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The Powys Pedigree in the 1663 Shropshire Visitation

Needless to say I have been delighted to acquire this pedigree from the College of Arms.

The pedigree was taken in the 1663 visitation which followed the grant of arms to Thomas Powys by Bysshe the herald; the grant was made around 1660 but the note of this in Bysshe's manuscript does not say when this happened. A modern herald has given me these details:

"An entry in a manuscript recording grants of Arms by Bysshe includes a brief
entry as follows: ’The Armes and Crest of Thomas Powys of Henley in the
Countie of Salop Serieant at Lawe‹. This is accompanied by a trick of the
Arms and crest in question, which may be blazoned Or a Lion's Gamb bendwise
between two Cross crosslets fitchy Gules. The Crest being On a Wreath A
Lion‹s Gamb erased erect Gules holding a ?staff ensigned with a Fleur de Lis
Or. [Coll Arm Ms Bysshe‹s Grants 24]"
Whatever the date, this grant then required a pedigree to be taken in the next visitation.

The trouble with the Powys ancestry before William of Ludlow (1495-1577) is that we not only have no surviving contemporary evidence for any of them, but the pedigrees that have been produced have a null provenance. However this pedigree has an excellent provenance: it comes from the surviving original of the 1663 Visitation of Shropshire, it was certified by Thomas Powys of Henley who was then aged 43 and with his profession of lawyer, would have been more able than most to verify any of it from documents then in his or his family's possession.

Having said all that, the usual arguments also apply. Normally pedigrees cannot be relied on for people before the grandparents of the person interviewed. In this case, his grandfather, William Powys of Ludlow, died in 1577 some 40 years before the interviewee, Thomas Powys of Henley, was born in 1617 so he could not have known him at all. So we should take the generations before William with a pinch of salt.

Even more interesting is that this earliest (I believe it is the earliest one) pedigree is clearly different to anything else that has been produced in the last two hundred years. One wonders then where these more recent pedigrees got their "facts" from?

Click here for the pedigree - 20 Kbytes.

And here's a 248 Kbytes PDF file to give to a print shop if you should want to print onto A3 sized paper.

The Powys arms have a little significance

Normally I refer to coats of arms as unique graphical person and their male line family identifiers. Of course there are many examples of different families, sometimes those with the same name, being given the same arms, but these are accidents of history mainly dating from before the heralds were told to get a grip on things. But there have always been families of arms where people connected by blood, name or allegiance have acquired similar coats of arms. Round commented on this in his "Geoffrey de Mandeville", pub 1892, pp. 392-396.

And, in a similar, but lesser, manner it is obvious that the Powys of Henley coat must be related to the arms of OWEN, POWES and POWYS which are all, "Dictionary of British Arms: Medieval Ordinary", Vol 4, pub 2014, p. 194:

Or lion's gamb erased bendwise Gules
by the simple stratagem of adding a pair of Cross crosslets fitchy Gules for difference.

The references for these parent arms are:

  • OWEN: L2, a College of Arms manuscript dating from c. 1520, 392, 12
  • POWES: L9, a College of Arms manuscript dating from c. 1510, 105b, 12
  • POWYS, M3, Coll. Arms MS M 3 (includes Ballard's Book), 17

Of course, the relationship of the arms does not imply any relationship between the armigers.

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