Saturday, May 13, 2017

The Gregson Coat Of Arms

In almost all cases, when you see a Coat Of Arms for a surname, it's made up to sell products.  There are very few real coat of arms. And even if someone in your family does have one, that does not mean you have the right to bear it. There are all sorts of rules.

"However, actually having a coat of arms or family crest is much rarer than you might imagine. Having the hereditary right to use it is even rarer. While there are many companies out there that are willing to sell you all kinds of merchandise with your supposed “family crest” on it, the vast majority of these companies are not engaged in legitimate genealogical research. The coat of arms or crest you get may or may not belong to your family (and it might be made up completely by the company selling it to you), or you may not have the hereditary right to use it. If you really want to know something about heraldry (the art of studying coats of arms and crests) and how it applies to your family, read on. It’s a fascinating tale." Read the rest here -

There is definitely a "real" Gregson coat of Arms.  So who received, it, why, and how does it apply to our family line?

From Page 19 of the pdf found here:  an excerpt from Falkenburg, Donald R., The Falkenburgs, a Colonial American Family,Willow Glen Publishing, San Jose, 2016

The Knight family branch of the Gregsons is the focus of the above book. Anthony Gregson’s will dated 7 OCT 1831 states: "“I give and devise All my Real Estate of which I die possessed of unto ...The Reverend Thomas Knight of Ford Rectory... Upon Trust to receive the rents issues and profits thereof until Henry Knight the eldest son of the said Thomas Knight attains his age of twenty one years... [Henry Knight] shall be in possession of the same Estate and for ever thereafter Assume and take upon himself and continue to use the Surname of Gregson only and no other Surname and bear the Coat Of Arms of that family...”   

We are not descendants of the Knight branch of the Gregson line.  The memoirs of James Gregson, brother of Nicholas, tell us ""I was born in England and came as a boy of twelve years to Philadelphia" October 1834 Nicholas & James emmigated to america with their parents.  Although they had the Gregson name, and were in England in 1831 when Anthony Gregson wrote his will, the estate was given to a closer relative, who did not bear the Gregson name, but took the name, and the Coat Of Arms.

So although there is a coat of arms for our Gregson family, we have no actual rights to it.  

Ok, so it's not "my" coat of arms - it still belonged to my Gregson ancestors, and I find it interesting.  So how did they get it?

The Gregson History referred to in the document above is the History Of The Gregson Family in Whalley Lancashire.  The page referenced is shown below:

That didn't really tell me much, but it's all I could find.

What do the symbols on the crest mean?

I found this, written by Val Edwards, in an online forum:
Regarding the Gregson coat of arms. Recently, I have questioned myself on the reason for the symbols contained therein. While it is commonly believed that the saltire is the preserve of St Andrew - this, as we know, is a white cross on a blue background whereas the saltire on the Gregson shield is red on silver. This led me to the fact that the symbol for St Patrick was a red saltire on white (or silver?) and therefore the symbolism of the Gregson arms is with possibly the connection of the Norman barons' colonisation of parts of southern Ireland. The arms of the medieval Norman-Irish family Fitzgerald bears a red saltire on a White background. As Gregory de Normanton received a knighthood presumably for military service in the mid 13th century may I suggest that the symbolism used on the Gregson coat of arms links back to the English and Welsh military battles in Ireland. The axe and the red colour are said to signify military strength, the couped arm - a symbol of leadership and possibly the canton chequy a symbol of colonisation of parts of Ireland. 

Additionally, it is interesting that the de Lacy family had strong connections with Ireland after the Norman invasions there. I read that it was a Henry de Lacy of Halton, near Chester who agreed to the rebuilding of the Cisterian abbey in Whalley after that on the banks of the River Mersey had been damaged by fire and flood and that the first stone was laid in 1296. 

Henry added the symbol of oak - meaning heroism. Why he added the dots of ermine to the canton - I am not sure why. I believe the Rain Gregsons had ermine dots on their coat of arms. This, I believed, was to signify their connection to the Royal blood line of the Clarence line through Caroline Dalton who married John Gregson of Murton and Burdon. (1805-1879)(see Duvigny), son of Rain Gregson. But perhaps I have misunderstood the significance of ermine.

But then again, maybe NONE of this applies.

I found  the following in a Gregson Forum online, written by Val Edwards:

Re A "Visitation of Yorkshire in 1567 and 1568" taken by a William Flower, Norroy of the College of Arms, which the Harleian Society in 1881 (a society of Genealogists) undertook to transcribe. It is edited by Charles Norcliffe and it is obtainable in digitised form.

On page 147-148 is a Pedigree (without dates) of Boland, Normanton and Gregson which shows that Thomasyne Boland married John Normanton. Thereafter it shows descendants as far as a Richard Gregson who married Grace daughter of John Cowell - Richard being the son of John and Margaret Gregson. There is no mention of a coat of arms of Gregson or Normanton for this pedigree the time scale of which goes to circa 1513.

This Pedigree seems to concur with Reid's in his "History of the Gregson's of Whalley" in a pamphlet lodged with the College of Arms (link given by Don Falkenburg in his draft working document on the Knight Gregsons dated March 2013 in his Appendix 10-A under the title "Connecting the Gregsons to the de Normanton Family " - the link is named 'Don Frankenburg's family web' )

I have a problem with Reid's account. Far be it for me to cast aspersions on an account accepted into the British College of Arms but - here comes the 'However' ! The account is carefully crafted and throws in citations such as Whitaker's History of Whalley, Ashmolean Manuscript 834 and various books on heraldry. However when I have tried to tie down these citations to anything relevant to the Gregsons of Whalley, I have drawn a blank. Has anyone else tried to tie Reid's citations to actual facts regarding the Gregson de Normantons and their coat of arms and crest and a link to Whalley?

Reid refers to the Arms of the de Normantons by referencing a Visitation dated 1533. The 1533 Visitation by William Fellows (Lancaster Herald) was to Lancashire. As I began, above, the Yorkshire visitation by William Flower shows the de Normantons who became Gregsons firmly established in Yorkshire in 1567 and 1568. How could they be in two places at once? On page 16 of Reid's account he says that in the 1533 Visitation to Lancashire there is a mention of the Crest of the Gregsons. My research on the web of a transcription of this visitation made by the Chetham Society gives no reference to Gregsons, Normantons or indeed a Gregson crest - why should there have been when the de Normanton Gregsons were in Yorkshire? I do not know which version of the 1533 Visitation Reid has researched. 

What 'connects' the Gregson (de Normantons) to the Gregsons mentioned by Reid in the parish records of Whalley dated from 1538 (p 16)? when he recounts that by then Gregsons were resident in Whalley in Lancash ire? I also see that a John Gregson is cited as a son to Richard and Grace Cowell on the pedigree of James Gregson of California at the back of Reid's account with a birthdate of 'before 1538'. Where is this information from? Where was this John born?

On p19 of his account he writes that Matthew Gregson the Antiquarian of Liverpool the author of Fragments of Lancashire who, seemingly, traces his family to Whalley "deduces" that he is descended from Richard Gregson sixth son of John and Margaret Gregson (as shown in the Yorkshire Visitation by Flower). How does he make the connection?

There are a lot of propositions in Reid's account but it is difficult to find actual connecting threads as one progresses through it.

There are many transcriptions by different societies on the Visitations to Lancashire from 1533 into the 17th century. Of the versions I have found, not one cites anything about the Gregsons only in the Visitation to York-shire as I have cited above.
Val Edwards

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