inescutcheon Barry of eight Argent and Azure.

Arms of the Seigneur of Lannoy
Arms of Hue de Lannoy
Arms of Le Behge de Lannoy

Chapter 1 - Minor Brisures
Chapter 2 - Geratting and Change of Tinctures
Chapter 3 - Addition of an Ordinary
Chapter 4 - Changing Charges
Chapter 5 - The Label
Chapter 6 - The Canton and Quarter
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