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Journalists’ &
Authors’ Guide to Heraldry and Titles

Differencing Chapter One

Differencing Chapter Two

Differencing Chapter Three

Differencing Chapter Four

Differencing Chapter Five

Differencing Chapter Six

Differencing Chapter Seven

Differencing Chapter Eight

Differencing a.k.a. Cadency

Chapter Nine

Additional Charges

IN CHAPTER ONE we looked at cadency brisures, those little charges added to indicate a specific position in the family ~ a crescent for a second son, a mullet for a third, a martlet for a fourth, an annulet for a fifth, a fleur-de-lys for a sixth (all of which are illustrated here on the right). Seventh, eighth and ninth sons are symbolised respectively by a rose, a cross moline and an octofoil.
The cadency brisures have two distinguishing characteristics ~ they are small, much smaller than normal charges, and they frequently have no tincture defined in the blazon, which means they may be painted at the bearer’s choice, provided the usual metal/colour rules are observed. Thus Purpure a fess Argent and a crescent for difference would allow a small crescent to be placed in chief and painted silver or gold at the whim of the bearer.
“Differencing” and “cadency” tend to be treated as synonyms, but the latter is a more precise term referring to arms that not only are different from those of the head of the family, but which also indicate clearly the position of the cadet. Cadency brisures are intended to do just that, but they did not start as small charges and may not always have strictly defined position. The addition of a charge (or more than one charge) to act as a difference may have started as the process of geratting for difference (discussed in Chapter Two) became less common, and then the addition of small charges, or minor charges as they are sometimes called, began after that.
So the addition of charges in the loosest sense may be considered as geratting (Chapter Two), as cadency brisures (Chapter One), and as normally sized charges. Geratted charges are the smallest, and the cadency brisures a little larger. Normal charges will differ in size according to the space available for them.
A geratted coat ~ Gules crusilly a chevron Argent ~ (Berkeley)
A coat with cadency brisure ~ Gules a fess chequy Argent and Azure and a mullet for difference
A coat with added charges ~ Gules a fess chequy Argent and Azure and in chief 3 mullets of the second
The Berkeley coat above left has been blazoned also Gules a chevron between 10 crosses formée Argent, 6 in chief and 4 in base. It has been blazoned also as Gules semé of crosses formée a chevron Argent. However, when charges are semé they should continue to the edges of the shield and be cut off there, as are the fleurs-de-lys in the arms of France Ancient shown here on the left. The arms above centre are of a Lindsay cadet, a third son, and those above right are of Lindsay of the Byres, the three mullets differencing from Lindsay of Crawford. Note that the size of the three mullets allows them to fill the space available and that they are much bigger than the mullet for difference of the arms in the centre.
France Ancient ~ Azure semé-de-lys Or
Let us now look at some early samples of the addition of a charge for differencing. One famous example is that of de Vere. During the formative years of heraldry in England several families related to the de Mandeville Earls of Essex adopted variations of their simple coat Quarterly Or and Gules. The de Vere family reversed the tinctures and added a mullet in the first quarter. Contrast the size of this mullet with that in the de Mountenay coat on the right below, which similarly was added for difference (an earlier difference having been a change of field tincture).
Sir Ernulph
de Mountenay
de Vere,
later Earls of Oxford
Head of the house
of de Mountenay
Sir John
de Mountenay
We can conclude with a look at a famous Scottish house that used this method of differencing, the Maxwells. The Chief bore the simple coat of Argent a saltire Sable. Maxwell of Broomholm added a golden crescent to the saltire. Maxwell of Tinwald carried a red rose in chief. Maxwell of Hills placed a red mullet in chief and a red crescent in base. The custom was continued in several other cadet houses that used variously hearts, annulets and a holly leaf.
Maxwell of Hills
Maxwell of that Ilk
Maxwell of Broomholm
Maxwell of Tinwald

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
Chapter 7 ~ The Inescutcheon
Chapter 8 ~ The Diagonals
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