6th Duke of Westminster R.I.P.

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Chris Green
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6th Duke of Westminster R.I.P.

Postby Chris Green » 17 Aug 2016, 18:13

I was on holiday when it was announced that His Grace the Duke of Westminster KG had suddenly died on 9 August, aged only 64. So it is only now that I have been able to research his arms:

Image

There are several interesting elements.

The supporters and crest are talbots a breed of hunting dog now sadly extinct except in heraldry.

The arms are Q1/Q4 Westminster and Q2/Q3 Grosvenor. The arms of the City of Westminster - Azure a Portcullis with chains pendent Or on a Chief of the last the arms of King Edward the Confessor between two united Roses of York and Lancaster, granted in 1601, seem to have been granted to the 2nd Marquess of Westminster as an augmentation sometime around the middle of the 19th century. The ancient arms of Grosvenor Azure a Garb Or were relegated as the Grosvenor Earls advanced through the peerage to the Dukedom.

The "arms of King Edward the Confessor" were of course a medieval invention at the time that heralds were ascribing arms to virtually every famous person from history (but that's another story).

Several of you will have a more of less accurate memory of the case of Scrope v Grosvenor which resulted from the discovery in 1385 that Baron (Richard) Scrope of Bolton in Yorkshire and Sit Robert Grosvenor of Cheshire both bore Azure a Bend Or. After a marathon court case Sir Robert lost and it was ruled that he must add a bordure argent for difference. Neither Grosvenor himself nor King Richard II was satisfied with this decision. Grosvenor was not related in any way to Scrope and his family could trace its roots back to the Norman Conquest (Scrope could trace his family back to before the Conquest, but that's yet another story). The King chose not however to overturn the Court's judgement entirely but granted Grosvenor completely new arms: Azure a Garb Or a variation of the ancient arms of the Earls of Chester (Azure three Garbs Or).

Image

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scrope_v_Grosvenor

In 1880 the 1st Duke of Westminster cocked a snook at the Scropes, a family by now much reduced in wealth and influence, by naming one of his racehorses "Bend Or". It won the Derby in 1880. The second Duke was always known as "Bendor".

Strictly speaking the Grosvenor quarters should I think sport the red hand of a baronet, an honour granted to Sir Richard Grosvenor MP by King James I in 1622 and which was held by the recently deceased Duke and now by his son the 7th Duke.

The arms of the 7th Duke are the same as his father's but not encircled by the Order of the Garter.

The motto Virtus Non Stemma is not easy to translate accurately. The Latin "Virtus" means more than simply "virtue". It might better translate as "courage" or "valour". "Stemma" means "garland". The Westminsters themselves have translated the motto as "Virtue not Pedigree".
Chris Green
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JMcMillan
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Re: 6th Duke of Westminster R.I.P.

Postby JMcMillan » 18 Aug 2016, 13:18

Chris Green wrote:The motto Virtus Non Stemma is not easy to translate accurately. The Latin "Virtus" means more than simply "virtue". It might better translate as "courage" or "valour". "Stemma" means "garland". The Westminsters themselves have translated the motto as "Virtue not Pedigree".


According to the OED, the principal meaning of stemma is "pedigree," a usage dating back to Roman history:

Etymology: Latin, < Greek στέμμα garland, < στέϕειν to crown. In Latin chiefly a garland placed on an ancestral image, hence ancestry, pedigree, genealogical tree.


(It's also the Italian word for a coat of arms, i.e., a symbol of one's ancestry.)

The Grosvenor motto is a contraction of the phrase Nobilitatis virtus non stemma character, meaning "Virtue [courage, etc.], not ancestry, is the mark of nobility."
Joseph McMillan
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Chris Green
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Re: 6th Duke of Westminster R.I.P.

Postby Chris Green » 18 Aug 2016, 16:58

Thank you for the clarification of the motto Joseph.

I wonder whether the "stemma" was not meant to be a reference to the arms (the Italian usage of the word) rather than the Grosvenor pedigree, which dates back to the Norman Conquest and beyond. The arms have considerably less pedigree than the family and its "virtus".
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Ryan Shuflin
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Re: 6th Duke of Westminster R.I.P.

Postby Ryan Shuflin » 31 Aug 2016, 15:34

Chris Green wrote:Thank you for the clarification of the motto Joseph.

I wonder whether the "stemma" was not meant to be a reference to the arms (the Italian usage of the word) rather than the Grosvenor pedigree, which dates back to the Norman Conquest and beyond. The arms have considerably less pedigree than the family and its "virtus".


Yet, the arms are still pretty old. I wonder when the motto was selected. Either way, it is very fitting.


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