346 Kings Of Arms v Fetherstone

The Court of Chivalry 1634-1640.

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Kings of Arms v Henry Fetherstone of Blackfriars, London, gent

April - November 1635

Figure 346:

The coat of arms of Ralph Fetherstonhaugh of Stanhope Hall, Durham, which was produced as an exhibit in this case (Reproduced by permission of the Chapter of the College of Arms)


This was a cause of office in which the Kings of Arms prosecuted Fetherstone for burying his wife and brother 'with great funerals', fraudulently using 'the armes of Fetherstonhaugh of Stanhop Hall in the Bishopprick of Durham, beinge an auntient familye and of great antiquitie in that countie'. He was likewise prosecuted for setting up a monument to his father in St Dunstan's church in Fleet Street, upon which he displayed the arms of Fetherstonhaugh 'to the great wrong and prejudice of that familye.' Ralph Fetherstonhaugh of Stanhope Hall, Durham, esq, wrote to Sir Henry St George that he believed Henry Fetherstone had acted more out of ignorance than evil intent, but still wished the arms on the offending funeral monument to be defaced. Fetherstonhaugh was ordered to be examined as a witness by Sir William Howard at Naworth Castle, Cumberland, 12-14 August 1635. There was some question over whether Henry Fetherstone was, in fact, a gentleman. Ralph Fetherstonhaugh believed he was and he appeared as such in the London visitation of 1635; but the Kings of Arms, in their complaint, described him as a 'stationer, being noe gentleman, but descended of meane and obscure parentage.' No indication of sentence survives.

Initial proceedings

7/82, Complaint

'Henry Fetherston of Blackfryers, stationer, beinge noe gentleman, but descended of obscure and meane parentage, hath of late buried his wife and his brother with great funerals, and hath used the armes of Fetherstonhaugh of Stanhop Hall in the Bishopprick of Durham beinge an auntient familye and of great antiquitie in that countie; and hath likewise sett up a monument in St Dunstan's church in Fleetstreete for his father wheron he hath caused the armes of Fetherstonhaugh to be placed, without any difference, to the great wrong and prejudice of that familye.'

No date.

No signatures.

9/4/22, Allegation [damaged]

1. From time immemorial there had been two distinct and separate families of Le Fetherstonehaugh in the northern parts.

2. From time immemorial the two families had borne for arms, Gules a chevron between three ostrich feathers argent , as in the first schedule attached and had always recognised each other as kinsmen.

3. The family had been acknowledged as gentry for over 100 years.

4-5. Cuthbert the father, Ralph the grandfather and Ralph the brother of the defendant had always recognised these arms as their own, and they were used at the funeral of one of them on the authority of Mr Augustine Vincent, one of the officers of arms.

6-7. Ralph Fetherstonehaugh of Stanhope Hall, esquire, in the bishopric of Durham mentioned in the second schedule, which shows the true genealogy of the family of Stanhope Hall, was the father of John Fetherstonehalgh and Cuthbert Fetherstonehalgh the father of the defendant. John was the father of Ralph Fetherstonhaugh now of Stanhope Hall.

8-9. Cuthbert the father and Ralph the grandfather of the defendant came from the parish of Stanhope. Cuthbert came to London from the north, bringing with him Francis, the younger brother of Ralph.

Endorsed 18 April 1635

Signed by Thomas Eden.

9/4/23, Letter of Ralph Fetherstonhalgh

From Ralph Fetherstonhalgh to Sir Henry St George, Burntofte, 23 January 1634/5?

'Good sir, I perceive Mr Henry Fetherston of St Paule's Churchyarde is called into your courte for givinge my coat armoure upon escouchions at the funeral of his father, wherein I cannot but commende your justice and care to preserve the right of ancient families; so have I allso thought fitte thus farre to expresse myself unto you that I canne for my part be contented to remitte the wronge for this tyme (wch I conceive to have proceeded rather from ignorance then any evill affection or intention to have donne me wronge) so as by some acte of the courte my right to beare that coate may be declared, and to the ende that no memorie of that wrong may be lefte to posterity, by colour wherof wee may in future tymes receive prejudice, as by sufferinge that coate to remayne engraven or depicted either upon the toombe or elswhere in the churche, that he may by authority of your courte be enjoyned to deface the same and to make newe with suche difference as you in your wisdomes shall thincke fitte to appointe unto him, wherein hopinge you will affoorde me your best furtherance in preservinge the righte of my house, with remembrance of my best affection to your father Sir Richard and yourselfe I cease and allwayes will remayne

Yours in all true offices of freindshippe unfainedly assured'

Endorsed 18 April 1635

7/79, Deputation

Latin document dated 20 June 1635

Mentioned William Howard of Naworth castle, Cumberland and Ralph Fetherston of Stanhope Hall, co. Durham

Referred to meeting of commissioners at Naworth castle on 12-14 August 1635.

9/1h, Plaintiff's bill of costs [badly damaged]

Largely illegible bill beginning in Hilary term, 1634.

Presented 12 9br [Nov.] 1635

Summary of proceedings

On 20 June 1635 it was ordered that Ralph Fetherstonhaugh, of Stanhope Hall, co. Durham, esq, be examined as a witness by Sir William Howard at Naworth Castle, co. Cumberland, from 12 to 14 August 1635, with Gilbert Dethick as notary public. Mention was also made of hearing a final agreement.


For another account of the case, see G. D. Squibb, Reports of Heraldic Cases in the Court of Chivalry, 1623-1732 (London, 1956), p. 8.

For the Kings of Arms, see S. A. Baron, 'Sir John Borough (d.1643)'; S. Wright, 'Sir William Le Neve (1592-1661)'; and T. Woodcock, 'Sir Henry St George (1581-1644)', Oxford DNB (Oxford, 2004).

Henry Fetherston of Blackfriars was mentioned in the 1635 London Visitation as the son of Cuthbert Fetherston of Heathery Clough in the parish of Stanhope, co. Durham (d.1613). Henry married Mary, daughter of Gayus Newman. His second wife was Katherine, daughter of Michael Heneage of London, esq.

J. Jackson Howard and J. L. Chester (eds.), The Visitation of London, 1633, 1634 and, 1635, vol. I (Publications of the Harleian Society, 15, 1880), p. 273.


  • Initial proceedings
    • Complaint: 7/82 (no date)
    • Allegation: 9/4/22 (18 Apr 1635)
    • Letter of Ralph Fetherstonhalgh: 9/4/23 (18 Apr 1635)
    • Deputation: 7/79 (20 Jun 1635)
  • Sentence / Arbitration
    • Plaintiff's bill of costs: 9/1h (12 Nov 1635)
  • Proceedings
    • Proceedings before Huntingdon: 8/25 (20 Jun 1635)
    • Proceedings: 7/79 (20 Jun 1635)
    • Undated proceedings: R. 19, fos. 390-399 (c. Jun 1635?)
    • Damaged proceedings: 1/13 (Jun 1635)

People mentioned in the case

  • Borough, John, knight (also Burrough)
  • Dethick, Gilbert, notary public
  • Eden, Thomas, lawyer
  • Fetherstone, Cuthbert (also Fetherston)
  • Fetherstone, Henry, gent (also Fetherston)
  • Fetherstone, Katherine (also Fetherston)
  • Fetherstone, Mary (also Fetherston)
  • Fetherstonhaugh, Ralph, esq
  • Hastings, Henry, earl of Huntingdon
  • Heneage, Michael, esq
  • Howard, William, knight
  • Le Neve, William, knight
  • Newman, Gayus
  • Newman, Mary
  • St George, Henry, knight

Places mentioned in the case

  • Cumberland
    • Naworth Castle
  • Durham
    • Heathery Clough
    • Stanhope
    • Stanhope Hall
  • London
    • Blackfriars
    • Fleet Street
    • St Dunstan-in-the-West
    • St Paul's

Topics of the case

  • cause of office
  • coat of arms
  • false claim to gentility
  • funeral ceremony
  • funeral monument
  • heraldy
  • King of Arms