A friend of mine, a fanatical applied mathematician, faced much derision after he admitted that the highlight of a touring holiday of England was a visit to the birth place, at Woolsthorpe Manor Lincolnshire, of Sir Isaac Newton (1643-1727) the English physicist and mathematician. Newton was famous for the publication of the work Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica (Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy), more commonly known as the Principia and in 1687 his Law of Gravitation. I am sure that we are all aware, regardless of our understanding of science and mathematics, that Newton was rightfully buried in Westminster Abbey and is identified as one of the major Englishmen of all time. Sir Isaac Newton despite his considerable fame and eventual knighthood did not receive a personal coat of arms, however he did later make use of his family arms, that of the Newton of Gunnerby. Lincolnshire: sable, two human shinbones in saltire ways, the sinister mounted on the dexter argent.

ENG COA Newton

Do we as heraldry ‘anoraks’ treat the Officers of Arms with the same reverence, at least when amongst likeminded heraldists, by demonstrating our knowledge of the history and memorials of the many distinguished Officers of Arms and in particular the Kings of Arms? If we do not, then perhaps we should.


Earlier this year I visited the parish church of Shustoke in Warwickshire to collect genealogical information for a client. It was a chilly morning and it was just my luck that I discovered on my arrival that a service was in progress. I stamped around the graveyard for almost an hour waiting for the service to end and for the congregation to disperse, getting colder and colder. As the first members of the flock began to drift away a dark sky heralded a heavy hailstorm and I felt that I could wait outside no longer. I made my way very carefully and discreetly around the interior edge of the church to the chancel and perched myself on a plain stone slab, out of sight of the remaining congregation. After a couple of minutes quiet contemplation. Suddenly a bright shaft of sunlight pierced the gloom and lit up a tablet on the wall behind me. It was quite difficult to read but I could see, highlighted in capital letters, the words WILLIELMI DUGDALE. I stood back in reverence and delight but with a tinge of shame that I had unwittingly treated the resting place of such a distinguished man with so little respect. My report here is by recompense.


The monument is headed by an impaled heraldic escutcheon and the full Latin inscription follows:

argent, a cross moline gules, in dexter chief a torteau, on the centre of the cross a Garter’s coronet or (Dugdale) impaling: gules, on a fess or fretty of the field between three talbots’ heads erased argent (Huntbach)

M.S. / WILLIELMI DUGDALE Equ: aur; / Antiquiratum WARWIC: Comitatus / Illustratoris / Qui per omnes / Curiae Heraldicae gradus gradus afcendens / in principalem Regem / Armorum Anglicorum titulo GARTER / tandem evecus est. / vxorem MARGERIAM / IOH: HUNTBACH de SEWAL in com: Staff / filiam duxit: / equa filios plures abhac tuce / in teneri aetate fublatos / IOHANNEM vero fuperstitem: / filiasq diverfas? fufcepit / Diem obijt 10th Febr: Ao MDCLXXXV


William Dugdale was born 12th September 1605 and baptised 14th September 1605 at the church of Shustoke, Warwickshire, the second child and eldest son of John Dugdale earlier of Clitheroe, Lancashire and Elizabeth née Swinfen of Staffordshire. John Dugdale was a land and property owner in Warwickshire and as a result his son William had a privileged upbringing. Until aged 10 years he was educated by Revd. Thomas Sibley, the priest at the nearby parish of Nether Whitacre and then until aged 15 years by James Cranford at the King Henry VIII free-school in Coventry. On the 17th March 1623, aged 17 years he married Margery 2nd daughter of John Huntbache, gentleman of Seawall in the parish of Bishbury Staffordshire. After his marriage he lived with his wife’s father, while studying law under his father until his father’s burial at Shustoke 4th July 1624. He had many children: His eldest surviving son and heir, Sir John Dugdale (1628-1700) served as Norroy King of Arms (1686-1700) and one of his many daughters Elizabeth (born 1632) married in 1668 Elias Ashmole (Windsor herald). William Dugdale lived first at Fillongley but sold his house there and in 1626 purchased the manor of Blythe in Shustoke, being of Blythe Hall for the remainder of his life.


He accompanied Sir Simon Archer of Tanworth to London and was introduced to Sir Henry Spelman who recommended him to Thomas, Earl of Arundel (Earl Marshal) who on the 24th September 1638 created him Blanch Lion Pursuivant extraordinary. On the 18th March 1638/9 he was promoted from Rouge Croix to Chester Herald. In 1640 at the outset of the Civil War, while in the King’s service, he was tasked to record monuments in cathedrals and churches. He was deprived by parliament of his position as Chester Herald on the 16th April 1644 and his estates in Warwickshire were sequestered. William remained in the King’s service and continued to attend him. While at Oxford he was awarded an MA. When the King moved to Nottingham he acted as an envoy for him. During this period, he produced many publications, some of which were researched during his time at Oxford and amongst these was the major work Antiquities of Warwickshire (1656), which is still regarded as the major antiquarian work for the county. You can view this on-line. It was while at Oxford that he first encountered Elias Ashmole.

At the restoration William Dugdale found favour with Charles II and on the 12th June 1660 was appointed as Norroy King of Arms. On the 26th April 1677 he was Knighted and on the 24th May 1677 created Garter King of Arms.

On the 18th December 1681 his wife Margery died. Sir William Dugdale died on the 10th February 1685/6 and it is recorded that he was buried with his wife under a large altar monument, in the chancel at Shustoke.

The simple tomb of this great man illustrates nothing of him and is only recognizable by an escutcheon of his impaled arms attached to the side. It is frequently used as a table and hopefully less frequently as a place to perch during a moment of contemplation.

Elias Ashmole

You will recall that the report of the White Lion Society’s visit to Lichfield in 2016 included some biographical detail of Elias Ashmole (1617-92), who was born at Lichfield. He was Windsor Herald (1660-75) and as identified above married “for esteem” on the 3rd November 1668 Elizabeth Dugdale, his third wife. Her father William Dugdale was then Garter King of Arms. Notably Elias resigned his position as Windsor Herald. Elias Ashmole died 18th May 1692 aged 76 years, while living in Lambeth London and was buried at the medieval church of St Mary at Lambeth, adjacent to Lambeth Palace. The inscription on his tomb, a black marble slab which still lies at the east end of the south aisle, on the north side is:

Hic jacet inclytus ille et cruditissimus ELIAS ASHMOLE, Liechfeldiensis, Armiger, inter alia in Republica munera, Tributi in cervicias contra rotulator, fecialis autem Windsoriensis Titulo per Annos plurimos diguatus. Qui post duo Militis, Garteri, Principalis Regis Armorum, Filiam. Mortem obit 18 Maii 1692, anno aetatis 76. Sed durante Musaeo Ashmoleano, Oxen. nunquam moriturus.

It is recorded that there was also an achievement for him bearing: quarterly sable and or, on the first quarter a Fleur-de-lis of the second (Ashmole) impaling argent, a cross moline gules and a torteaux (Dugdale). Motto: Ex una omnia. Thankfully this monument has survived together and can still be seen today in a cramped position between other exhibits.

 IMG 0898 2

The church building of St Mary at Lambeth can be found at the east end of the Lambeth bridge, but was de-commissioned in the 1960s. It is the burial place of five Archbishops of Canterbury as well as members of the Boleyn family. It has been recently restored and a garden museum has been established there that preserves the 1662 monuments of members of the Tradescants family, pioneering gardeners and collectors of plants, who sought to establish a garden of Eden on the Thames. The Tradescants were not armigerous. There are conflicting stories of the relationship between the Tradescant family and Elias Ashmole, that suggest that Ashmole’s collecting bug may have been inherited from the Tradescants, who later provided in bequests to him, in the will of John Tradescant the younger (1608-62), many of the items in his own collection that still later formed part of the Ashmolean Museum’s collection at Oxford. Although amongst the many exhibits preserved in the church is the memorial slab and achievement of Elias Ashmole, his body was believed to have been removed from its burial place during the Victorian restoration of the church in 1851. At that time all burials were believed to have been removed from the church. However, recently during building work a secret vault was discovered at the church containing a number of high status individuals, including the remains of the Archbishops and we might possibly hope those of Elias Ashmole.




 (c) The White Lion Society 2017