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
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.
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.
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
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.
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:
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.
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.
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).
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!.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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".
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.
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.
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.