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Blazons & Genealogy Notes

1) (Prendergast, co. Pembroke, bart., extinct 1825; descended from Henry Stepney, to whom Henry VIII. granted Aldenham, co. Hertford; Alban Stepney, temp. Queen Elizabeth, in. Margaret, dau. and co-heir of Thomas Catharn, Esq., of Prendergast; their son, John Stepney, Esq., of Pendergast, was created a bart. 1621; the ninth hart. d. s. p.; his sisters and co-heirs were Elizabeth Bridgetta, m. to Joesph Gulston, Esq., of Ealing Grove, co. Middlesex, and Justina Maria, m. first, Francis Head, Esq., and secondly, Gen. Andrew Cowell). Motto—Fide et vigilantiâ. Gu. a fess chequy or and az. betw. three owls ar. Crest—A talbot’s head erased gu. collared chequy or and az. eared and holding in the mouth a hart’s horn gold.
2) (Cowell-Stepney, Llanelly, co. Carmarthen; Maria Justina Stepney, sister and heiress of the ninth and , last hart, of Prendergast, m. as her second husband, 1788, General Andrew Cowell, and d. 1821, leaving a son, John Stepney Cowell, who assumed by royal licence, 1857, the surname of Stepney, and was created a bart. 1871). Motto—Facta probant. Quarterly, 1st and 4th, gu. a fess chequy or and az. betw. three owls ar., for Stepney; 2nd and 3rd, az. a lion ramp. guard. or, on a chief dovetailed of the last three pallets gu. each charged with as many bezants, for Cowell. Crests—A talbot’s head erased gu. eared or, gorged with a collar chequy of the second and az. and holding in the mouth an antler gold, for Stepney; On a mount vert a lion pass. guard. or, charged with three pallets gu. and holding in the dexter paw a chapeau also gu. turned up erm., for Cowell.

Origin, Meaning, Family History and Stepney Coat of Arms and Family Crest

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Stepney Coat of Arms Meaning

The two main devices (symbols) in the Stepney blazon are the owl and chequy. The two main tinctures (colors) are gules and azure.

The bold red colour on a heraldic shield is known as gules. It has a long history within heraldry, it is known that one of those who besieged the scottish castle of Carlaverock in 1300 was the French knight Euremions de la Brette who had as his arms a simple red shield.1. The word gules is thought to come from the Arabic gule, or “red rose” 2. Later writers associated it with the precious stone ruby and the metal iron 3, perhaps because of the red glow of iron in the heat of the blacksmith’s forge.

The bright, strong blue color in Heraldry is known in English as azure, and similarly in other European languages – azul in Spanish, azurro in Italian and azur in French. The word has its roots in the Arabic word lazura, also the source of the name of the precious stone lapis lazuli 4. Despite this, those heralds who liked to associate colours with jewels chose instead to describe blue as Sapphire. According to Wade, the use of this colour symbolises “Loyalty and Truth” 5.

Birds of great variety occur throughout heraldry, at least in name 6. The owl has long been associated with heraldry and is depicted in a clearly recognised aspect, always with its face to the viewer. 7 It comes as no surprise that previous generations of heraldic writers ascribed to it the traits of “vigilance and acute wit”. 8

Chequy (a word with a surprising number of different spellings!) is what is known as a treatment, a repeating pattern usually used to fill the whole background of the shield with a series of alternately coloured squares 9. These squares are usually quite small (there should be at least 20 in total), giving the appearance of a chess board, but any combination of colours may be used. It can also be used as a patterning on some of the larger ordinaries, such as the pale and fess, in which case there are three rows of squares. Wade, an authority on heraldic meaning groups chequy with all those heraldic features that are composed of squares and believes that they represent “Constancy”, but also quotes another author Morgan, who says that they can also be associated with “wisdom…verity, probity…and equity”, and offers in evidence the existence of the common English saying that an honest man is a ”Square Dealer” 10.

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  • 1 The Siege of Carlaverock, N. Harris, Nichols & Son, London, 1828, P180
  • 2 Boutell’s Heraldry, J.P. Brooke-Little, Warne, (revised Edition) London 1970, P 313
  • 3 Understanding Signs & Symbols – Heraldry, S. Oliver & G. Croton, Quantum, London, 2013, P53
  • 4 A Glossary of Terms used in British Heraldry, J.H. Parker, Oxford, 1894, Entry:Azure
  • 5 The Symbolisms of Heraldry, W. Cecil Wade, George Redway, London, 1898 P36
  • 6 A Complete Guide to Heraldry, A.C. Fox-Davies, Bonanza (re-print of 1909 Edition), New York, 1978, P233
  • 7 A Glossary of Terms used in British Heraldry, J.H. Parker, Oxford, 1894, Entry:Owl
  • 8 The Symbolisms of Heraldry, W. Cecil Wade, George Redway, London, 1898 P77
  • 9 A Glossary of Terms used in British Heraldry, J.H. Parker, Oxford, 1894, Entry:Chequy
  • 10 The Symbolisms of Heraldry, W. Cecil Wade, George Redway, London, 1898 P100