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Grant of Arms to the Company of Shipwrights of Redrith

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College of Arms, 1605;  framed 1982.

In the transcription below the spelling has been modernised, and words written in bold face in the original have been printed in capitals.

 TO ALL AND SINGULAR ASWELL NOBLES AND Gentlemen as others to whom these presents shall come: I William Camden Clarenceux King of Arms of the South East and West of this Realm of England from the river of Trent Southward sendeth greeting in our Lord God everlasting WHEREAS by the prudent constitution of our Progenitors the bearing of Signs in Shields commonly called Arms have been devised and assigned not only to private men of worthy and good desert for service to Prince and Country in war, or peace, as demonstrations of their virtues and rewards of the same but such like Signs, monuments and Arms have been also appropriated in like respect to corporations Commonalties, Societies, Cities and Boroughs of this Realm united by authority of Sovereign Princes for conservation of themselves in order and good government: And whereas by Letters Patent under the great Seal of England granted by our Sovereign Lord James by the grace of God King of England, Scotland, France and Ireland bearing date the Two and Twentieth day of April in the years of his reign of England, France and Ireland the Third, and of Scotland the Eight and Thirtieth have made and granted in favour  of the laudable and worthy mystery of Shipwrights that the Society and company of Shipwrights of this Realm be  a body political and encorporate by the name of Master Wardens, and Commonalty of the Art or Mystery of Shipwrights of England. AND WHEREAS Mathew Baker now Master,  William Bright, Edward Stephens, Nicholas Symonson and John Adye Wardens with the rest of the Commonalty of the said Company have requested me the said Clarenceux to devise and assign unto them Arms to be used in their common Seal and otherwise as other Corporations and Societies have, I according to their desire have upon mature deliberation and due consideration of the King’s Majesty’s gracious favour and the excellency of their art and mystery serving both to the defence and enriching of the Realm have accordingly devised assigned  and here exemplified for them these Arms videlicet THE  FIELD AZURE IN A SEA A HULL OF A SHIP OR ON A CHIEF ARGENT A CROSS GULES CHARGED WITH A LION PASSANT GARDANT OR. And for their Crest upon an helm A WREATH OR AND AZURE ON AN ARK SABLE RESTING UPON A MOUNT VERT A DOVE PROPER BEARING AN OLIVE BRANCH mantled Gules doubled silver as more plainly appeareth depicted in the margin:  The which Armes I Grant and every part and parcel thereof I the said king of Arms by power and authority of my office under the great Seal of England, do by these presents allow, ratify, confirm, give and grant unto the Master and Wardens aforesaid with the rest of the Commonalty of the said Corporation and to their Successors for ever, & that they the same to use or show forth in their common Seal, Shields, Barges, Pennons, Building and utensils at their liberty and pleasure according to the ancient laws of Arms and laudable custom of England without contradiction or controlment of any person or persons whatsoever IN WITNESS and perpetual remembrance hereof I William Camden Clarenceux King of Arms aforesaid have hereunto set my hand and Seal the Ninth day of January 1605 and in the Third yearof the reign of our said Sovereign Lord James of England France & Ireland and of Scotland the Nine and Thirtieth.

 William Camden Clarenceux King of Arms 

There is no contemporary copy of this grant in the archives of the College of Arms, but it is acknowledged that it is a genuine and proper grant. It was said (in 1877) to have been in the possession of a  Mr. Beer, believed to have been a former Warden of the Company of  Shipwrights of Redriff, of Beer House, Ratcliff. The house and its contents survived the great fire of Ratcliff in 1794, and the grant of arms passed into the possession of a Mr Lovell. About 1830  Mr. Lovell gave it to Mr. John Ferguson who tried unsuccessfully to trace the (“foreign”) Company to return it to them, but of course could not because that company had ceased to exist. In 1876 Mr. Ferguson (by then of theLondon and St. Katherine’s Dock Company) read about the resurgence of the (City) Company and handed the grant to Mr. Thomas Kyffin Freeman (Assistant to the Court) for retention by the Company. Mr. Ferguson was subsequently presented with the freedom of the Company as a token of its appreciation of his gift.


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