The Cambridge University Heraldic & Genealogical Society

The Escutcheon

Volume 1

Number 1 – Michaelmas Term, 1995

A Welcome from the President

It is my great pleasure, as President of this illustrious organisation, to introduce to you the first of what is hoped will be a termly journal published by the Cambridge University Heraldic and Genealogical Society. “The Escutcheon” comes as part of a programme of change in the administration of CUHAGS, and will bring the Society into line with the membership requirements of the Federation of Family History Societies, to which we are privileged to be affiliated.

Katharine Clare and I were pleased to represent CUHAGS just beforte the start of term, at a 21st Birthday Reception for the FFHS, hosted by Lord Teviot, at the House of Lords. The Federation President, Col. Iain Swinnerton, met us then and I am pleased to say will be speaking to our Society early next term. Col. Swinnerton has asked if anyone has any ideas for a design for the Arms, Crest, Supporters and Badge for the Federation, and any suggestions should be sent to him at the address given on page 8. Our updated programme for this academic year can be found on page 3. You will also notice that finally we have corrected our members' ranks at the College of Arms!

One of the problems involved in running a Society such as this is the perennial one of finance. With interest in heraldry and genealogy growing in the wider world, and speakers in this economic climate charging increasingly more for their services, it becomes uneconomical to mail all our past and present members. It was therefore agreed at a recent Committee meeting that henceforth membership will be divided into three catagories. Resident members of the University, of course, will continue to receive details of all our events, but a new category has been introduced: “Friends of the Society” thus replacing Associate Members, who also will receive full detail of what is going on. However, those we have neither seen nor heard from in the past three-year period will be classed as new-category Associate Members and will receive only the termcard each year. This seems a fair basis on which to operate, but we will happily consider individual cases. It is intended that this journal will provide a forum in which all members can have an input in the running and representation of the Society (for further details, please see the back page), so suggestions will be welcomed.

Finally, I am pleased to announce that CUHAGS is to embark on a new publication. With some of our members currently investigating aspects of heraldry in the Cambridge environment, and have cleared all our copies of the Cambridge Armorial (!), we are to work on producing information on non-University heraldry in our everyday surroundings, and its relevance today. That means gathering as much information as possible on the Arms we see, from posts to the station to local pubs. Any information we receive in these areas will be much appreciated.

In keeping with true CUHAGS tradition, this journal inevitably will reach you after its intended date of publication. Thus it will be no doubt appropriate here for me to mention seasonal greetings, just in case you can’t make it to our Michaelmas Feast: Martinmas it may say on the cover, but it is a Merry Christmas that I wish all our members here!

I look forward to seeing you in the New Year.

Paul Mitcham

Heraldry and Genealogy in the 1990s

Interest in heraldry and genealogy has been growing remarkably rapidly over the last twenty years or so. More people seem to be interested in Genealogy than in Heraldry probably because the latter is perceived to have little relevance to the majority of individuals. Nevertheless, most of us are familiar with Heraldry through its formal use by schools, colleges, universities and other corporate bodies including military units, companies, clubs and societies.

Just why Genealogy or, rather more accurately, Family History, has captured our interest, in the way it has, is open to debate. One view is that because we inherit our physical and other attributes from our ancestors, then, by discovering more about them we discover more about ourselves. Another view holds that we live in a society which is so highly mobile that we do not have that solid background of custom and tradition on which our grandparents used to rely. Consequently our quest for ancestors may be an attempt to fill the void.

Whatever the motives, there is no doubt that, of late, the study of Family History has been making considerable progress. A very distinct methodology has emerged largely as a result of local and national family history societies collaborating together within the Federation of Family History Societies to arrange lectures, exhibitions, conferences, workshops and seminars, to sponsor a series of archive transcription and indexing projects backed up by publications designed to address every facet of this new discipline.

The procedures now in operation rely very much on the power of the ubiquitous personal computer both to log and sort data, followed by its capacity to word-process and convert the resultant text into a form suitable for publication either on paper or film. With even more recent developments in information technology it looks as if we may dispense with such media by going on-line or by taking advantage of the quite incredible storage capabilities of CD-ROM.

The advantages of disseminating information instantaneously are obvious but the fact that users will no longer require to visit record offices to study ancient and fragile documents will be not only a considerable convenience but a major step towards better archive conservation. In fact archivists are now looking to computer-scan all their documents in order to avoid any unnecessary wear and tear in the future.

Whilst some Heraldic evidence is in documentary form which can be stored magnetically, most Heraldry occurs in the shape of artefacts made of porcelain, wood metal, stone, glass textiles, etc. In many ways such items are considerably more at risk than their paper/vellum counterparts because there is no easy route to their long-term conservation. Obviously a programme of recording and photographing vulnerable items needs to be implemented, perhaps in conjunction with the construction of models to create reference collections.

Membership of family history societies both in this country and overseas continues to expand. This process can be seen as an important element in the more general awareness of the importance of every element in our heritage. It is indeed fortunate that the vast majority of those now involved in the study of Genealogy and Heraldry have realised that the resources they are drawing upon need to be conserved for future generations. From our standpoint in the mid-1990s it is clear that the conservation of the evidence is at least as important as its interpretation.

Book Reviews

In September, the Federation of Family History Societies published a further clutch of new titles and revised editions. Brief details of a selection of them are given below but any members of the Society wishing to see copies of the books should approach the Honorary Secretary.

Basic Facts About Sources for Family History in the Home, Iain Swinnerton, FFHS (Publications) Ltd, 1995, A5 paperback, 16pp, £1-25, ISBN 1-86006-008-1. A short survey of typical documents and artefacts which survive several generations of a family and so provide important historical evidence.

Basic Approach to Latin for Family Historians, Michael Gandy, FFHS (Publications) Ltd, 1995, A5 paperback, 16pp, £1-25, ISBN 1-86006-016-1. Not a book about Latin grammar but rather a confidence booster to encourage the non-Latin scholar to tackle documents containing some mediaeval Latin.

The Protestation Returns 1641-42 and Other Contemporary Listings, Jeremy Gibson and Alan Dell, FFHS (Publications) Ltd, 1995, A5 paperback, 84 pp, £3-95, ISBN 1-86006-006-4. A county by county listing of these and other returns together with some taxation records showing the archive locations in PROs and CROs. Another Gibson masterpiece.

Cheshire: A Genealogical Bibliography, Volumes 1 and 2, Stuart A Raymond, FFHS (Publications) Ltd, 1995, A5 paperback, 106pp & 44pp, £9-50 & £7-00, ISBN 1-86006-011-0 & 1-86006-012-9. Comprehensive listings of source material and published family histories.

Dating Old Photographs, second edition, Robert Pols, FFHS (Publications) Ltd, 1995, A5 paperback, 92 pp, £4-95. ISBN 1-86006-013-7. Detailed survey of criteria required to allocate accurate dates to early photographic prints. Contains illustrations and practical charts.

Was Your Grandfather a Railwayman?, third edition, Tom Richards, FFHS (Publications) Ltd, 1995, A5 paperback, 102 pp, £4-95, ISBN 1-86006-014-5. Listings of the whereabouts of personnel and other records by railway company and archive repository. Indispensable to the researcher with ancestors who worked on the railways.

Members' Interests

BabingtonNorthumberlandC13–C19D. Babington-Smith
CrowsonPeterboroughC19–C20P. Mitcham
Dav(e)yE. Carlton, NorfolkC19D.A. Palgrave
DobbieScotlandA. Sturges
HazeltonE. EssexC19P. Mitcham
PowlesRollesby, NorfolkC19D.A. Palgrave
RichardsonTerling, EssexC19D.A. Palgrave
SlingsbyLincolnshireC19P. Mitcham
SmithRenfrewshireC15–C20D. Babington-Smith
SturgesKentA. Sturges
TwiggS. BedfordshireC17–C20P. Mitcham

Forthcoming Conferences and Other Events

December 6th, 1995Heraldry Society A.G.M., St. Benet’s Church, Paul’s Wharf, London
January 8th, 1996Twentyman Research – Ann Pegg, Northants F.H.S., Cornmarket Hall, Kettering
January 27th, 1996Guild of One-Name Studies Seminar, Woking, Surrey
March, 29th–31st, 1996Heraldry Weekend, Hengrave Hall, Suffolk
April 12th–14th, 1996Weekend Conference and F.F.H.S. A.G.M., hosted by East Surrey F.H.S. at Roehampton
April 27th, 1996Cambridgeshire F.H.S. One-Day Conference, Travel and Migration
May 4th–5th, 1996Family History Fair hosted by the Society of Genealogists, Royal Horticultural Society Hall, Westminster
June 29th–30th, 1996Family History Fair at York, Tattersall’s Stand, York Racecourse
August 30th–September 1st, 1996Weekend Conference and F.F.H.S. Council, hosted by Doncaster and District F.H.S.

Editor’s Postscript

This Journal is designed to serve the needs of the members of the Cambridge University Heraldic and Genealogical Society. Not only will it reflect the Society’s current activities but also it will include articles contributed by members together with reviews of relevant publications in the fields of Heraldry, Genealogy, Family History and closely related subjects.

Hopefully members will take advantage of its columns to contribute letters to the Editor or to seek answers to specific queries which may have arisen in their own research. Every member should feel free to list the surnames in his or her ancestry for inclusion in the Members' Interests section.

The University and the Colleges have considerable resources in terms of artefacts, together with documentary and printed matter which is of relevance to those who study heraldry and genealogy. In such an environment, the Society exists to promote interest in both herladry and genealogy. If you feel you would like to know more, or if you have any suggestions with regard to this journal, or any other aspect of our work, the CUHAGS Committee would be very pleased to hear from you.

It should be noted that the Federation of Family History Societies, to which CUHAGS is affiliated, represents the interests of family history societies throughout this country and elsewhere in the world. For further information please write to the FFHS at:

The Benson Room,
The Birmingham and Midland Institute,
Margaret Street,
B3 3BS