Burke's General Armoury of 1884 states the following:
'Noble and illustrious descent being held in high esteem, strict attention was paid to the observance of a just and exact distinction between the different ranks or classes of people. The ignoble never presumed, in those ancient times, to arrogate a participation in the rights annexed to eminence or parentage, or to claim honours to which their superiors alone were entitled. And, the Nobility and Gentry, cautiously jealous of their dignity, avoided mixing with the vulgar, and sedulously careful for the preservation, on all public and solemn occasions, of that purity of rank, and precedence which was due to the Feudal System to their birth and station in life.
Family Arms, being the general criterion which distinguished the Gentleman from the Peasant, no persons were suffered to enter the Lists to Tourney, or exercise any Feats of Arms, unless they could to the satisfaction of the Kings of Arms, prove themselves to be Gentlemen of Coat Armour. And, the Ancient Gentry took particular care to have their Arms, embroidered on their common wearing over coats, and would not suffer any person of the lower class, although become rich and wealthy, to use such tokens of Gentle Birth and Distinction, nay, so jealous were they of any infringement of the Armorial Rights, to which they and their Families were entitled, that, when ever the Arms which they and their Families had borne happened to be claimed by any other Gentleman, they vindicated their Rights in the Military Courts, and very often by Duel.
Under these circumstances it became essential and was a necessary part of the Duties of the Heralds, to draw out, with accuracy and exactness the authentic genealogies of Noble Families, and the Families of Gentle Birth, to continue, and from time to time, to add to and preserve their Pedigree in direct collateral lines, and to have a perfect knowledge of all Hereditary Arms, Ensigns, Badges of Honour, and the external marks as well of personal as of Family Rank and Distinction.
All persons, who can deduce descent from an Ancestor whose Armorial Ensigns have been acknowledged in any of the Visitations, are entitled to Carry and Bare those Arms, by the Right of Inheritance. When, how ever no such descent can be shown, the Party must, if it be possible, prove himself to be descended from some one whose Rights has been admitted from a Grantee, or, in fault of that proof, must become a Grantee himself,. if the College of Arms are so willing to make such a Grant.
The entries for the name of Stratford in the General Armoury are as follows.
Of Farnscott, Hawling and Nether Guiting, County Gloucester and Nuneaton, County Warwick, assigned by Guillam as the Arms of Richard Stratford of Hawling, Gent, descended from the Stratford's of Farnscott.
Barruly of ten Ar and Az, a lion Rampant Gu, Langued Or Crest. a Dexter arm embowed, habited Ar, holding a scimitar Or, cuffed Gules.
Of Coventry, County Warwick. Barruly of ten Or and Gu, a lion Rampant Ar. Crest, an Arm in armour proper, grasping a scimitar Or.
Belan, County Kildare, Queen's County and Baitinglass, County Wicklow, descended from Robert Stratford who settled in Ireland in 1660, and was one of the original burgesses in the Charter granted to Baltinglass. His son Edward Stratford, purchased 6 Belan, County Kildare, from Lord FitzHarding, and entertained William the Third there. He left three sons.
Stratford Earl of Aldborough, extinct 1876.
Descended from John Stratford, created Earl of Aldborough 1777, the third son of Edward Stratford Esquire of Belan, temp William the Third. Benjamin the sixth Earl d.s.p..
The co-heirs of the Branch are.
Anthony Stratford, Governor of Dungannon Fort, County Wexford. Fun Ent, Ulster's Office 1685, of his son in law, Charles Colles Esquire of Maghevamore, County Sligo. Barry of Eight Ar and Az, a Lion Rampant Gules.
Per Fesse Gules and Sable three Plates, another Sable a fesse between three plates.
I will now consider the entries which have been indicated above. The entries recorded at the College of Arms in London, agree that the Stratford of Farnscott, Hawling and Nether Guiting, County Gloucester are correct, but, the entry of Nuneaton was not recorded during the Herald's Visitations of County Warwick, although as I shall show at a later date, that they visited Edward Stratford, who was not making any Claim to Arms.
Stratford of Coventry was eventually the Arms of the Irish branch and the Earl of Aldborough.
The entry of Stratford, Belan, County Kildare, is partly correct as to the Pedigree reference, but it is incorrect as to the description of the Arms, and the mistake is identical with the following entry for Stratford, Earl of Aldborough, which is actually a continuance of the same Ancestor, namely Robert Stratford who settled in Ireland in the year 1660.
There is in existence an Illuminated Manuscript, which I have seen personally held by the
Wingfield Stratford inherited from Edward Stratford, Earl of Aldborough, which shows
clearly two Pedigrees originating from one Ancestor. The Grant to the Irish Branch
descended from the Merevale branch of Warwickshire was in fact.
A Barruly of ten Ar and Az, with overall a Lion Rampant Or.
The Herald's Visitations for Warwickshire in 1683, state the following.
Edward Stratford of Nuneaton, County Warwick, married Grace the daughter of Partinger of Gritworth, Northants. He died in 1665 and she in 1683. They left issue of:
At no time, as far as I am aware, have the Merevale Branch, now represented by Sir William Stratford Dugdale, Bart, ever proved their relationship with the Main Stock of Farmcote and Hawling, although I personally believe that I have, in fact, done it myself. Francis Stratford of Merevale left no living Male issue, and the Dugdale's married his eldest daughter and co-heiress.
The following is a letter dated the 14th of August 1827, from the College of Arms, and was sent to William Dugdale Stratford Dugdale.
'I have to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 29th ulto, enclosing extracts from the parochial register of Bushley, of entries of the name of Stratford.
On referring to my collections, it appears quite clear that these entries apply to the Family of Anthony Stratford who was constituted Guardian of the children of Giles Stratford of London, his brother, by the Muncuptive Will of the latter in 1583, and I find, amongst the Abstracts of Wills which I have inspected in the course of this enquiry, that Simon Stratford, one of the sons of Anthony, died in about 1623, leaving the property to his two brothers, Thomas and John, who were both residing at Bushley at the date of the Will in 1614.
With regards to the Deeds in your possession which you offer to send me for my inspection, there are three or four Documents, of an early date, which you appear likely to contain some information not already before us. These are referred to in the enclosed paper and bear dates, 1603, 1613, and 1631. I have nothing before me of an earlier date than the Will of Robert in 1615, respecting the two brothers Robert and John, from the latter of whom you are descended, and, therefore, it occurs to me that some description or recital may be found in these Documents likely to further the object of your enquiry. If it should be convenient to you to send me these in the course of the present week, I could inspect and return them to you before I leave town, which I propose to do early in the ensuing week.
I am not aware of any source of information so likely to afford us the additional evidence
we want as the Will Offices at Worcester, and Gloucester, where I think it very probable
Documents may be discovered to fix the connection of Robert and John Stratford with
the Main Stock. For this purpose, I could make the examination on my return from the
West of England in the early part of next month. With respect of such examination, I do
not imagine they would exceed £20. our usual charge upon similar occasions, being at
the rate of three guineas per item, for the time devoted to the investigation, exclusive of
the actual disbursements for travelling expenses and Fees paid.
I have the Honour to be, with greatest respect,
Sir, Your Obedient Servant,
A further Letter dated the 2nd of August 1834, from the same writer to William Dugdale Stratford Dugdale here follows.
I regret being absent from the College when you did me the favour to call a few days since.
I have perused the extracts from the Parish Registers of Nuneaton furnished by the Reverend M. king, and I consider them of some importance in as much as they afford evidence of the fact that your ancestors were resident in that Parish twenty or thirty years earlier than any previous evidence in our possession upon that point. We also have a record of the marriage of your ancestor John Stratford with Anne Wright in 1593, and upon the whole, as Mr. King states in his letter that these extracts are all that he has been able to make out with any satisfaction as to their correctness. I would suggest to you to enquire of that Gentleman, the earliest date of his Register and recommend a further examination of the entries from the earliest date, as well as a search among any other Parochial papers. There are many extracts of an equally early date, touching on the Stratford Family.
I am still of the opinion from the circumstances which I submitted to you some years
since, that there is reason to believe that John Stratford, the brother of Robert, who
died in 1615, was the son of Giles, who died in London in 1583, leaving children, not
named, in their minority. We therefore now only want evidence of this connecting link,
and, as I have recently learnt that there are Records still preserved in the Town Clerk's
Office, of the City of London, referring to this period, I have directed a search to be
made with a view of discovering whether any proceedings took place in the Orphan's
Court, likely to give us the names of the children of Giles Stratford. As soon as I am
furnished with the the result of this enquiry, I will do myself the pleasure of writing to you
again, and in the meantime, I observe that in my letter to you of the 14th of August 1827,
I suggested you sending to me some Documents of the dates, 1603, 1607, 1615 and
1631, in your possession, as likely to give us some additional information, but I do not find
that these papers were ever sent to me.
I remain Dear Sir,
Yours very Faithfully,
Disregarding the above evidences the Merevale Branch still quarter the red Lion Rampant on all Documents, widows, and Monuments, but whether this is justified or not, it is not for me to say, but it would be interesting to see the Letters Patent, if any exist, for this claim to the Stratford Arms Undifferenced.
There are in my possession copies of a large amount of material actually from the Archives of Merevale, now at the Warwick record Office, where research had been undertaken for claim to the Main Stock, of the Stratford's of Farmcote and Hawling, without any satisfactory results, and there was according to letters written between the Families, friendship. After all, we should be proud to be associated in blood kinmanship with such a Family as that of the Dugdale's.
Edward Stratford, Earl of Aldborough, wrote a series of Manuscripts, presently deposited at Dublin Castle Archives, which indicated the following relative entries.
Well your supporters, with Arms agree,Note here that the writer's Arms were a Barruly of five, azure and argent, charged with a Lyon Rampant Ruby. Supporters, on the Dexter side, Fame, represented by a Female figure in her right hand a Trumpet. On the Sinister an emblematic figure of Mars. Motto Vituti Nihil Obstat Et Armis,
And to your motto, but adapted they,
Of Virtue, Valour, Lyon's, Emblems are
Your Motto shows you have both at heart.
Better supporters to a Family,
Than Male and Female, we can never see,
Arch Angel, sacred, Godlike, valour Pale,
Recording Fame, and Mass, in Coat of Mail,
Which e'er you personate you're well applied,
Fame, Valour, Angel, Hero to Virtue, are ally'd
How each Supporters with your Motto suits
Those Arms I hate, whose Chief Supporters are Brutes,
To Angel, Hero, whether you're applied
Valour or Fame, to Virtue, each's ally'd.
Notes written in the margin by the same hand are,
The Angel or Fame most properly over Virtue, and a Warrior over Arms, a seraph and warrior being the best emblem of virtue and fortitude. Another. The Angel is a woman and the Hero of a man are the best supporters of a Family since with out them propagation of prosperity must fail.
Note. The Arms finally approved were Stratford, a Barruly of ten Argent and Azure with over all a Lion Rampant Gold, with the O'Neal ones in pretence, Lady Battinglass being a very Heraldic Heiress.
This is continued in a letter in the Verner Collection, from Edward to his father dated the 19th of May 1763. The date of the Barony was the 21st of May. The Peerage of 1768 gives an engraving of the Arms, which do not here show the escutcheon of pretence, but have four quartering's.
The reference to Stratford, Anthony, Governor of Dungannon Fort, County Wexford, indicates again also as the previous grant we have examined relating to Edward Stratford, Earl of Aldborough, that although his name was Stratford, and more than likely could, if proved claim direct descent to the Main Stock of Farmcote and Hawling, had to difference his Arms, and in this case by only having a Barruly of eight instead of ten.
The reference Stratford, Per Fesse Gules, and Sable with three plates Or, was in fact the Ancient Stratford Arms, as borne by John De Stratford, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and the Sable, a Fesse between three plates, i do not know, unless it be the Arms born by Ralph Hatton De Stratford, Bishop of London.
The Heralds visited Gloucestershire in 1543, accepted and recorded the Claim of Richard Stratford of Farmcote and Hawling, as follows, and of which are the Arms which I bear by Inheritance, with a Crescent Gold, for Difference. Quarterly od six.
Another Coat. Is also given viz. Gules a Fesse humetter Or, between three trestles Argent, a Crescent for difference. These Arm's were allegedly borne by George Stratford of Guiting, who must have been a second son, but, why they were not the same as of Farmcote, in the same Parish, I know not.
Herald's Visitations took place in Gloucestershire in 1623 and 1682, although on these occasions the golden tongue appears to have lapsed and not used, as on both visits the Family did not in fact quarter the other Ancestral Families Arms. There appears to be no reason whatsoever that as they were associated and accepted in the 1543 Visitations that they should still be borne today and quartered by myself.
On the 17th of February 1981, my brother and I reclaimed the Arms of Stratford of Farmcote and Hawling, with myself as afore stated, bearing a Crescent for Difference as the younger son, with the Herald's Visitation Pedigree of 1543, which gives John De Stratford, Member of Parliament for Gloucestershire, in 1314, as it's head.