Display by one's spouse

Application, uses and display of Heraldry
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Douglas Solberg-Bell
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Display by one's spouse

Post by Douglas Solberg-Bell » Thu Nov 14, 2013 2:12 am

Good evening, all.

I have a question that I should like to address to those members of this body who are married: What display, if any, do you permit your spouse?

I have seen the lozenge employed for widows, but what provision is there for a wife to display her living husband’s arms? What forms could this take? I would be interested in hearing interpretations or ideas from any school of thought, ancient or modern.

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Re: Display by one's spouse

Post by Chris Green » Thu Nov 14, 2013 10:53 am

If the wife/wife's father is not an armiger then in England at least she would have no right to display her husband's arms. In the modern world it would be up to her to obtain a grant of arms for herself.

I can't think of a perfect example immediately, but Baroness Thatcher had her own arms, which if I recall correctly, were granted subsequent to her being made a Baroness in 1992. Her husband, Sir Denis Thatcher Bt was made a baronet in 1991, so if he was granted arms at that time, the then non-armigerous Lady Thatcher, as she then was (wife of baronet) would not have been entitled to use them. I cannot recall ever seeing an illustration of the Thatcher arms marshalled together, although this would theoretically been possible. Of course the marshalled arms would have had to be without Baroness Thatcher's supporters and Garter and she would have had decided views on that score one may imagine! Nor have I ever seen the arms of Sir Mark Thatcher Bt, who is entitled to bear Thatcher pere and Thatcher mere arms quartered, again without the Baroness's supporters.
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Martin Goldstraw
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Re: Display by one's spouse

Post by Martin Goldstraw » Thu Nov 14, 2013 1:30 pm

Chris Green wrote:If the wife/wife's father is not an armiger then in England at least she would have no right to display her husband's arms. In the modern world it would be up to her to obtain a grant of arms for herself.
I hate to contradict Chris but according to the decree "The Bearing of Arm by Women decreed by the Kings of Arms in 1997" (6).
Whether or not a woman is entitled to paternal arms, she may bear her husband's arms alone on a shield or banner differenced by a small lozenge of a contrasting tincture in the canton, centre chief point or other suitable position depending on the design.
Women have long displayed their husband's arms and IMHO the 1997 decree was but a tidying up exercise. The whole of the decree can be found on my Cheshire Heraldry site here: http://cheshire-heraldry.org.uk/decree.html
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Chris Green
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Re: Display by one's spouse

Post by Chris Green » Thu Nov 14, 2013 1:56 pm

Thank you Martin. Further proof, if proof were needed, that I live in another century! You are of course right.

I have to say that, to most of the population, the addition of a miniature escutcheon to a CoA means precisely nothing, and would be overlooked by most, heraldically literate or not. I wonder just how often the ruling is used. I bet Lady Thatcher never used Denis's arms with an escutcheon! The risk that someone would use an image, with escutcheon, trawled from the internet and re-use it as if it were the husband's must be quite high.
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Re: Display by one's spouse

Post by Martin Goldstraw » Thu Nov 14, 2013 2:47 pm

Chris Green wrote:Thank you Martin. Further proof, if proof were needed, that I live in another century! You are of course right.

I have to say that, to most of the population, the addition of a miniature escutcheon to a CoA means precisely nothing, and would be overlooked by most, heraldically literate or not. I wonder just how often the ruling is used. I bet Lady Thatcher never used Denis's arms with an escutcheon! The risk that someone would use an image, with escutcheon, trawled from the internet and re-use it as if it were the husband's must be quite high.
I take your point about images being lifted from the web and I can imagine that one day we may well be faced with gentlemen claiming to be armigerous and bearing arms with an escutcheon which to those in the know illustrates the courtesy arms of a spouse however, given that I have seen legitimate armigers displaying, in ignorance, the impaled arms originally used by their grandfather as though the achievement was their own then we can but attempt to educate.

I would imagine that this ruling is like that of cadency, in reality few if any take note of it. It does however illustrate the point that our ladies are "entitled" to use our arms (at least those of us lucky enough to have a spouse who takes sufficient interest to care one way or the other).
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Re: Display by one's spouse

Post by Chris Green » Thu Nov 14, 2013 3:09 pm

The important point is that today one forum member has received the correct answer to his question, and another has been reminded that heraldry is a living science and referring to old books is not necessarily going to provide the correct answer!
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Re: Display by one's spouse

Post by Martin Goldstraw » Thu Nov 14, 2013 4:29 pm

Chris Green wrote:The important point is that today one forum member has received the correct answer to his question, and another has been reminded that heraldry is a living science and referring to old books is not necessarily going to provide the correct answer!
Quite.
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Douglas Solberg-Bell
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Re: Display by one's spouse

Post by Douglas Solberg-Bell » Fri Nov 15, 2013 5:47 pm

Thank you, gentlemen. That was precisely the information I was looking for.

Considering that my wife has enthusiastically supported the advancement of my arms (and indeed agreed to something of a 'Heraldry Budget'), I cannot help but feel that I owe her more than just my gratitude. The lozenge in chief to distinguish her and her role will open up some interesting new prospects for tokens. And this sort of diamond is easier to swing than most!

Regards,
Douglas Solberg-Bell

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Re: Display by one's spouse

Post by Chris Green » Fri Nov 15, 2013 6:07 pm

That's no thanks to yours truly!
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Re: Display by one's spouse

Post by Douglas Solberg-Bell » Fri Nov 15, 2013 7:13 pm

I appreciate your taking the time to comment upon my question though, Chris. It was kind of you to take an interest, and to wish to assist me!

Regards,
Douglas Solberg-Bell

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Re: Display by one's spouse

Post by Jeremy Kudlick » Wed Nov 27, 2013 10:12 pm

As you are residents of the United States, there is nothing to prevent your wife from assuming arms of her own. There may be some who scoff at that since tradition might dictate otherwise, but as Chris said, heraldry is a living, changing science.
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Re: Display by one's spouse

Post by Martin Goldstraw » Thu Nov 28, 2013 9:44 am

Jeremy Kudlick wrote:As you are residents of the United States, there is nothing to prevent your wife from assuming arms of her own. There may be some who scoff at that since tradition might dictate otherwise, but as Chris said, heraldry is a living, changing science.
I agree entirely with Jeremy but I would go further; I don't see why anyone should scoff at the assumption of arms especially when one has no option as is the case in the United States. If we are going to refer to "tradition" it must surely be true to say that there is now a very well established tradition in the Unites States of the assumption of arms, if a man can assume arms, what can possibly be wrong with a woman assuming arms? Her marital status should not disadvantage her, those days are long gone.
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Michael F. McCartney
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Re: Display by one's spouse

Post by Michael F. McCartney » Mon Apr 06, 2015 2:24 am

Belated second to Martin's last post.
I seem to recall seeing fairly recently that the CoA has dropped the little shields and lozenges rules for women, but cannot swear to it. Since it was never the practice in the US or anywhere else outside England (except maybe among those with honourary English arms granted after the ruling cited above) I confess I didn't pay close attention.

To me at least, it was a solution looking for a problem :). IMO my spouse is free to use my arms, her family's arms, or to impale them, depending on the context, space available, and most importantly her own whimsy! (Marriage Rule 1: she's always right; Rule 2: see Rule 1)
Mike~~
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Kathy McClurg
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Re: Display by one's spouse

Post by Kathy McClurg » Sat Apr 25, 2015 8:52 am

Douglas Solberg-Bell wrote:Good evening, all.

I have a question that I should like to address to those members of this body who are married: What display, if any, do you permit your spouse?

I have seen the lozenge employed for widows, but what provision is there for a wife to display her living husband’s arms? What forms could this take? I would be interested in hearing interpretations or ideas from any school of thought, ancient or modern.
I'm excessively late to this conversation, but I'm not one to let that stop me. A couple of points:
1. As an American, the doors are flung wide. You may wish to follow the lozenge option of the College of Arms as provided by Martin's link to Cheshire-Heraldry (which would make your armorial traditions appear decidedly English).
2. Since arms are generally associated with the surname (virtually universally) of the family (people related to one another. There is precedent for "family" arms. The shield becoming usable by all members of your immediate family, including your wife (assuming she has adopted your surname). This is not to be confused with "surname" arms of the type one uses just because their name happens to be Smith or Jones.
3. If your wife assumed arms in her own right, what surname would she assume them under? If her married name is now legally her surname, would we now have two "Solberg-Bell" arms in the family?

As an aside, being an unmarried woman, I find the original question amusing to say the least, "What display, if any, do you permit your spouse?"
Be well,
Kathy

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Re: Display by one's spouse

Post by Michael F. McCartney » Mon Apr 27, 2015 5:02 am

Ditto Kathy's #1 and 2, and her snicker re: "permit" :)

#3 seems to me a bit (but not a lot) more complicated. Assuming we're talking about what's appropriate in the US (Douglas, Kathy and I are all Americans, so any contrary foreign practices are not binding) here's my take on it; others may see it somewhat differently:
* Normal practice here, as noted earlier, allows the wife to use her husband's arms, or her own family's arms, or to impale them in the customary manner. Traditionally, her kids could quarter her arms with their father's arms if she was an heraldic heiress -- no brothers, or if they are deceased with no surviving sons. (I think some Americans would allow quartering even if the mother is not an heiress; I don't have a strong opinion one way or another, other than generally preferring simplicity absent some compelling reason for

* But here, while continuing to use inherited and/or spousal arms is the normal practice, no one is bound to do so. If the wife really wants something different from both her parents and husband, and can't be talked out of it :) , she has that right, and could then use them alone or impale them with her husband's arms. I would think she would then be in effect her own heraldic heiress and her kids would have the option of quartering her arms with their father's arms in the usual manner.

* If the wife's family doesn't have arms, she likewise has the right to devise and use new personal arms, either alone or impaled. Her intent might be for her new arms to be hers alone, under whichever surname she uses. If so, she would in effect be her own heraldic heiress, so her kids could (optionally) quarter these arms with their father's arms in the usual manner based on which surname(s) they bear.

* Or her intent may be for the new arms to pertain to her parents, siblings, and maybe cousins to the Nth degree bearing her maiden surname; hopefully as a joint effort. She would then have the same options with those new arms as if they had been her family's arms for generations.

Anyway that's how I see it.
Mike~~
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Kathy McClurg
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Re: Display by one's spouse

Post by Kathy McClurg » Wed Apr 29, 2015 7:56 pm

One minor quibble, Michael, "she would then be an heraldic heiress in her own right" (in several places above - or generally said).. NO, She'd be the bearer of her own, unique arms and no more an "heir" to those arms than a man who has assumed his own arms. ;)

(studiously avoiding the term "armiger" as I believe it is one of your favorites...)
Be well,
Kathy

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Re: Display by one's spouse

Post by Michael F. McCartney » Wed Apr 29, 2015 9:30 pm

Kathy - of course you're right. I did say "in effect" but should have also said "as if" or some such qualifier signifying a different technical status but with same practical outcome, i.e. same options re: quartering by the kids "as if" momma dearest had been an heraldic heiress.

Personally I'd discourage (or better, not encourage) quartering unless there were compelling reasons to do so - such as a need / desire to distinguish different branches of the same family (though simple cadency could also serve, with less visual clutter);
or a strong connection to / identification with momma's family, for example where they are longstanding and prominent residents and dad was a recent addition with no other roots in the area - in effect, momma's family was their main family [in this case, I wouldn't even much care if momma was an heiress, actual or even "as if" so long as momma's family actually used the arms]; though adding some element from momma's family arms might serve nearly as well;
or a significant historical reason, such as a maternal ancestor "x" generations back who bore those arms and who signed the Declaration of Independence or was otherwise historically important;
or that's the way your immigrant ancestors bore their arms (to me, the most compelling reason).

But briefly, not just because you could!

And of course there are the artistic / visual considerations, which IMO usually favor the simpler display of only the unquartered pronomial [word?] arms, even if quartering would otherwise be justifiable.

But these are just my views of "best practice" - not binding on others with different views of the pro's and con's.
Mike~~
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Re: Display by one's spouse

Post by Kathy McClurg » Fri May 01, 2015 5:07 pm

If both parents have arms in their own right, Then are you advocating that the paternal line's arms have priority to the maternal line? That's a bit of a reflection of a rather old legally discriminatory sexist practices. Justifying it on "custom" is, merely, wrong...

I prefer simpler arms as well, but not to the detriment of one or the other parent. I've had some thoughts on this, and think the CHA's full and open method is overboard.. But - I think a system of quartering could maintain the heraldic heritage of the individual (both sides) for a couple generations in such a way one would ultimately connect back to the original arms.. I just haven't run it by too many folks because so many aren't willing to open their mind to options.. or thoughts of options which place the maternal line in any sort of discussion..
Be well,
Kathy

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Re: Display by one's spouse

Post by Chris Green » Fri May 01, 2015 5:44 pm

Justifying it on "custom" is, merely, wrong..
The customs which we inherit from our forbears may not coincide with the views of some people alive today but that does not make them wrong.

The great majority of people in the western world inherited their surnames from their fathers. Their children have inherited their surnames from their fathers. So to inherit their fathers' arms is quite logical. If you consider that children should inherit their parent's' arms equally, then by your logic they must inherit their parents' names equally. So which name takes precedence the father's or the mother's? And what happens to these double-barreled children when they marry other double-barreled people? Quadruple-barreled grandchildren? You can't quarter names ad infinitum any more than you can quarter arms.

US citizens have heraldic possibilities which we who live in the jurisdiction of established heraldic authorities do not. You may follow the customs of your forebears or ignore them. You can create and assume arms without let or hindrance. It is therefore illogical to try to prescribe how arms should be inherited. Each child may take its father' or its mother's arms, impale them, quarter them, or dream up completely new arms. In some ways total anarchy, in others total freedom.
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Re: Display by one's spouse

Post by Kathy McClurg » Mon May 04, 2015 11:32 pm

Chris Green wrote:
Justifying it on "custom" is, merely, wrong..
The customs which we inherit from our forbears may not coincide with the views of some people alive today but that does not make them wrong.

The great majority of people in the western world inherited their surnames from their fathers. Their children have inherited their surnames from their fathers. So to inherit their fathers' arms is quite logical. If you consider that children should inherit their parent's' arms equally, then by your logic they must inherit their parents' names equally. So which name takes precedence the father's or the mother's? And what happens to these double-barreled children when they marry other double-barreled people? Quadruple-barreled grandchildren? You can't quarter names ad infinitum any more than you can quarter arms.

US citizens have heraldic possibilities which we who live in the jurisdiction of established heraldic authorities do not. You may follow the customs of your forebears or ignore them. You can create and assume arms without let or hindrance. It is therefore illogical to try to prescribe how arms should be inherited. Each child may take its father' or its mother's arms, impale them, quarter them, or dream up completely new arms. In some ways total anarchy, in others total freedom.
We are speaking to an American Chris. Just because the jurisdictions have mostly ignored or avoided the laws against discriminatory practices, does not make it "right." At one time there were customs that women owned no property. In some locations women cannot leave their home unless they are in the presence of male members of their family - that doesn't make the custom right. It merely makes it the custom.

In the previous comments the comment was made that the wife could assume arms and then the term used was "as if" she were a heraldic heiress. Any person assuming arms in their own right is a person with arms and the children should quarter them. The father's assumed arms or granted arms or matriculated arms are no more or less important than the mother's assumed arms or granted arms or matriculated arms. Instead of any remote attempt at determining how to preserve the person's male and female heraldic past, given the non discrimination laws, heraldry is one of the bastions of "we've always done it this way."

The College of Arms rapidly came up with a solution for same sex marriages. Do we think it could not do the same if it put it's collective mind together for heterosexual marriages?

If both parents have arms in their own right they should be quartered. If the mother comes from an armigerous family, my belief is we should be looking to find a way to preserve this aspect of the family's history.

Heraldry is generally slow to change - I get that - but it generally will not even look for a solution in this - I get that, too. Not because it's the "right" thing to do, but because it's the customary thing to do. Perhaps some review of how the Spanish integrate their maternal line or some consideration on what the CHA is doing or not doing should be taken into consideration. But this discussion will not get off the ground because it is considered to be some horrid threat to the very nature of heraldry - just as the thought of women voting was a threat to the very nature of government in the not too distant past... OK, off the soap box now..
Be well,
Kathy

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Re: Display by one's spouse

Post by Michael F. McCartney » Tue May 05, 2015 3:29 am

Kathy, don't hold back - tell us what you REALLY think! ;)
Mike~~
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Re: Display by one's spouse

Post by Chris Green » Tue May 05, 2015 4:58 am

Cathy:

It would help if you read and digested other people's contributions before dragging out the soap-box. You begin your post:
We are speaking to an American Chris.
but then ignore completely the last paragraph of mine:
US citizens have heraldic possibilities which we who live in the jurisdiction of established heraldic authorities do not. You may follow the customs of your forebears or ignore them. You can create and assume arms without let or hindrance. It is therefore illogical to try to prescribe how arms should be inherited. Each child may take its father' or its mother's arms, impale them, quarter them, or dream up completely new arms. In some ways total anarchy, in others total freedom.
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Re: Display by one's spouse

Post by Kathy McClurg » Tue May 05, 2015 11:41 am

Nope, Chris. I saw it.
Be well,
Kathy

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Re: Display by one's spouse

Post by Michael F. McCartney » Tue May 05, 2015 7:01 pm

Quick comments -
Freedom to choose, yes; total anarchy, no. While personal/family 6heraldry isn't legally regulated in the US (same as most of the non-UK world), we do have a ~200+ year history of heraldry from colonial times to the present. The American Heraldry Society's Guidelines addresses this as a set of recommended "best practices" (linked to their home page) for those not already aware of it.
Mike~~
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Re: Display by one's spouse

Post by Chris Green » Tue May 05, 2015 7:17 pm

Michael F. McCartney wrote:Quick comments -
Freedom to choose, yes; total anarchy, no. While personal/family 6heraldry isn't legally regulated in the US (same as most of the non-UK world), we do have a ~200+ year history of heraldry from colonial times to the present. The American Heraldry Society's Guidelines addresses this as a set of recommended "best practices" (linked to their home page) for those not already aware of it.
But they are only guidelines. And as even we who reside on this side of the pond know, some on your side take "the land of the free" rather more literally than others.
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