Coats of Arms

Prior to the 17th Century

Coats of Arms were first introduced to enable army commanders to be identified in battle by the devices painted on their banners, shields & surcoats because facial identification was impossible when the head was completely covered by the great war helmet. The Heralds of the English royal household were required to keep records both of the arms & of family descent.

In 1484, King Richard III granted them a charter of incorporation which resulted in the various Heralds & their records being brought together within The College of Arms in London. In 1555, a second royal charter of incorporation was issued & the site of the present college building, in what is now Queen Victoria Street, was granted to them.

We do not know when the Micklethwaits first used 'Coat armour'.

17th Century

In Sir William Dugdales visitation of Yorkshire in 1666, he refers to a letter dated 1626 issued by John Borough Miles, Norroy King of Arms of The Northern Parts beyond The Trent, in which the following arms are confirmed to Elias Micklethwait of York (ID No 15) son of John Micklethwait of Ingbirchworth, Co York (ID No 3). The fact that the arms were confirmed rather than granted indicates that they had been in use by the family prior to 1626. The letter found that these arms belonged to 'the old family of Micklethwayt' and were so recorded amongst those 'of illustrious people in these northern parts'.

The original Yorkshire Coat of Arms & Crest

BLAZON OF ARMS Chequy argent and gules, on a chief indented azure a crescent or.
TRANSLATION OF BLAZON Ar (silver) denotes Peace and Sincerity; gules (red) depicts Military Fortitude; azure (blue) signifies Truth and Loyalty.
CREST A griffin’s head argent, erased gules, gorged with a collar componee of the second and first.
MOTTO In coelo spes mea est.
TRANSLATION OF MOTTO My hope is in heaven.

A design of the crest & blazon is shown below
(click for a larger image)

The earliest Coats of Arms were remarkable for their simplicity.

Fuller, author of 'Worthies of England', is quoted as saying:- 'The plainer the Coat of Arms, the more ancient and honourable it was. 3 colours honourable; 4 commendable; 5 excusable; more disgraceful !'

In 1664, the same Coat of arms was quoted in The London visitation Pedigrees (page 99) except that the crest was described as the head of an eagle rather than that of a griffin - probably a mistake at the time. The London visitation refers to the Rev Thomas Micklethwait who was Vicar of Plumstead, Kent from 1572 until 1584 (ID No 420/810) & he can be seen on the family trees page - both on the Yorkshire, Worsbrough Dale branch & The Southern Branch.

In 1666, a younger branch of the family, then living at Swyne, East Riding of Yorkshire were granted the original arms through the visitation to Northern England by Sir William Dugdale, Norroy King of Arms. Their arms include a crescent which indicates that they are the arms of the younger branch. (Source:- Surtees Society publication dated 1859 entitled 'Visitation of Yorkshire')

Still in the 17th century, it was recorded that the Micklethwaits of Binbrooke & Walesby, Lincolnshire used the same original arms. (Source:- College of Arms, London - Reference MS. C. 23).

18th Century

Viscount Micklethwait, originally of Swine, Yorkshire (1680-1734) - (ID No 113) used the same blazon & crest but added supporters & used a different motto as follows:-

SUPPORTERS Two horses erm
MOTTO Favente Numine
TRANSLATION OF MOTTO By the favour of Providence.

The College of Arms have never regulated the use of mottos - indeed to-day they often encourage the use of different mottos for different members of the same family. The male line of the Swine branch became extinct in 1734 with the death of Viscount Micklethwait.

The Coats of Arms used in Southern England

John Micklethwait of Beeston Hall, Norfolk (1719-1799) - (ID No 863) used the Coat of Arms which is illustrated above i.e. the coat originally granted to the Swine branch of the family. Source:- St Mary's Church, Birchanger, Essex.

The same John Micklethwait later married Elizabeth Peckham of Iridge Place, Sussex in 1766 & their joint Coat of Arms was described as follows. Source:- Burkes The General Armory of England, Scotland & Wales.

QUARTERLY 1st & 4th As illustrated above
QUARTERLY 2nd & 3rd The Peckham arms - ermine a chief potent quarterly or and gu.
CRESTS First, a griffin's head ar. erased gu. gorged with a collar componee of the second & first. Second, on a mount between two palm branches vert an ostrich or, in the beak a horse-shoe, sa.
MOTTO Favente Numine.

We do not have an illustration of this coat at present but it can be seen at The College of Arms - reference 43/95.

19th Century

John Micklethwait's grandson, Sir Sotherton Branthwayte Peckham Micklethwait Bart. (1788-1853) - (ID No 883) was so named because his ancestors also included members of the families of Sotherton & Branthwayte. His Coat of Arms was a combination of 3 families as illustrated below. Quarters 1 & 4 related to the male line - i.e. the Micklethwaits whereas quarters 2 & 3 related the female lines of Peckham & Branthwayte respectively. He would have used the motto shown in the illustration below prior to becoming a baronet, whereas we know from other sources (a hand-book of Mottoes by C. N. Elvin) that he assumed the longer motto of 'Favente Numine Regina Servatur' (By the favour of the Deity, the Queen is preserved) when he was created a baronet.

The same hand-book reports that 'he was created a baron for an important personal sevice rendered by him to Her Majesty and The Duchess of Kent, at St Leonard's, Co Sussex, Nov 1832'. The personal service is recorded in our family records as follows:-

Created a baronet on 27th July 1838 by Queen Victoria as a reward for saving both her & her mother (The Duchess of Kent) when she was still Princess Victoria. The horses of the Royal carriage had bolted & Captain Sotherton, who was a huge & powerful man, stood in the way of the horses, seized the animals by their bridles & compelled them by sheer physical strength to stop thus saving the occupants from serious if not fatal injury. The young Queen remembered his bravery & Captain Sotherton was one of her first baronets.