The borough of Warwick
Seals, arms, insignia, plate, and officers

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Victoria County History

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W.B. Stephens (Editor)

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1969

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554-555

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'The borough of Warwick: Seals, arms, insignia, plate, and officers', A History of the County of Warwick: Volume 8: The City of Coventry and Borough of Warwick (1969), pp. 554-555. URL: http://british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=16061 Date accessed: 29 November 2014.


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SEALS, ARMS, INSIGNIA, PLATE, AND OFFICERS

The first common seal of the town, of which the brass matrix survives, is round, 2½ inches in diameter. It dates from the granting of the town's first charter in 1545. (fn. 1) It depicts a castle with embattled walls, a central tower charged with a shield, and two flanking towers, on each of which is a watchman blowing a horn. On each side of the central tower is a spire topped with a cross. The shield has a composite device comprising a fess between in chief three cross-crosslets (Beauchamp) and in base chequy a chevron (Newburgh). Legend, lombardic: SIGILLUM COMMUNITATIS WARWYCHIE. (fn. 2)

Damage to the matrix probably early obscured the device on the shield, which by 1682 was thought to be a ragged staff, bendwise. (fn. 3) The original matrix continued in use, however, though an order of 1712 suggests that private seals were also being used for corporation business. (fn. 4)

The second common seal was ordered in 1837, and was to comprise the same device as the old seal, with a new inscription. (fn. 5) It is round, 14/5 inch in diameter, and repeats the old device, but incorporates the ragged staff instead of the earlier composite arms. The legend, gothic: BOROUGH OF WARWICK. COMMON SEAL. (fn. 6) This seal is still in use.

In 1964 this device was incorporated in a grant of arms to the borough.

The insignia of the borough include two maces. The sum of £40 said to have been spent on a new mace in 1652 (fn. 7) seems to indicate a recasting of an older one (fn. 8) by Thomas Maundy, probably using the same metal. The mace was altered at the Restoration when the letters 'CR' and a Rose and Crown were added. The mace was 'new gilded' in 1712, when the letters 'AR' were engraved, together with the inscription round the rim of the base. There is a smaller mace dated 1672, possibly made to replace an earlier one in use since the 1613 charter. (fn. 9) Its existence is implied in 1616 when the churchwardens of St. Nicholas paid for a new mace stand for the great mace. (fn. 10)

By will dated 1570 Thomas Oken gave three goblets, a salt, and 19 spoons to the corporation, successive bailiffs having to find surety for the same on entering office. (fn. 11) The present plate is the outcome of a corporation order of 1707 (fn. 12) whereby Oken's plate was exchanged for a tankard and a salver engraved with Oken's name, and a dozen spoons engraved with the letters 'T.O.'.

The mayoral chain was presented by Mr. Speaker Peel on behalf of subscribers in 1885. It consists of links of small shields and letters alternately. The borough device is on a large pendant with a reverse inscription recording that the chain was presented as a token of esteem to the mayor (S. W. Stanton), to commemorate the jubilee of the Municipal Corporations Act, and to be a record of the last year in which the borough was represented by two members of Parliament. (fn. 13)

A list of principal burgesses, bailiffs, and mayors from 1545 to 1902 has been printed by Kemp. (fn. 14) A complete list is to be found on wooden boards in the Council Chamber. There is a list of the recorders with biographical details from 1554–1902. (fn. 15)

WARWICK BOROUGH.

Arms: Sable a walled town with three towers silver, issuant from each of the flanking towers a demi figure representing a night-watchman respectant winding a horn silver habited and capped gules; the central tower charged with an escutcheon gules, thereon a ragged staff bendwise; between in chief a mullet of six points and an increscent silver. Crest: On a wreath of the colours a demi bear supporting a ragged staff sable.


WARWICK BOROUGH

Figure 22: WARWICK BOROUGH
Arms: Sable a walled town with three towers silver, issuant from each of the flanking towers a demi figure representing a night-watchman respectant winding a horn silver habited and capped gules; the central tower charged with an escutcheon gules, thereon a ragged staff bendwise; between in chief a mullet of six points and an increscent silver. Crest: On a wreath of the colours a demi bear supporting a ragged staff sable.

Footnotes

1 The rather primitive form of the seal has led some to suppose an earlier origin: B.M. Cat. of Seals, ii, No. 5480; C. W. Scott-Giles, Civic Heraldry, 379.
2 B.M. Cat. of Seals, ii, No. 5480; Scott-Giles, op. cit.
3 Visitation of Warws. 1682–3 (Harl. Soc. lxii), 6.
4 Order Bk. 1696–1720, 20 Feb. 1712.
5 Council minutes 11 Jan. 1836, 10 Jan. 1837.
6 Illustrated in J. H. Bloom, Eng. Seals, 224.
7 Minute Bk. 1610–62, 8 July 1652, p. 166.
8 Ll. Jewett, Corp. Plate and Insignia of Office of cities and towns of Eng. and Wales; letter dated 21 May 1931 from Mr. J. V. Kitto, assistant librarian, House of Commons Library, now among the unnumbered borough records. A serjeant at mace was appointed under the charter of 1554.
9 The charter established the office of yeoman serjeant.
10 Chwdns.' Accts. St. Nicholas, ed. R. Savage, 152.
11 Black Bk. 176.
12 Order Bk. 1696–1720, 18 Feb. 1707.
13 Kemp, Hist. Warw. 95.
14 Ibid. 278–83.
15 Ibid. 220–27.