The following contains additions and corrections to the early Brabazon arms described in this section, made after consulting the references below. Many thanks to Toban Wild who was able to access Gerard Brault’s Roll of Arms of Edward I.
Arms belonged to a particular person. Amongst other things, they were used to identify a knight in battle or at a tournament. They could be passed down to all the owner’s male descendants. Differencing marks were used to distinguish between the main line and cadet branches. If there were no male heirs a woman could inherit her father’s arms. When she married they could be combined with, or incorporated into her husband’s arms by impaling (the shield divided in two) or quartering (four or more divisions). Different rules evolved over time.
Gules on a bend Argent three martlets Sable
The first known illustration of a Brabazon coat of arms was in the Lord Marshall's Roll, 1295. This roll, consisting of painted shields with identifying names, was compiled on the eve of the war against the Scots. The arms have been attributed to Sir Roger Brabazon who was appointed Chief Justice of the King’s Bench about August of that year. The original roll no longer exists. When a copy was made, about 1640, there were some errors interpreting the colours and other details, in particular silver (argent) was used on several shields instead of gold (or). If this represents the arms of Sir Roger Brabazon, perhaps the bend (diagonal stripe) should have been painted gold, because in other records his arms have the ‘bend or’.
Collins’ Roll dated about 1296 had two versions. The originals are lost but there are six copies, some painted and some tricked (black and white drawings with the colours etc. marked with abbreviations). Arms attributed to Roger Brabazon are in both versions. It is possible that one has the bend argent. Because there were two people named Roger Brabazon it is possible that the different versions belonged to different people.
This variation was recorded by William Burton about 1622, in Harby, Whetstone and Oadby, churches, co Leicester. Anabil Brabazon, sister and eventual co-heir to Sir Roger Brabazon married Robert de Oudeby (Oadby).
These arms were also in the windows of the church at Croxall Derbyshire, home of the Curzon family. Emma Brabazon, another of Sir Roger Brabazon’s sisters married William Curzon. Their son Thomas Curzon adopted this version of the arms and they continued to be used by the family. Those in the church at Croxall were recorded in tricked form in 1596 and one is shown here. When quartering their arms in later years the version, below, with the gold bend was used.
Gules on a bend Or three martlets Sable
These arms appear in Collins’ Roll. They were also recorded as belonging to Sir Roger Brabazon in the Parliamentary or Bannerets’ Roll dated about 1312. Roger was a member of the King’s Council. A Banneret was a feudal knight ranking between a knight bachelor and a baron who was entitled to lead men into battle under his own standard, which was square. Lower ranking knights would use a pennant.
The same arms were in the parish church of Eastwell in 1622, the seat of Roger Brabazon the younger, one of Sir Roger Brabazon’s nephews. They are used by the Earls of Meath and other branches of the Irish family who descend from Sir William Brabazon, and thus from the Eastwell family.
About 1622 Burton also recorded these arms in the following Leicestershire churches, Ashby Folville, Edmundthorpe, Oadby, Owston, Saddington and possibly Sproxton. (The colour of the bend was omitted from the text, but there is a note saying the bend was or (gold)).
John Nichols (1798) recorded that they were on the window glass of an old building in Burrow Leicestershire, with the inscription, John ......on. In the church the same arms were on a memorial stone beside the much worn figure of a man.
In black and white illustrations and engravings the artist used a traditional method of indicating the colours. Gules is shown with perpendicular lines. Or is shown with pricks or points.
Gules on a bend Or three martlets azure
S Roger Brabazon
The Galloway Roll, 1300 was a blazoned roll (written description). Drawn up at the height of the king's wars, it commemorates around 250 knights who served in south-west Scotland in 1300. It is the first armorial of its type to record the names of a large number of knight’s bachelor and to arrange them into the retinues in which they served. For many years it was thought that there were three mullets (stars) on the bend, but this was probably an error, the word for mullet in French being similar to the word for martlet, a mistake being made when a scribe copied from the original roll. The colour of the martlets (azure) is not seen elsewhere in regard to Brabazon, and may be another error.
The martlet in English heraldry is a small bird resembling a swallow, shown with tufts of feathers on its legs but no feet. Several impressions of Roger Brabazon’s seal are held in archives, described in the catalogues as having, on a bend three martlets, or perhaps Cornish choughs or crows.
The Cornish Chough is a bird rather like a crow, black, with red beak and legs. According to Parker’s Heraldry this bearing was confined to Cornish families until Barker, who was Garter King of Arms, in the time of Henry VIII, granted it indiscriminately to any applicants for arms. It would not have been used by a Leicestershire resident in the thirteenth century. The mistaken description would arise from the small size of the seal which of course also has no colours
Gules on a bend Argent three Martlets of the field.
Brabazon & Woodford
These arms are from The Visitation of the County of Leicester in the year 1619, but relate to an earlier era.
Joan daughter and sole heiress of Sir John Brabazon of Sproxton and Garthorpe co. Leicester (living 1363) married William Woodford. She was granddaughter of Sir William Brabazon and Joan Trussel. The colour of the martlets is also not seen elsewhere.
Joan and William Woodford’s descendants later used the ‘bend or martlets sable’ version when they incorporated the Brabazon arms into their family arms, as recorded by Burton and Nichols in Ashby Folville church. Woodford arms impaled with Brabazon are in Sproxton church but although the martlets are sable (black) the colour of the bend is not certain.
Main references used were:
Woodcock, Grant & Graham, Dictionary of British Arms : Medieval Ordinary Vol II (1996)
Brault, Gerard, Roll of Arms of Edward I, (1997) 2 Vols
Burton, William, A Description of Leicestershire, second edition 1641 (1st Ed 1622)
Nichols, John, The History and Antiquities of the County of Leicester.
Palgrave, Francis, The Parliamentary Writs and Writs of Summons Vol I (1827)
Ussher Richard, An Historical Sketch of the Parish of Croxall in the County of Derby (1881)