The Feudal Herald header



An Online Newsletter from The Baronage Press
featuring Heraldry and related subjects

Vol. II, No. 2, February 2000

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Copyright (c) 2000 by Pegasus Associates Ltd and The Baronage Press

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* Welcome
* A Note on the Stewarts
* John McCain
* February additions to the magazine
* The BBC dumbs down
* Manorial lordships
* March
* Burlington Arcade
* Heirloom & Howard
* Pegasus Armorie
* Our Sponsors and Advertisers

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The primary purpose of this newsletter is to link regular Baronage readers to those articles in the magazine that might interest them, so in it you may find mention of the art, symbolism and meaning of heraldry, and, from time to time, of the history, politics, warfare, chivalry, books, cinema and other entertainment to which heraldry has thematic links. As explained in our previous issue, this newsletter will remain a monthly publication, but the Baronage magazine will in future be published six times annually instead of four times.


Several readers, expressing pleasure at last month's quotations from George Macaulay Trevelyan and Count Otto of Lomello, asked for more. So here is a pen whose owner's eloquence complimented his vision. His veneration of Eschyna, Lady of Molle, wife of the first of Scotland's High Stewards, Walter Fitz Alan, and mother to the Stewart kings, may be only a pace short of genteel drooling, but it reflects the sentimental idealism of its time, captures for us a glimpse of a now deliquescent Mariolatry, and evokes a potent wonder. ~

And Walter, in the silence of the centuries, stands unconsciously between, singing his Te Deum for the yet ungathered greatness of his race; in the lofty, fair Abbey, raising his instinctive thanks to God through the psalms of the Benedictine monks. A clear, distinct figure, standing out in high relief; silent, too, as a sculptured form, but full of brave beauty and repose.

"Eschine de Londonia, lady of Molla," becomes the wife of the Steward. That she was beautiful and worthy of her lord, we are entitled to believe. One of the privileges of fiction which history has a right to claim is this faith in the beauty, grace and virtue of all those who have come down to us from remote traditionary times without contrary imputations. Particulars having been denied us, we philosophically generalise, and accept the individual for the type.

The woman, veiled in the obscurity of eight centuries, becomes the ideal lady. Norman, by no means, she; ~ Scoto-Saxon, with eyes softly blue; some Celtic fervour and devotion spiritualising her face; her aspect generous, and features pearly fair, with the rosy flush of Northern breezes, like a soft dawn, lighting them into the purest human sweetness; reasonable and benign; no fickle impulses, no exacting egotism, no self-worship; a woman of household pleasures ~ to be loved by her husband with a constant love, to be tenderly revered by his vassals. Her brown lashes droop not coyly: they are lifted with modest, serene trust in herself and in her world. Her thoughts keep company with her.

Such must Eschine de Londonia be.

Poetic licence, of course, for in Walter's time Paisley was not yet an Abbey, but this vision of him in the church of the Priory he founded there in 1163 "in the silence of the centuries ....... singing his Te Deum for the yet ungathered greatness of his race" should tingle the spine of all who have studied the long history of the Stewarts, of their triumphs and tragedies. Let us for a moment reflect on the last days of one of his and the fair Eschyna's descendants in our present century, not for his importance, which was of no great account, but for the contrast between his fate and Walter's, and because he was ours, of our century.

Queen Victoria, 22 generations after Walter, had a daughter, Alice, whose eldest daughter Victoria was the grandmother of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. Alice's second daughter, Elizabeth, married a Russian Grand Duke and was murdered in 1918, as was more famously her sister, Alice's fourth daughter, Alexandra, the Tsarina. Alice's third daughter, Irene, married her first cousin, Prince Henry of Prussia, a grandson of Queen Victoria who was brother to the German Emperor, and had a son, Waldemar, the subject of our story, who was haemophiliac and spent much of his life in hospital.

When the Russians advanced into Silesia in 1945, Prince Waldemar, then 56 years old, was in the throes of an attack of haemophilia, but his wife, Princess Calixta of Lippe, unwilling to leave him to the mercy of the Red Army, determined on his escape. Eventually, after a long and painfully debilitating journey via Prague they reached Tutzing, a few miles south of Munich, and there the exhausted invalid received his last blood transfusion. The American Army overran the area the next day, diverted all medical resources to treat the concentration camp victims, and prevented Prince Waldemar's German doctor from treating him. He bled to death.
A decree then declared it illegal to have private graves dug until the needs of the concentration camps had been satisfied, but Princess Calixta, resolute as ever, succeeded in persuading a gravedigger to help her. However, she was alone when she undressed the bloodless body of her husband prior to placing it in the coffin, and it was then that a burglar attacked her and forced the surrender of his clothes and pyjamas. When she resumed her duties she discovered that the coffin was too small. With his arms crossed on his chest, her husband's elbows stuck out at the sides and refused to be squeezed into the space below the lid.
The decrepit van she had hired then arrived to drive the widow and the open coffin to the mortuary, its broken door, half off its hinges, banging back and forth throughout the journey. Eventually the American guards allowed her to enter the gates, but once inside the building she found the soldiers who had used it for their drunken celebrations had left it filthy, its floor strewn with broken glass, discarded condoms and excrement. She swept up the debris but then, owing to the curfew regulations, had to leave the open coffin alone for the night.

The next morning she returned with the van driver, broke her husband's arms, successfully sealed the lid of the coffin, loaded the van, trudged behind the swinging door to the cemetary, was refused admittance, lost her temper, and then, when the guards finally relented, helped the van driver lower Prince Waldemar, Queen Victoria's greatgrandson, second cousin to the British King, of the 25th generation in descent from Walter Fitz Alan, to his last rest.

Perhaps, in those final moments, Princess Calixta questioned the truth of that ancient Stewart motto, Avito viret honore ~ he flourishes by ancestral honours.


We have been receiving queries about the Republican challenger, John McCain. Is he Scottish or Irish? What is his clan? Does he have "a crest"? Is there a McCain tartan? Is there a badge?

Here are some answers.

The oft-quoted belief that a name beginning "Mc" is Irish and that one beginning "Mac" is Scottish is fallacious. There is a tendency towards this distribution, but no more. (The alternative "M'", as in M'Kay, is also to be found in both countries, although rather less today than two centuries ago.)

John McCain's own family's researches have taken him back to Glencoe, a territory famous for the attempted massacre of all its inhabitants in 1692 on the orders of William III, the extremely unpleasant king then reigning in London. The story has been handed down as one concerning the "Macdonalds of Glencoe", and indeed the victims were of Clan Macdonald, but as descendants of Iain Fraoch, bastard son of Angus Og and brother of John Macdonald, Lord of the Isles, they bore the name MacIain. Their immediate Chief at the time of the massacre was designated "Mac Ian of Glenco" in the warrant King William signed. (Known variations of the spelling of MacIain include McCain, MacKean, MacKane, MacKain and MacKeen.)
The MacIains of Glencoe appear now to have no recognised chief, the clansmen giving their allegiance directly to Godfrey Macdonald of Macdonald, Lord Macdonald of Slate, Chief of the Name and Arms of Macdonald. No one today bears the Glencoe arms (Argent an eagle displayed Gules surmounted of a lymphad Sable and in the dexter chief a hand Proper holding a cross-crosslet fitchee Azure). The badge the Glencoe clansmen bear is thus the badge of Macdonald of Macdonald. However, it is open to a claimant to petition to be recognised as MacIain of Glencoe, and perhaps one may yet come forth. Perhaps John McCain himself may be in line. He currently has no arms and crest, but it appears he would have immediate grounds to petition as an indeterminate cadet of the unknown MacIain chief. (President Kennedy was granted arms by the Chief Herald of Ireland, and John McCain's known ancestry makes him eligible for consideration by the Lord Lyon in Edinburgh.)
The question of the MacCain tartan is difficult to answer. McIan's famous 1845 print of a Glencoe clansman shows an unrecognisable tartan, and the different pattern in Ian Grimble's 1977 book appears to have no authority. The Tartans Museum has an unknown tartan discovered in Glencoe, believed to be local but without documentation to support its origin, that may be the best candidate. This is the default used by the Pegasus artists in the badge below.
Without a Chief to matriculate the Arms, Crest and Motto of MacIain of Glencoe, no badge can be defined authoritatively unless the Lord Lyon wishes to intervene to do so. However, it is possible to design a badge that accords with the history and tradition of the MacIains of Glencoe and honours the laws of heraldry. James Logan in 1845 claimed the crest of the MacIains of Glencoe to be be a raven Sable on a rock Azure, but this today is assigned to the Macdonalds of Glengarry. Accordingly, we suggest that the crest could be the dexter chief charge in the arms (a hand Proper holding a cross-crosslet fitchee Azure), and this crest could be encircled by the clansman's strap-and-buckle to form the clansman's badge. (Other badges among the Macdonalds use a similar device, but in those the hand is mailed and both the hand and the cross are of a different colour.) The chosen motto, "My hope is constant in Thee", is a traditional Macdonald motto, and the tartan shown behind the badge is the one described in the previous paragraph.
This badge may be used in America without offending any laws. It could be borne by John McCain, and by extension it could be borne by his supporters.

If any reader descending from the MacIains (or Macdonalds) of Glencoe wishes to have such a badge embroidered, or if any supporter of John McCain wishes to wear one, then details may be obtained from the HuMIX Corporation to which the Pegasus artists have licensed their design (

Clan badges were discussed in the Baronage magazine last year.

Proposed McCain badge


The first of the February additions to the January-February issue of the Baronage magazine was a new chapter for the Journalists' & Authors' Guide. This describes heraldry's system of tinctures (colours, metals and furs) and includes material previously explained in the newsletter but here assembled more practically in one place and permanently. It introduces the idea that bright colour is not absolutely essential to heraldry, a theme taken further in the second of the February additions, Heraldry without Colour, which introduces the study of armorial bookplates.


"Posh and Becks have one. Baroness Thatcher, Bill Gates and Cliff Richard have them."

"Posh and Becks" apparently are Victoria Adams, a professional singer, and David Beckham, a professional footballer, and what they have, according to the BBC's website, is a coat of arms, one specially designed for their wedding. What they actually have is a coloured picture of a shield and a badly drawn swan and an imitation coronet ~ a coloured picture, no more than that.

The vigorous exploitation of the Web now undertaken by the BBC has aroused a notable degree of condemnation. Licence payers grumble that they pay for television, not for the Internet (which could be left to others to operate). The opposition to new trends in British broadcasting has until recently concentrated on the noticeable movement towards lower intellectual quality, but now this aspect is combined with the Web criticism as it becomes increasingly obvious that the BBC's Web content is also dumbed down.

A reader in Canada has drawn our attention to a BBC news items on heraldry that quotes the "publishing director" of Burke's Peerage. Readers may remember that this "Burke's Peerage" is an operation permitted to use the famous name by its parent, a partnership that bought the name from the Receiver when the original company went into liquidation. The new edition of the book Burke's Peerage (the directory of the Peerage and Baronetage) is published by a wholly separate company, one that has no connection with the "publishing director" who told the BBC that ~

....... it was a common misconception that coats of arms were only available to royalty and nobility ....... The misconception stems from the fact that it was only members of the nobility who used to be able to afford to have them.

Arms of Scrope
Arms are the ensigns of nobility (the emblems of nobility), so they are by definition borne only by the nobility (and royalty is noble). If a man or woman lawfully bears arms that man or woman is noble. Of course, the "publishing director" may be confused by the meaning of nobility and perhaps believes it is restricted to the peerage or to the peerage and baronetage. However, a substantial proportion of the untitled landed gentry bear arms lawfully, and perhaps the most famous coat of arms in English heraldic history, Azure a bend Or, (shown here on the right), is borne by the head of an untitled family, Scrope.
He said: "Every line, every colour, symbol and even the positioning of the emblems have a meaning in a coat of arms which are (sic) dictated by the lineage of that particular family."

Yes, we have heard this same claim in heraldic bucketshops. It is sometimes true that a line or a colour or a symbol or a position may be influenced by some factor associated with a blood relationship, but the statement as reported ~ "dictated by the lineage" ~ is utter nonsense.

The BBC must try a little harder to check the facts it publishes.


QUESTION -- What is the difference between the lord of a manor held by his ancestors for several centuries, and the owner of a bunch of recently printed documents, bought for 4,750 pounds sterling (perhaps 7,000 US dollars), describing the purchaser as "Lord of the Manor of Cassies"?

ANSWER -- The former, Lord of the Manor of Spennithorne, was addressed, correctly, as Mr Scrope. The latter, according to the sales literature published by the property's current owner, will be addressed as "Lord Cassies" (by "custom & practice" apparently, although we know of no such custom or practice predating the modern trade in manorial titles).

Manorial lordships are in English law genuinely legal properties that can continue their existence even after they have been separated from the lands on which they were based. However, their owners are "lords" of nothing more than the pieces of paper that constitute the title deeds (here "title" has the specific meaning of ownership and does not mean a "title of dignity"). Those pieces of paper are worth whatever their next owner might be willing to pay for them. A man who buys the "Manor of Balls" (not a joke) recently on the market will not become "Lord Balls", and if he should seek some pecuniary advantage by pretending to be Lord Balls, even if this might be only the preferential treatment in restaurants of which the Cassies sales literature shamelessly boasts, he would tread a dangerous path.

We have stressed this before, but with the number of letters we receive from readers hoping to buy titles it appears that we need to continue stressing it.


Articles scheduled for the March-April issue of Baronage include the final instalment of the series on the Blue Lion of the Bruce family, the latest information on the "English Feudal Titles" scam, a new and surprising perspective on modern chivalry, an insight into the rewriting of history to make it Politically Correct, and a Classical Art article that returns to the theme of black and white heraldry with another look at the art of engraved bookplates. New readers are encouraged to use the mini-index as a guide to earlier articles that have a continuing value.

LOOKING AROUND: The Burlington Arcade

From time to time the magazine features articles on shopping areas of genuine historical interest to ancestor hunting tourists in the British Isles. One such is the famous Burlington Arcade.

New readers may wish to know that the St Petersburg Collection, featuring the elegant artistry of Theo Fabergé, grandson of the eminent Carl Fabergé, the Court Jeweller to the last Tsar, may be seen at no. 42.


A few of those who respond to our invitation to read the Heirloom & Howard catalogues forget to add their postal address, thinking perhaps that these are online catalogues, but they are printed catalogues with illustrations of armorial porcelain and heraldic antiques shown in full colour in the traditional way.

In addition to their stock of porcelain and antiques, identified and connected to the families that once owned these rare items, Heirloom & Howard have a fine collection of prints featuring old houses and castles and the ancestors (your ancestors ?) who once lived in them. Enquiries are welcomed.


We continue to receive a large number of letters beginning "Please send me a picture of my coat of arms." These show the widespread influence of the bucketshop heralds who have seemingly persuaded thousands of punters that coats of arms belong to family names.

Pegasus will supply pictures of arms we are willing to certify as having been borne by named individuals (and those individuals are named on the picture), but Pegasus Armorie is not in the fraudulent business of supplying "arms for names" with the implication that the arms supplied may be lawfully used by the buyer as his or her own arms.

However, there is undoubtedly a market demand for armorial display. The colours and shapes of heraldry have been so long in our history that they are sunk deeply into our subconscious minds. We respond accordingly to their beauty.

And so Pegasus has begun to produce a series of illustrations that will be suitable for framing and hanging on the walls of bedrooms, halls, studies, libraries, etc. Initially these will be appropriate for Scottish names, and in each case they will feature the badge of the clansmen of that name surrounded by the arms of the families whose daughters have been the ancestors of the present chief of the name.

Additionally, Pegasus Armorie is to work with the Baronage Press to establish an online Register of Scottish Clans. Members of Clans who request that their name be recorded and pay the artists' fees will receive a high resolution printed certificate embossed with the seal of The British Baronage. An example of one of these has been uploaded (but it is a large picture and may need a minute to download). It illustrates the crest badge of Clan Stewart set against the scenery near the old Stewart Castle of Gloume. The cloth inside the strap and buckle and behind the crest is an old Stewart tartan. (The picture downloaded will be, of course, at low resolution, and unsuitable for printing.)


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