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 and 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 and of family descent. In 1484, King Richard III granted them a charter of incorporation that resulted in the various heralds and their records being brought together within The College of Arms in London.
In 1555, a second royal charter of incorporation was issued, and a site was granted to them. The present College of Arms building is located on that site in what is now Queen Victoria Street.
We do not know when the Micklethwaits first used ‘Coat armour’.
In Sir William Dugdale’s 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 JM15, son of John Micklethwait of Ingbirchworth, Yorkshire JM3.
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’.
Original Yorkshire Coat of Arms and Crest
Blazon of arms
Chequy argent and gules, on a chief indented azure a crescent or. Argent (silver) denotes Peace and Sincerity; gules (red) depicts Military Fortitude; azure (blue) signifies Truth and Loyalty.
In coelo spes mea est (My hope is in heaven)
A griffin’s head argent, erased gules, gorged with a collar componee of the second and first. A design of the crest and blazon is shown below:
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: three colours honourable, four commendable, five excusable, more disgraceful!’
In 1664, the same Coat of Arms was quoted in The London Visitation Pedigrees (p. 99) – except that the crest was described as the head of an eagle rather than that of a griffin, which was probably a mistake at the time.
The London visitation refers to the Rev. Thomas Micklethwait JM420, who was Vicar of Plumstead, Kent from 1572 until 1584. He can be found on Tree 2: Worsbroughdale – both at the top of the tree (Branch 2a) and on the Southern branch (Branch 2b).
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 and Walesby, Lincolnshire used the same original arms. Source: College of Arms, London – Reference MS. C. 23.
Viscount Micklethwait, originally of Swine, Yorkshire (1680–1734) JM113 used the same blazon and crest but added supporters and used a different motto as follows:
Two horses erm
Favente Numine (By the favour of Providence)
The College of Arms have never regulated the use of mottos – indeed today 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) JM863 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, and their joint Coat of Arms was described as follows. Source: Burkes The General Armory of England, Scotland and Wales.
Quarterly 1th and 4th
As illustrated above.
Quarterly 2nd and 3rd
The Peckham arms – ermine a chief potent quarterly or and gu.
First, a griffin’s head ar. erased gu. gorged with a collar componee of the and first. Second, on a mount between two palm branches vert an ostrich or, in the beak a horse-shoe, sa.
Favente Numine (By the favour of Providence)
We do not have an illustration of this coat at present, but it can be seen at The College of Arms – reference 43/95.
John Micklethwait’s grandson, Sir Sotherton Branthwayte Peckham Micklethwait Bart. (1788–1853) JM883 was so named because his ancestors also included members of the families of Sotherton and Branthwayte. His Coat of Arms was a combination of three families as illustrated below.
Quarters 1 and 4 related to the male line – i.e. the Micklethwaits; whereas, quarters 2 and 3 related the female lines of Peckham and Branthwayte respectively.
He would have used the motto shown in the illustration below prior to becoming a baronet. However, we know from other sources such as 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 handbook reports that ‘he was created a baron for an important personal service 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 on the Meeting Queen Victoria page of this site.