John Smith (the Pocahontas one)

Hungarian Heraldry
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Chris Green
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John Smith (the Pocahontas one)

Postby Chris Green » 16 Sep 2012, 15:44

Jonathan Webster wrote:What if a foreign prince decided to grant a non-national of his particular realm a grant of arms? I can think of at least one example: John Smith (he of Pocahontas fame) received a grant of arms from the Prince of Transylvania.


Chris Green wrote:
But John Smith was not, I think, armigerous when he was granted arms by Sigismund Bathory. He claimed descent from an ancient Lancashire family of Smiths but no more. His own origins were relatively humble, as the son of a tenant farmer. Whether his Transylvanian arms (which he certainly earned by a remarkable feat of arms) were ever recognised by the English College of Arms I do not know. But his Transylvanian knighthood was apparently not recognised in England as he was always known simply as Captain John Smith.


Arthur Radburn wrote:
They were. Woodcock and Martin discuss and illustrate them in the Oxford Guide to Heraldry.
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Re: John Smith (the Pocahontas one)

Postby Chris Green » 16 Sep 2012, 15:56

I quote from the Oxford Guide:

In 1625 he [Garter Segar] confirmed arms granted in a letter of safe conduct to John Smith, descended from Smith of Cuerdley, Lancashire. The arms Vert a chevron Gules between three Turks heads couped proper turbanned Or were granted in memory of three Turks heads which John Smith cut off before the town of Regal in Transylvania when serving under Henry Volda, Earl of Meldritch. Segar was apparently happy to confirm a red chevron on a green field, which by placing colour on a colour, transgressed the rule of armory in England, if not those of Transylvania.

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Whoever sketched the picture above either did not understand hatching or thought that the arms were Or a chevron sable ...
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Re: John Smith (the Pocahontas one)

Postby Arthur Radburn » 16 Sep 2012, 18:42

Chris Green wrote:Whoever sketched the picture above either did not understand hatching or thought that the arms were Or a chevron sable ...

Nor did he understand the English system of helmets.

Here's a painting from the College of Arms, certified by Dr Conrad Swan, when he was Rouge Dragon (some time between 1962 and 1968) :
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Re: John Smith (the Pocahontas one)

Postby Chris Green » 16 Sep 2012, 18:58

Perhaps the helm in first picture was intended to represent Smith's Transylvanian knighthood.

Interesting that the mantling in the second picture is gules and argent. There is no argent in the shield. I suppose that the College of Arms could not bring themselves to depict Smith's mantling as gules and vert! And then the torse is or and vert. Most unusual.
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Re: John Smith (the Pocahontas one)

Postby Chas Charles-Dunne » 16 Sep 2012, 19:47

Wasn't there a time when mantling of non-peers was by default Gules and Argent?
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Re: John Smith (the Pocahontas one)

Postby Torsten Laneryd » 16 Sep 2012, 22:28

According to Stephen Friar`s A New Dictionary of Heraldry:
In the second half of the sixteenth century the majority of mantling exemplified in patents of arms were Gules doubled Argent, irrespective of the colours of the shield or crest.
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Re: John Smith (the Pocahontas one)

Postby Chris Green » 17 Sep 2012, 06:14

In the second half of the sixteenth century the majority of mantling exemplified in patents of arms were Gules doubled Argent, irrespective of the colours of the shield or crest.


That explains the mantling. But the torse? I can only surmise that since vert/rouge was out and vert/proper was - er - improper, or/vert was the next best thing. But to my eyes depicting the torse with different tinctures to the mantling seems odd.
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Re: John Smith (the Pocahontas one)

Postby Ryan Shuflin » 17 Sep 2012, 09:45

is it just me, or do those crests have different birds?

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Re: John Smith (the Pocahontas one)

Postby Chris Green » 17 Sep 2012, 10:05

... do those crests have different birds?


Well the second one has a horse-shoe in its beak and has tail feathers. So yes they are certainly different. Question is whether this bird is meant to be an ostrich. Second question, why Conrad Swan included a horse-shoe. I have yet to find the complete blazon.
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Re: John Smith (the Pocahontas one)

Postby Iain Boyd » 17 Sep 2012, 10:09

I do not believe the birds in the crest are different - only different representations of an ostrich.

It is the horseshoe that confirms both are ostriches.

Remember, the early artists probably would not have had personal knowledge of what an ostrich looked like. As far as they were concerned an ostrich was a big bird with long legs and a long neck. We now have many books of birds (in colour, too) that we can go to find out what a particular bird looks like.

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