Wednesday, December 24, 2014

OXONIANS AT WORK: 201 Years Ago, US-UK Peace (Updated Dec. 14, 2015)

A Celebratory Poster of the Treaty, 1814.
Off to Belgium they went,
To work on the Treaty of Ghent.
The Brits wanted uti possidetis
Meaning after-capture status.
The Yanks sought a total recante,
Way back to their status quo ante.
- JT Marlin, 2014
December 24, 2014 – At a visit earlier this month to New York, Oxford University Vice Chancellor Andrew Hamilton began his remarks with a celebration of the 200th Anniversary of the Treaty of Ghent.

The “Treaty of Peace and Amity between His Britannic Majesty and the United States of America” was signed on December 24, 1814.

(The only American or British newspaper to have acknowledged the anniversary on the date was, to my knowledge, the East Hampton Star, which published my story on the event.)

Declaration of War, 1812

President James Madison initiated a declaration of war on Britain originally because British Orders in Council made it harder for the United States to trade with France.

In addition, the British Navy was seizing (“impressing”) sailors on colonial ships and putting them on Navy ships. The War Hawks in the House of Representatives were calling for war on Britain.

The British Government responded by repealing the Orders in Council, ending the curb on trading. However,  impressment remained. If the British had given up the right to impress American sailors, Madison might have called off the war.


Russia's Czar Alexander I in March 1813 offered to host negotiations, but the British were winning and refused. In the fall of 1813, British foreign minister Lord Castlereagh, a Cambridge alum, offered to negotiate directly with the United States. The two countries picked Ghent in eastern Flanders as the venue because it was a neutral city. Everyone's goal was to end the fighting, which was much too expensive for both countries.

The main issue before the negotiators was - what, if any, territories that are captured during the war are kept by the captor?

Here were the two negotiating teams -
  • For the Stars and Stripes - John Quincy Adams, chief negotiator, a Harvard graduate; Henry Clay, the hawk (the "bad cop"); Albert Gallatin, former Treasury Secretary, who grew up in Geneva, emigrated to the USA and settled south of Pittsburgh, teaching French at Harvard and elsewhere to earn a living before he became Secretary of the Treasury in 1801, remaining in that job until he went to Ghent in 1814; James A. Bayard, moderate anti-war Federalist; and Jonathan Russell, chargé d’affaires for Madison in Paris. It took the Americans six weeks or more to communicate with Washington, D.C. so they were negotiating largely on their own. The U.S. team wanted to restore territory to what it was before the war, the status quo ante vellum
  • For the Union Jack - The negotiators on the British side nominally included both Cambridge and Oxford men, but the central negotiator was a Cambridge graduate. The two senior members were Lord Castlereagh, Britain's Foreign Secretary and an alumnus of St. John's College, Cambridge, and Henry Lord Bathurst, the Third Earl, Secretary for War and the Colonies and an alumnus of Christ Church, Oxford. However, neither of them chose to attend the talks personally. Instead, they sent a less-skilled team - Admiralty lawyer William Adams; impressments expert Admiral Lord Gambier; and - the real workhorse of the group and a graduate of Trinity College, Cambridge - Henry Goulburn, Undersecretary for War and the Colonies. The British negotiators wanted uti possidetis, that each side could keep what it had won militarily, such as Detroit and Mackinac Island.
Admiral of the Fleet James Gambier (L, with Treaty) shakes hands with the
U.S. Ambassador to Russia and son of the second U.S. President, John
Quincy Adams, as the British Undersecretary of State for War and the
Colonies, Henry Goulburn (R, with red folder), and others look on.
The fact that the British were closer to home turned out not to have been much of an advantage. It gave time for the Americans to settle on a common goal, while the British were spending their time sending telegrams to try to get approvals from London.

The outcome of the Treaty was favorable for the United States, perhaps because the war was going well for the Americans at the time the Treaty was signed:
  • The Americans seemed to be losing early in the war with the burning of Washington. But Lieutenant General Sir George Prévost and a naval squadron under Captain George Downie engaged in Plattsburgh with New York and Vermont militia and U.S. Army regulars, under the command of Brigadier General Alexander Macomb. They were supported by ships commanded by Master Commandant Thomas Macdonough. The British failed to take Lake Champlain and fled north after the battle. Next, Fort McHenry in Baltimore withstood a severe attack and inspired the National Anthem, "The Star Spangled Banner".  News of these two battles was the last information that negotiators in Ghent received. 
  • The British did not get what they wanted regarding the independence of Native lands in the state of Ohio, and in the Indiana and Michigan Territories. The British wanted this reserved land to be a buffer state to protect Canada from American annexation, but Clay would not give it up. The British did not get any territory in northern Maine, or demilitarization of the Great Lakes or navigation rights on the Mississippi. Lord Castlereagh asked the Duke of Wellington and his advice was for them to take the status quo ante bellum
On December 24 the negotiators agreed on the 3,000-word Treaty. After approval by the two governments, hostilities ended and “all territory, places and possessions whatsoever, taken by either party from the other during the war” were restored to what they were before the war.

Although the United States didn't give up any territory, it was the one that declared war, so presumably it was bent on expansion. That was not to be, and the Canadian border was left in place. Also, the United States never did get the British to promise not to impress American sailors, but as hostilities in Europe ended, this issue ceased to be such a concern.

After the signing of the Treaty and before the combatants got word, the British attacked New Orleans on January 8, 1815 with a large army. It was overwhelmed by a smaller and less experienced American force under General Andrew Jackson (1767-1845) in the greatest U.S. victory in the war. The news of the Treaty and the outcome in New Orleans reached a celebratory American public at about the same time. Formal exchange of papers acknowledging the treaty were not completed until mid-February 1815.


1. The United States won back in the Treaty what it had lost.
As the Canadian historian and War of 1812 expert Donald E. Graves concludes:  What Americans lost on the battlefield, "they made up for at the negotiating table.”

2. The Treaty of Ghent has held up for 200 years. But the Treaty does not imply a  "Special Relationship", just a cessation of hostilities. During the American Civil War, Britain (as Amanda Foreman has shown), came in mostly on the losing side, the South, which makes sense historically because the South was populated through grants of land from the Crown whereas the Pilgrims were fleeing to New England to avoid religious persecution at the hands of the Church of England.

3. Hitler brought the United States and Britain together. During World War I, many Irish Catholics opposed the U.S. entry on the side of Britain. It was not until World War II that the Special Relationship was cemented. The threat of Hitler tied the United States and Britain, first with Lend-Lease in March 1941 and then with the U.S. declaration of war following the Pearl Harbor attack in December 1941.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

BIRTH: Dec. 18–Charles Wesley, Oxonian Colonizer of Georgia

Charles Wesley
Oxonian Methodist and
Colonizer of Georgia
Things that happened long ago, 
Things that happened far away,
May tell us much we need to know,
 And connect us up with things today.  
- JT Marlin, 2014

December 18, 2015 – This day was born in England, in 1707, a colonizer of Georgia and the prolific writer of Methodist hymns, Charles Wesley. He lived to be 81 years old, a ripe old age in those days.

He was one of three Oxonians who made a major contribution to the earliest days of Georgia and South Carolina. Georgia was created as a British colony, named in honor of George II, who saw the colony as a buffer zone to protect South Carolina from the Spanish troops in Florida.

The stories of these Oxonians in Georgia helps explain why the American states differ so greatly – and therefore why it was such a struggle to keep together the American Experiment a century later.

The intellectual origins of the colonies derive in large measure from Oxford and Cambridge, which were preeminent in the training of the scholars in the colonies. The early colonists had no universities, and when colonial universities were created their teaching staff and reading materials depended heavily on Oxford and Cambridge men (and a few women) and their students or children.

Two of the three Oxonians were born in mid-December – Charles Wesley today in 1707 and James Oglethorpe four days later and 11 years earlier, in 1696. The third Oxonian was Charles's older brother John, born in 1703, midway between the other two. The influence of the Wesleys on Georgia was limited - both of them had their spirits broken by gossip and accusation. However, the influence of the Methodist religion on all the colonies, especially immediately after the American Revolution when the Anglican Church was disestablished in the new United States, was enormous.

General James Oglethorpe (Corpus Christi), 1696-1785, Georgia’s First Governor
James Oglethorpe, sure,
Really meant to help the poor –
No rum, no slaves, no large estates
And an Anglican wait for the Pearly Gates.
Clerihew by JT Marlin.

James Oglethorpe's name appears in many places in Georgia and South Carolina. Georgia has an Oglethorpe County, two Oglethorpe towns, an Oglethorpe University and many Oglethorpe streets, parks, schools and businesses (Oglethorpe Power, for example).

His first vision for the colony was as a Utopia for Britain's poor. When he saw that King George II preferred to see it as a buffer zone between Spanish Florida and South Carolina, he was willing to modify his idea.

Oglethorpe's place in history as the visionary founder and venerated first governor of Georgia is unquestioned. His military prowess is less clear, but given the successful outcome – the significant Spanish military presence in Florida was successfully kept at bays – Oglethorpe gets the benefit of any doubt.

Oglethorpe bravely interrupted his Oxford studies to join the defense of Europe against the invading Turks. He was kindly, caring deeply about those in prison, especially after a friend of his died in debtors'  prison. He then pondered the plight of the poor, and pursued a plan for a new colony in America to provide a place for Britain's poor. When he got to Georgia under the modified plan, he was friendly and fair with the native Americans he met - they repaid him by providing men for his army. He was loyal, not seeing his Methodist principles in conflict with Anglican doctrine, and not wishing to split from the Church of England. He was practical, adjusting his vision for the new colony of Georgia to the shifts in the wind. His dream became a reality, although not quite the reality he dreamed of.

James Oglethorpe was born in 1696 in the London area, the tenth and youngest child of Eleanor and Theophilus Oglethorpe. As anyone near the tail end of a big family knows, it takes constant effort to avoid being put down by one's older siblings. It is a make-or-break position in the family. In James Oglethorpe's case, being the youngest child made him resilient, assertive and at the same time accommodating.

He grew up in Westbrook Manor, the family estate in Godalming, in Surrey, southwest of London. His father lived from rents on property in Godalming and adjacent Haslemere, and was elected in 1698 by local voters to the Halemere seat in the House of Commons. Godalming is an ancient Saxon town, and when James Oglethorpe was growing up it was a prosperous and pleasant place. This surely contributed to James's self-confidence and constructive attitude.

From the year 1300, the town of Godalming held a weekly market and an annual fair. It became a major center for woolen cloth manufacture and when that declined in the 17th century, the residents aggressively sought out new weaving and knitting technology and applied it to the manufacture of stockings and then leather.

Other initiatives in Godalming included:
  • Papermaking, from the 17th to the 19th century. 
  • Quarrying of Bargate stone.
  • Trade with people traveling between London and Portsmouth. 
  • In 1764, canals linking it to Guildford, and from there to the Thames and London.
 In 2013 Godalming retained its preeminence, being voted the best place to live in Britain.

In 1714, at 18, James Oglethorpe went up to Oxford, living at Corpus Christi College. When the Turks invaded Europe, however, he showed unusual initiative for an Oxford student in dropping out of the University to enroll in a military academy in France. Upon graduation he went to Austria to become an aide to Prince Eugene of Savoy. After the Turks were defeated, Oglethorpe returned to his studies at Corpus Christi.

The military training he received in France and Austria would prove to be extremely valuable when he went to America and faced a large invading Spanish army.

In 1722, Oglethorpe went home to Godalming and ran successfully for the Haslemere seat his father had held in Parliament. During that time, his friend Robert Castell was jailed in London's Fleet Prison for non-payment of debts. Castell was put in a cell with a prisoner who had smallpox, and he died of the disease. Oglethorpe channeled his grief into work as Chairman of a parliamentary committee to investigate the jails, where he saw up close their terrible abuses. Oglethorpe thereafter gained national attention as a reformer who exposed maltreatment of prisoners.

During his first decade in Parliament, Oglethorpe focused on the underlying problem of poverty. In a Committee report on this subject, Oglethorpe and his fellow M.P.s proposed transporting “worthy” poor people from England to a new colony in America, where land was plentiful and offered the potential of a classless Utopia.

The founding vision of the Trustees of Georgia, published in 1733, was an economic development plan with a moral purpose, what we might call today a social enterprise. The motto of the Trustees was Non sibi sed aliis ("Not for self, but for others”), much like the Wellesley College motto Non ministrari, see ministrare ("Not to be cared for by others, but to care for them"). The practical ground rules were, as my Clerihew notes, no rum, no slaves, no large estates, and an Anglican wait for the Pearly Gates. 

This Utopian plan was not making any headway until 1732, when Spanish forces in Florida were  immediately seen as a threat to the colonies, starting with the South Carolina. Suddenly, Oglethorpe's initiative was tasked with a military purpose - a  buffer zone between South Carolina and the Spanish army. In retrospect, it was a brilliant proposal, and Oglethorpe's prestigious military training made him a credible advocate for it.

The new colony immediately became Priority #1. George II, perhaps pleased that the colony would be named Georgia after himself, swiftly granted Oglethorpe and 20 other Trustees a charter for new colony. The naming of the colony was in the tradition of virtually all the colonies outside of dissenting New England - New York was named for the Duke of York, James II; Virginia for the Virgin Queen Elizabeth I; Carolina for Charles I; and Maryland after Queen Henrietta Maria, wife of Charles I.

Charles I is the only British monarch to have three colonies named after him and his wife. He paid for it with his life, the only British monarch to have his reign interrupted by an axe to the neck. Charles eventually hid out at Oxford, but Oxford could not protect him from Cromwell's New Army.

Georgia was the first new colony in several decades. Oglethorpe and the other Trustees selected a mix of artisans, farmers and merchants to ensure that the colony would be a success. Many people lined up to get on the list, evaporating the idea of tackling poverty by restricting settlers to poor people and ex-prisoners. In late 1732, Oglethorpe finally led a sailing expedition of 114 colonial pioneers, financing the trip in part with his own money. They were mostly British gentry but also included Scotsmen, English tradesmen, religious refugees from Europe, and a few Jewish refugees.

While the principals were Anglicans, and sought to bring Christianity to the region, the colony's charter tolerated people of almost all religions. The exception was Roman Catholics, whose loyalty was suspect because of their likely sympathy for the hostile Spanish settlements in Florida.

The expedition sailed from Gravesend in Kent, England to the port of Savannah, arriving early 1733. The colonists proceeded to Port Royal, South Carolina's then-southernmost outpost. Oglethorpe had the rank of colonel and commander-in-chief over whatever troops he was sent by Britain or could assemble in the colonies.

Returning to Savannah with colonists and a militia, Oglethorpe directed his troops and African-American slaves from South Carolina to clear the pine forest. Col. Oglethorpe then laid out a plan for the new town of Savannah with features consistent with his dream of a classless society: a common pattern of streets, ten-house units ("tithings") and public squares, identical clapboard houses built on identical lots and restrictions on how much land could be owned, ensuring that each plot had a worker and an armed defender - thus in effect limiting land ownership to adult males, the least popular of his provisions.

He also imposed an outright prohibition against slave-owning by Georgians. He had an enlightened policy toward Georgia's Indians, respecting their customs and language. He was determined to settle of all land agreements by treaty, while addressing the Indians' needs and protecting them from dishonest traders.

He fully lived up to the motto of Georgia's Trustees in the early months of his time in Georgia, "not for self but for others". Sometimes violating Trustee policy, Oglethorpe permitted persecuted religious minorities (such as Jews and Lutheran Salzburgers) to settle in Georgia. Not long after landing, in February 1734, Oglethorpe established the first Masonic Lodge in the Western Hemisphere, Solomon's Lodge No. 1.

Since Oglethorpe came to Georgia as a Trustee, he was technically not allowed to hold office in the colony. But he was de facto the colony's leader, i.e., its first governor. Oglethorpe's commitment to Georgia is hard to overstate. He mortgaged his own landholdings back in England to finance the colony's needs. He hoped that Parliament would repay his rising debts, but he was aware he could lose everything.

After the War of Jenkins' Ear erupted in 1739, when Georgia was just six years old, the long-simmering dispute over land between Florida and South Carolina came to a head. Oglethorpe took an initiative in 1740, assembling an invasion force consisting of his own troops, his new-found Indian allies, some Carolina Rangers, and several ships sent by the Royal Navy. His goal was to take the Spanish fortress at St. Augustine.  Unfortunately, the siege failed and the allied force fell apart, forcing Oglethorpe back to St. Simons Island to the south of Savannah.

Two years later, the Spanish counterattacked. This could have been the end of British control of Georgia and then South Carolina. Ships with thousands of Spanish troops landed on the south end of St. Simons Island. At Fort Frederica, which he was still in the process of building, Col. Oglethorpe rallied his troops for battle. In a critical skirmish known as the Battle of Gully Hole Creek, his forces turned back a Spanish advance force.

As they pursued the retreating Spaniards, Oglethorpe halted his force at the edge of a marsh and positioned his men to await a counterattack by the Spanish army. The main force of the Spaniards  joined with the fleeing advance unit and the two armies engaged in a brief but fierce fight known as the Battle of Bloody Marsh. The colonists prevailed and the Spanish commanders retreated back to St. Augustine, never again to attack the British colonies.

Oglethorpe rightly became a national hero in England and in September 1743 George II promoted him to brigadier general. The plan to use Georgia to protect South Carolina had worked. But late in 1743 Gen. Oglethorpe was emboldened to lead a second attempt to take the Spanish fortress at St. Augustine, and for a second time he was unsuccessful.

This time an officer in his regiment charged Gen. Oglethorpe with poor judgment bordering on misconduct and for many months there was a cloud over Oglethorpe and a question whether he would ever be repaid for the loans he made. But in 1744, the charges were dismissed and Parliament voted to reimburse Oglethorpe. Both his honor and his fortune were preserved.

Oglethorpe was then 48, which especially then was late career for a military officer. Around that time the general met Elizabeth Wright, whose wealthy husband had recently died. They married and settled at her estate - Cranham Hall, Essex, 17 miles east of London. Oglethorpe partook in the active London social life and befriended prominent Londoners of the time like lexicographer Samuel Johnson, his biographer James Boswell, and Oliver Goldsmith.

He continued to serve as a Trustee of Georgia but his influence over and interest in the colony waned.  In his absence, many of the class-defying restrictions on large land ownership, inheritance, prohibition against rum, and slavery disappeared. Georgia took on the character of its northern neighbors and became a part of the Deep South portrayed so vividly in Gone with the Wind.

By 1750 Oglethorpe seems to have totally given up his interest in Georgia. He remained in Parliament for another ten years after his marriage, until in 1754 he was challenged and defeated. After 1760, James Oglethorpe and his wife Elizabeth divided their remaining quarter-century together between their country estate at Cranham Hall and their London town house on Lower Grosvenor Street.

Oglethorpe eventually lived to see the colony that he founded become part of the new nation, the USA. On June 4, 1785, Oglethorpe met with John Adams, the first U.S. ambassador to Great Britain, and expressed to Adams "great esteem and regard for America." After a brief illness later that month,  Oglethorpe died in Cranham Hall on June 30 at 89 years of age, a long life for that time, especially for someone so active as a military commander. He is buried under the chancel floor of the Parish Church of All Saints at Cranham.

John Wesley

John Wesley (1703-1791)
Christ Church and Lincoln College,
Oxford. Co-founder of the Methodist
Church and Colonizer of Georgia.
John Wesley sought to reform the Anglican Church and instead created a new religion, Methodism, which turned out to be very important when the Anglican Church became defunct after the American Revolution. While the Church of England struggled with the task of being reborn as the American Episcopal Church, Methodist bishops were actually at work.

He was born on June 28, 1703 in Epworth, Lincolnshire, England. Epworth is halfway between Sheffield and Grimsby on the eastern coast of England, 23 miles north-west of Lincoln. John was the 15th (!) child of Anglican Rev. Samuel Wesley and his wife Susanna Wesley (née Annesley).

Samuel Wesley was himself a graduate of the University of Oxford and was since 1696 rector of Epworth. He had married Susanna, the 25th (!) child of Samuel Annesley, a Dissenting minister, in 1689. Ultimately, Susanna bore him 19 children, of whom nine lived beyond infancy. She and Samuel had both become members of the Church of England as young adults.

The children of Samuel and Susanna were homeschooled in their early years, as was common then. Each child, boy or girl, was taught to read as early as possible. Before they went off to school, they were expected to become proficient in Latin and Greek and to have learned major portions of the New Testament by heart. Susanna Wesley examined each child twice a day, before lunch and before evening prayers, and each child was interviewed weekly by their mother for the purpose of intensive spiritual instruction.

In 1714, at 11, Wesley was sent to the Charterhouse School in London, where he lived the studious religious life he was used to at home. In June 1720, Wesley matriculated at Christ Church, Oxford, graduating with a B.A. in 1724. He was ordained a deacon in September 1725, holy orders being a necessary step toward becoming a fellow and tutor at the university. He sought holiness through study of Scriptures and performance of his religious duties. He deprived himself to have money to give to the poor.

In 1726, Wesley was elected a fellow of Lincoln College, Oxford - entitling him to a room in college and a salary. While continuing his studies, Wesley taught Greek and lectured on the New Testament. For two years he helped his father, serving as a parish curate. Ordained a priest on September 22, 1728, Wesley served the parish for two years, returning to Oxford in 1729 to maintain his status as junior Fellow at Lincoln College.

During Wesley's absence from Oxford, his younger brother Charles took up residence at Christ Church. Along with two fellow students, he formed a club to study and pursue the Christian life. John Wesley became the leader of this group, which attracted new members. In 1730, the group began the practice of visiting prisoners in jail. They preached and educated jailed debtors whenever possible, and cared for the sick. Given the low ebb of spirituality in Oxford at that time, they were considered to be religious "enthusiasts" (fanatics). University wits styled them the "Holy Club".

With his brother Charles and fellow cleric George Whitefield, John Wesley is credited with founding  Methodism and inspiring evangelical revivals such as the Holiness movement and Pentecostalism. A key decision that Wesley's made in 1639 was to follow Whitefield’s example and travel and preach outdoors. In contrast to Whitefield's Calvinism, however, Wesley embraced the Arminian doctrines of  Dutch Reformed theologian Jacobus Arminius, 1560-1609, who accepts Calvinist teaching except on issues relating to predestination, which they reject. John Wesley’s interpretation of Arminianism is a major theological position of its own, making Methodism a distinct religion.

Wesley expressed his understanding of humanity's relationship to God as utter dependence upon God's grace. Wesley's appointing itinerant, unordained evangelists to travel and preach was a key departure from parish-based Anglican practice. Methodists became leaders in many social issues of the day, including prison reform and abolition of slavery.

Wesley argued for the notion of Christian perfection and for respect of sacramental theology. He preached that the sacraments were the manner by which God sanctifies and transforms the believer, encouraging people to experience Jesus Christ personally. Although he created a new church, John Wesley himself remained during his entire life within the established Anglican church, insisting that the Methodist movement lay well within its tradition. By the end of his life, he was described as "the best loved man in England".

John Wesley and his brother were invited by the Governor of Georgia, John Oglethorpe, to assist him with governance and the spreading of Christianity. On the voyage to Georgia, the Wesleys first came into contact with German Moravian settlers. Both Wesleys were influenced by their deep faith and spirituality, rooted in pietism.

At one point in the voyage a storm came up and broke the mast off the ship. The English panicked, while the Moravians calmly sang hymns and prayed. This experience led John Wesley to believe that the Moravians possessed an inner strength which he lacked. They reached Savannah on February 8, 1736, eager to make use of Oglethorpe's offer by spreading Christianity to the Native Americans. This mission, however, was unsuccessful. In addition, John Wesley had a disastrous relationship with Sophia Hopkey, whom he met on the ship from England.  Wesley broke off the relationship, only to find Hopkey announcing to others in the town that Wesley had promised to marry her. Wesley retaliated by refusing Hopkey communion. She and her new husband, William Williamson, then filed suit against Wesley. Wesley stood trial. While he was not convicted - the proceedings ended in a mistrial - John Wesley's reputation was tarnished and he personally was exhausted by it. Like his younger brother, who had left before him, Join Wesley returned to England demoralized.

Back in England, John Wesley turned for guidance to a Moravian missionary, Peter Boehler, temporarily in England awaiting permission to depart for Georgia. He went to a Moravian meeting in May 1738 and had his famous "Aldersgate experience", which moved his method of ministry toward a more evangelical spirit.

Meanwhile, Wesley's Oxford friend, the evangelist George Whitefield, was, like Wesley, excluded from the churches of Bristol upon his return from America. In a neighboring village, Kingswood, in February 1739, Whitefield preached out in the open to a group of miners. Wesley was inspired by this and in April 1739 he preached the first time at Whitefield's invitation a sermon in the open air, near Bristol.

This turned out to be an act with major consequences. Once he succeeded in the open-air preaching, Wesley decided that it was a good way to reach men and women who would not enter most churches. For the next 50 years, John Wesley continued preaching both in churches and in fields and halls.

Late in 1739 Wesley broke with the Moravians in London because he believed they fell into heresy by supporting quietism. He therefore decided to split his followers off into the Methodist Society in England. From then on, Wesley and the Methodists were persecuted by clergy, magistrates and even mobs. Many Methodist leaders had not received ordination and Wesley flouted many regulations of the Church of England concerning parish boundaries and who had authority to preach. This was seen as a social threat that disregarded institutions.

Starting in 1739, Wesley started approving local preachers who were not ordained by the Anglican Church to preach and do pastoral work. This expansion of lay preachers was one of the keys to the rapid growth of Methodism. At the local level, numerous societies of different sizes were grouped into circuits to which traveling preachers were appointed for two-year periods. As Methodist societies multiplied, they adopted the elements of an ecclesiastical system. The divide between Wesley and the Church of England widened. The question of division from the Church of England was urged by some of his preachers and societies. It was opposed by his brother Charles, and John Wesley said that Anglicanism was "with all her blemishes” is “nearer the Scriptural plans than any other in Europe”.

In 1784, John Wesley played an important role in the new nation of the USA. He gave up waiting for the Bishop of London to ordain someone for the American Methodists, who were without sacraments after the American Revolution. The Church of England disestablished in the United States - the Anglican clergy were cut off from the Church of England, which was the state church in most southern colonies. The Church of England had not yet appointed a U.S. bishop to what would become the Protestant Episcopal Church in America.

Wesley ordained Thomas Coke by the laying on of hands, although Coke was already a priest in the Church of England. Wesley appointed him superintendent of U.S. Methodists. Coke was to ordain others in the new Methodist Episcopal Church in the United States. Wesley replied that he had not separated from the church, nor did he intend to, but he must and would save as many souls as he could while alive, "without being careful about what may possibly be when I die." Although Wesley rejoiced that the Methodists in America were free, he advised his English followers to remain in the established church and he himself died within it.

Later in his ministry, Wesley was a keen abolitionist, speaking out and writing against the slave trade. He published a pamphlet on slavery in 1774 - Thoughts Upon Slavery.  He said: "Liberty is the right of every human creature, as soon as he breathes the vital air; and no human law can deprive him of that right.” Wesley was a friend of abolitionists John Newton and William Wilberforce.

John Wesley married unhappily at the age of 48 to a widow, Mary Vazeille, and had no children. Vazeille left him 15 years later, to which Wesley reported in his journal, "I did not forsake her, I did not dismiss her, I will not recall her."

In 1770, at the death of George Whitefield, Wesley wrote a memorial sermon which praised Whitefield's admirable qualities and acknowledged their differences: "[On] many doctrines of a less essential nature ... We may 'agree to disagree.' But, meantime, let us hold fast the essentials..."Wesley was the first to put the phrase 'agree to disagree' in print.

John Wesley died at 86 on March 2, 1791. On his deathbed, with friends around him, Wesley grasped their hands and said repeatedly, "Farewell, farewell. The best of all is, God is with us.” He was entombed at Wesley's Chapel, which he built in City Road, London, in England.

Wesley continues to be the primary theological interpreter for Methodists worldwide. Wesley’s teachings also serve as a basis for the holiness movement, which includes denominations like the Wesleyan Church, the Free Methodist Church, the Church of the Nazarene, the Christian and Missionary Alliance, and several smaller groups, and from which Pentecostalism and parts of the Charismatic Movement are offshoots.

In 1831, Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut, was the first institution of higher education in the United States to be named after Wesley. About 20 colleges and universities in the US were also independently named after him. Movies were made about John Wesley in 1954 (J.Arthur Rank) and in 2009 (Foundery Pictures).

Charles Wesley

The hymn writer and Methodist Charles Wesley, was like his brother John born in Epworth, England where their father was rector. Charles was educated at Westminster School and Christ Church, Oxford. At Oxford, Charles in his first year was distracted by the diversions of the university. His elder brother John said that Charles "pursued his studies diligently, and led a regular, harmless life; but if I spoke to him about religion, he would warmly answer, 'What, would you have me be a saint all at once?' and would hear no more."

Then Charles had a spiritual awakening. He wrote to John:
It is owing, in great measure, to somebody's prayers (my mother's most likely) that I am come to think as I do; for I cannot tell myself how or why I awoke out of my lethargy.
Charles formed a prayer group along with three fellow students in 1727. They devoted their days to studying the Bible and praying and were a subject of mirth among their fellow students. John Wesley wrote: "From the very beginning — from the time that four young men united together — each of them was a man of one book. They had one, and only one, rule of judgment." They were reproached for this, and were called "Bible Bigots" and "Bible Moths", feeding on the bible like moths on cloth. They were also called "Methodists," and that name stuck.

John Wesley returned to Oxford in 1729, and took over as the group's leader. After Charles graduated from Oxford, John convinced him to become ordained and accompany him as a missionary to the Colony of Georgia. Charles agreed, and about two weeks after his ordination, the brothers set sail.

En route to Georgia, the Wesley brothers befriended a group of German Moravians, and were inspired by their simplicity and faith. They were also amazed at how they sang together, and how during some of the worst storms at sea, when everyone else was frightened, the Moravians stayed calm and sang peacefully.

John went to Savannah, where for a time he was secretary to Governor James Oglethorpe, and Charles continued on further south to the new Georgia settlement of Frederica on St. Simons Island.

Like his brother, Charles ran into trouble over his unmarried status. His strict religious habits were unwelcome to the settlers. He was 28, a handsome bachelor and a magnet for gossip. Two married women told Charles Wesley that Governor Oglethorpe had tried to seduce them and meanwhile told Oglethorpe that Charles Wesley had tried to seduce them. As gossip spread, the women's husbands became angry. Both Oglethorpe and Wesley at first believed the rumors about each other. By the time they realized that the women had invented the stories, Wesley was demoralized and couldn't wait to get back England.

While John continued to travel and preach, Charles returned to Britain, demoralized by the gossip and sick of travel. On Charles Wesley's departure, Oglethorpe advised him to marry. Charles married a woman named Sarah on his return, and their marriage and parenthood was a happy one.

Charles brought back with him to England the inspiration he got from the German Moravians in Savannah, i.e., congregational singing. This was a new idea for Anglicans, because only choirs sang in their churches, not the congregation. Charles Wesley did not intend that his hymns be sung in a high-church setting, but rather outside or in a plain meeting house.

In 1738, he had a second religious awakening, one he had been waiting for, and a few days afterward John Wesley, by now back in England, had a similar conversion and said: "I felt my heart strangely warmed."

With their newfound conviction, the brothers were determined to bring their religion to regular people. They traveled around the countryside on horseback, preaching to coal miners at mines, to prison inmates, and to anyone who gathered in the open air to see them.

Charles published more than 4,400 hymns during his lifetime, and left behind several thousand more. They include "O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing," and "Love Divine, All Loves Excelling," which are in most hymnals. He wrote the popular Christmas carol "Hark! the Herald Angels Sing." Another favorite is "Come, O Thou Traveler Unknown" [originally "Wrestling Jacob"], which goes as follows in hymnals today:
'Tis Love! 'tis Love! Thou diedst for me! /  I hear thy whisper in my heart; / The morning breaks, the shadows flee, / Pure Universal Love thou art; /To me, to all, thy mercies [originally "bowels"] move / Thy nature, and thy name, is Love.
Charles Wesley lived happily to be 80 years old.


Georgia Rodney M. Baine, ed., The Publications of James Edward Oglethorpe (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1994).

Harvey H. Jackson and Phinizy Spalding, eds., Forty Years of Diversity: Essays on Colonial Georgia (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1984). Forty Years of Diversity: Essays on Colonial Georgia

Edwin L. Jackson, University of Georgia, Georgia Encyclopedia 12/02/2003

Herbert E. Bolton and Mary Ross, The Debatable Land: A Sketch of the Anglo-Spanish Contest for the Georgia Country (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1925).

"Georgians and the War of Jenkins' Ear," Georgia Historical Quarterly 78 (fall 1994). War of Jenkins' Ear.

Larry E. Ivers, British Drums on the Southern Frontier: The Military Colonization of Georgia, 1733-1749 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1974).

John Tate Lanning, Diplomatic History of Georgia: A Study of the Epoch of Jenkins' Ear (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1936).

Swarthmore College, Plan of Trustees for the Colony of Georgia.  Trustees founding vision.

Wikipedia entries on Oglethorpe, John Wesley and Charles Wesley. Also Yamacraw chief Tomochichi. Masonic Lodge -  Solomon's Lodge No. 1. Battle of Bloody Marsh.

More Oxford bios.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

HERALDRY: Douglas, Moray, de Vere (Updated Mar 24, 2017)

Coats of arms of the Douglas (L) and Moray-
Murray Clans, both descended from Flemish 
settler Freskin. Note three five-pointed 
silver (argent) stars on a blue (azure) field.
My quest for origins of the stars in the American Stars and Stripes has led me to the Douglas and Murray families (clans) of Scotland.

Their shields of white (argent) stars on a blue (azure) background best suggest the canton in the Stars and Stripes.

The blue field could well have come from the blue of Scotland's St. Andrew's saltire.

But what inspired the five-pointed stars? In pursuit of answers to this question I may be traveling to Yorkshire, Berwick-on-Tweed and Edinburgh in the near future. If you have suggestions for this visit, please contact me at

Origins of the Douglas and Moray Families

Both the Douglas and the Moray families descended from Flemish noblemen from Boulogne (once part of Greater Flanders):
  1. Eustace II (c. 1015-c.1087), a companion of William the Conqueror, whose descendants include the Earls of Buchan via Robert de Comines. The two-line border (double-tressure) around the Buchan escutcheon suggests Flemish ancestry.
  2. Freskin, one of many emigrants from Flanders who in the mid-12th century, settled in Scotland, mostly in West Lothian (Edinburgh region), where by a charter of King William to his son William, Freskin was given some land.  Freskin was also given land in Moray as part of the royal division of spoils after William's victory over the Mormaer of Moray. (Moray is pronounced Murray, which is the way it was often later spelled.) Some Freskin descendants settled in the valley of the Clyde (Glasgow region).
This connection to Flemish settlers raises some questions. The star is a mark of cadency signifying the third son. Maybe it means that the original immigrant to Scotland was the third son of the House of Boulogne in Flanders. But why is the star so prominent? Usually, a mark of cadency is a small charge on the shield, like the tip on a restaurant bill. Why does it dominate the field of the Douglas/Moray shield? Why three? Why white on blue (argent on azure), given that the House of Boulogne colors are gold and red (or and gules)?

These questions do not arise with the de Vere (Earl of Oxford) faceted star (or mullet in English heraldry). Its colors may provide a clearer link to a Flemish ancestry. What might have happened with the Douglas coat of arms is that the close association of Douglases with the Scottish leadership meant they changed the colors to the white-and-blue (argent and azure) colors (tinctures) of the St. Andrew's saltire.

The Douglas Family and Coat of Arms

The Douglas coat of arms originated with Sir William ("Long-Leg") de Douglas, 1200-1274, who first adopted in 1259 the shield with the blazon argent, on a chief azure, three stars of the field, i.e., the coat of arms shown at top left above.

His son Sir William ("le Hardi" or "the Bold") Douglas was the first to call himself, sometime before 1288, "Lord of Douglas". He was the first noble supporter of William Wallace, key leader of the Scottish War of Independence. He died c. 1298 in captivity in the Tower of London.

The eldest son of Sir William Douglas the Bold was The Good Sir James of Douglas. He established himself as one of King Robert Bruce's closest lieutenants. He is responsible, as explained below, for the legend of Bruce's heart.

The son of the Good Sir James became William IV of Scotland. He inserted the heart charge below the three stars in the Douglas coat of arms, in honor of his father.

The Good Sir James of Douglas

Sir William Douglas sent his son James to France for safety in the early days of the Wars of Scottish Independence. He was educated in Paris and expected to live the good life of a landowner when he returned to Scotland. However, when he returned he found his father's lands had been confiscated. He faced life as a landless outcast.

Posthumous Coat of Arms
of "the Good Sir James
of Douglas". 
Meanwhile, in February 1306 Robert Bruce, Earl of Carrick, had just killed his rival for the crown, John Comyn, at Greyfriars Kirk in Dumfries. On his way to be crowned King Robert I of Scotland ("Robert the Bruce") in March 1306, he was met by Douglas, on the summit of a hill in Dumfries and Galloway now known as the Crown of Scotland.

Douglas offered his services and Bruce, very wisely it turned out, accepted them.

Douglas shared in Bruce's early defeats, at Methven and the Battle of Dalrigh. They decided on a new strategy, what they called a "secret war" – what we would today call guerrilla warfare.

As the war resumed in spring 1307, the Scots implemented their strategy of responding to superior numbers of English troops by deploying fast-moving bands operating from unexpected directions at unexpected times:
  • 1307-1308 – As Bruce campaigned in the north against disloyal fellow Scots. Douglas used the cover of Selkirk Forest to ambush English forces coming north.
  • 1308, Spring – After Douglas Castle was taken by the English, Douglas and a small fighting force hid on a farm until Palm Sunday morning, when the English garrison at the castle left to attend the local church. Gathering local support, Douglas entered the church with the war-cry "Douglas! Douglas!" He killed some English soldiers at once, rounded the rest up and marched them to the castle where they were all beheaded. Douglas piled their bodies on supplies from the cellar and set fire to the pyre. The wells were then poisoned with salt and carcasses of dead horses. Locals wryly called this the "Douglas Larder".  Scottish fans thereafter called Douglas "the Good Sir James of Douglas", while the English fearfully called him "the Black Douglas".
  • 1308, August – Douglas met with King Bruce for a joint attack on the rebel MacDougalls of Lorn, kinsmen of the Comyns. Bruce pinned down the enemy in a frontal advance through the pass. Douglas and the Highlanders surprised and slaughtered English troops from the rear.
  • 1310 – Edward II came north with another army but went home having never engaged the Scots. He whined to the Pope: "Robert Bruce and his accomplices ... concealed themselves in secret places after the manner of foxes." Welcome to guerrilla warfare. Suck it up.
  • 1314, Shrove Tuesday – The English presence in Scotland by now reduced to a few strongholds, Douglas captured a big one at Roxburgh on Shrove Tuesday, the last celebration before Lent. His men covered themselves with their cloaks and crawled towards the castle on their hands and knees. (Think Birnam Wood coming to Dunsinane in Macbeth.) The defenders believed them to be cows or horses. Douglas's men threw up scaling hooks and rope ladders and quickly overwhelmed the inebriated English soldiers.
  • 1314, June – Edward again invaded Scotland, this time with an army four times the size of the Scottish army, to relieve Stirling Castle. The Scottish army waited south of Stirling, ready to make a quick getaway, if needed, into the wild country to the west. But their position, just north of the Bannockburn, was so good that King Bruce decided for once to suspend guerrilla tactics. His bet paid off. The Battle of Bannockburn, June 23-24, was the turning point for an independent Scotland. The English army retreated south, with Douglas in full pursuit. Edward took refuge in Dunbar Castle. Bannockburn ended the English attacks and united Scotland under Bruce. After it, Douglas was made a knight.
  • 1314, July on – Douglas raided northern England, down to Pontefract and the Humber, with  small horses known as hobbins. The horse and rider together were known as a "hobelar". The hobelars – with the rider dismounting prior to battle – caused widespread panic in northern England similar to the Viking longships of the Ninth Century.
With King Bruce diverted in 1315-16 to Ireland, Douglas and his family rose in importance. Douglas was made Lieutenant of the Realm in autumn 1316. Edward Bruce, the king's brother, was killed in Ireland at the Battle of Faughart in autumn 1318. Douglas was then named Guardian of the Realm and tutor to the future Robert II by the parliament at Scone in December 1318. Douglas continued his victories:
  • 1318, April – Douglas helped capture Berwick from the English, the first time the castle had been in Scottish hands since 1296. 
  • 1319, Summer – Edward II's newly assembled army, the largest since 1314, marched to the gates of Berwick, to try to recapture it. Douglas meanwhile went around behind Edward's army and attacked poorly defended York, where Edward's Queen Isabella had been left. She fled and the Archbishop of York organized a home guard that included many priests and other clerics. Douglas met them at Myton-on-Swale, slaughtering many of the untrained religious defenders. The raid embarrassed the English and produced the desired dissension among Edward's army, which withdrew from Berwick. Berwick remained Scottish for 15 more years.
  • 1323 – Edward II's final invasion got as far as the gates of Edinburgh. Bruce, however, pursued a scorched-earth campaign, denying the English essential supplies and forcing them to retreat. Scottish troops pursued them deep into Yorkshire. Edward and Isabella, in residence at Rievaulx Abbey, were forced into an embarrassing flight.
  • 1327, August – In 1327 Edward II was deposed in a palace coup led by Isabella and her lover, Roger Mortimer, Lord Wigmore. They crowned Edward III, Edward II's teenage son, but kept the reins of the government in their hands. Edward III led another attack on the Scots. The English caught up with the Scots on the southern banks of the River Wear, but the Scots refused to be drawn into battle, moving to a safer position at Stanhope Park. From here  Douglas recrossed the Wear in a surprise attack on the sleeping English. Edward III himself narrowly escaped capture, his own pastor dying in his defense. His humiliated army disbanded. Mortimer and Isabella negotiated a peace, recognizing the Bruce monarchy and Scottish independence.
Death of The Good Sir James of Douglas, 1330 - plaque.
Now undisputed King of Scotland, Bruce was by this time worn out and was not to live much longer.
  • 1329 – Bruce, dying, asked Sir James Douglas to carry his heart in battle against "God's foes" in lieu of his longtime wish to go on crusade. When Bruce died, his heart was cut from his body and placed in a small silver-and-enamel casket that Sir James carried around his neck. Bruce's wish was that his heart be left at the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.
Seal of William, Lord of Douglas, William
 IV of Scotland, son of Sir James the Good
Douglas. Note heart, bar and three stars.
  • 1330 – Douglas set sail from Berwick with seven other knights and 26 squires and gentlemen. They  joined the army of Alfonso XI of Castile,  campaigning against Muslims of the kingdom of Granada led by Berber General Uthman. The Granadans were based at the "Castle of Stars" in Teba. To tempt Alfonso out to battle, Uthman sent out a small body of cavalry on a diversionary attack. Alfonso learned of Uthman's scheme and kept most of his army in camp, ready to defend against Uthman's main force. Othman led his army in a confused retreat back to their camp. Douglas and some knights pursued them aggressively that they were cut off from the rest of Alonso's army. Douglas turned to ride back to close the gap, only to find the tables turned and his troops surrounded by Moors. Douglas engaged the Moors even though his group was outnumbered 20 to one. As told by Sir Walter Scott, Douglas took from his neck the silver casket which contained the heart of Bruce and threw it before him among the enemy. Douglas and all the men with him were killed.
Douglas's bones were taken back to Scotland and deposited at St Bride’s Kirk, Douglas – about 20 miles southeast of Glasgow and 30 miles southwest of Edinburgh. The heart of Bruce was solemnly interred under the high altar of Melrose Abbey.

The Morays (Murrays) of Bothwell (1296)

Moray Clan Crest - Azurethree
 faceted stars argent within a double
 tressure flory-counter-flory, or.
The Murray-Moray Clan (from the Gaelic Muireadhaigh – the two English spellings are both pronounced “Murray”) family can be traced back to Freskin, who accompanied King David I (St. David) to suppress an insurrection in the North in 1130.

Freskin was rewarded with lands in Moray and he later adopted the name. From him descended the Morays, Lords of Bothwell and the families of Sutherland, Earls of Sutherland and Lords Duffus.

(1) Freskin died before 1171, leaving three sons, one of whom was...

(2) William, who obtained, about 1168, a charter (grant from the of the lands of Strabrok and Duffus, and died about 1203, leaving at least three sons, one of whom was...

The MacMurray variation on
the Murray shield. Note the
pierced mullets instead of
(3) William de Moravia was Lord of Petyn, Brachlie, and Boharm. He died before 5th October 1226, leaving two sons, one of whom was...

(4) Sir Walter de Moravia, Lord of Petyn, who died 1244, and was succeeded by his son...

(5) Sir William de Moravia, who died before March 1253. He married a daughter of Malcolm, Earl of Fife, and had a son...

(6) Sir Walter de Moravia. He died in 1284. Besides the property in Moray, he owned Bothwell in Clydesdale, and Smailholm and Crailing in Roxburgh. The lands of Bothwell had belonged to the Olifards, and it was either the daughter or sister of Sir David Clifford who brought this property to the Morays. Sir Walter had at least two sons: Sir William (No. 7) and Sir Andrew (No. 8).

(7) Sir William de Moravia, Lord of Bothwell, died before November 1300. He swore fealty to King Edward I in 1296. He was succeeded by his brother...

(8) Sir Andrew de Moravia, who died in the period November 6-10, 1297. He was taken prisoner at Dunbar in 1296 and sent to the Tower of London, where he died. He was married, first, to a daughter of Sir John Comyn of Badenoch, and had a son, Sir Andrew (No. 9). He married, second, in 1286, Euphemia, widow of William Comyn of Kilbride. She died in 1288, and according to the Scots Peerage she may be ancestress of the Murrays of Cockpool.

(9) Sir Andrew Moray. He was mortally wounded at the battle of Stirling Bridge, September 1297, fighting for Sir William Wallace ["Braveheart"]. He had a posthumous son...

(10) Sir Andrew Moray, died 1338. He was a strong supporter of King Robert Bruce. By his first wife, he had two sons: (a) Sir John (No. 11), (b) Sir Thomas (No. 12). He married, second, Christian Bruce, sister of King Robert.

(11) Sir John Moray, Lord of Bothwell, died before 5th September 1351. He married, 1348, Margaret Graham, heiress of the Earldom of Menteith, and was succeeded by his brother, #12...

(12) Sir Thomas Moray, Lord of Bothwell, died 1361. He married Johanna, daughter and heiress of Sir Maurice Moray of Drumsargard, Earl of Strathearn (No. 250a). His widow afterwards married Archibald "the Grim," third Earl of Douglas, who then acquired the Lordship of Bothwell.

Would the U.S. Founding Fathers be aware of and respect these coats of arms? Yes, the number of people of Scottish ancestry in the colonies was very large. At least one-third of the signers of the Declaration of Independence in 1776 are said to have been of Scottish origin.

The Faceted Star of the Earls of Oxford

Coat of Arms of the Earl of
Oxford. Quartered with red
(gules) and gold (or) and a
faceted star in the first quarter. 
The de Vere family, whose first-born males became the Earls of Oxford until the title died out, have a faceted star in their coat of arms. Orthodox English heraldists insist that a star-like object in is a mullet (the rotating part of a spur), even a faceted star that looks nothing like a spur, because they say everything in a non-Scottish coat of arms must have to do with being a knight.

Today blazoned as a mullet of five points argent (but in early times could have had six points), the star was probably added as a mark of cadency, perhaps when someone more senior in the family crossed from the Cotentin, or from Greater Flanders, to join the English court.

But the main legend associated with the de Vere star has nothing to do with a spur of a knight.

The village of Ver is near Coutances,
Manche, Lower Normandy.
The family name almost surely came from Ver, an inland village on the western end of Normandy, in the Department of the Manche. The nobility of Normandy is one of the two main sources of the post-1066 influx into England and Scotland, the other being Boulogne, then part of Flanders. DNA research doesn't help distinguish between the two influxes, because both Norman and Flemish nobility can be traced back to Vikings from Denmark.

The colors in the de Vere coat of arms suggest its origin in Boulogne, whose colors are also red and gold (gules and or). Aubrey (or Alberic) de Vere was first of the family to settle in England, enjoying a high place at the court of King William. The Domesday Book, completed in 1086, shows de Vere owned large properties in southern England.

His son, Aubrey de Vere II, supported Empress Matilda (aka Maud or Maude) in her war with King Stephen, who was captured at the Battle of Lincoln in 1141. Aubrey paid homage to the Empress, and was rewarded by her with an earldom. He was to be Earl of Cambridgeshire, unless that county were held by the King of Scots, in which case he was to pick another title. Since it was held by the Kind go Scots, Aubrey took the title of Earl of Oxford, confirmed by Matilda's son, Henry II.

The Divine and the Devil in the de Vere Star 

Most explanations of the the stars in the Douglas and Moray/Murray coats of arms revolve around the  idea that Freskin, or Theobald the Fleming, was descended from a third son in the House of Boulogne.

But the legend associated with the faceted star in the de Vere coat of arms is that Aubrey I, on the first Crusade, Aubrey I, on the first Crusade, was in battle on a dark night.  God supposedly took the side of the Christians. Wanting to ensure their safety, God is said to have intervened by inserting a bright white star on the standard of Aubrey de Vere. Those who are familiar with managerial hierarchies and doubt God was involved personally in that level of detail are more likely to believe the version of the story that has an angel of the Lord leaning down and throwing the star onto de Vere's standard.

The de Vere family adopted the star as a badge. It appeared on their standards and was worn by their armies. So it was that the army of the Earl of Oxford at the Battle of Barnet in 1471 was wearing this badge as it join he Earl's ally, Warwick the Kingmaker.

The 16-pointed white rose-in-
sun of Edward IV. Oxford's
 star looked too much like it
 in the mist.
The badge was mistaken in the morning mists for the white rose-in-the-sun badge of their Yorkist enemy, Edward IV.  Warwick charged and was killed. The Earl of Oxford fled. The battle was lost before it even began.

Edward IV, it is believed, then decided it was safe to murder Henry VI, imprisoned in the Tower of London.

The House of Lancaster, loyally supported by the de Veres, was ended. Edward IV was re-crowned King of England.

Cant. Gio, in a comment on another post, says that a de Vere was with Sir James the Good Douglas at Teba. It would be quite possible that the star in the de Vere shield was a reference to the star on the Douglas shield.

Principal Authorities for Douglas and Moray: George Harvey Johnson, The Heraldry of the DouglasesScots Peerage, and Heraldry of Murray, National Library of Scotland, B000279705 (125 copies printed). Principal Source for de Vere: Baronage.

Posts on the Arms of Oxford Colleges and PPHs: Original Article in Oxford Today . Heraldry as Branding . Heraldry as Fun .  Coat of Arms vs. Crest . Sinister Questions . Visit to the College of Arms . Windsor Herald Talks to New Yorkers . Shaming of Harvard Law Shield :: Rapid Expansion of Oxford's Colleges and Halls . Oxford Stars . Links to Heraldry, Oxford, GW . Harris Manchester College . Linacre College . St Catherine's . St Cross College . St Edmund Hall . Trinity College :: Regent's Park College . St Benet's Hall . 

Saturday, November 22, 2014

November 22 - Bulldog, Bulldog, Boo Hoo Hoo H31-Y24

Yale bulldog: "Wait till next year."
If the Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race is The Boat Race, in the USA the Harvard-Yale Game is The Game.

Today's game is worth noting:
  • It is the eighth straight win for Harvard.
  • This is the first time that either team has won eight consecutive Ivy League games since the 1880s.
  • It was the first time that ESPN College GameDay came to televise the oldest game in U.S. college football, in the oldest stadium in the USA, Harvard Stadium (1903).
  • Late in the third quarter Harvard had a 24-7 lead, but blew it as Yale proceeded to score three times in the beginning of the fourth quarter.
    The year Harvard Stadium opened for business, 1903.
  • Yale tied up the score 24-24 with but 4 minutes left to play.
  • Harvard then crushed Yale's rising hopes with two scores in these last 4 minutes.
  • The two final winning scores were engineered by the backup Harvard quarterback, Conner Hempel, who had been sidelined for the previous three games by a shoulder injury.
  • Harvard ended the season with a 10-0 record, and 7-0 in the Ivy League.
  • It is Harvard's 17th undefeated season in its history of playing football, and the third in the 21 years that Tim Murphy has been coach.
The Harvard Magazine report on The Game is likely to be the definitive one.

Meanwhile, Yalies can put the present behind them by re-reading old copies of The New York Times in happier days. What better year for Yale to pick out of the archives than 1884, when Yale won 52-0 before a huge crowd of more than 2,000 fans and the Times the next day began its coverage of The Game as follows:


NEW-HAVENS, Nov. 22 [1884].—Eleven Yale men and 11 Harvard men rolled each other over in the soft mud at the new athletic grounds this afternoon and called it football. The crimson and blue jerseys and stockings were twirled around to the pleasure of some 2,400 spectators as the two teams shoved the oblong, leather, inflated bag up and down the field…

Friday, November 21, 2014

HERALDRY: Oxford Stars (Updated Apr. 22, 2018)

Is this the oldest (c. 1346) extant use of the arms
 of George Washington's ancestors? From a Trinity
 College, Oxford window. Photo: JT Marlin, 2012.
At Oxford's 2014 North American Reunion, in NYC's Waldorf-Astoria ballroom, the Oxford colleges' arms were arrayed around the balcony.

There being a longish speech, I found myself counting the number of stars on the college shields.

Seven, there were, 250 percent more than at Cambridge.

I wondered whether these heraldic stars might help explain the vexing puzzle of the origin of the stars that appear in the canton of the Stars and Stripes.

Oxford's Stars

In the ancient language of heraldry, stars are a heraldic charge on the field of a shield, which is the central component of a full achievement of a coat of arms.

The star is not an ordinary charge; it is a "device". In England, an unpierced star is more commonly called a mullet rather than a star, after the French moulette–meaning a spur-rowel:
  • The mullet or rowel is the star-like disk with points that when dug into the side of a horse causes pain and persuades the animal to move faster.
  • The dowel is the rod that goes through the disk and allows the rowel to rotate.
  • The rowel and dowel together are located on the end of a spur that sticks out of the bottom of the back of each of a knight's boots.
Sometimes the mullet is "pierced" with a dot in the middle, to show that the dowel goes through it, as in the Trinity College, Oxford window (see photo above). This also makes clear that the device signifies a knight's spur and not a star in the sky.

In Scotland, where heraldry has the force of law, a star can be "star" as well as, if pierced, a mullet,

The English idea is that charges on a shield should signify something associated with a knight's outfit, and the spur is an important accoutrement because in a crisis it is what most connects the knight with his horse. (A knight in armor without a horse to sit on is not very mobile, like a ship without a sail.)

Postscript: When talking about flags (i.e., in the language of vexillology), the word "star" is universally correct.

My Holy Grail

My search has been for a Sceptic-Crushing Link between Washington's coat of arms and the U.S. flag.

Around the 1876 centennial, it was widely accepted that the Founding Fathers replaced the Union Jack in the corner of the Grand Union Flag with stars in 1776 as, in part, a gesture of respect for then-General George Washington.

Then three publications appeared in 1906-1917 that claimed to smash this consensus that the Stars and Stripes were connected to the Washington arms:
  • A 1906 book by Peleg D. Harrison.
  • A 1909 letter to the New York Times, based on a brief tour of England.
  • A 1917 book by George Henry Preble.
These sources all said that because the writers could not find a contemporary 1776 letter or report saying that the Stars and Stripes were based on George Washington's arms, therefore the connection was disproved.

However, that is not how theories are disproved. There needs to be a better theory and so far none has emerged. No one can explain where the five-pointed stars in the Stars and Stripes come from other than vis the anecdote of Betsy Ross's "shortcut", an elaborate folding exercise to generate a five-pointed star with one snip of a pair of scissors.

My survey of three Oxford colleges (Trinity, Oriel and BNC) uncovered interesting connections to George Washington's ancestors and the stars in the Stars and Stripes, and I am on the trail of several more (Balliol and the Scottish connection via Douglas, for example). This was driving my curiosity at the Waldorf-Astoria, and is sustaining it. Let me share my questions and my answers so far.

Why the Grand Union Flag Stopped Working in 1776

To put my quest in some perspective, consider the puzzle facing the Founding Fathers in 1776. They had rebelled against Britain,  yet the Union Jack, the two British crosses–the blue-on-white Scottish saltire of St. Andrews superimposed on the red-on-white cross of St. George–was still ensconced in the canton (the reduced quadrant on the upper-left corner of flags) of the red-and-white-striped Grand Union Flag of 1775. Once open hostilities had occurred at Lexington and Concord, and they had t o have concluded that "From now on, we can't count on this canton!"

Before Lexington, the colonies were still grateful to William Pitt for sending redcoats to chase away  French soldiers and Indian tribes loyal to the French. The colonies were united in protesting to protest to George III, as his loyal subjects, about the cost of having to pay for his troops. 

After blood was shed at Lexington at 5 a.m., April 19, 1775, the colonies were no longer loyal subjects protesting to their King. They wanted out.

Douglas (L) and Moray/Murray (R) shields.
The Washington family's shield was like
that of Douglas, but with a red (gules) field
in chief, with two red stripes (bars) below. 
The colonies needed above all a symbol of independence from London, not one showing the union of England and Scotland. 

Why Stars Worked Better than Crosses

Many ideas for symbols of American independence in the canton were proposed, including a venomous snake and the slogan, "Don't tread on me." 

The canton that won out was 13 white stars on a dark blue field. George Washington presented the chosen flag to the Congress with the slogan "a new constellation". Responding to the worry that no good could come from removing the sacred crosses of two great saints that formed the Union Jack, Washington said: "We are replacing them with heavenly stars."
The Moray of Petty arms
shown with six-pointed
stars, probably an earlier
form of the arms.

It is reasonable to believe that Washington's supporters in 1776 wanted stars in the canton for three reasons: 
  • They lionized Washington.  George Washington's arms were those of his ancestor John Wessington, who adopted a shield with three red stars (mullets) above (in chief) two red (gules) stripes (bars), on a white (argent) field. Washington was deeply proud of his family's heritage.
  • They liked the Scottish connection. The Washington shield was the same as the Douglas shield, in red. The stars reminded the rebel colonists of the brave Scotsmen fighting with King Robert Bruce for independence against earlier English kings – Edwards II-III. Both Sir James the Good Douglas and Sir Andrew Moray of Petty had stars on a blue (azure) field in their coats of arms. "Braveheart" William Wallace earlier fought with Moray's father against Edward I. Records indicate that about one-third of the signers of the Declaration of Independence had Scottish ancestors. 
  • The stars were expandable.  The numbers of stars could be expanded in the canton depending on how many colonies joined in the Revolution and later in the new nation. 
The Likely Influence of Scottish Heraldry on the Wessingtons

Add to the considerations above the fact that the Douglas five-pointed star would be well known to the Washington family and their forebears the Wessingtons, because they lived under the Bishop of Durham in territory on the Scottish border. This proximity could be a key to establishing the long-asserted, dubiously disputed connection between the Stars and Stripes flag and the Washington coat of arms.

My hypothesis is that the stars in the Stars and Stripes come from the Douglas (and possibly Moray/Murray of Petty) arms via the Wessington/Washington arms.

The full achievement of George Washington's Coat of
Arms. He used his arms more than any other president.
His shield was adopted as the flag of Washington, D.C.
The mullets on the Washington arms have five points or rays.

A French heraldry book I consulted at the British Library asserts that the Washington family was a pioneer of the five-pointed mullet in England.

It describes the shedding of one of the six points by the first Washington (de Wessington) as "vraiment révolutionnaire".

I am still struggling to determine whether that statement has real meaning in heraldic history or is just an inside-baseball joke by a heraldic writer who was bored (it must happen sometimes even to heraldry enthusiasts).

If it is true that Edward III conferred the mullets on the Washington family at the same time as he knighted his son, the "Black Prince", it means that the coat of arms dates to the Battle of Crécy on August 26, 1346. It was one of the most decisive battles in history, and the English crossbow mowed down the knights on their horses.

A book on Durham County, also at the British Library, shows examples of Washington coats of arms that include both six-pointed and five-pointed mullets. This suggests that de Wessington started with the then-more-usual six-pointed mullets (mullets in German and French heraldry almost always have only six or eight points) on his shield and at some point between 1346 and 1401 reduced them to five – probably having as his model and precedent, consciously or unconsciously, the Douglas coat of arms.

It may have been the first recorded use in history of the red v. blue colors to denote partisanship.

The French avoided using five-pointed mullets. I'm guessing that a rotating spur could be assumed to have an even number of points with a minimum of six – an even number for balance or for fabricating simplicity. A spur would surely have no fewer than six points to prevent the knight from drawing blood from his horse (or her horse, in the unique case of Joan of Arc). But in England, over time, mullets were increasingly five-pointed, perhaps merely to difference themselves from French coats of arms – a major objective of heraldry (and of its trademarking successors).

Trinity College's Washington Shield, c. 1346

Trinity College, Oxford has a window in its Old Library that may be the oldest surviving occurrence in England of both the Washington arms and the five-pointed mullet that is found in it. The early mullets were all pierced. Later versions of coats of arms, including that of George Washington, dropped the pierce.

The arms were of John Wessington, a Benedictine monk sent to Durham College at Oxford. That is why he gets his arms in Window 3 of the ancient Durham College chapel, along with Gregory the Great, the Benedictine who was called by John Calvin the "last of the great popes". John Wessington became bursar of Durham College in 1398, according to the excellent 1988 booklet by Richard Gameson and Alan Coates, The Old Library, Trinity College, Oxford (p. 30).

The Trinity College window is believed to have been moved from what was once the chapel of Durham College, Oxford. Durham College was created in 1278 for the training of Benedictine monks from Durham Abbey, which also supported for this purpose University and Balliol Colleges (the function is today still well served, by St. Benet's Hall).

When Durham Abbey was dissolved by Henry VIII, Durham College was also disestablished. Sir Thomas Pope purchased the site in 1555 – we must assume at an insider price – and used during the reign of Mary for the creation of Trinity College.

The Washington family coat of arms (L) and shield of U.S. 
Stars and Stripes (R), at Sulgrave Manor, near Oxford. 
Photo by JT Marlin, 2012.
BNC's Rev. Lawrence Washington, 1619-45

Fast-forward from Henry VIII to the English Civil War. The Rev. Lawrence Washington, from a well-off family that settled not far from Oxford at Sulgrave Manor, was a student (1619-1623) and don at Brasenose College (aka BNC).

Lawrence Washington was preceded at Oxford by two uncles, Christopher (matriculated 1588) and William, both at Oriel College. He had also been preceded by a cousin Lawrence (from Much Hadham, Herts.) at Balliol (matriculated 1594), at that time not the academic powerhouse it became, but rather simply a college with a preference for Scottish students,

Rev. Washington served as an Oxford Proctor and in that capacity is said to have helped purge Oxford University of Puritans under Charles I. In his last years, Charles I hunkered down in  Oxford, a center of the Cavaliers – virtually all of the colleges were royalist, as were many Cambridge colleges, even Oliver Cromwell's own Sidney Sussex College.

Rev. Washingon during that time resigned as a don from Brasenose College, probably because he was getting married –dons were expected to remain bachelors. He sealed his letter of resignation to Brasenose College with a three-mullets-and-two bars family seal that is reported as dating back to 1401, although as noted the actual shield may date back to the Battle of Crécy in 1346.

Following his resignation, Rev. Washington was initially assigned by the Church of England to a good living at All Saints Church in Purleigh, Essex. But four years after Cromwell's Roundheads took over Oxford in 1645, the tables were turned on Rev. Washington and he was on an Enemy List of about 100 Church of England clergymen destined to lose their comfortable or have their stipends reduced.

Lawrence was banished to a such smaller parish. Embarrassed by her husband's demotion, Mrs. Amphilis Washington moved with her children to the home of her well-off stepfather, and – as worried parents can miraculously do in time of trouble – encouraged her two sons to leave her for their own good. They emigrated to the prospering British colony of Virginia. Thus did Lawrence's enforced poverty, though little of it did he know then, helped make him the great-great-grandfather of the first President of the United States.

Estoiles in Three Oxford Colleges

But to return to my interest in the Oxford coats of arms, my purpose was to find out if possible whether any of them provided a clue to the origin of the stars in the American flag. My main sources at the time were:
  • An armorial survey of the Oxford Colleges conducted for the Heraldry Society in 1951, here.  Now 63 years old, it badly needs updating – coats of arms have been created for colleges and halls that did not exist in 1951. (I did this in a four-page updating published in Oxford Today, Michaelmas issue 2015.)
  • The book by Arthur Charles Fox-Davies (1871-1928), A Complete Guide to Heraldry (1909).
The word "star" is clear vexillogically, but not heraldically. That is not to say that the word is vexing or illogical, but that it is a term clear to a flag analyst but not to a heraldic scholar. The heraldic word for star in English heraldry is usually estoile or mullet (we also find a faceted star). When the rays of a star are wavy the device on a shield is termed an estoile (the ancient French word for star, now étoile). It has six rays, unless otherwise specified (although eight rays appear in the Tarot card and in German heraldry) in the blazon, i.e., the verbal description of the arms. The arms of Hobart include an estoile of eight rays, in the German tradition. The town of Ilchester has an estoile of sixteen rays, but these arms are ungranted, "not of any authority." 

Three estoiles, St. Hilda's,
correctly shown as wavy.
St. John's College "estoiles",
incorrectly shown straight.
Wycliffe Hall, with estoile
correctly shown as wavy.
The St. Hilda's estoiles are correct in the example shown, and also the one for Wycliffe Hall. The ones on the bordure of the coat of arms of St. John's College as displayed on their website are incorrectly shown because they appear to have straight rays. The Wycliffe Hall coat of arms shown on its web site has the correct wavy-rayed estoile; but a version shown on the inside back page of the booklet for the 2014 Oxford Biennial Reunion in New York City had, incorrectly, straight rays. 

Pierced Mullets in Three Oxford Colleges

Every charge with straight points is in England a mullet. English practice permits a mullet to be  pierced (Keble, St. Antony's, Lincoln) or unpierced (Somerville). Mullets are occasionally pierced with a color other than the field they are charged upon, as in the Keble coat of arms. According to English practice, the mullet is not pierced unless the blazon expressly states it to be so. The mullet, both in England and Scotland, is of five points unless a greater number are specified. But mullets of six (French) or eight (German) points, pierced and unpierced, are frequent enough in English armory. 

Lincoln College, mullet
that may be inappropriate.
Keble College, three mullets "in
chief", above "engrailed" chevron.
St. Antony's College,
three mullets on chevron.

The coats of arms of Keble and St. Antony's College both have three mullets on them, pierced. The Keble College coat of arms shares some similarities with the American flag, since the mullets are on a blue background. However, the mullets are yellow, not white. The red chevron is also bent and has scalloped (engrailed) sides. The St. Antony's College mullets are also fixed on a red chevron.  The unusual Lincoln College coat of arms includes a single black (sable) pierced mullet on a silver/white (argent) field.

Stars at One Oxford and Two Cambridge Colleges
Somerville College, with three
stars and six crosslets fitted.
Somerville Family (Scotland) with
three stars and seven crosslets fitted.

Scottish practice is more correct than the English, though more complicated. Scottish armory includes the estoile, the star, and the mullet or spur-revel. The use of the estoile differs little from English practice. But in Scotland a straight-pointed (non-estoile) charge is a mullet only if pierced. As a mullet is the "molette" or rowel of a spur, it could not exist unpierced. A pierced mullet is also frequently called a "spur-rowel", or "spur-revel" in Scottish practice. 

A mullet/star is in the arms and badge of the de Veres, Earls of OxfordIn Scottish heraldry, an unpierced mullet is called a star – as in, for example, the Somerville coat of arms or in the Scottish shield of Alston. 

Somerville College has three unpierced mullets and has one less "crosslet fitted" than the Somerville family coat of arms. Also the colors have been changed from gold (or) on blue (azure) to black (sable) and red (gules) on silver or white (argent). The college is named for celebrated Scottish-born scientist Mary Fairfax (1780-1872), whose second marriage was to William Somerville. She is the first non-royal person to appear on a bank note (the £10 note) of the Royal Bank of Scotland, starting in 2017.

Newnham College, Cambridge.
Griffin and mullet/star.
Murray Edwards College,
Cambridge. Three faceted stars.

Cambridge has two colleges with stars/mullets on their coat of arms - Newnham College, established about 1871 as Cambridge's second all-female college, and Murray Edwards College, a post-World War II college also created for women. Note that the Newnham College faceted star looks nothing like a mullet. The stars in the Murray Edwards coat of arms are clearly intended to be stars, as in the Murray coat of arms, with no vestige of a spur, 

The Significance of the Stars in the Stars and Stripes

The Stars and Stripes with 50 stars.
In seeking to understand the origins of the Stars and Stripes, I was early on convinced,  the key link is to the stars. There is evidence enough that the stripes were borrowed from the East India Company, in part because they were echoed by the early striped flags used by the rebels in Massachusetts.

What George Washington announced to the Congress when he put before them the Stars and Stripes was that the three saints of the Union Jack (Sts George, Andrew and Patrick) would be replaced by "the stars of heaven."

The Stars in George Washington's Ancestors' Arms

Various sources report that the three-mullet and two-bar coat of arms of the Washington family were conferred on Walter de Wessington by Edward III, when de Wessington was part of the fighting force of the Bishop of Durham.

After the Battle of Crécy in 1346, Edward III knighted his 16-year-old son Edward the “Black Prince”, saying he had “won his spurs”.  In that battle de Wessington also won his spurs, in the form of three mullets on his coat of arms, and two red stripes below it to indicate the blood that was shed. These mullets are a feature of the Washington family crest, which George Washington utilized as a bookplate, a seal, and in artifacts around his house. At that stage in U.S. history, to build a tall tree required having deep roots.

Who Was the First to Use the Five-Pointed Mullet?

A French heraldry source (tongue in cheek, surely) describes de Wessington's change in the number of points, from six to five, in the mullets on his coat of arms as "vraiment revolutionnaire".  Was de Wessington the first knight in England to use a five-pointed mullet? Are there any earlier uses?

Hylton Castle (1377-99) has Washington mullets of both six and five points, suggesting that Washington's ancestor switched from six to five. So the question can be rephrased - are there examples of five-pointed mullets in use in England prior to 1377?

The Douglas stars are said to go back to a Flemish family. But a signet ring of Sir William Douglas "Le Hardi" has three five-pointed stars at the top (see photo), so the Douglas stars were well established as early as 1288.

Switching from mullets with six points to a star of five points at that time was significant. In Continental Europe, stars had eight (German) or six (French) points. The Normans brought with them the six-pointed French mullet, so the five-pointed one was a distinct departure. The reason for the break is unclear, but proper use in English and Scottish heraldry of stars, estoiles and mullets did not then have the definition that it later acquired, according to Fox-Davies (1871-1928), in his previously cited guide to heraldry.

Seal of William de Douglas
"le Hardi", c. 1288, after he had taken
 the title of First Earl of Douglas. Note
five-pointed stars. 
What is clear is that the word "star" is properly used in Scottish heraldry and is avoided in English heraldry. However, the residences of the Washington family in northern England were much closer to Edinburgh than to London, and it is possible that they were influenced by Scottish, not English, heraldic developments.

Sir William "the Hardy" Douglas became the first Earl of Douglas. The seal at right shows the three five-pointed stars. He pledged allegiance to King Edward I and then fought against him unsuccessfully. He died in the Tower of London.

The Good Sir James Douglas was knighted in 1314 and after his death the three five-pointed silver (argent) mullet/star on a blue (azure) background was in use by the Douglas family/clan in a row and the Murray/Moray family in a two-and-one array. The Douglas shield had a heart added after the death of The Good Sir James on his way to Jerusalem with the heart of King Robert I.
King Robert I,
"the Bruce".

My theory is that after having been knighted by Edward III in 1346, de Wessington adopted the stars of the Douglas coat of arms. The border between Scotland and northern England was highly permeable in the century before Edward I decided to march north. Robert the Bruce traveled around freely. The Douglas family would be well known and respected by the Washington's.

Betsy Ross expressed her preference for the five-pointed star on the new flag of the United States based on the ease of cutting it. But in fact the six-pointed star, being symmetrical, is much easier to fold. The Betsy Ross story may have been introduced to cover up a campaign to bring the Washington family star, or the Douglas family version, to the Stars and Stripes. The same applies to George Washington's introduction of the new canton as "a new constellation".


To recap what I have found so far about the connections between the stars and stripes in the American flag and possible other flags or coats of arms that might have inspired the stars or stripes, including George Washington's family coat of arms:

1. In 2012, I was satisfied that the stripes in the Star and Stripes are easily explained by the stripes in the East India company flag and other flags and shields, including (if one is so inclined to believe) the bars in the coat of arms of the Washington family. I posted something on Huffington Post about this - Washington's Arms and the Stars and Stripes -- Believe!

2. In 2013 I followed up: More on George Washington and the Stars and Stripes... and June 14 - Thoughts for Flag Day on the Origins of the Stars ... 

3. In 2014 I have been on the trail of the white/silver (argent) stars (mullets) on a blue (azure) field, which are the missing devices to explain the connection between George Washington's ancestral arms and the "constellation of stars" that replaced the Union Jack on the East India Company flag. I have written about the faceted star on the coat of arms of the de Vere family, the Earls of Oxford, of whom one has been claimed as the real author of Shakespeare, and about the stars on the Douglas and Murray families/clans coats of arms. I am convinced by the timing of the evolution of the white-on-blue stars that this is the ultimate origin of the stars in the Stars and Stripes. It fits the time, 1775, and the situation of rebellion against the British Crown.
Shield at Magdalen College list of
dead from WW1. Photo by JT Marlin.

Two Postscripts

1. Sep 29, 2016–In Oxford for a few weeks, I did more research on the coats of arms of the Oxford colleges in Duke Humfrey's Library. They have a fine collection of books on the history of the colleges. Here are two new morsels of information:
  • Magdalen College's blazon has no mullets or estoiles in it (The blazon is: "Lozenge ermine and sable on a chief of the second three lilies argent slipped and seeded or." Wikipedia incorrectly includes punctuation.), but a coat of arms posted with the list of the alumni who died in the Great War impales the keys of St Peter and the sword of St Paul with a quartered shield with two quarters azure with a chevron between three mullets two and one or. Magdalen is therefore a college with star-like objects in their arms. The other two quarters are lions rampant, possibly referencing Scotland. The stars without the chevron suggest the Murray/Moray arms. (See photo.)
  • Hertford College has a plaque on the wall with a deer (hart) and several stars. I have seen only a photo, and intend to check out the plaque on my next visit.
2. Apr 22, 2018–I gave two talks at the Oxford and Cambridge Club in London on the coats of arms of the Oxford and Cambridge Colleges and then I went to Selby Abbey near York and then to Washington, ancestral home of the Washingtons near Newcastle, after they left Hertburn.

Some of My Other Posts on the Arms of Oxford Colleges and PPHs: Original Article in Oxford Today . Heraldry as Branding . Heraldry as Fun .  Coat of Arms vs. Crest . Sinister Questions . Visit to the College of Arms . Windsor Herald Talks to New Yorkers . Shaming of Harvard Law Shield :: Rapid Expansion of Oxford's Colleges and Halls . Oxford Stars . HERALDRY SUPERLINK . Harris Manchester College . Linacre College . St Catherine's . St Cross College . St Edmund Hall . Trinity College :: Regent's Park College . St Benet's Hall . 

Other Heraldry Posts: Douglas-Moray-de Vere Arms