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The discovery of the Hamilton Arms of Ballymacol, Ireland

As usual our knowledge of arms was patricentric, we only knew about and displayed the arms of the Powyses and Lybbes. It was not until I was well over 50 that I realised that my maternal grandfather was armigerous too and that mother was born with his arms, though she was not, nor has she become, a heraldic heiress.

We were all familiar with the Powys-Lybbe page in Fox-Davies' final edition of Armorial Familes produced shortly before his death and which had been purchased by our paternal grandfather shortly before his own death. It was only ever opened at the P-L page, as shown to me by a sibling after our father's death and when it came into my hands. I soon found that my mother and her family were well documented in those volumes. And thought that was all that was relevant to us.

But then in 2017 I was perusing the genealogy of the descendants of our 4th Great Grandparents and the turn had come to do the Hamiltons as a great-grandmother of ours had been born a Hamilton. I knew that a Hamilton fourth cousin, once removed, had matriculated his arms fairly recently with the Lyon Office and he had established that he was entitled to bear the arms of the Hamiltons of Raploch from the 16th century, a remarkable achievement of diligent research and persistence. I thought this resolved the problem of what arms my great-grandmother had inherited, but in January 2017 I thought I should give it a check to see what other information was available. Google then picked up a load of irrelevant material but within this was one entry that looked like a page or two from Fox-Davies' Armorial Families, well done to Archive.org for storing this and making it machine readable.

These two pages included mention of our Hamilton gt-gt-grandfather, so I dug out my grandfather's volumes and there it all was, completely unnoticed by us the progeny of father marrying this Hamilton descendant, our mother.

Fox_Davies had in his own shorthand (U.O.) to reference the Ulster Office, now the Office of the Chief Herald of Ireland. Remarkably they not only had their record of the Confirmation of Arms but sent me a copy of this within a few days. This confirmation was for a second cousin four times removed who had been given a peerage in Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee Honours and had hastily got his arms regularised by the then Ulster King of Arms, Sir Arthur Edward Vicars.

What this Confirmation established was that James Hamilton of Sheephill and Holmpatrick had always used these arms and all his male line descendants were now 'legally' entitled to do the same, amonst whom was Ion Trant Hamilton, the new Baron Holmpatrick. So Ulster declared, signed and sealed that those arms were "to be borne and used by ... Ion Trant ... and his descendants and the other descendants of his great grandfather the said James Hamilton Esquire ...".

So far, so good. Those descendants included my great-grandmother and, more importantly, the male line of descendants of her father, including one or two males alive in the twenty-first century. But the arms depicted in the 'Margint' of the Confirmation were those of Ion Trant, Peer of the Realm. They therefore had a peer's helmet with open visor and five gold bars and a baron's crown and as such were not the arms to be displayed by 'the other descendants'. The other descendants should have no crown and an esquire's helmet with closed visor and no gold.

So I have taken a copy of the original drawing, cut it up into separate pieces, found a picture of an esquire's helmet and then reassembled the pieces. A small version of the result is at the head of this page. The following links are to all the documents and to high quality images of the arms of Hamilton of Sheephill and Holm Patrick, from whom the Hamiltons of Ballymacol are descended, and finally to a chart of all the male line armiger descendants of James Hamilton of Sheephill: