Prepared by Philip Lord, Jr on 1/1/2016

The purpose of this webpage is to present to the College of Arms in London evidence by which they may determine the correct origins of the arms used by the lineage of Richard and Joane Lord of Towcester, England after they emmigrated to New England in America in 1635.

The findings will be included after the presentation of the original evidence, and the conclusions indicated by the findings will be found at the end of this page.

The Question:

Were the arms exhibited by the descendants of Richard and Joane Lord, after they settled in New England, derived from a petition to the College of Arms, and a grant made thereafter, or were these arms merely assumed in the 17th century at the time a request to a seal maker in London was made, and that in creating the seal he simply found the closest match of surnames on record for the name "Lord"?

Evidence: "Archeological" vs. "Documentary"

Being an archeologist my belief has always been that the only evidence one can completely trust is that physical evidence of primary artifacts left behind by the people who lived in the periods being studied. Documents, no matter how close to the event they are created, represent secondary interpretation.

For this presentation only "archeological" data will be used, discounting the ample 19th century published evidence of the correct arms for this family, both simple (below, left) and elaborate (below, right).

tragopan_arms_engraving.jpg tragopan_framed_arms.jpg

The Lord arms in Colonial America are described in 19th century armorial sources as follows:
Arms - Argent, on a fess gules between three cinquefoils azure, a hind passant between two pheons or.
Crest - A demi-bird, wings expanded, sable, on its head two small horns or. Dexter wing gules, lined argent. Sinister wing argent, lined gules.

I will treat the evidence following from most recent to most ancient.

The most recent archeological item is a large painted hatchment in the collections of the Connecticut Historical Society in Hartford. Little is known about this artifact. It was donated to the museum in 1927 by a member of the Haynes-Lord family. The arms match those described in published sources, except the crest is not a demi-bird. It was intended to be a deer or horse; the rendering making it impossible to determine. A redrawing (below) shows it on more detail.

The meager historical evidence suggest this hatchment was used in the early 18th century. It clearly was taken from an alternative source than the "demi-bird" examples given above, and is, as will be shown next, obviously derived from the 1669 armorial wax seal of Dorothy Lord.

The banner below the arms reads: "DEUS. MIHI. SOL. BORNE. BY. The Name Of Lord"

The most concrete evidence of the Lord arms in Colonial America, and in fact the only definitive evidence thereof, is the wax seal on the will of Dorothy Lord of Hartford, executed and sealed in 1669. Dorothy was the wife of Thomas Lord, who predeceased her (date unknown), and the couple, with their eight children, all emigrated to New England in 1635 from Towcester, Northants.

The will, with its deteriorating wax seal, is preserved in the archives of the Connecticut State Library in Hartford. I was able to gain unlimited access to the document in the 1980s and 90s, and using my own technique of stereo micro-photography I was able to capture a series of stereo photographs of the seal (above, left).  After many days, perhaps weeks, of intensive examination of the images, which were taken with low angle light from various angles, I was able to create a drawing of the surviving elements of the wax seal (above, center). And from that was able to reconstruct what the wax seal had looked like when it was created (above, right).

Fortunately, although extensive areas of the wax had been lost, other areas left intact allowed me to determine what elements had originally been in the spots where they were missing. For example, although one pheon is lost, its opposite one remains, and while the two top cinquefoils are missing, one remains at the bottom of the shield.

Significantly the crest is the same horse or deer figure seen on the later hatchment, not the "demi-bird" described in later published sources. Based on the hatchment, it appears that by the end of the 17th century, this configuration of the Lord arms was widely recognized.

Thomas Lord, husband of Dorothy Lord above, died in Hartford, Connecticut sometime before 1669, as he is not mentioned in her will of that date and is absent from the distribution of lands and goods described in the will. He was a prominent founding member of the Hartford community and his son Richard was an important soldier and merchant there. So the lack of any details about his death and the absence of any will, clouds the search for evidence, as we cannot determine if the seal used by him earlier.

It would be reasonable to assume that if a seal for this family existed during the early-to-middle part of the 17th century it would be Thomas's seal, as the arms would pertain to the living male patriarch. But one will notice that whoever ordered this seal to be made included, among the heraldic features, the initials "R L".

My theory is the seal was not ordered to be engraved while Thomas was living.
His son and grandson, both named "Richard", were actively involved in shipping and trade out of Hartford, so if Thomas was deceased, either of them might have required a seal for their business activities. At the time Dorothy applied the seal to her will in 1669, the elder Richard had died, but his son remained engaged in the business, even making voyages between America and England. The elder Richard may have ordered the seal, sometime around 1650, and it passed to his mother on his death in 1662, and was used by her in 1669. If it was the elder Richard's seal, it would have passed to his son, Richard, to be used for the continuing commercial ventures of the family. (See my "Lords of the Sea" webpage for a full documentation of the commercial activities of both Richard Lords in Hartford in the 17th century).

But one might ask where is it now? Wouldn't such a significant family artifact have survived? My theory is the younger Richard, who was a favorite of his grandmother, helped her prepare her will, as she indicates in the will that she is "stricken in yeares and at present labouring under some bodily weakness...", and used the seal, that he had ordered, on her will. He remained very active in trade and commerce througout the 1670s. If we could find any business documents of his during that time, it would seal (pardon the pun) the debate. But none are known.

As to where is it now? Richard, the son of Richard, went down with his ship in 1685, and perhaps his seal went with him.

The death of Thomas's father, Richard Lord of Towcester, in 1610 is well documented in parish records and through the preservation of the original will in the Northamptonshire Archives. I had the privilege of examining it while visiting there, again applied my stereo-microphotography method to it, and was provided additional digital copies afterward.

While the text of the will is certainly interesting, and shows Richard was a man of significant wealth, it has an additonal detail that directly applies to this hunt for the armorial history of this line of Lord. The bottom of the document bears his mark and a papered seal (below).

Clearly this seal is not a typical armorial seal, and most likely is the imprint of a signet ring with a single figure of what may be a horse, although that is open to interpretation (below).

This appears to be a carved gem or stone, as the lines above and below the head seem caused by open cracks in the matrix. Clearly this seal was important to Richard Lord. Was it a personal totem? Was it passed down from an ancestor? Or was it just a bit of personal jewelry that he used as his seal?

There are similar examples of early seals, coins and rings which have an image very much like this, most being of a horse (see my webpage at .

The question arises, was this family totem the basis for changing the crest from the "demi-bird" to a horse, as we see following, when the American resident mambers of Richard's family sought arms specifically for themselves?

A century earlier, through a great stroke of luck, I encountered what is perhaps the root of all the Lord arms in America....arms granted to Robert Laward alias Lord of London in 1510 (below).

"The Art of Heraldry" by Peter Gwynn-Jones, Garter King of Arms, London, 1998, page 36.

"Any generalisation is bound to have exceptions; and sixteenth-century heraldic ornitoilogy provides four interesting examples. The Chinese phoenix, based on the Argus pheasant, is discussed on page 79. Of the other three, the tragopan was granted as a crest to Robert Laward, alias Lord of London, by Sir Thomas Wriothesley, Garter King of Arms, and Thomas Benolt, Clarenceux King of Arms, in about 1510. Improbable though the bird may seem, it is not, as previously maintained, the product of Tudor imagination. The tragopan is a species of pheasant that displays horn-like wattles clearly exaggerated in the Lord grant. How and why a Himilayan bird came to be granted as a crest must remain a matter for further research."

We readily see that this image of "Lord" arms matches perfectly the illustrations of the arms of this Lord line in 19th century publications. (An additonal illustration is found in the College of Arms (below):

A page from Thomas Wriothesley's  heraldry, which shows a second version of the Laward alias Lord arms at bottom, center.

The salient feature of this image, which distinguishes it from 19th century "demi-bird" interpretations and the "horse" crest used in America, is the tragopan (below).


I have posted research on Robert Laward alias Lord on my website, and can provide links to that if wanted. He was a prominant person in early-to-mid-16th century London, a goldsmith (in 1516), and "feodary". As of 1525, a decade after the arms were given, he had a wife and a daughter, but no son. He drifts out of London records by 1553, so whether he had a son later than 1525 is as yet unknown.

His mother's name was "Alice" and his daughter's name was "Alice" and an "Alice Laward" was buried in Leckhamstead, Northants, where two of the three children of Richard and Joane Lord of Towcester were born. Alice Laward's death in 1599 and the birth of Elizabeth Lord, daughter of Richard, in 1583 and daughter Alice (note, "Alice") in 1586, form an overlapping connection.

If the "Alice Laward" buried in Leckhamstead was the same Alice Laward daughter of Robert Laward alias Lord of London, we have some sort of connection. And given the surnames of Robert Laward/Lord and Richard Lord, later of Towcester, a short distance from Leckhamstead, the most reasonable connection is a Richard Lord as the unlisted son of the holder of the arms. 

It would be interesting to know the details behind this grant of arms. Was Robert's choice of crest a preference of his and did it have meaning for him? Were the arms derived from his lineage or were they awarded for the first time here? Does his application provide an avenue further back in time to the origins of the name, presuming there is a direct connection between Robert Lord and Richard Lord, whose lives may only be separated by a little more than a generation. (See new information below under "Findings".)

Line of Descent to Author

I. Richard Lord... Died Towcester, England - 1611. Born c. 1555.
II. Thomas Lord... Born Towcester, England - c.1585.
III. William Lord, II... Born Towcester, England - 1618.
IV. Lieut. Richard Lord... Born Saybrook [now Lyme], Connecticut - 1647.
V. Judge Richard Lord... Born Lyme, Connecticut - 1690.
VI. High Sheriff Lynde Lord... Born Lyme, Connecticut - 1733. [Sheriff of Litchfield, CT.]
VII. Lynde Lord, 2nd... Born Litchfield, Connecticut - 1762. [Lawyer and Deputy Sheriff]
VIII. Joseph Lyman Lord... Born Litchfield, Connecticut - 1790.
IX. Joseph Sproat Lord II... Born Taunton, Massachusetts - 1832.
X. Charles Joseph Lord... Born Flatbush, New York - 1859.
XI. Philip Lea Lord, Sr. ... Born East Orange, New Jersey - 1917.
XII. Philip Lea Lord, Jr. ... Born Upper Darby, Pennsylvania - 1941.

The effort to glean data from the College of Arms in London, the National Archives of Britain, and several other sources resulted in a compendium of new information, presented following in chronological order. Although it appears Robert Laward of London is not a direct line ancestor of Richard Lord of Towcester, the purpose in dwelling on the Laward family here is to clarify what, if any, connection their arms have to those of the descendants of Richard Lord, as the arms are identical in both instances. So a fair amount of detail about Robert Laward/Lord is given to that end.

c.1485 - 1534
The College of Arms has seven herald's rolls recording arms known in this period, usually shown as a drawing or painting with the name attached. On five of those rolls arms for the name "Laward" are shown, all identical to the arms of "Robert Laward alias Lord of London" shown below, although only some include the crest over the shield. The herald at the College indicates that arms were never granted to any other person of the name "Lord" after 1510.

The arms of "Robert Laward alias Lord of London" recorded at the College of Arms, London (below).

The will of John Bartholomew identifies his cousin as "Robert Laward of London, goldsmith..." mentions, but does not name "his wife..." (who is later in other documents identified as "Elizabeth) and states "to Alice Laward daughter of Robert Laward..."

The Court of Augmentations is created by King Henry VIII to dispose, transfer and administer wealth and lands of the disolved monastic properties. It is under the jurisdiction of Henry's minister Thomas Cromwell who had "receivers" who managed the properties. Robert Laward is shown connected to this process through several transactions and also by family connections through marriage of his daughter Alice to Henry Polstead.

(Lands brought to the Crown by purchase and exchange were the responsibility of the Court of Augmentations from 1536 to 1554, and the Deeds of Purchase and Exchange often contain seals of the parties involved.)

Henry Polstead, soon to be son-in-law of Robert Laward alias Lord, is "receiver to Cromwell" in Court of Augmentations. Robert Lorde is cited as person to repay a petitioner a loan to the King.

Transfer from Henry Polstead to Philip Henslowe of property of the priory of the nuns of Stratford at Bow on Bankside of "the gardens sometimes called the Rose... upon the Stewes banke..." an area known for its taverns and whore houses. Citation of correspondence between Robert Lorde and Thomas Cromwell.

1539 May 18
Henry Polstead marries "Alice daughter of Robert Lord alias Lawerde" (as listed in "The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1509-1558", ed. S. T. Bindoff, 1982) and "Weddings 1539...Henry Polstead and Alice Lord at St. Mary le Bow, London, England." in a listing of marriages at St. Mary le Bow. Robert Lorde cited as "paymaster" for construction of coastal defenses.

1540 February 23
To Henry and Alice (Lord) Polstead property described as "priory....".

1544 September
"Grants in fee" made to "Robert Lawerde alias Loorde" and "Alice Lawerde" for properties in London (refering to a transaction before her marriage).

1544 October 1
Grant of "Robt Lawerde alias Lord to Henry Polstead..." for "advowson of Stoke - formerly held by the Monastery of Lewes.."
Held in Surrey History Centre, which has the original but the seal has been detached and lost. The transfer is of rights of administartion formerly held by the monastary to Henry Polstead.

1550 March 8
Will of "Robert Lorde of London" (National Archives) mentions Henry Polstead (son-in-law) as executoir and states that he wishes to be buried at "the parishe churche of Alhallowes Barking in London where as my owne good mother and Elizabeth, my late wyfe lye buried..." Apparently his only surviving legitimate child was Alice, wife of Henry Polstead, but he made a bequest to a "John Lord" who appears to have been in his care, but doesn't specify a relationship.

1550 (month?)
Robert Laward alias Lord dies.

1550 June 16
Probate - Will of Robert Lorde of London. (National Archives, PROB 11/33/250).

1551 Sept 1
Transfer of property under Court of Augmentations from Henry Polstead, acting as "executor for Robert Lord, to Edward VI".
(E 305/19/G29 National Archives)

1555 April 1

Indenture of sale from Henry Polstead to Humphrey Cavell (National Archives Additional Charter 24633A) document with Laward alias Lord seal (above). Puzzle as Laward is not one of the parties to the transaction. The document attached to this was witnessed by Alice Polstead (formerly Lord) (AD. Ch. 24633B). The document is also listed the the Catalogue of Seals ... in the British Museum as #12,766 and indicated as "Laward, al. Lord". The College of Arms indicates the daughter, Alice, of Robert could legitimately continue to use her father's arms and seal. It appears that her husband used this seal on the above document, which was not legitimate.

1555 August 1
Henry Polstead will. Leaves rents and leases to his wife Alice until his son Richard, then ten years old, should come of age, providing she remains unmarried.

1555 December 10
Henry Polstead dies.

1556 May 16
Probate of Polstead will.

Mention of "Alice Polstead, the widow of Henry Polstead."

Archeological evidence for the arms of the Lord family includes London 1510 (above, left) London 1555 (above, center) and Hartford, Connecticut 1669 (above, right).

The arms used by the American Lord family, setting aside for the moment the crest, are derived completely from the arms of "Robert Laward alias Lord of London" who lived from about 1485 to 1550. He was prominent in the legal and financial processes of the dissolution of the monasteries under Henry VIII as well as in high level business transactions (many of which were omitted above). His daughter Alice Lord married an even more powerful person in London at the time, Henry Polstead, and since her name of "Laward/Lord" was thereby changed to "Polstead", there is no connection between her and the "Alice Lord" who died in Leckhampstead in 1599, who was thought to be a link to Richard Lord of Towcester, as two of his children were baptised in Leckhampstead.

A Difference of Opinion?

About 200 years after the first appearance of heraldic devices in the 12th century, and 100 years after the early Rolls of Arms at the College of Arms in London, John of Guildford, in the late 14th century asks the question "Who can grant arms ?"

The answer, then widely held, was that arms were granted only by "...a king, a Prince, a King of Arms, or a Herald".

However, by about 1500 another opinion was being widely circulated, and was found in print by 1650;  i.e. about the time the seal with the arms used on the 1669 will of Dorothy Lord was probably being ordered from London. There is a chapter in this work on the assumption of arms which outlines this alternative opinion, as the following extracts reveal:

"We come now to the question lately raised, whether arms bestowed by the favour of princes or of some other lord are better or of such dignity as arms taken by a man’s own authority. It has been said ... that it has been committed to each noble to take arms and ensigns to himself as he pleased."

In other words, persons of nobility need not seek authorization from others for the arms they wish to take to themselves. The writer goes on to describe the four ways in which someone may have arms.

"1. We have arms which we bear from our ancestors, a manner well known and frequent. 2. We have arms by our own merits. 3. We have arms which we bear from the favour of a prince or other lords...  4) We have arms which we bear taken by our own authority as we see openly in these days as many poor men ... have been ennobled, some by prudence, some by force of character, some by courage, some by other qualities. These men as I have said above, are ennobled, many of whom assume arms of their own authority, to be borne by themselves and their heirs."

So anyone, according to this opinion, may take his own arms on no other authority than his own, providing the person is "ennobled" in some manner. Would prominent merchant Richard Lord of Connecticut have seen himself as suffiently "ennobled" to justify taking arms to himself?

The writer does acknowledge, however, that although "arms thus assumed are freely and lawfully borne, they have not as much dignity and authority as those which are granted by the authority of princes and lords. But arms assumed by one’s own authority are valid enough, provided they have not been borne by anyone else before... "

And in contradiction to the longstanding opinion of the College of Arms that only the Heralds may grant arms, and therefore all legitimate arms will be recorded on the Heralds Rolls at the College, this writer states "...if arms are borne which are granted by a herald those arms are of no greater authority than arms taken by a man’s own authority."

Whether Richard Lord, the younger, in Connecticut, considered the philosophical arguments regarding arms, or just felt on his own justified in asking for and receiving the "Lord" arms as a device for his business activities, it appears clear, from the evidence, that this is what he did, much as you or I might send off for our "Family Coat of Arms" from one of the numerous commercial vendors available today.

Source for the above references is found at the blog at:

The Yelvertoft Connection?

Several genealogical sources, even dating back to the 19th century, suggest that the clue to the origin of Richard Lord of Towcester is found in the will of a William Lord of Yelvertoft  You can see my transcription of this document as an overlay on the orignal 1560 will at

The reasoning is that the will William Lord mentions a bequest "to Elizabeth Lorde, my brother Richard Lorde's daughter..." and cites as Overseer "Richard Lorde of Over". The village of Over is a small distance east of Yelvertoft, but it is well east of Towcester and very far east of Leckhampstead. And since Richard Lord of Towcester had a daughter Elizabeth, the connection seemed promising.

But as the chart below shows, the timing is all wrong. By the date of the will in 1560, the "Elizabeth Lorde"of Over was already a child of some unknown age. But the parish records of Leckhamstead shiow that the "Elizabeth Lord" born to Richard and Joan Lord, later of Towceste,r was born much later, in 1583. So the two are not at all connected.

While there is a better than even chance that the "Laward" line gives rise to Richard Lord of Towcester, it must come from an earlier or parallel branching of that line.

Further evidence of the disconnection between Robert Laward alias Lord of London in the first half of the 16th century and the 17th century Lords of Connecticut is that the right to hold those London arms was not continuous. Robert had no sons, as evidenced by his will. His only legitimate offspring was Alice, his daughter, who became Alice Polstead at her marriage in 1539. While she had rights to use his arms in the later 16th century as his sole heir, any person following her in line would have been named "Polstead" not "Lord".

It is also clear that Richard Lord of Towcester (c. 1550 to 1610) was not a direct line heir to any arms-holding person.

His will is sealed with a signet image (above) of a horse (supposed). If he had rights to the arms of Laward/Lord as the oldest son of a descendant, one might assume he would have used them in his seal.

In addition, in his will Richard Lord refers to himself as "husbandman" (farmer) and is referred to in parish records as "yeoman", which terms do not suggest the status attached to the inheritor of arms. So there is no evidence of these arms granted to anyone after 1510, when Robert Lord alias Lord of London held them, until we see them used on the will of Dorothy Lord in Hartford, Connecticut, in 1669.


A) The arms used by the Connecticut Lord family in 1669 were established exactly in London in 1510, attributed to Robert Laward alias Lord. The crest, which is not a defining aspect of these arms, was altered by the Connecticut Lords from the demi-bird (1510) to the horse (pre-1669).

B) Arms are granted to specific men and their direct line descendants and are not granted to families of the same name (College of Arms personal communication).

C) The is no record at the College of Arms of any other "Lord" requesting, or being granted, any arms, and certainly not the same arms as granted in 1510 to Robert Laward alias Lord..

D) Robert Laward alias Lord had no sons, and his daughter became "Alice Polstead" by marriage in 1539, so produced no heirs named "Lord".

E) Richard Lord of Towcester (resident c. 1580 to 1610 and born c. 1550) used a non-armorial signet on his will, showing an animal assumed to be a horse, and he is described in documents as of status below arms-holding gentry.

F) The genealogical connection from Robert Laward/Lord (1510) to Richard Lord (1610) and all his descendants is broken.

G) This means that the arms used in 1669 by Richard Lord (assumed to be the grandson of Thomas and Dorothy Lord of Towcester and later Hartford, Connecticut) were merely assumed by the family based on the matching of the surname with the College of Arms records from the early 16th century.