Coats of Arms

The above Arms were used by my Great Grandfather, Thomas Roe Thompson, J.P. Born at 10 Dundas Street, Monkwearmouth in 1846, he moved with his parents in 1858 to South Wales where he went into business with his father Matthew Thompson.

I am not sure of the origins of the above Arms but they are remarkably similar to others used by Thompson families.
They are recorded in Burke’s General Armoury (1884):
Arms – Per fess ar and sa. a fess embattled counter-embattled between three falcons counterchanged, belled and jessled.

Crest – An arm embowed in armour quarterly or and az. holding in the gauntlet proper a broken lance.

They are said to be of Thomas Thompson of Bishopwearmouth but this may not be correct. In the Franks Collection (1904) in the British Museum, the arms of T. Thompson of Bishopwearmouth are quartering White, impaling Pemberton and quartering Jackson. The particular T. Thompson of Bishopwearmouth, County Durham married in 1814 Elizabeth daughter of Richard Pemberton (ref. 29292). Interestingly these arms use the same motto, “Dum Spiro Spero”. Also in the Franks Collection, there are arms belonging to Henry Ayscough Thompson which are almost identical to those above except that the broken lance is not on a slope (ref. 29271). These arms however carry the motto “Fracta non victa” which presumably means “broken but not beaten”.

There was a Thomas Thompson of Sunderland-near-the-Sea, gentleman, who in April 1762 had surrendered to him all copyhold premises held by the Rev. Henry Waistell and John Rosamon (Source: History and Antiquities of Sunderland etc. by Jeremiah William Summers 1858). The Burke Encyclopaedia of Heraldry also links the Arms to those of the Whites, the Pembertons and the Jacksons which concurs with the Franks Collection.

There was also a Thomas Thompson who married Elizabeth Chater, daughter of Dorothy Chater. This Thomas Thompson was apparently Elizabeth Chater’s first husband, her second being John Thompson, probably the father of John Thompson, my great great great grandfather, who was great grandfather of Thomas Roe Thompson.

Mr Harold Storey writes that for my Great Grandfather, Thomas Roe Thompson, to have been entitled to these arms, he would have to have descended from the original grantee of the arms. According to “Armorial Families” they were granted by Norroy King of Arms in 1559. There is a line in Burke down to the Meysey-Thompson baronets, but there could be others. The College of Arms may have more information. But what Harold seems to be showing is the use of a “differenced” version of a basic coat of arms by various families of the same name; in other words, the Scottish system, see below, in unofficial use by the reiving families along the borders. These families did behave rather like clans in other non-legal activities too!

Mr Stuart Thomson has written to me about his family Coat of Arms:
“My earliest known ancestor, Daniel Thomson born about 1676 in Kilmaurs, Ayr, died 1724 aged 48, in Kilmaurs, has a gravestone there with family details inscribed and a coat of arms whose provenance I have so far failed to establish.

I have no knowledge of heraldry so will describe it in lay terms

A shield surmounted by a helmet with close visor. within the shield a cross with crosslets that is to say a cross whose horizontal longest arm is at the bottom and two shorter arms above each themselves crosses with a small arm. Also within two stars above the top bar, two crescents above the bottom bar. below the shield a motto “nec timeo nec spero”, which I translate literally as “I neither hope nor fear”. The main verb comes last in Latin. I take it to mean “I expect nothing out of life and fear nothing”.

My father always referred to him as Sir Daniel but that could be because his father did and he had seen the gravestone and assumed his five times g grandfather must have been titled. They were farmers for many generations.

I would like to find an authoritative explanation of why a widow should have such a thing put on a gravestone if he were not entitled to it, which as far as the Lyon King of Arms Office in Edinburgh is concerned is the case. They have no record of it.”