Sunday, April 9, 2017

ARMS: Lincoln College, Oxford (Updated March 28, 2018)

The three-part Lincoln arms as shown in
many collections of Oxford college arms.
The arms of Bishops Fleming and
Rotherham flank the arms of the See of
Lincoln. In this version the stags are statant 
and or, a dual error.
Blazon: Tierced in pale First Barry of six Argent and Azure in chief three Lozenges Gules the third Bar charged with a Mullet pierced sable (for Fleming, Bishop of Lincoln) Second Argent thereon an escutcheon of the Arms of the See of Lincoln unsigned of a Mitre Azure stringed Or (for the See of Lincoln) Third Vert three Stags trippant Argent attired Or (for Rotherham/Scott). This form of the blazon dates back to the Visitation by the College of Arms of 1574 (Coll. Arms H6.14), discussed below.

Nominees: Each of the three arms combined in this unusually tierced per pale (divided vertically into three parts) shield refers to each of the nominees. (1) The arms of Richard Fleming, Bishop of Lincoln, who founded the College in 1427. (2) The arms of the See of Lincoln (not the Cathedral, as it is listed in some places). The corporate designation of the College is "The Warden or Rector and Scholars of the College of the Blessed Mary and All Saints, Lincoln, in the University of Oxford, commonly called Lincoln College."(3) The arms of Thomas Rotherham (also known as Scot de Rotherham), Bishop of Lincoln, and later Archbishop of York and Lord High Chancellor of England, who re-endowed the College in 1478.

 Variations. 1. Below left, unpierced mullet. 
Should there be a mullet at all?
2. Top, miter at an angle, and the Virgin with
with Babe is more per fesse than in chief.
3. Right, in the Jesus shield, stags are trippant, 
not statant–and argent attired or, not or.

Authorities: The Lincoln coat of arms was confirmed in 1574 by Richard Lee, Portcullis Pursuivant, on a Visitation to  the University. He caused some subsequent controversy by his "boldness" in aggressively confirming the Lincoln arms (Landon, 1893, p. 156, cited by Clark, 1895, p. 334). The Lincoln College accounts show Lee received 20 shillings for his hard, if arguably misguided, work. The coat of arms, even though confirmed by three subsequent heraldic visitations, has been displayed inconsistently. The 1574 blazon shows the stags statant (all four legs on the ground), whereas Rotherham's authenticated portrait shows them trippant (with one front leg up), as well as argent (attired or, i.e., with antlers and hooves or), not or. It is also the form of the stags in the Jesus College arms, which, while not granted by the College of Arms, have their own authority by length of use. Components of the arms may have been changed or invented by the impetuous Lee. In 1920 the College of Arms submitted an authoritative coat of arms, modifying what had been in use, and perhaps this should be definitive. (This discussion follows the example of other blazon sources by organizing the complex shield using three numerals, although punctuation in a blazon is incorrect even today, according to Windsor Herald in response to my question in 2015. Mea culpa.)

Ancient portrait of Bishop Fleming, founder.
Those aren't lozenges gules in chief. They
look like "a bird gules between two roses
gules in chief".  Might be a carrot on its side
on the third bar; but no mullet.
Issues: All three pales (vertical sections) of the arms have been queried –  for good reason, because the record is muddy and the multiple heraldic inquisitions did not clear away the mud.

(1) The mullet in the original arms of Bishop Fleming is not pierced, but the college arms are; if a mistake was made, in 1574 or earlier, it endures to this day. Brooke-Little (1951), founder of the Heraldry Society and an alumnus of New College, Oxford has commented on the mullet. He served as Richmond Herald in 1967, Norroy and Ulster King of Arms in 1980, and Clarenceux King of Arms in 1995; he died in 2006. In his 1951 articles, he says the mullet is "probably a cadency mark," though he does not think that as of 1574 it indicated a third son. One version of Bishop Fleming's arms on his portrait has–instead of three lozenges in chief and a pierced mullet–what seems to be a bird gules between two roses gules (see illustration) and an unpierced mullet. Since no one knows where the mullet comes from or why it is there, the best solution might be to
...but this portrait of Bishop Fleming (not as
ancient as the previous one, has it the way it
is in the Lincoln College arms.
Note mullet is not pierced. 
(2) The coat of arms of the See of Lincoln, in the center pale, creates a complex coat for the college, and the practice is condemned by some authorities wherever it appears, i.e., in the coats of Corpus Christi and Brasenose.  The field of the center pale has sometimes been shown incorrectly as azure rather than argent. More important, multiple versions of the Virgin Mary and Babe have emerged–for good reasons! Versions that show a demi-lady are criticized for their error. But the blazon creates instructions that are almost impossible to carry out legibly. The "Virgin Mary and Babe with Sceptre on a tomb" is actually a Portrait figure, ill-suited for the Landscape space in the "in chief" spot. My mother Hilda van Stockum ran into this problem in 1940 when she did the illustrations for the Viking Press edition of "Kersti and St Nicholas" in Landscape mode, like her first book, "A Day on Skates," which was a Newbery Honor book. Viking (perhaps faced with wartime restrictions) printed the book in Portrait mode instead of Landscape, without a change in the art. Most of the illustration pages were blank, and the space used for the art was one-fourth the size of the original drawings. In the same way, the Virgin and Child device on the Lincoln College (and Brasenose College) arms is overly compressed horizontally in every version I have seen posted, or on items for sale, or in print. In this size it is difficult or impossible to decipher the device without the blazon.
Virgin and Babe shield
of the See of Lincoln.
From Bedford (1858).
Note "in chief" space
 is generous.
In March 2018 John Tepper Marlin asked Lee Lumbley to try his hand at making the shield easier to understand. One idea was that the Virgin Mary be seated with her sceptre at an angle, like some of the early photos of the newly crowned Queen Elizabeth II with a mace in her right hand. An American alumnus of Lincoln, Nelson Ong, has taken an interest in the issue and has raised it with the new Rector of Lincoln. Even though he is a busy man, the Rector seems to be ready to consider a revision to the Lincoln arms that meets the tests of heraldic integrity and common sense. The precedent of Merton, which recently updated its arms by eliminating the dexter side (the Saltire) of its shield, may be helpful in moving toward cleaner college arms. Lee Lumbley has done some research and has been in touch with a heraldic scholar who is writing about the arms of the See of Lincoln. Putting their knowledge together, they located an early version of the Virgin and Babe shield shown above, in Bedford's 1858 book on the Bishops of Lincoln.

Bishop Rotherman portrait, detail. Stags are
trippant, argent (sorry for low resolution;
I visited Lincoln College in 2017 to get a better
photo and I was unable to get in to
get one. Maybe in April 2018?). 
(3) Bishop Thomas Rotherham's coat of arms on his authenticated portrait in Lincoln College's Hall shows three stags trippant and argent on vert, but the college arms show them statant and or.  The authoritative Brooke-Little showed the disputed stags as statant in his 1951 article. The evidence from the portrait suggests that this is an error, even though a rare one for Brooke-Little.

Similarity to Jesus College Arms. Lincoln and Jesus are neighbors on Turl Street ("the Turl"), of which the joke is often told: "Q. How is the Church of England like Turl Street?" "A. It runs from the High to the Broad and it has Jesus." An American tourist is said to have entered Lincoln College after the Civil War and asked the porter: "Say, is this Jesus?" To which the porter replied: "You aren't the first person, sir, to confuse Lincoln with Jesus," which the visitor took to be a savvy comment on American politics. The Jesus College arms are blazoned Vert three stags trippant argent attired or, which is the same as, or close to, the sinister section of the Lincoln arms. The earliest depiction of the Jesus arms was thought to be about 1590, in a document held by the College of Arms, referring to the stags as having a blue (azure) field, but Peter Donoghue, Bluemantle Pursuivant, reports the arms were more likely added 90 years later, on John Speed’s 1605 Map of Oxfordshire, with a blue field. The green field first appeared in 1619 in an armorial quarry painted by one of the Van Linge brothers, and was generally used by 1730, although horizontal hatchings (indicating azure) were still used on college bookplates as late as 1761.
Bishop Rotherman; another

It has been claimed that Jesus stole the three stags from Lincoln, but the counter-argument is that the origins of each are distinct. Paul Langford, former Lincoln Rector, has suggested that Jesus College continued the arms adopted by a theological college founded by Rotherham in his home town – Jesus College, Rotherham – which had been suppressed in the time of Edward VI. Another theory is that the stags derive from the arms of Maud Green, Lady Parr, mother of Catherine Parr, last of the six wives of Henry VIII and stepmother to Elizabeth I. The most likely story is that the arms of the College are those of Bishop Rotherham, and John Speed saw them on Lawrence Hall in Ship Street, given to Rotherham in 1476 and leased to Jesus College in 1572. Speed probably assumed the arms to be those of the College when drawing his map in 1605. The Jesus arms could not be confused with those of Lincoln College, because as of 1574 Lincoln's tierced shield was confirmed by Portcullis Pursuivant.

Nelson Ong, alumnus of Lincoln College; Prof. Henry Woudhuysen, Rector; and Windsor Herald, May 2017.

Bedford, W K Riland. The Blazon of Episcopary. J R Smith. London. © 1858. In a chapter titled Bishops of Lincoln, from 1067 on 61 of that text says the Blazon is—Gules to Lions passant guardant Or on a Chief Azure Our Lady sitting with her Babe Crown and Scepter of the second (as in Hardy's edition of LeNeve).

Brooke-Little,  John P., “The Arms of Oxford University and its Colleges,” Coat of Arms, No. 5, 6 & 7, January-July 1951.

Clark, Andrew, Heraldry of Oxford Colleges," Archaeologica Oxoniensis, II, April 1895, pp. 333-336.

Landon, Perceval, "Notes on the Heraldry of the Oxford Colleges," Archaeologica Oxoniensis, III and IV (July and Oct 1893), esp. pp. 143, 156, 199, 206.

LeNeve, John and T Duffus Hardy. Fasti Ecclesiae Anglicanae, or A calendar of the principal ecclesiastical dignitaries in England and Wales, and of the chief officers in the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge, from the earliest time to year 1715. Vol II. Oxford: The University Press, 1854, 29.

Lincoln College, Website,

Warner, Stephen A., Lincoln College Oxford (London: Sidgwick & Jackson Ltd., 1908), pp. 38, 38A. Free Google Books edition Warner consulted the Bodleian, the British Museum library, and the libraries of Queen's College, Oxford and Caius and Sidney Sussex Colleges at Cambridge.

Wikipedia entry on Jesus College, section on Coat of Arms.

Related Links
Punting at Oxford . History of Thames Rowing .  Head of the Charles (Harvard) . Boat Club Blazers . Coats of Arms of Oxford Colleges . Arms as Brands . The Joy of Heraldry .  Coat of Arms vs. Crest . Sinister Questions . Visit to the College of Arms . Windsor Herald in NYC . Shaming of Harvard Law Arms . The Expansion of Oxford's Colleges . Oxford Stars . Heraldry Superlink . Harris Manchester College . Lincoln College Linacre College . St Catherine's . St Cross College . St Edmund Hall . St Peter's College . Trinity College . Regent's Park College . St Benet's Hall

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