The Armorial Bearings on the Crawfurd Gallery
To write on this subject is to venture into deep waters. Experience has shown that few visitors want to know much about the technical details, and are content to look and enjoy the visual impact of so much heraldry in one place.
The explanation of the system is for those who are versed in the esoteric rules of heraldry which has a vocabulary of its own, being based on mediaeval French.
Even the compilers of the Gallery Coats of Arms made mistakes. The Rev. Douglas Irving invited a party from the Heraldic Society of Scotland to visit the church in 1984, and after their visit he received a letter from their chairman, Charles J. Burnett of the National Museum of Antiquities in Edinburgh, who, at the time of writing was "Dingwall Pursuivant" under the Lord Lyon, the Lord Lyon being the supreme authority in all Heraldic matters. He is both a Minister of the Crown and a Judge of the Realm.
In the letter Mr. Burnett pointed out mistakes in three of the shields and in the wreaths that surmount them. One mistake was in the original carving, the other errors could have occurred during painting at any time.
The incorrect carving is on the shield second from the left on the viewers left facing the gallery. Apparently there should be nine diamond shapes (Mascles) on the saltire (Cross), not five as shown.
The mistakes in the painting have since been rectified, but the letter demonstrated that there are many pitfalls right from the start, and the start in the case of the Crawfurd Gallery was three hundred years ago, dating from the time when the First Viscount commissioned the shields.
At the same time as this correspondence with Mr. Burnett, Mrs. C.G.W. Roads, Lyon Clerk and Keeper of the Records researched the family tree of Viscount Crawfurd on our behalf. While I have not yet been able to make this fit into the available space on an A4 sheet of paper due to computer limitations, it is available in our Archives.
It should be pointed out again (See the article on Heraldry in the Auld Kirk) that in Heraldry a Coat of Arms is described using the right or "dexter" and left or "sinister" from the point of view of the shield-bearer, hence right is his right and therefore your left, and vice versa. In the same way the right side of the gallery is your left.
The Arms on the front of the gallery read from the centre outwards. In the centre is the coat of John Crawfurd, First Viscount Garnock, and the heraldic description is;-
Quarterly 1st and 4th, Azure, three crosses pattée Argent; 2nd and 3rd Gules a fess chequy Argent and Azure; over all an inescutcheon Gules charged of a fess Ermine. Supporters dexter a Highlander in a short tunic, his shield charged of the Arms of Crawford. Sinister a greyhound Argent gorged of a collar Ermine.
D 1. (Your left) Sir John Crawfurd of Kilbirnie. Quarterly 1st and 4th Gules a fess Ermine; 2nd and 3rd Azure, a chevron between three crosses pattée Or.
D 2. David Carnegie, Earl of Southesk.
Argent an eagle displayed Azure armed, beaked and membered Gules, on its breast an antique covered cup, Or.
D 3. James Cunningham, 6th Earl of Glencairn.
Argent a shakefork Sable.
D 4. Thomas Hamilton, 1st Earl of Haddington.
Quarterly 1st and 4th Gules on a chevron between three cinquefoils Argent, a buckle Azure between two spots of Ermine, all within a bordure Or charged with eight thistles Vert; 2nd and 3rd Argent a fess wavy between three roses Gules barbed and seeded proper.
D 5. John Blair of Blair.
Argent on a saltire Sable nine mascles Argent. [This is the coat referred to in the letter showing five mascles of the first, with a chief Sable].
D 6. Sir David Lindsay of Edzell.
Quarterly 1st and 4th Gules, a fess chequy Argent and Azure; 2nd and 3rd Or a lion rampant debruised of a ribbon Sable; an inescutcheon for Nova Scotia (Argent a saltire Azure surmounted of an inescutcheon Or charged with a lion rampant within a double tressure flory counterflory Gules ensigned of an Imperial Crown Proper.)
S 1. (Your Right). Patrick Lindsay, later Patrick Crawfurd of Kilbirnie.
Grand-quarterly 1st and 4th , 1st and 4th Gules a fess Ermine 2nd and 3rd Azure a chevron between three crosses pattée Or; 2nd and 3rd Gules a fess chequy Argent and Azure, in chief three mullets of the Second.
S 2. James Hamilton, 2nd Marquis of Hamilton K.G.
Quarterly 1st and 4th Gules, three cinquefoils Ermine; 2nd and 3rd Argent a ship her sails trussed up Sable.
S 3. Thomas Hamilton 1st Earl of Haddington.
Quarterly 1st and 4th Gules on a chevron between three cinquefoils Argent, a buckle Azure between two spots Ermine, all within a bordure Or charged with eight thistles Vert; 2nd and 3rd Argent a fess wavy between three roses Gules barbed and seeded Proper.
S 4. James Cunningham, 6th Earl of Glencairn.
Argent a shakefork Sable
S 5. Andrew Leslie, 5th Earl of Rothes.
Quarterly 1st and 4th Argent on a bend Azure three buckles Or; 2nd and 3rd Or a lion rampant Gules debruised of a ribbon Sable.
S 6 John Lyon, Lord Glamis.
Argent a lion Rampant Azure armed and langued Gules within a double tressure flory counterflory Azure.
On the cornice.
Centre. The Arms of the First Viscount Garnock impaled with those of his wife, Margaret Stewart, daughter of James 1st Earl of Bute.
D 7. James Foulis of Colinton.
Argent three laurel leaves Vert.
D 8. Colin Campbell of Glenorchy.
Quarterly, 1st and 4th gyronny of eight Or and sable.
2nd Or a fess chequy Azure and Argent.
3rd Argent a lymphad sable.
S 7. Colin Campbell of Glenorchy. As D 8.
S 8. James Borthwick of Newbyres.
Argent three cinquefoils Vert within a bordure Gules.
(There is dispute about this blazon, for other opinion says the cinquefoils are SABLE and the bordure might not be GULES.)
These notes, are difficult for the layman (and that includes the writer) to grasp. As stated above, it is an arcane subject and few casual visitors are likely to be in a position to question them, but it is important to get the details ironed out in case this does happen.