James Blount coat of Arms

James Blount Coat of Arms

The arms here are from John H. Wheeler, Reminiscences and Memoirs of North Carolina and Eminent North Carolinians (Columbus, OH, 1884).

Miss Helen Malvina Blount Prescott in her unpublished manuscript genealogy of the descendants of Capt. James Blount said the following: "The Coat of Arms (said to have been taken from his tomb) engraved as a copper plate was in the possession of his descendant James B. Sheppard of Raleigh and destroyed by him about 1840."

In response to an inquiry from Gillian Palmer, Mr. John Yates of the Birmingham and Midland Society of Genealogy and Heraldry completed a "Report on the Coat of Arms attributed to Captain James Blount and certain other ancillary matters" in early 2007. We quote from his report:


"The coat of arms...is apparently a print to be used as a bookplate. It has been made using a plate probably made of copper. Had I been considering the drawing of the coat of arms without any knowledge of its provenance I would have supposed, on stylistic grounds, to be the work of the mid-eighteenth century rather than earlier. I think it was probably made as a replacement for an earlier plate which was perhaps worn out, or broken. It is clear that the artist, and perhaps his patron, had little knowledge of heraldry in general, or of the Blount family's coat of arms.

"Turning to the shield it is made up of two coats of arms arranged side by side, an arrangement known as impalement. It represents the arms of the families of a husband and wife. Its use would only be appropriate during the period of their marriage. Normally such a shield would be surmounted by the crest of the husband's family. This is because a crest was an adornment of a knight's helmet and thus inappropriate for ladies. However the unorthodox treatment showing the crests of both the husband's and wife's families is of great assistance to us because it helps with identification. In impalements of this kind the husband's arms are shown on the dexter side (right hand side of the shield if you are standing behind it) and wife's on the sinister side (left hand side of the shield if you are standing behind it).

"Because it appears that the earlier plate belonged to Captain Blount we must assume that the dexter coat of arms is a very poor representation of his family's arms, barry nebuly of six Or and Sable... To be on the safe side I have searched through Elvin's Dictionary of Heraldry to see if there is a charge which looks anything like the twigs and berries which appear in the drawing. There is nothing of that nature in the dictionary. This strengthens the view that the arms displayed are a degenerate version of the Blount Arms. The sinister side of the achievement has not suffered any distortion and is a field charged with three chevronels. This coat of arms might represent Clare, Or three chevronels Gules, or Lewkenor, Azure three chevronels argent.

"To identify the two coats on the shield it is necessary to consider the two crests. They are drawn separately. I examined the descriptions of the crests of the Blount, Clare and Lewkenor families in Burke's General Armoury with the following results:

"Blount --An armed foot in the sun proper

"Clare--A stag's head caboshed gules attired proper

"Lewkenor--a unicorn's head erased azure bezantee, horned and maned or

"The stag's head caboshed of the Clares does not resemble either of the crests in the drawing so we may dismiss the possibility of this being a marriage of a daughter of the Clare family from further consideration. I next decided to examine the entries relating to Blount and Lewkenor in Fairbairn's Book of Crests. This book contains not only descriptions, but also drawings of the crests. Under Blount were the following entries:

"Blount of Kinlet. An armed foot in the sun proper.

"Sir Walter [Blount] de Soddington, Bart. The same crest as for Blount of Kinlet.

"Blount in Sussex. The sun or, charged with a gauntlet proper.

"Lewkenor in Sussex and Worcestershire. A unicorn's head erased azure bezantee armed and crined or.

"I also examined 'Armorial Families' by Fox-Davies. This contained no entries for Lewkenor, but there was one for Blount, the entry reading:

"Sir Charles Edward Blount, born 1809--nebuly of six or and sable. Crest upon a wreath of the colours a sun in splendour charged with a gauntlet proper.

"I am satisfied that the crest shown on the drawing is a poor representation of that used by the Blounts of Kinlet.

"The conclusion I draw from this information is that the coat of arms shown on the book plate represents a marriage between a member of the Blount family of Kinlet with a lady of the family of Lewkenor either from Worcestershire or Sussex. The coat of arms could be of any couple fulfilling these conditions but heraldry alone is unable to identify the specific couple.

"You did ask me if James Blount, the son, would have been entitled to use the Blount arms. The short answer, assuming the genealogy is right, must be yes. In the early days of heraldry the knightly class merely adopted whatever coat they fancied and as long as it was not the same as a coat used by another family all was well. In 1417 Henry V decided that this situation was not acceptable and decreed that henceforth arms could only be granted by one of his heralds. By the early sixteenth century most arms in use had no official standing. It was to remedy this situation that in 1530 Henry VIII instituted the Heraldic Visitations. Periodically the heralds would arrive in a county town and summon the local gentry to come in and register their arms and pedigrees. They either confirmed the armiger's right to the arms or ordered him to cease using them. Thus in the visitation of Worcestershire in 1634 Walter Blount (soon to be the baronet) registered his arms as barry nebule of six Or and Sable with a crest of a sun in splendour with a gauntlet proper. Similarly, the Lewkenor family had registered their arms at a Visitation of Sussex held between 1530 and 1532 when their right to 15 coats of arms was confirmed. Their primary coat was recorded as Azure three chevronels Argent with a crest of a unicorn's head couped semi of roundels (you will notice the inaccurate description of the crest). You should realise that the heralds usually only knew what they were told by the family so that the information obtained was subject to all the usual human frailties which such an exercise is bound to produce. The right to use arms accrues to the grantee, or confirmee, and to his heirs male without limit. They may be used by his daughters on a lozenge but cannot be inherited by a daughter's sons in normal circumstances. The confirmation of his arms to Walter Blount would legitimise their use by his co-lateral male relations who included the Blount family of Astley. James Blount senior would thus have a right to use the arms as would both his sons."

In the conclusion to his report, Mr. Yates considered the will of Charles Blount of 1655 where Charles left a bequest to his nephew James Blount, son of his brother James Blount and referred to the younger James as "beyond the seas." Mr. Yates also was aware of the fact that a James Blount/Blunt was in Virginia in 1655 and was importing indentured servants from England. He concluded:

"Whether James Blount mentioned in his uncle's will is the same man as the James Blount living in Virginia depends on a balance of probabilities. I am of the view that the likelihood of them being the same man is in the order of 90%. I say this because there is not a single fact about the two men to suggest they are other than the same man."

After completing his report, Mr. Yates visited the church at Astley, Worcestershire and examined the arms on the side of the tomb of Walter Blount. He said "that this coat contains the same inaccurate coat of arms for Blount as that seen on the book plate in America. It seems to me near conclusive proof that all these Blounts belonged to the same family."

H. Sydney Grazebrook in his 1873 publication, The Heraldry of Worcestershire Vol. I, A-L, stated that the crest for the Blount family of Sodington and Mawley Hall was "The sun in splendour proper, charged in the centre with a slipper (sometimes a gauntlet) azure. Some branches of the family charged the sun with an eye distilling tears."

Grazebrook recorded the motto as "Lux tua vita mea."

The "slipper" is actually a sabaton or solleret which was part of a knight's armour that covers the foot. Sixteenth century sabatons end at the toe and may be wider than the actual foot. So the slipper or sabaton is an armed foot.