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.

The Lord Hatchment

The Lord hatchment.


The Lord hatchment in Hartford, Connecticut.


The "archeological" proof referred to by Kenneth Lord as confirming the "demi-hind" in the crest is perhaps the most elaborate and most dramatic rendering of the Lord coat of arms known to exist. It is the Lord Hatchment housed in the collections of the Connecticut Historical Society in Hartford. A relatively large painting on canvas of some apparent antiquity, its exact age and specific genealogical provenance are unknown. It came to the Society in 1927 as the bequest of Mrs. John Haynes Lord, Montclair, New Jersey.

The painting was cleaned and framed but not restored and is only seen by special appointment. We cannot tell which of the several branches of the Lord family in America this hatchment belongs to from the museum records. But taken in concert with the signet used to create the seal on Dorothy Lord's Will, we may be able to shed additional light on our search.

A hatchment is a coat of arms painted against a background of black, upon a lozenge-shaped panel, or a square panel standing on one corner, as in the case of the Lord Hatchment.

Hatchment: A diamond-shaped armorial panel, usually found affixed to the wall of a church above the arcade... The word "hatchment" is a corruption of "achievement" and suggests that its origins may be found in the funeral heraldry of the medieval nobility... If indeed it is a direct descendant of the medieval funeral achievement (the crested helm, shield, spurs, sword, etc., carried in the funeral procession) then it is not unreasonable to assume that the hatchment was also carried in the procession to the church, in which it remained following interment. However, there is ample evidence to suggest that it was hung on the front of the house during the period of mourning, and thereafter placed in the church.

Friar, A Dictionary of Heraldry, 1987

On first viewing the Lord Hatchment, one is struck by the artistic beauty and complexity of the painting, and a certain atmosphere of antiquity and mystery. It is richly rendered in a style at once complex and elegant. The coat of arms [abstracted, right] is surrounded by a vast array of mantling, which, rather then being illustrated as either an abstract scrollwork or a realistic drapery, is shown in a most unusual and elaborate botanical form of curving fern-like wreaths intertwined with vines and flowers. Beneath the arms depends a long, curving banner on which is lettered "DEUS. MIHI. SOL. BORNE. BY. The Name OF. LORD."

The hatchment redrawn.

But almost immediately one is also struck by the disconcerting form of the two animals portrayed. It is easy to see why the arms are described in the museum catalogue as: "a horse between two pheons of the field" with a crest that displays a "demi horse above a helmet."

What we are seeing here, at the very least, is the first completely illustrated "Lord" coat of arms in which a crest other than the "demi-bird" attributed to Thomas Lord, or the dexter arm in a "maunch" attributed to other Lord families, is clearly identified. Whether a demi-horse or a demi-hind, this animal appears to fit the pattern of what is left of the crest in the 1669 wax seal. Of particular note is the identical position and orientation of the forelegs.

It is interesting that unlike the other renderings of the Lord coat of arms that we have seen [see Kenneth Lord's drawing], but not unlike the traditional proportions of other hatchments, the relative size of the crest in the hatchment mimics the disproportionate size of the crest in the seal. This may suggest the hatchment was derived from the seal, perhaps the signet ring itself. Supporting this theory, one notes the pheons are very crudely drawn on the hatchment, not at all as one would expect from seeing other painted or printed coats of arms with pheons. Yet an American artist, unfamiliar with armorial design and relying on the tiny imprint of the signet in wax, would hardly be expected to discover any fine detail there on which to base the pheons.

The fesse of the hatchment arms.

Another interesting feature of the hatchment is the position of the legs of the animal on the fesse. This arrangement of legs is similar to "passant" or even "statant" (versus "trippant") and may be the position intended to be represented in the wax seal.


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