Wednesday, 17 December 2008

The Cruwys coat of arms

Joseph M. Crews in Texas has sent me the most stunning drawing of the Cruwys arms, which he did while on a recent visit to Cruwys Morchard in Devon. The drawing is a copy of the Cruwys arms as depicted in a stained glass window in the church. I liked the drawing so much that I have now decided to use it on my Guild profile page, and I am very grateful to Joseph for giving me permission to reproduce his artwork. The picture can only be reproduced as a thumbnail image on the profile page so I have also provided a full-size copy below.In heraldic terms the Cruwys arms are described thus: Azure. a bend per bend indented argent and gules between six escallops or. Escallop is the heraldic word for a sea shell or oyster shell. The shell was used as a badge by palmers on their way to and from Palestine and is thought to be connected in some way with the crusades. It is therefore quite possible that the first bearer of the Cruwys arms was involved in the Crusades, perhaps accompanying Richard the Lionheart on the Third Crusade. Richard I reigned from 1189 until his death in 1199. If the Cruwys arms were adopted during the later Crusades there are two possible candidates: Richard Cruwys and Robert Cruwys. Margaret Cruwys advises in A Cruwys Morchard Notebook that a Robert de Cruwys was mentioned in a Pipe Roll in 1175, and that in 1198 a Robert Cruwys was an undertenant of Henry Pomeroy. Richard de Cruwes, who was most probably Robert's son, was "taken into custody being accused of the death of Jordan de la Cell on Exmoor in 1200". This is probably the same Richard de Cruwes who witnessed the Tracy Deed, the earliest document in the Cruwys family papers. The document was also witnessed by Alexander de Cruwes who is probably Richard's son. I have provided a transcription of the Tracy Deed for Genuki Devon and it can be seen here. Richard was appointed as a justice of assize by the King, and there are many references to Richard de Crues in the early 1200s in the Patent Rolls. There is still a lot of work to be done on the early records, but it is unlikely that we will ever know for sure which Cruwys was the original bearer of the arms.

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