Blennerhassett Family Tree
Genealogy one-name study      by Bill Jehan
   Introduction      History      Blennerhassett Heraldry (description)



Gules, a chevron ermine, between three dolphins naiant embowed Argent

"in a red field, a chevron of ermine fur between three silver dolphins with body arched"
               Rarely, the dolphins are depicted tincture "Azure" (blue) instead of "Argent" (silver/white).

               In older representations the dolphins are always drawn as embowed, later as naiant embowed.
               The 1808 grant of arms to Baronet Blennerhassett of Blennerville in Co.Kerry specifies naiant embowed.
               In modern representations, the dolphins are often depicted, incorrectly, as "naiant but not embowed".

a wolf sejant Gules                or               a wolf sejant Proper      
        In East Anglia (not Cumberland or Ireland) the wolf sometimes described as a fox

"Fortes Fortuna Juvat"               in English: "Fortune favours the bold"
dolphins naiant embowed
(correct for Blennerhassett)
dolphins naiant
(incorrect for BH)

Blennerhassett Coat of Arms

"Gules, a chevron ermine, between three dolphins naiant embowed Argent"
"in a red field, a chevron of ermine fur between 3 silver dolphins with body arched"
ermine fur is represented colour white, with either 5 or 7 dark ermine spots
(in the example on the right right, an annulet has replaced one of 5 ermine spots)
The annulet:
Arms of Norfolk & Suffolk (i.e. East Anglia) Blennerhassett families are often charged with an annulet, for difference. The annulet is a mark of cadency used to indicate a fifth son or descent from a fifth son. In this case the fifth son was Ralph de Blenerhayset, Esquire, of Carlisle & Great Orton, Co.Cumberland (ancestor of Blennerhassett of Norfolk, Suffolk, Co.Fermanagh & Dublin) who in 1423 married Joan de Lowdham (b.c1409/10 d.20-Jun-1501), a 14 year old heiress to the manors of Loudham, Frenze & Kelvedon in East Anglia. At the time of this marriage Joan was already a widow, having as a child married in 1422 or earlier to Thomas de Heveningham, who died 1422.
Blennerhassett arms in East Anglia,
charged with annulet for difference,
indicating descent from a 5th son


in heraldry the dolphin, king of fish, may be shown in these attitudes:

  • hauriant
  • urinant
  • naiant
  • embowed
  • naiant embowed
    Swimming upwards, in a perpendicular attitude
    Swimming downwards, in a perpendicular attitude
    Swimming horizontally, facing dexter
    with body 'embowed' (i.e. arched) as above
    with body 'naiant embowed' facing dexter
    is to the right (from viewpoint of the holder of the shield)
    is to the left   (from viewpoint of the holder of the shield)

    heraldic metals and tinctures:

    Proper = "in its natural colour"



    EXAMPLES (*= shown in "Blennerhassett Heraldry Illustrated")
    text in French:
    "1498 John de Blenerhasset port de Gules a trois dolphins Argent"
    hand painted illustration of a shield:
    "Gules three dolphins embowed Argent" 
    This is a rare instance of the early form of Blennerhassett arms, displayed without a chevron.

    The chevron has appeared on all Blennerhasett arms since 1390. the chevron may perhaps have been added to differentiate the family of a younger son at a time before Marks of Cadency had become standard to indicate such differences. There can be little doubt that the arms shown here, without a chevron, are the earlier form.
    John de Blenerhasset of Carlisle, Co.Cumberland. Some sources make this John identical with John the son of Alan de Blenerhayset (No.2), but this cannot be so. John could be perhaps the father or brother of Alan.

    - the arms without a chevron (here c1398) are surely the original form but they appear to have co-existed with those bearing the chevron (the earliest known is dated 25-May-1390 - see No.2).
    Every instance since this time includes the chevron.
    This is the earliest known representation of the Blennerhassett coat-of-arms,
    illustrated with description in French in Thomas Jenyn's Book, Queen Margaret's version
    a bound Ms. volume Ordinary or Book of Arms now in the British Library Dept.of Manuscripts,
    document ref. Add. Ms. 40851, f.68 (p.126). The shield is numbered, No.1498.
    The book has been microfilmed.

    [BL Add.Ms.40581, f.68, p.126, Nop.1428] [BL microfilm M2105, monochrome] [Boos TJ] [FCA] [HUDDLESTON p.28] [TG vol.5 p.98] 
    Thomas Jenyn's Book is sometimes called Thomas Jenyn's Roll. It is believed compiled c1398 (21/22 Richard II) although one source states temp. Edward III (1327-1377) and another c1410.
    The arms are represented as: Gules three dolphins embowed Argent with a description in French:
    "1498 John de Blenerhasset port de Gules a trois dolphins Argent", 1498 being the number of the shield, not a date.

    "a chevron bearing five ermine spots between three dolphins embowed"
    Seal of Alan de Blenerhayset of Carlisle, Co.Cumberland (b.est.c1330 1407) with Blennerhassett arms and legend "sigillum halani de bleneray" ("the seal of Alan de Blenerhayset").
    (probably father of John de Blenerhasset above, No.1
    The subject is a lease of waste ground by Carlisle Castle by "Alano de Blenerhayset", the deed being endorsed "Alanus Blenerhayset in fossa versus castrum".
    This 27mm diameter red wax seal is attached to a deed in latin dated 25-May-1390 (13 Richard II) at Cumbria Record Office, Carlisle HQ [CRO Ca/3/5/1/12].
    The seal survives in good condition and is illustrated in [TCWAA vol.6 1883 pp.317-8]
    [A2A] describes the chevron on this seal, in error, as having five "escallops" instead of "ermine spots" 
    "Gules, three dolphins Argent"
    John de Blenerhayset, Co.Cumberland (temp. Richard II, 1377-1399).
    the source for this may perhaps be identical with 2. above 
    "ermine a dolphin embowed"
    I have not seen this, but seems to be another rare instance of the Blennerhassett arms shown without the chevron.
    Seal on a deed of Robert de Blenerhayset, Carlisle, Co.Cumberland (18 Richard II, 1395/6) [HUDDLESTON p.28] 
    "(Gules) a chevron (ermine), between three dolphins embowed (Argent)"
    various combinations of the above description, in each instance some words in ( ) may be missing
    * Tile with Blennerhassett arms, initials J M (John & Mary) and date 1563, at Barsham Old Hall, Barsham, Co.Suffolk. This was the home of John Blennerhassett (b.c1515 d.1573), Treasurer and one of the chief household advisers to the 3rd & 4th Dukes of Norfolk, and his wife Mary Echingham
    [CORDER, Blois Ms. & ed. F., E.A. Miscellany 1919 p.102]
    * stone set into interior wall of St.Michael's Church, Workington, Co.Cumberland [HUDDLESTON p.28, FFC] [MMS v.6 p.415] [MMD]
    * John Blenerhayset (d.27.11.1510) in St.Andrew's Church, Frenze, Co.Norfolk [VoS/1561 p.357, COTMAN]
    * Sir Thomas Blenerhayset, Knt (d.27.6.1531) in St.Andrew's Church, Frenze, Co.Norfolk [COTMAN] [VoN/1563 ?] [VoN 1561 ?]
    Co.Essex [TBH p.BLE] 
    Lowdham Hall, Co.Suffolk [TBH p.BLE] [CORDER] 
    Ash, Brome Co.Suffolk, Thrandeston, Palgrave [VoN/1561] [Extended Parliamentary Roll, Golty p.157, GIPPS] [FAIRFAX] [SHARPE] [SUCKLING v.1 p.46] [PAGE] [DAV] [COPPINGER v.7]
    Mary Blennerhassett-Culpepper-Bacon (d.17-Sep-1587) in St.Andrew's Church, Frenze, Co.Norfolk
    arms & crest on an ancient painted canvas at Caister, nr Yarmouth, Co.Norfolk, survived at until the early 19th century [BLOMEFIELD p.?]
    * arms as confirmed to Rowland Blennerhassett  (b.c1740/1 d.1821) by a grant of arms dated 13-Mar-1808 [TBH p.BLE] [BLENNERVILLE frontpiece]
    (this was shortly before he was created Sir Rowland Blennerhassett, 1st Baronet of Blennerville, Co.Kerry, on 22-Sep-1809)
    "Gules, a chevron ermine, between three dolphins embowed Argent, with an annulet for difference"
    the annulet is a mark of cadency indicating a fifth son,
    or, as in this case, descent from a fifth son
    * Will of John Blennerhassett of Barsham Hall, Barsham, Co.Suffolk, dated 29-Jun-1573 [PCC]
    (this annulet replacing the central ermine spot)
    * Jane (Joan) Tyndall Blenerhayset (d.6-Oct-1521)  in St.Andrew's Church, Frenze, Co.Norfolk [COTMAN] [VoN/1563 ?] [VoN 1561 ?]
    (this annulet placed between the two upper dolphins)
    Ralph Blenerhayset (d.17-Nov-1475), bur. Frenze, Norfolk [CAN p.9 ?] [BLOMEFIELD vol.1 pp.142, 146]
    "Gules, a chevron ermine, between three dolphins embowed Argent, with a crescent on a crescent for difference"
    the crescent on a crescent is a mark of cadency indicating the 2nd son of a 2nd son
    Blennerhassett family of Horsford(?), Norwich, Co.Norfolk
    "Gules, a chevron ermine, between three dolphins embowed Proper"
    [HUDDLESTON p.29] [LMC Records] 
    "Sable, a chevron, between three dolphins embowed"
    "Gules, a chevron ermine, between three dolphins Or"
    Frenze, Co.Norfolk & Wilton, Co.Norfolk [TBH p.BLE]
    "Gules, three dolphin embowed Argent, finned Or"
    [TBH p.BLE] 
    "Gules, a chevron ermine, between three dolphins embowed Azure"
    Carlisle & Flimby, Co.Cumberland 
    "Gules, a chevron ermine, between three dolphins haurient Argent"
    Loudham Hall, Co.Suffol[CORDER] [REYCE pp.178, 261]
    "Azure on a chevron or, between three dolphins Argent, five cinquefoils Gules"
    Co.Cumberland 166[VoC/1665] [HUDDLESTON p.29] - the cinquefoils should perhaps be ermine spots  
    "Azure on a chevron or, between three dolphins embowed Argent, finned Gules, five mullets pierced Sable"
    Co.Cumberland [TBH p.BLE] - the mullets should perhaps have been correctly described as ermine spots 

    "a wolf sejant Gules" 
    (sometimes, "a wolf sejant Proper")
    "a wolf, in a sitting posture, colour red"
    (sometimes, in it's natural colour)
    in East Anglia, a fox was occasionally substituted for the wolf
    EXAMPLES (*= illustrated below)
    a wolf sejant Proper on a wreath Argent & Azure (white & blue)
    * Blennerhassett crest set into an exterior wall, over the main entrance door to Ballyseedy Castle Ballyseedy, Co.Kerry [FC vol.1 p.57 Pl.110 crest 4]
    Blennerville, Churchtown & Kells, Co.Kerry [TBH p.BLE] [FC vol.1 p.57 Pl.110 crest 4]
    a wolf sejant Gules on a wreath Argent & Gules (white & red)
    * Mary Blennerhassett-Culpepper-Bacon (d.17.9.1587) in St.Andrew's Church, Frenze, Co.Norfolk [FC vol.1 p.57 Pl.87 crest 4, TBH p.BLE]
    Wilton, Co.Norfolk [TBH p.BLE]
    arms & crest on an ancient painted canvas at Caister, nr Yarmouth, Co.Norfolk, survived at until the mid 18th century [BLOMEFIELD p.?]
    Davenport porcelain c1820, illustrated above
    a wolf sejant Gules, tail flected over back, langued, Azure 
    Co.Suffolk [FC vol.1 p.57 Pl.110 crest 4]
    a wolf sejant Gules, charged with a crescent on a crescent for difference 
    Co.Norfolk [VoN/1563]
    a fox sejant Gules
    the wolf drawn, in error, as a fox
    Lowdham Hall, Co.Suffolk [FC vol.1 p.57 Pl.87 crest 4] [TBH p.BLE]
     a wolf passant 
    sometimes described as "a fox passant"
    * monumental portrait brass on the tomb of Sir Thomas Blennerhassett, Knt (d.27-Jun-1531)
     St.Andrew's Church, Frenze, nr Diss, Co.Norfolk [COTMAN]

    Baronet's Badge

    "An escutcheon Argent, charged with a sinister hand erect, apaumee, couped at the wrist, extended in pale, Gules"

    "on a white shield, a red left hand held erect, cut off at the wrist" ("the red hand of Ulster")

    Any baronet is entitled to charge his personal arms with the Baronet's Badge, the "Red Hand of Ulster on a white escutcheon (shield)", to indicate the baronetcy.
    Within the Blennerhassett family this badge is used as a charge on the personal arms of Baronet Blennerhassett of Blennerville in Co.Kerry
    (Baronet of the UK, created 1809) only; no other of his family, or any other branch of the family, is entitled to use or display arms bearing this badge.

    visit: "Blennerhassett Heraldry - Illustrated"

    visit: "Blennerhassett Motto - Fortes Fortuna Juvat"


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