Easter, 2010.... reaching back 500 years to Easter, 1510.

tragopanwalrus.jpg “The time has come,” the Walrus said,
“To talk of many things:
Of shoes–and ships–and sealing-wax–
Of cabbages–and kings–”

Apologies to Lewis Carroll for borrowing a line from his poem "The Walrus and the Carpenter" in Alice Through the Looking Glass for the title, slightly modified, of this page. 

The "King" part of this equation is easy...it is the infamous King Henry VIII (below right), who ruled England from 1509 to 1547 AD. The "Tragopan" is in fact an exotic Himilayan pheasant (below left).

How these two entities are woven together with Lord family history is what this webpage is going to reveal. The trail begins in Gilbertsville, New York in the 1940s and ends in London, England in 1510.... the second year of Henry VIII.

tragopan_tragopan.jpg tragopan_henry.jpg

The starting point for all of this is the Lord "Coat of Arms" which hung on the wall of our house for as long as I can remember. Hand painted in the late 19th century, the picture (below) showed the arms (shield) and crest supposedly of the "Lord" family...our family.


The arms, i.e. the shield, reveals the fess (band) on which two pheons (arrowheads) flank a hind (small deer) with three cinquefoils (five-petaled flower forms) - two above and one below.

This design is proven consistently to be correct for our line of "Lord" - in Connecticut after 1635. It appears as such in the wax seal on Dorothy Lord's will in 1669, an 18th century Lord hatchment (funeral plaque), and is presented as correct in virtually all of the 19th century sources on early American heraldry. (For more on this topic see http://www.living-in-the-past.com/lordarms1.html)

Research into the family's history in Towcester, England prior to their migration to New England, which spanned the period from about 1585 to 1635, revealed only a simple non-heraldic signet showing a walking horse used on the will of the family patriarch, Richard Lord in 1610.

The rather extraordnary crest (left) was described to us growing up as a "phoenix rising from the ashes" and the motto, translated "Hope for Better Things", seemed to reenforce that imagery. In style it resembles crests that use a "horned eagle" and also a "phoenix", although not exactly, and most, if not all the published sources on early American heraldry simply describe the crest on the Lord arms as a "demi-bird"; which means a generic bird of undefined type shown from the "waist" upward. For a survey of the variety of Lord crests, consult the website indicated in the paragraph above. A typical 19th century rendering of the Lord arms and crest is shown below, and the bird is a crude approximation of the one above - a demi-brid facing right, two semi-upright "horns" on its head, and wings extended upward, although in the engraved version the wings appear midway between the more typical upward extended form, and a downward or medially extended position.


All of this somewhat ambiguous information was left to drift unchallenged as other parts of the family history were being investigated, and the results of that effort can be viewed in all its unending detail at http://www.living-in-the-past.com/lordsoftowcester.html.


As often happens in research, the greatest discoveries are made quite by accident, and in the Winter of 1998-9, I experienced perhaps the greatest episode of serediptiy that I was every happy to encounter.

It was after Christmas and with my gift card I was browsing the "Bargain Books" section of the local Barnes & Noble, as I always do, looking for some hidden - and cheap - treasure. As my interest was running fairly high on the subject of heraldry at the time, and having already acquired about everything the local shops had to offer on this esoteric topic, I picked up a colorful, yet relatively thin volume, considerably marked down, even though it had just been published the year before - The Art of Heraldry by Peter Gwynn-Jones.

I was leafing through the lavishly illustrated pages when I flipped open to page 36, and my mouth fell open. There, presented in vivid color and a full five inches tall, was a coat of arms (below, right) strikingly similar to the Lord arms I had been studying for several years, and when I read the text, my eyes widened as much as my mouth! It was a work by the Garter King of Arms in London (below, left) and it threw open a window into the deeper past that I never would have discovered otherwise in a lifetime of searching.

The arms (shield) was identical to what I had already confirmed was "my" arms - a fess with a hind flanked by two pehons, and three cinquefoils on the shield; two up and one down. The crest (bird) resembled the one from the 19th century engraving, which perhaps was based on this very image, yet the wings were thrust more downward at the ends. But it was the description the author gave of the crest that opened a whole new area of interest.

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

"The Art of Heraldry",  page 36.        


Thomas Wriothesley - Garter King of Arms - 1505 to 1534

In 1505 Thomas Wriothesley was appointed Garter King of Arms, over the heads of all the royal heralds, and helped organize many great domestic ceremonies—the funeral of Henry VII, the coronation of Henry VIII, the Westminster tournament of 1511, etc.  In the period prior to his appointment, there was a paucity of armorial grants, but after 1509, with Henry VIII’s obsession with pageantry and tournaments, there was a new interest in heraldry. Wriothesley's output as an heraldic artist was considerable and includes large parts of a great armory and ordinary of all English arms. His collections are an essential link between the heraldry of the Middle Ages and that of the later College of Arms, while his drawings of monuments anticipate the work of later Tudor heralds. Historians have called Wriothesley's Gartership "active, prosperous and in many ways distinguished", but Wriothesley's hopes of permanently asserting the primacy of his office over the other kings of arms were dashed in 1530, when Thomas Benolt, Clarenceux King of Arms managed to obtain a commission to carry out visitations without interference by any other herald. Wriothesley ended his service in 1534.

Left: A page from Thomas Wriothesley's  heraldry, which shows a second version of the Laward alias Lord arms at bottom, center. Copyright, College of Arms, London; reproduced by permission.

The above is extracted from "The Art of Heraldry".

I had already come across a 1940s reference by a Lord genealogist that suggested our line of "Lord" referred back to a Norman line of "de Laward", based on the similarity of the coat of arms. So it struck me that these arms were granted to a "Robert Laward" and in 1510. More on the connection and the man in a bit.


My curiosity about this tragopan - an animal I had never heard of before - led me to Google, where I was surprised to find it was extremely common... at least on the Internet. Not only was the bird described and illustrated, with paintings, and engravings, such as the 1834 plate below, but it was a living creature still found, if somewhat rarely, in nature.


The problem I had was making the 1510 heraldic painting, with the outlandish "horns", a natural representation of the actual bird, whose horn-like wattles are barely visible. I scanned a number of modern photographs and even watched a couple videos of the bird, and had I not been alerted to the presence of "horns", I doubt I would even have noticed them (see below).


The Satyr Tragopan, whose brilliant coloring resembles the crest.

But shortly I came across a picture of the Satyr Tragopan in display mode, and was immediately struck by the complete resemblence it had, in this state, to the bird presented in the 1510 heraldic image.


I had always felt, from first seeing the 1510 arms of Robert Laward, that the bird in the crest was very awkwardly drawn, with great angular clumps of red feathers thrust downward at a rakish angle to the body, exposing the uncolorful interior of the wings. But when I saw the photograph (above, right) I "saw" the 1510 painting come to life. Suddenly it became a 100% accurate representation of the living bird - in sexual display! The wing tips flare bright red and are thrust down in the same awkward angle, almost to the feet of the bird, and the "horns" are erect and prominent in a way that cannot be overlooked.

Check out this video of the tragopan as it transforms from a normal pheasant into a living replica of the crest of Robert Laward's 1510 coat of arms. (NOTE: If you are not seeing an active video window below, ready to play, you probably have some Active X feature de-selected for your browser. You can turn that on, or just go to this webpage to view the video:   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7l79rgG9bDk

The question raised by Peter Gwynn-Jones in his 1998 book - how a rare Himalayan pheasant came to be selected in Tudor England as a heraldic crest - may be answered by reference to King Henry VIII's London and The Royal Managerie. Certainly anyone who witnessed the courtship ritual display (above) of a tragopan in the early 16th century would have been impressed enough to adopt it as his crest.

tragopan_managerie.jpg A Royal Menagerie was established at the tower in the 13th century during the reign of King John, and probably stocked with animals from an earlier menagerie started in 1125 by Henry I at his palace in Woodstock; William of Malmesbury reported that Henry had lions, leopards, lynxes and camels among other animals there, and in 1235 Henry III received a wedding gift of three leopards from Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor.The Tower of London housed a polar bear in 1252, which was a gift from the King of Norway. In 1264, they were moved to the Bulwark, which was duly renamed the Lion Tower, near the main western entrance. It was opened as an occasional public spectacle in the reign of Elizabeth I. 


So who is the man to whom these arms were granted in 1510? The identification reads "Robert Laward alias Lord of London". I mistook this phrase to imply that the "Laward" family became, in the minds of people in that time, the "Lord" family, and that this might be subtle evidence of the origins of the family line leading down to Towcester in 1610, Connecticut in 1635, and to me in 1941.

But on inquiry I was told the following about how the term "alias" was used, much more formally, in the 16th century:


"Family names were used from the Middle Ages, but not for all, and not in the way we are used to it today. Family names would be nicknames, sometimes telling the trade of the person involved,, or the trade of their ancestors, or a defect. Sometimes a place name was used, or another name of geographical origin. I have found references to people by several names, sometimes up to three different ones. 

"Sometimes the different names for one person will have a very fixed period, like when some one moved to another part of the country, and only used one name from that time onwards. People would not know him well, and not be aware he might also have been known under another name. But if he stayed in the region different people would know him under different names, hence the use of the word "alias", which is nothing else but "also known as". To avoid misunderstanding, it told people: we are talking about one and the same man."

So in the first year of the reign of King Henry VIII, this man was known as both "Robert Laward" and as "Robert Lord". Whether this is the geneaological bridge between the Norman line of "de Laward" and the English line of "Lord", as suggested by one source, it clearly shows the intimate connection of the two surnames, within the body, and arms, of this person.

So in the same manner we use "DBA" (doing business as) and "AKA" (also known as) in formal commercial and legal matters today, in the 16th century the terms "alias", which we today associate more with crime and wanted posters, was used.

But the need for this level of formality becomes clearer in short order. On a whim, I did a Google Books search using the exact search term "Robert Laward alias Lord". To my amazement, I began getting hits in the records of Henry VIII, such as the following from March of 1521.

tragopan_quill.jpg GRANTS in MARCH 1521.

Robert Laward, alias Lord. To be receiver and feodary of the honor of Walyngford and St. Walleric, parcel of the duchy of Cornwall, on surrender of patents 19 Nov. 7 Hen. VIII., and 24 Jan. 2 Hen. VIII., granting the said offices to Geoffrey Dormer. Greenwich, 17 March 12 Hen. VIII. 

This entry reveals that "Robert Laward alias Lord" was not a description of his name, it WAS his name of record! And he has some official capacity here - as "receiver and feodary" - in reference to a land transaction. being in service in this role to a Geoffrey Dormer of Greenwich.


Feod´a`ry        1.         An accomplice.

                           2.         (Eng. Law) An ancient officer of the court of wards.

The Court of Wards and Liveries (left) was a court established during the reign of Henry VIII in England. Its purpose was to administer a system of feudal dues; but as well as the revenue collection, the court was also responsible for wardship and livery issues.
The court was established from 1540 by two Acts of Parliament, Court of Wards Act 1540 (32 Henry VIII c. 46) and the Wards and Liveries Act 1541 (33 Henry VIII c. 22).

Thus Robert was possibly an officer of the court established by his King , but as the formal court was not created until 1540, and the reference to him is from early 1521, this duty seems to be functionally similar, but not identical to that of the official court? But Shakespeare gives us a slightly different idea about the word, in his play "Measure for Measure." See the editor's footnote in this 18th century edition of the play (below).

tragopan_shakespeare1.jpg tragopan_shakespeare2.jpg

This suggests someone who holds lands in service to a Manor Lord, and the Robert Laward reference is clearly about land. But it still remains ambiguous.

It is interesting to note that the use of the term "feodary" for Robert Laward alias Lord in 1521, pre-dates by over 80 years Shakespeare's use of it in this play in 1603, almost to the date when Richard Lord of Towcester was on his deathbed (1610).

But a full seven years earlier nearly to the day, in March of 1514, Robert appears in the Henry VIII documents with a new dimension to his identity revealed - Goldsmith!.

tragopan_merchant_two.jpg March 16, 1514

Robert Laward alias Lord, goldsmith, of London, clerk of Sir John Daunce. Licence to import 2,000 tuns of Gascon wine and 4,000 tons of Toulouse woad, reckoning eight bales to the ton. Del. Westm., 16 March 5 Hen. VIII.

He is a London goldsmith representing Sir John Daunce, who is described elsewhere as the "General Surveyor of the King's Lands". Apparently Robert's role here was to record and grant an import license for goods from southwestern France, in an area bordering Spain on the Atlantic. Being the clerk of a King's official would seem to place him in some upper level of status in England of the times. But perhaps his occupation beng a London Goldsmith already confirms that.

tragopan_livery.jpg The Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths, more commonly known as the Goldsmiths' Company, is one of the Twelve Great Livery Companies of the City of London and received its first royal charter in 1327.

Founded to regulate the craft or trade of the goldsmith, the Goldsmiths' Company has been responsible since 1300 for testing the quality of gold, silver. The word hallmark originates from the fifteenth century when London craftsmen were first required to bring their artefacts to Goldsmiths' Hall for assaying and marking.

Left, the Arms or Livery of the London Goldsmiths, one
of the of twelve such guilds or "Halls" under Henry VIII

 The activities of these artisans had been confined mostly to buying, selling, and working with silver and gold plate, under the auspices of a guild with the corporate title of the Wardens and Commonalty of the Mystery of Goldsmiths of the City of London. But in relaity, their function was much broader, as by default they took on the functions that today we associate with bankers.

Goldsmith to Banker

In the early days the goldsmith had exchanged foreign currency, keeping some in hand to supply travellers abroad and melting down the rest in the course of their basic trade. They had also become recognisable and reliable keepers of money and valuables for people without their own safe custody facilities.

Goldsmiths were metalworkers who worked in gold, they made jewellery, goblets, flatware, vessels, anything that was required that could be made from gold. Their guild was one of the richest and most powerful in medieval times. Their function as bankers evolved because they had secure premises for keeping valuables in.

It was not until the end of the 16th century and during the 17th, that the traditional banking functions we think of today emerged.

Left: The Moneylender and his Wife, 1514

This painting (above) was created in the same decade Robert Laward alias Lord joined the London Goldsmiths, and although not an English image, the scene is one he would have recognized. For in the 16th century the term "goldsmith" often meant much more than metalcraft.

willwelizcoinsimage.jpg The lending of money at interest, or  usury, had been illegal in England for centuries, and as late as 1552 an Act of Parliament had prohibited all taking of interest as "a vice most odious and detestable. as in divers places in the Holy Scriptures it is evident to be seen."

But the economics of the realm in the sixteenth century had not been built on such unenforceable pieties, and legislation could not lag behind reality indefinitely.

Those who made it a regular business to lend money often styled themselves "scrivener" or "goldsmith" and may in certain cases have been entitled to such designations, but these terms were also euphemisms that everyone recognized.

One Londoner of the period is described in these terms: "He must have felt confident about the future, and of his career as a money broker, a 'goldsmith'".

Excerpted from  "A London Life in the Brazen Age - Francis Langley, 1548-1602" by William Ingram    

The identification of Robert Laward as a goldsmith opens up another avenue of documentation that would otherwise be unavailable. The records of the City of London Goldsmith's Hall in Foster Lane, London. A preliminary search of the archives by their staff produced substantial results.

tragopan_goldmsiths_shop.jpg "What I have found in notes left by the late T.F. Reddaway is the information that Robert Laward paid 2 shillings and was sworn on 9 February 1516/17 (Wardens’ Accounts & Court Minute Book D, p.19).  The note also indicates that he was elected to the livery in 1519. "

David Beasley, Librarian

Left, a typical 16th century goldmsith's shop

To get a flavor of what the shop of a typical London goldsmith would have been like, we can read the extract below from a well researched novel set in London in the 1470s, and describing a visit to just such a London shop.


“Eventually I reached my journey’s end with some relief and entered the shop. A long counter faced me as I stepped inside, and beyond this was the workroom. A youth.. was working the bellows at a furnace built into a wall, while an elderly man was admonishing him in an exasperated tone. “No, no, no. Toby! A light pressure, if you please. You want to fan the coals gently into flame, not blow great clouds of smoke out through the vent to choke the passers-by.” Another man, not so much older than the apprentice, was hammering out a piece of gold on an anvil, which stood in the middle of the room. As I watched, he laid down the hammer and picked up a pair of tweezers, beginning to pull and tease the hot metal into shape. Near at hand lay a chisel and a rabbit’s foot, while further along the bench were what looked like a pair of dividers, a saw, a file and a number of small earthenware dishes. An array of other tools was ranged along a shelf to my right.”

From Kate Sedley, "The Goldsmith's Daughter"        

So a few short years after being granted his Coat of Arms in London in c. 1510, he is established as a respected member of the community and a member of the London Goldsmith's Hall. Another source on early English goldsmiths seems to confirm that he continued in that role at least until 1553.

tragopan_Robert_%20Lawerd.jpg This extract is from Ambrose Heal’s book "The London goldsmiths 1200-1800" (1935, p.220). A "Robert Lawerd" is listed as a goldsmith in London from 1540 to 1553.  The latter date was taken from William Chaffers "Gilda aurifabrorum…" (London, 1899, p.47) where he was one of 52 Freemen Householders listed in 1553 ‘in the Chapter House’.

(Librarian, London Goldmsith's Hall.)

In 1529, Robert Laward alias Lord again appears as a "feodary" in lands that sound the same as those for which he served the same function in 1521:


GRANTS in MAY 1529.

James, s. of John Hales, one of the barons of the Exchequer. To be receiver and feodary of the honor of Walingford and St. Waleric, parcel of the duchy of Cornwall, vice Robt. Laward alias Lord. Del. Westm., 13 May 21 Hen. VIII.

Over ten years later, Robert again is recorded in transactions, this time with properties transferred using the "Feet of Fines" technique (see below). It appears that Robert is either buying, or selling, properties in Enfield. Enfield is now a suburb in the north of London. In the mid-16th century, it was a separate town.

A Calendar to the Feet of Fines for London & Middlesex: volume 2 - Henry VII - 12 Elizabeth
 (Years 1485-1569)

Robert Lord, otherwise Laward, and George Massy, and Mary, his wife. Premises in Enfeld. Easter Anno 33 [c.1542].

Robert Laward, otherwise Loorde, and Henry Maye, and Agnes, his wife. Premises in Enfeld. Easter Anno 34 [c. 1543].

Feet of Fines

     Fines, or final concords, were conveyances of land by means of a legal action (normally fictitious after 1300), that resulted in a copy of the final agreement, or concord, between the purchaser, known as the querent, and the seller, known as the deforciant, being filed with the records of the king's court and open to public inspection. This final agreement was normally written out three times on a single sheet of parchment - two copies side by side and one copy across the bottom of the sheet, separated by an indented or wavy line. The purchaser kept one copy, the seller the other and the final copy - 'the foot of the fine'- was kept by the court as a central record of the conveyance. It was a means of having title registered to guard against subsequent fraud or forgery as copies if this three piece jig-saw would only fit together if genuine. There was no legal obligation to have title registered in this way. Often the fine is one of a series of conveyancing deeds some of which may give more detail about the property - such private deeds are less likely to have survived with the public records.

It is interesting to see how Robert's name is evolving. In the 1520s it was stated invariably as "Robert Laward alias Lord". Now, in the 1540s, we see it both as "Robert Lord, otherwise Laward" and "Robert Laward, otherwise Loorde". It seems his identity as "Robert Lord" is fully established.

As the London Goldsmith's records stop recording Robert Laward after 1553, we may assume that these land transactions in the 1540s may have occurred near the end of his career, if not his life. Perhaps he was selling off property to amplify his estate.


We might have few other clues to the identity of the man who was granted these unusual arms in 1510 were it not for the death of a "Richard Chomeley, knight" in 1521, and of
John Bartholomew in 1525. Their wills mention Robert Laward, suggest his status in London among other men of status, and hint at his family structure.


You will notice that Sir John Daunce is cited in this will, and previosuly we have seen that in March of 1514  "Robert Laward, alias Lord" was the "clerk of Sir John Daunce." This will also indicates that "Robert Laward" lived in the Parish of Alholowen, Barking, or All Hallows Church, Barking (see red rectangle on 16th century map below).

It is endlessly fascinating how the reading of a word or two in some historical document - a word never before seen or made note of - can generate an entire and complex investigation into a place or period of history that had as yet not been of much, if any, interest. So it is with the mention, in the will of Sir Richard Cholmeley in 1521, of the Parish of "Alhalowen, Barking", in which both he, and Robert Laward, lived.


All Hallows-by-the-Tower was first established in 675 by the Saxon Abbey at Barking and was for many years named after the abbey, as All Hallows Barking. The church was built on the site of a former Roman building, traces of which have been discovered in the crypt. It was expanded and rebuilt several times between the 11th century and 15th century. Its proximity to the Tower meant that it acquired royal connections, with Edward IV making it a royal chantry and the beheaded victims of Tower executions being sent for temporary burial at All Hallows.

The church was badly damaged by a nearby explosion in 1650, which demolished its west tower, and only narrowly survived the Great Fire of London in 1666. It owed its survival to Admiral William Penn, father of William Penn of Pennsylvania fame, who saved it by having the surrounding buildings demolished to create firebreaks. During the Great Fire, Samuel Pepys climbed its spire to watch the progress of the fire.

Restored in the late 19th century, All Hallows was gutted by German bombers during the London Blitz in World War II and required extensive reconstruction, only being rededicated in 1957.

This would certainly be a neighborhood of distinction, being next door to the great Tower of London. Does this suggest his status, his relationship to the Royal family, or just an available house with reasonable rent? Well some additional research into Sir Richard helps shed light on this question.

tragopancolor1596_barking_church.jpg tragopan_color_tower_map_1596.jpg
Sir Richard Cholmondeley or Sir Richard Cholmeley (c. 1460 – 1521) was an English farmer and soldier, who served as Lieutenant of the Tower of London from 1513 to 1520 during the reign of Henry VIII. Cholmeley is remembered because of his tomb at the Tower of London and because he is fictionalized as a character in Gilbert and Sullivan's darkly comic opera, The Yeomen of the Guard. Cholmeley's name is frequently misspelled as Cholmondeley because of its misspelling in the plaque on his tomb, which led to the misspelling of the character's name in the opera.

Knighted in 1497 for valor in battle against the Scots, Cholmeley continued to serve as a soldier until 1513, becoming entrusted with many positions of responsibility for security of castles and fortifications in England. He was successful as a farmer and a shrewd investor in land, much increasing his family wealth. As Lieutenant of the Tower of London, he drew criticism for his reaction to the Evil May Day riots of 1517, when he he furiously ordered the firing of some of the Tower's artillery at the city during rioting by gangs of young Londoners, who attacked foreigners, especially the wealthy foreign merchants and bankers of Lombard Street, London and who took control of London for several days. There was no suitable house for Cholmeley and his family within the Tower precincts, and so he purchased a house in nearby Barking, where he lived while serving as Lieutenant of the Tower. In 1520, he resigned his post at the Tower due to ill health. He died in March 1521.

So one of the most important persons attached to the Tower of London during the early history recorded for Robert Laward, prior to 1525, lived in Barking as did Robert. And his association with Robert was so close that he had Robert serve as a witness to his will just before he died. One is left to ask whether Richard, a Knight and Lieutenant of the Tower, and closely tied to the Royal family, knew Robert as a person of equal status, an associate in government duties, a friend and drinking buddy, or just as a neighbor to talk to "over the fence".

The suggestion is that persons who would be at bedside to witness Sir Richard's will would have been selected by him, and considering the other two than Robert were a knight and a court justice, one is led to believe that within just 10 years of being awarded his Coat of Arms, Robert Laward alias Lord was considerably above middle class in London. Or.....perhaps he was merely the clerk for the court and brought along by the justice as a convenient "extra"?

But an even more intimate insight into Laward's life here is another will, this one for 
John Bartholomew in 1525. Note the parish in this case is in "West Cheap" or the western end of the street called "Cheapside", where the goldsmith's shops were located in this period.

tragopan_1525bartholomew_will.jpg tragopan_1529_familychart.jpg

From the references to members of the Laward Family (above) we can graph out three generations, with London goldsmith Robert Laward alias Lord in the middle. While Robert's father is mentioned only indirectly, his mother being described as "widow", there is a possibility that he was another London goldsmith named "John Laward".

London Goldsmith's Archives

 "Of further interest to you might be further Reddaway notes concerning a John Laward (Lorde) who was apprenticed to Robert Altofte in 1470; who paid 2 shillings and was sworn as a ‘lowys’ in 1478; and who paid 6s 8d for admission to the livery as a young man in 1485.  He took a number of apprentices – John Conquest in 1480; Robert Whately sworn in 1483; Thomas Infelde in 1488; Roger Oulgathorp in 1489; and Henry Bradshaa again in 1485.

Some 12 years later he was admitted to the alms of the Company at 14d (old pence) on 6 December 1497.  According to the note he was a Renter in 1488.  A further entry of 4 July 1498 indicated an increase in his alms to 16d."

London Goldsmiths Livery, Librarian    

If John Laward was an active adult goldsmith in the 1480s, and apprenticed in 1470, we may assume he was of age to marry and have a child around 1480, and that child would be an adult around 1500, which fits very nicely with the 1510 date of Robert Laward's awarding of arms and the 1516 date of his becoming a London goldsmith. Whether this John Laward was Robert's father, noted as deceased in 1525, remains to be confirmed, but according to the Librarian for the London Goldsmith's "I have not found any connection between John and Robert in the Reddaway notes but it is likely given the unusual Laward/Lorde connection."

Robert Laward appears to drift off of London records in 1553, which does not quite fit a chronology making him 20 in 1500, as to live only to 33 would not be within an average for the period for an adult death, with 55 being more within the expected range. Of course we may be mistaken to assume he was only 30 when he applied for and received his award of arms. Perhaps.....just perhaps.....he left London and moved north, closer to Leckhamstead, where an "Alice Laward" appears in the record around this time. She was buried in December of 1599, which would add 64 years to whatever age Robert's daughter was in 1525, if in fact they were the same person. The Buckinghamshire parish registers record the burial of a "Robert Lord" in Bierton, about 30 miles southeast of Leckhamstead,  25 years earlier, in 1564. The ages at death would fit with Robert Lord (the London goldsmith) and his daughter Alice, and the towns of Bierton, Leckhamstead and Towcester lie on a straight line, with Towcester only 10 miles north from Leckhamstead. And it has already been nearly resolved that Richard Lord of Towcester probably came to that town from Leckhamstead. But for now all this remains highly speculative and the connection remains unconfirmed.

But we can glimpse his professional life as a goldsmith indirectly as most London goldsmiths had similar shops with similar design.


“I’ve heard it said that there are more goldsmith’s shops crowded together in West Cheap, and spilling over into neighboring Gudrun and Foster Lanes, than there are in the whole of Milan, Rome and Venice put together. Whether this claim is justified or not I have no means of knowing, never having visited any of those three cities; but I do know that even on a dull January afternoon, our eyes were positively dazzled by the gleam of gold and silver, of precious and semi-precious gems, rings, necklaces and brooches, ewers, mazers and plates, ornately decorated salt-cellars, chalices and candlesticks all glittered in the fading light.”


“He led me towards the street door and the display booth, where the glitter of precious metal still enlivened the darkness. Soon everything would be taken inside and safely locked away for the night but, for the moment, the windows of the goldsmiths’ shops in West Cheap continued to sparkle like so many heavenly constellations.”

From Kate Sedley's "The Goldsmith's Daughter".  

In the above drawing from the 16th century one can see a procession in London passing the frontage of "Goldsmith's Row" on West Cheapside, and the shop display stands, closed by curtains, above each hanging the sign of the Goldsmith working at that location, living quarters being on the upper floors.

tragopanwalrus.jpg “The time has come,” the Walrus said,
“To talk of many things:
Of shoes–and ships–and sealing-wax
Of cabbages–and kings–”

So we come full circle back to the walrus and the carpenter, and it is significant that one of the topics they choose to talk about is "sealing-wax".

Since sealing wax is embedded in my family line - the signet imprint on Richard Lord's Towcester will of 1610 and the signet imprint on Dorothy Lord's Hartford, CT. will of 1669 - I had been fascinated with the idea for some time. And as I felt history had gone far to obscure the true identity of the tragopan crest, it occurred to me to have a seal made that paid homage both to the family roots and to the bird that righfully sat upon the original Lord arms.

After some considerable time spent researching various engraving firms, I settled on Thomas Flack in northeastern England. The following set of images shows the progress of the creation of this seal, which was designed based on images I supplied. I used as my starying point the Lord arms illustrated in the 1880s (below).


Another drawing of a "Tragopan" crest was found online, (below center) and was inserted in place of the "goose-like" rendering above on the draft for the seal engraving. Although this crest was not a totally exact representation of the crest on the 1510 Laward alias Lord arms I had been given from the College of Arms in 1999 (below, left) it IS a more perfect representation of the second version of this 1510 coat of arms held by the College and obtained this year, with their kind permission (below, right). (Click image for larger version.)

Both of these images (left and right) are copyrighted by the College of Arms, London, and are reproduced here with their permission.

The engraving process took only a week, with constant consultation via email with the engraver in Northeast England, and the following series of in-process pictures show the evolution of the seal, from concept to completion, with test impressions taken in clay during the process.


Of course, looking at this exquisite detail makes one forget that the actual seal is only the size of a quarter - just one inch across. While the proof was struck using white wax and a smoked seal, which darkens the background and highlights the details, I prefer the more traditional red wax, which requires some careful examination to appreciate the level of fine detail. Features that appear large and complex in the enlarged images become nearly microscopic when viewed with the naked eye.


If you have ever imagined having the means of impressing (pardon the pun) others by delivering your family history in wax, I strongly suggest you consult the Flack Engraving Company website (see above) and enjoy the adventure of seeing your own fragment of the past come alive.

Now some may see this as a from of vanity, foolishness or even arrogance. But I found a quote when I was ordering some sealing wax that for me sums up why I undertook this once-in-a-lifetime endeavor.

tragopan_sealedletters.jpg Random Thoughts on Sealing Wax and Seals
By Ward Dunham & Linnea Lundquist

"The continued use of Sealing Wax in the age of the computer is whimsical, wonderful, archaic, anachronistic, atavistic, anarchistic, outrageous, preposterous, and FUN! Seals are art, craft, and history. They reflect history, and they are a celebration of living history. …Every sort of personal touch to human correspondence seems to be giving way to the drudge and necessity of email. But a sealed letter, a note, or even a postcard, whether delivered by hand or by post, … is something quite special… Seals and sealing wax are an elegant and memorable way to connect with history, to leave your own mark, and to make an impact on your correspondents. A sealed letter conjures all sorts of romantic images.... of dispatches and portable ink pots and 18th century periwigged “dandies” in London coffeehouses and old cafes in Paris. Seals are great fun you can share with others! This is an elegant way to celebrate one’s heritage and family history. Seals are art, craft, and history."

For more, see the webpage for the J. Herbin company , Paris sealing wax makers since 1670.



I couldn't afford to learn it. said the Mock Turtle with a sigh. I only took the regular course.

What was that? inquired Alice.

Reeling and Writhing, of course, to begin with, the Mock Turtle replied; and then the different branches of Arithmetic-- Ambition, Distraction, Uglification, and Derision.

Alice did not feel encouraged to ask any more questions about it, so she turned to the Mock Turtle, and said What else had you to learn?

Well, there was Mystery, the Mock Turtle replied, counting off the subjects on his flappers, --Mystery, ancient and modern, with Seaography: then Drawling--the Drawling-master was an old conger-eel, that used to come once a week: HE taught us Drawling, Stretching, and Fainting in Coils.

It is easy to see the chicken, or the egg, as the leading factor in this unraveling of 500 year old history...or as the mock turtle expressed it - "Mystery". The fact that Robert Laward's arms of 1510 are seen again in the 17th century Lord family, which is a known connection to "us", and are re-confirmed through the 18th and 19th century sources as correct for that family, may be at risk as being circular reasoning. Did the arms attach to the Connecticut Lords because they belonged to the same family as Robert Laward alias Lord, or did the family attach these arms to themselves because the name was the same?

It is well known that English expatriots in 17th century New England, when Old World status was needed or when business dealings demanded it, would have a seal made in London by a seal maker who may very well cast about for an appropriate Coat of Arms, and, much as they do today, be satisfied to do the match up based on nothing more than the same surname.

But there are a few whispy threads in this fabric of connection that reenforce the idea that perhaps the reality is in fact linear, and not circular. Robert Laward was a goldsmith. In 1635, Thomas Lord identified himself as "a smith" when boarding the ship Elizabeth & Ann for the New World, and his son, Richard, was a metalsmith in the colony of Connecticut, as he was asked to repair the armor of the settlement at Hartford after the battles of he Pequot War in 1637. While Richard's grandfather does not appear to have been a smith, it is easy to assume lateral family connections to uncles or cousins that would connect the Towcester branch with the descednants of the London goldsmith.

As well, Thomas Lord and Richard Lord lived just a century after Robert Laward, and it seems that knowledge of actual family roots would have been easily passed to the seal maker to assist with making an accurate search for the correct arms.

And of course there is the connection, already mentioned above, of a "Robert Lord" and an "Alice Lord", in Buckinghamshire that may well be Robert of London and his daughter Alice, bringing the track if migration to the very doorstep of Towcester by the beginning of the 17th century.

But, as the Walrus said, "The time has come...." and for now this page is ended.