Letters to the Editor
We have reversed the practice of not printing, save in exceptional circumstances, letters from readers, as increasingly they raise points that deserve discussion. In this issue we activate the new policy with a letter highlighting the common belief that there are family coats of arms that all clan or family members may use.

Dear Sirs,

The attached file is the Coat of Arms for the Cassidy clan from Enniskillen, Ireland. Can you please tell me where I can learn the names and meaning of the various components of the Arms, e.g. the crest, shield, helmet, etc? Thank you very much.

Jane Forbes answered the letter ~

Dear Mr Cassidy,

I am sorry to inform you that your letter is one of the many that give us serious problems, and that accordingly I passed it to the Editor. Here is his response ~

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Mr Cassidy appears to be yet one more victim of the bucketshop merchants. At least here it seems he has not been told that this is his coat of arms, but he believes it to be the coat of arms of his clan. Clans (apart from certain Polish families) do not have coats of arms, and in the British Isles, as in most of Christian Europe, coats of arms belong to individuals, and to bodies that may be treated as persons in law, such as corporations and schools.

The picture Mr Cassidy has sent appears to be an extremely bad depiction of the lawful arms of Major Francis Paul Cassidi (note the spelling), who was born in 1925 and may still be alive. They are recorded in the Register of the Chief Herald of Ireland as - per chevron argent and gules two lions rampant in chief and a boar passant in base counterchanged. The crest is a spear broken into three pieces, two in saltire and the head in pale proper, banded gules. The motto of "Frangas non flectes" may be translated loosely as "I may be broken but not bent".

The artwork is quite awful. The mantling is monstrously wrong, appearing to be of gules, sable and argent, heraldically impossible. It is also incredibly ugly. The shield appears to be per chevron or and gules instead of argent and gules. This may be deliberate, of course, to distinguish it from the Cassidi arms. The two lions rampant are incorrectly drawn and, in any case, look more like frightened teddy bears with long tails. The slughorn above the crest, "O Caiside" looks suspicious. The motto "Frangas non flectes" refers to the crest, of course.

Mr Cassidy asks about the meaning of the components. The lions rampant (or frightened teddybears) and the boar have no meaning. The various components of an heraldic achievement may be seen itemised at http://www.baronage.co.uk/jag-ht/jag003.html.

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If this disappoints you, Mr Cassidy, I am sorry. However, if you pursue your heraldic studies I am sure they will bring you enormous pleasure, and I have added your name to the distribution list of The Feudal Herald newsletter to help you keep in touch with what is written about heraldry, and illustrated, in the Baronage magazine.

We do not know if Major Francis Paul Cassidi, or his heir, granted permission for his arms to be used on the Website of the Cassidy Clan association from which our correspondent downloaded the picture he sent to us (shown here top-right), but, nevertheless, it should be stressed that arms cannot be appropriated without permission, and with permission may be used only in carefully defined ways.

This particular display is so ugly and heraldically inaccurate that almost certainly it has been produced by one of those bucketshops against which this magazine continually posts caveat emptor warnings, one against which a legal action should be possible.

A lion rampant
A previous letter ~ one from an American reader
The January-March 1999 Contents Page
© 1999 The Baronage Press and Pegasus Associates Ltd
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The pronominal arms of Wallace of that Ilk