Armorial Bearings granted to Robert Lord alias Laward of London in 1510; College of Arms MS L10 folio 105b; copyright of the College of Arms, London. Used by permission.

Richard, Richard or Richard?

Richard Lord's mark - 1610.


Richard Lord's mark on the Will - 1610.


The strongest evidence suggesting the arms as preserved in Dorothy Lord's seal, complete with hind on the fess and demi-hind in the crest, are in some way directly associated with this "Richard Lord" is again archeological - the Will of "Richard Lord" himself. At its close he writes in 1610: "In witness whereof I have hereunto put my hand & Seale the daye and yeare first above written."

Inquiries to the Archive of Northants [Northampton] in Delapre Abbey revealed the original Will and at the end a wax seal. Unfortunately the signet had been pressed into a paper wafer laid over the wax - a common practice - which obscured the imprint.

On examining the Will myself, I have discovered that the seal is a papered seal and the impression of an animal is reasonably distinct. The seal is quite small, about 1/2" in diameter and has no writing on it. The animal, however, is not so easily identified - somewhere between a dog and a horse! (possibly even an hart?).
Archivist at Delapre Abbey

Staff at the Archive were eventually able to produce a sketch which they felt approximated the design of the seal. The seal does not carry a coat of arms, but merely an animal, which they took initially to be a horse. After I had supplied them with copies of my reconstructions of the wax seal in Hartford and the descriptions of the hind, they concurred that indeed this could be the imprint of a signet bearing the image of a hind.

The Richard Lord Will of 1610.

A few years later I had the intense experience of examining this ancient document myself, during a visit to Towcester. I was able to capture some very good stereo images of the seal, using a micro-photography technique I developed for this purpose.

Richard Lord's signet imprint.

Of interest is the fact that this animal [right], in general bulk, position and orientation, is much like the hind on both the Hartford seal and the Lord Hatchment, except that it has a raised foreleg in the classic "trippant" or "passant" position, attributed to "Lord" arms where the hind is included.

Early signets often did not contain full-blown armorial bearings, or even the simple shield, but frequently represented only a single object - often an animal [see example from Richard Lord's time below, the left one being impressed in a papered flap exactly like Richard's was in 1610].

Early 17th century seals.

The term "mascot" or "totem" has been used to compare the personal significance of these early armorial devices to something more easily understood in the modern age. First associated with a man by preference and use, these devices later were incorporated into the more recognizable arms. Perhaps what we are seeing here on the "Richard Lord" Will of 1610 is the dawn of the "demi-hind issuant" crest of the Thomas Lord line in Connecticut, which replaced the demi-bird previously recorded, or even the origin of the insertion of the hind on the fesse. This hind, perhaps a personal symbol of Richard Lord of Towcester, became incorporated into the later seal. Clearly the seal, as used by Dorothy Lord in Hartford in 1669, was not the property of Richard Lord of Towcester, else he would have sealed his own Will with it in 1610. At that time his only son, Thomas, was as yet unmarried and would not be expected to have been given possession of the seal, or, if he had, would certainly have made it available to his father to seal his father's Will.

Note (1/1/2012): For some additional evidence regarding this wax seal, go to The 1610 Seal.

Clearly the seal was not made for Thomas either, as it bears the initials "R" "L". Thus we have to assume it was made for one of the Richard Lords who came after Thomas, but in this line, and who, when creating their own differenced coat of arms, adopted the special animal "totem" of Richard of Towcester.

Looking again at the "Richard" Lords which followed, we find first Richard, son of Thomas and Dorothy. He was born in 1611 and died in 1662, before the Will was sealed. He clearly was given authority and power, being sent ahead of his family to scout for lands in New England for a new settlement. He is judged the richest man in the colony in his time, and therefore could be expected to have required a seal for his official documents and transactions. While it may have been his signet that was used in 1669, it would have been passed down by then.

It could have gone to Richard, his oldest son, who was born in 1636 and died in 1685. This Richard was a favorite of Dorothy Lord and is mentioned in her Will several times [see the complete text in Appendix Five]. He was also appointed executor with her last surviving son, William. Richard's son, "Richard," was not born until 1669, so obviously was not involved. However, this latter "Richard," who died in 1712, rose to eminence and was at one time the Treasurer of the Colony of Connecticut and the wealthiest man in this line of the family. He also had in his possession "a very rich silver pitcher, marked R.A.L. Above the handle, to raise the lid, there is a carved bird with expanded wings; and at its base there is a human head like that of a child." If in fact this represents the "demi-bird" attributed to the Lord crest, it contradicts the use of the "demi-hind" crest by his grandfather, Thomas, confirmed by his grandmother's Will. It would also contradict the "demi-hind" crest featured on the Lord Hatchment. If actually associated with the donor, "Haynes-Lord," it would have descended through Richard, son of Thomas, the same line exhibiting this pitcher with the bird figure. Possibly the silver bird on the pitcher is nothing more than an eagle with no armorial significance.

There is another line of Richards, perhaps with equal promise, issuing from Thomas and Dorothy's third son, William, the only one surviving at the time of her Will. He had a son "Richard" who lived from 1647 to 1727. He in turn had a son "Richard," born in 1690, after the death of Dorothy Lord, but whose deed of 1711 Salisbury had claimed bore the same coat of arms. Salisbury also suggested that this "Richard" had actually been passed the signet of Thomas Lord. That theory is, of course, negated by the initials "R" "L" on the seal.

Is it possible that this "Richard," son of William, had commissioned the signet and had used it, or had his father, William, executor of Dorothy Lord's Will, apply it as the closest thing to an authenticating seal the family had at that time?

Shipwrecked!

Where doubt exists and data are lacking, one favors the most "elegant" hypothesis, i.e., the one which best accommodates all the data. That would place this seal's origins in the hands of "Richard Lord," oldest son of Thomas and Dorothy Lord and first of the family to set foot in America. This seal would have passed to his oldest son "Richard" at his death in 1662. This "Richard" [the son] was 33 years of age in 1669, a favorite of his grandmother Dorothy, well favored by her in her Will, and co-executor of her estate with his uncle, William. We may hypothesize that this signet was commissioned by Richard, son of Thomas, as he rose to preeminence in the Colony of Connecticut in the 1640s and 50s. The fact that Richard Lord, grandson of Thomas Lord, was lost at sea on November 5th in 1685 would explain why this seal does not occur on later documents of the Lord family. It would be expected that a man of his standing, described as "one of the wealthiest merchants of his time" who "made many trading voyages" would have carried with him all the necessary appurtenances to conduct his business, including quills, ink, paper, sealing wax, and his signet. We might best look to see this seal again when some future archeological expedition explores the wreck of his ship somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean.

It is suggested by some historians, also, that this early period in New England history [the late 1600s] was a time when a rebirth of interest in heraldry occurred among the recently transplanted families of English gentlemen.

The pretty custom of heraldic display in connection with funerals and periods of mourning was considered a natural and proper social custom, brought over as a heritage from the Mother Country. As wealth increased, and interest in religion correspondingly waned, the Colonists sought more and more to imitate the formal customs of the homeland; and coats of arms, as indices of social status, appear on seals and on gravestones, as well as in paintings for mural decoration and in hatchments.

Antiques, 1929

The Lord Hatchment, which bears the "demi-hind" in the crest, as does the wax seal, is of unknown date. However, in design it fits the designation: "Esquire or gentleman, unmarried." Married gentlemen deceased would display their arms "impaled" [or split and joined with] the arms of their wife, and the hatchments of deceased women would not fit this pattern of design. So we can be sure this painting is not directly associated with any of the original Connecticut family during the 1600s. Were it not for the demi-hind crest observed on Dorothy Lord's Will, we might have been tempted to attribute this hatchment to another branch of New England "Lord," not descended from Thomas. Yet given the archeological evidence in the seal, clearly linking this crest with the line of Thomas Lord by usage in 1669, we can only assume the hatchment served some later, perhaps 18th century, unmarried male of that line.

In the final analysis, the coat of arms represented by the seal, having passed from eldest son to eldest son, and bearing the animal "totem" of Richard Lord of Towcester, may be reasonably taken as the correct originating coat of arms for the entire line of Thomas Lord of Hartford. Whether the "demi-hind" crest replaced either the "demi-bird" or the "dexter arm and maunch" recorded for "Lord" in English heraldry, it holds as correct from the time of first entry into America.


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