Heraldry of the Family
by Henry Edmondstone Medlicott
The Windsor Herald of the College of Arms writes in 1911, “The Arms were granted before the Registration of Grants began, and in the Index of such old grants as have been collected the name Medlicott does not appear.
“At the visitation of Shropshire (1664) the arms of Medlicott were admitted. (A copy of the record costs 2 guineas).”
James Macveigh in his “Royal Book of Crests 1885” says:-
“Medlicott – out of a mural coronet, gu a demi eagle, wings expanded, or, – motto:- Dat cura quietem.
Medlycott – out of a ducal coronet, or, demi eagle, displayed.
Medlycott – Baronet – Somerset – out of a mural coronet, gu. a demi-eagle wings elevated, or.
Medlicott of Rocketts Castle, Waterford – out of a mural coronet gu. a demi-eagle wings elevated, or, motto Dat cura Quietem.
I should think that “ducal is a mistake. It matters little whether the wings of an eagle were “expanded”, “displayed or “elevated” – so much for the Crest.
The Arms are described in Burke and elsewhere as:- “Quarterly, per fesse indented gu. and az., 3 lions, rampant, arg., – I know of no variation from this.
Mottoes are not recorded in the same way as the crest and arms, and are not infrequently varied.
Mr. Wm. Medlicott writes that the Wentnor Medlicotts have used “Virescit vulnere Virtus” (Virtue flourishes from its wounds). This escaped me when I visited Wentnor Church, and saw the crest on several of the tombstones in the church yard, and the crest on two or three old hatchments, somewhat rough in execution, but well worth preservation, which were carelessly put away in the vestry as rubbish.
“Dat cura quietem” is given by Burke as the Motto. The words are taken from Virgil’s IV AEneid, line 5.
Sir William Medlycott told me that they had been freely and elegantly paraphrased by a friend of his as “They that sow in tears shall reap in joy”. Ps. cxxvi. 5. The full passage in Virgil is “nec placidam membris dat cura quietem”, and of course has no such meaning, unless “cura” is translated as “care-ful-ness”. “From real work comes weariness and from weariness comes rest.”
There is probably no subject connected with genealogy which as been more the centre of controversy than Heraldry.
It is very often forgotten that the use of coats of arms was in its origin very practical and that pettifogging rules and restrictions must have been absent in the early days of the science of Heraldry.
Clearly, when arms were used to distinguish the various sections of an army (as regimental standards and badges were in later times), a fundamental rule must have been that no two coats of arms should be alike. Also, intricate details such as those now seen on modern shields, were ruled out, for would they not have tended to confuse rather than enlighten the soldiery who followed the medieval leader?
The comparative simplicity of the oldest coats of arms is probably to be ascribed to the need of early recognisable standards in warfare. When helmets covered the faces of the knights, their shields and banners were bound to be bright and clear, showing out well in a field of battle.
For instance when we read that the followers of Strongbow (who imported the blessing of Anglo-Norman civilisation to Ireland) could always find shelter beneath his banner, we naturally conclude that there was some bold, striking design on the banner, which would make it visible across the press.
Similarly with regard to the “granting” of arms, the rules governing this procedure were very simple in early days, in fact arms must have been adopted by various individuals as mottoes are now.
In the famous Scrope versus Grosvenor case, which affected the coat borne by the Dukes of Westminster, three individuals were found who bore the same arms. Those persons who parade doctrinaire views on the subject of arms grants will find it somewhat difficult to explain how three coats of arms, all identical could have been “granted” by any authority to three men of quality.
In actual fact the foundation of the Heralds’ College in 1484 took place when the period of medieval chivalry was near its end. The use of armour in warfare survived another two hundred years or more, but the days when the blazoned banner and shield were used in battle array were nearly over in 1484.
Thus intricacy in heraldry, pedantic rules and the snobbery of arms grants began when the real use of coat armour was going out.
So much has been written about the authority of the College over arms, including those borne long before its foundation, that particular interest attached to the appointment in King George VI’s Coronation year of Mr. Oswald Barron to the office of Maltravers Herald Extraordinary. Mr Baron has always been a realist in matters of Heraldry. “The Times” in a leading article on his appointment, said of him, that he “had no difficulty in showing that the practice of the real armorial ages gave no sanction to the doctrine of the legalist school: that the college until comparatively recent times had been accustomed to acknowledge and matriculate arms borne by prescription alone; and that no legal enactment had come between the subject and his ancient armorial liberties.”