The Arms of Dartmouth

Devon & Cornwall Notes and Queries vol. VI, (January 1910 to October 1911), pp. 67-8.


F. Were

Prepared by Michael Steer

The Arms of Dartmouth are; Gules on Water barry wavy, in base proper an Ancient Ship issuant from the centre thereof the Figure of a King robed crowned and holding in his sinister hand a Sceptre on the bow and on the stern of the ship a Lion sejant guardant that to the dexter contourné all Or. The arms were historically recorded as a seal device (untinctured) at the Visitation of 1620; confirmed by Kings' of Arms Certificate 31st January 1951. They are based on an ancient seal of the former Corporation. The figure is believed to be Edward III, who granted the town a charter. The arms bear a general resemblance to his gold noble, in which he is represented as 'Lord of the Sea'; and are a reminder that Dartmouth provided ships for his French wars. The extract, from a copy of a rare and much sought-after journal can be downloaded from the Internet Archive. Google has sponsored the digitisation of books from several libraries. These books, on which copyright has expired, are available for free educational and research use, both as individual books and as full collections to aid researchers.

54. THE ARMS OF DARTMOUTH (V., p. 280.) - I have not been able before now, owing to change of residence, to read up back numbers of D. & C. N. & Q.; but I take this, the first opportunity, of referring to the late Mr. Roscoe Gibbs' correct rendering of the blazon of these arms. The robes then should be given as 'proper, i.e., argent semee de lis or.,' But I must dissent from the second paragraph, as the engraving on p. 281 is party per fess, the ship, etc., in chief and the barry wavy in base, therefore the field is gules and barry wavy, the ships, etc., on the gules and nothing on the barry wavy, which would be pure heraldry, even if the shield was party by chief.

The Exeter Cathedral shields are very interesting, and will bear more study than I have been able to give them; and the query of No. 39 may possibly be identified by these few notes. I think 1 and 4 is intended for gules three bars or BERRY, and 2 and 3 for PENRICE; as William de Berry married Isabel, daughter and co-heir of William de Penrice, so BERRY would have the right to quarter PENRICE. The impalement could not have been intended for its position, as the bordure goes all round; possibly 1 and 4 is ELIOTT whilst 2 and 3, not having been deciphered (though the charges look more like birdbolts than castles), must remain for the present a query; but if it is a quartering of Eliott, the bordure would certainly be there for a difference.