The Cambridge University Heraldic & Genealogical Society

The Escutcheon

Volume 2

Number 3 – Easter Term, 1997

Message from the President

Another term passed in the history of C.U.H.&G.S. and not without excitement.

As usual, the circumstances changed the programme a little bit, and this is how on the first meeting one of our Friends, Derek Palgrave, talked on the origin of British family names, and I might say that of family names from all over the world, as the ideas he introduced us to can be well applied in every country.

Our next speaker, Lt Col Beswick introduced us to military medals throughout the centuries, to such a great depth, that often, it would have been difficult to understand all the variations without his excellent slides.

On the 1997 Mountbatten Commemorative Meeting , David White, Rouge Croix Pursuivant, addressed the Society with a talk on Nelson’s Heraldry. Nelson’s arms have been altered after every major victory, making his heraldry an inexhaustable source of ideas for future succesful admirals – with a slightly bad taste – and a very interesting topic for enthusiasts in heraldry.

On our last speaker meeting we could greet Nigel Chancellor, High Sheriff. His talk on Public Offices caused no little surprise, we had to realise that we had known very little about this topic. He gave an insight into not only the present duties and customs of the High Sheriff, but also to the historical background of this office illustrated with entertaining stories.

Besides these meetings we had a visit to Westminster School, and the 40th Anniversary Dinner. Our Patron H.E. Archbishop Bruno B. Heim was kind to visit us this year, too, this time bringing a guest, too, Ikkon-Andrew Yamashita Il-Keun Kim, a descendant from one of the royal houses of Korea. Our Patron hopes we will be able to share this very interesting genealogy with you in the next issue. Peter Gwynn-Jones, Garter Principal King of Arms was kind to accept our invitation to be the speaker of the evening. Garter recalled some very amusing anecdotes from the times when he was a student at the University, and presented them in a real heraldic way as one would only expect from a King of Arms. You can read this speech and other contributions in the special issue of the Escutcheon.

This term I am leaving my office, so I would like to thank for all those who helped and supported me in my office and to wish much success to the next Committee.

László Á Kóczy de Borgó et Nagysikárló

Book Review

Basic Facts about Using the Family Records Centre, Audrey Collins, FFHS (Publications) Ltd, 1997, A5 pprback, 16pp, £1-25. ISBN 1-86006-051-X.

This slim booklet is packed full of information for those who wish to make use of this new facility in London. Its appearance, within a few weeks of the Centre’s opening, is most timely. The author is a regular user of the new premises which brings together several resources including the Indexes of Births, Deaths and Marriages, formerly in St Catherine’s House, plus microfilmed copies of census returns, previously in the Public Record Office, at Chancery Lane. The reader is given guidance on opening hours, how to get there, what to take with you and also full details of all the types of material which may be consulted. It should be noted that one can gain access to much other data especially that relating to P.C.C. Wills 1358-1858, Estate/Death Duty Registers 1797-1857 and Nonconformist Registers up to 1837. Audrey Collins has provided researchers everywhere with an excellent entrée to this newly established reference centre.

Girton College and its Arms

László Á Kóczy

Since the publication of the Cambridge Armorial one has a very difficult job trying to contribute something about the arms of the colleges. Nevertheless, I hope that these little pieces of history will make the picture more interesting. I would like to thank Mrs. K. Perry, Archivist of Girton College for her invaluable help in writing this article.

In the very traditional society of England changes are not made very easily. Girton College, the first Oxbridge institution for women was founded in 1869, nearly six centuries after Peterhouse, the oldest of the existing Cambridge colleges. In October 1873, the college moved to its present location near the village of Girton, hence its name.

The presence of women was not very well received at the University. It was in 1897 that the question of giving degrees to women arose first, causing much excitement in the national press. Reading through some newspaper cuttings in the Girton Archives one finds some very interesting ideas from both sides. Even those in favour of the proposition would find the present situation unimaginable. “The condition with regard to the residence of women will remain unchanged; there will be no “mixed” colleges.”.^[Standard, 20 May 1897, Proposed titles of degrees for women.] The proposition was defeated by a strong majority.

It was only after the war that the topic was brought up again, without much success. At the same time Oxford voted in favour of a similar proposition and so Cambridge was “…left, for the first time, in the position of the only university in the country, where neither women students nor women teachers had the status of members of the University, …”^[Barbara Stephen: Girton College 1869-1932, Cambridge, 1933; p. 116.] as the report of the Royal Commission of the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge said in 1922. People at the University were increasingly concerned that Oxford might become an unpairable centre of women’s education, and even that the current women’s colleges (although not yet colleges, strictly speaking), Girton and Newnham would move to Oxford. This alarmed some of the more conservative members of the Senate, too. People were trying to find solutions of all sorts. Even the idea of a separate Women’s University arose.

In 1921 a Committee was appointed to draft a Charter for the College. By the summer of 1923, under the conduct of the Master of Emmanuel College the Committee completed the task, and on 21 August, 1924 the King granted the Charter to “the Mistress and Governors^[For the group understood under ‘governors’, see Stephen ibid., pp 120-121.] of Girton College” as a Body Corporate. Having received a Charter, the college applied for coat-of-arms that was in some way derived from the arms of its founders and benefactors. The arms were therefore to be derived from the arms of Mr H.R. Tomkinson, Madame Bodichon (née Leigh Smith), Henriette Maria, Lady Stanley of Alderley (daughter of the 13th Viscount Dillon) – the arms can be seen on the picture, – and Miss Emily Davies who did not have arms and hence was represented by the Welsh colours, vert and argent. The Rev. E.E. Dorling submitted a great variety of designs to the Council, however the task was not easy. “A patch-work of elaborate charges and many colours was to be avoided. Mr Tomkinson’s fascinating martlets and Lady Stanley’s lion had to be abandoned with regret, as was also a design of green and silver chequers which would have given more prominence to Miss Davies.”^[The Girton Review, Michaelmas Term 1928, pp 2-4; p. 4.]

Finally in 1928 the design was accepted by all and the College was granted the following:

To All and Singular to whom these Presents shall come Sir Henry Farnham Burke Knight Commander of the Royal Victorian Order, Companion of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath Garter Principal King of Arms and Arthur William Stewart Cochrane Esquire, Member of the Royal Victorian Order Norroy King of Arms Send Greeting Whereas Edith Helen Major, Spinster, Mistress of Girton College in the University of Cambridge, and Master of Arts of Trinity College Dublin, hath represented unto Edmund Bernard Viscount FitzAlan of Derwent, Knight of the Most Noble Order of the Garter, Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order, Companion of the Distinguished Service Order, One of His Majesty’s Most Honourable Privy Council and Deputy to the Most Noble Bernard Marmaduke Duke of Norfolk, Earl Marshal and Hereditary Marshal of England that by Letters Patent under the Great Seal bearing date the twenty fourth day of August that the Members of the Governing Body of Girton College Cambridge should for ever thereafter be one body politic and corporate by the name and style of the Mistress and Governors of Girton College and by the same name should have perpetual succession and a Common Seal, that the Mistress and Governors of the said College being desirous that their Common Seal should contain fit and proper Armorial Ensigns which should bear suitable allusion of the founders and benefactors of the said college requested the favour of his Lordship’s Warrant for Our granting and assigning such Armorial Ensigns as might be proper to be borne and used by them and their successors upon Seal Shields or otherwise according to the Laws of Arms and forasmuch as His Lordship did by Warrant under this hand and the Seal of the Earl Marshal bearing Warrant dated the twentieth day of December following authorise and direct Us to grant and assign such Armorial Ensigns accordingly Know ye therefore that We the said Garter and Norroy in pursuance of His Lordship’s Warrant and by virtue of the Letters Patent of Our several Offices to each of Us respectively granted do by these Presents grant and assign unto The Mistress and Governors of Girton College the Arms following that is to say: Quarterly Vert and Argent a cross flory countercharged a Roundel Ermine and in the second and third quarters a Crescent Gules, as the same are in the margin here of more plainly depicted to be borne and used for ever, hereafter by the Mistress and Governors of Girton College and by their Successors upon Seals Shields or otherwise according to the Laws of Arms. In witness whereof We the said Garter and Norroy Kings of Arms have to these presents subscribed Our names and affixed the Seals of Our several Offices this fourteenth day of February in the Eighteenth year of the Reign of Our Sovereign Lord George the Fifth by the Grace of God of Great Britain Ireland and the British Dominions beyond the Seas King Defender of the Faith &c. and in the year of Our Lord One thousand nine hundred and twenty eight.^[From the original.]

The arms described are simple both in shape and colours, and represent the four major benefactors. It must be noted, however, that at this stage Girton was not a college yet, nor were its members members of the University. Women at Cambridge had to wait until after another war; eventually, on 8th December 1947 the long expected change came, and “Girton & Newnham will no longer be “recognised institutions for the higher education for women” but colleges of the university”.^[The Times, 8 December 1947.] As academic dress, gowns were adopted with little changes (the sleeves had to be closed so that even in the summer, when women wear short sleeved dresses their bare shoulders do not show), and the square caps were chosen as head-dress. The proper dress of the gown and cap was observed at the first honorary degree to a woman, given to the Queen – now Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother –, an LL.D. on 21 October 1948.

Since then, we may say women settled in Cambridge quite well invading all the colleges. Having achieved its purpose in women’s education, Girton went mixed, too, and now is one of the well-balanced colleges in this respect. But what is a great deal more interesting to us is that it still bears proudly the arms granted.

New Titles in the Society’s Library

Compiled by László Á. Kóczy


  • Gibbens, Lilian, Using Death and Burial Records for Family Historians, F.F.H.S., 1997, 16p
  • Gibson, Jeremy and Creaton, Heather, List of Londoners, 2nd edition, F.F.H.S. Centre for Metropolitan History, 1997, 39p
  • Gibson, Jeremy, Probate Jurisdictions: Where to Look for Wills, 4th edition, F.F.H.S., 1997, 71p
  • Gibson, Jeremy and Hunter, Judith, Victuallers’ Licences, 2nd edition, F.F.H.S., 1997, 60p
  • Hirst, Rita, Family History Research in Lancashire, F.F.H.S., 1997, 16p
  • Hogg, Peter L., Using Merchant Ship Records for Family Historians, F.F.H.S., 1997, 16p
  • Lumas, Susan S., Archives, F.F.H.S., 1997, 16p
  • Perkins, John, Current Publications by Member Societies, 9th edition, F.F.H.S., 1997, 114p
  • Perkins, John, Current Publications on Microfiche by member Societies, 4th edition, F.F.H.S., 1997, 100p
  • Raymond, Stuart A., Lancashire – A Genealogical Bibliography I. Lancashire Genealogical Resources [Volumes II and III are already in the library], F.F.H.S., 1997, 100p
  • Vickers, Hugo, Royal Orders, The Honours and the Honoured, Boxtree, 1994, 192p, hdbk. (Ex Dono John Charles Horton, Ph.D.)


  • Family History, News and Digest – The Official Journal of the F.F.H.S., 11/1, April 1997, pp 1-48
  • Quaker Connections – Magazine of the Quaker F.H.S., No. 8-10, July 1996-March 1997

Forthcoming Conferences and Other Events

May 3rd–4th, 1997 5th Family History Fair organised by Society of Genelaogists, Royal Horticultural Society New Hall, Westminster, London
May 24th–25th, 1997Cornwall F.H.S. 21st Anniversary, Falmouth Pavillion
June 22nd, 1997 East Anglian Group Family History Fair, hosted by Norfolk F.H.S., Caistor St Edmund, Norwich
June 26th, 1997Heraldry Society Jubilee Anniversary Dinner, Painter-Stainer’s Hall, London
September 3rd–7th, 19978th British F.H. Conference – Faith, Hope and Charity hosted by F.F.H.S. at Askham Brian College, York

Editor’s Postscript

I would like to thank those readers who have been kind enough to submit articles for inclusion in The Escutcheon. Hopefully you will continue to send in new material for publication in the future. If you would like to draw attention to some of your own research by all means do so.

Derek A. Palgrave,

Crossfield House, Dale Road, Stanton, Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk. IP31 2DY