The blog author is soliciting commentary on the design, so some of the
rec.heraldry regulars might like to take a look and add their
insights. The design shows a full achievement; the shield itself seems
to be ermine(?), three lions rampant on a fess.
It seem to be a carving done by someone who doesn't know a great deal
about heraldry (which isn't unusual)). What funny looking lions!
I suppose that ermine is as good a guess as any, though ermines,
erminois etc are a possibility.
The field is a bit strange since the ermines(?) are an odd shape and
more closely represent phaeons, (sorry for the link, best I could
For stone carving that appears in an American cemetery, it's pretty
detailed: including what looks like a "forget me not" on the helm.
Ya'know - a little - different, but otherwise not bad. A lot of work
went into it. I think ermine is right.
Bolton's American Armory says:
"Barrett. Erm on a fess [gu] 3 lions ramp [or].
Crest: A lion passant.
Tombstones Col. James Barrett, who d. 1779, aged 69, and Col. Nathan
Barret, who d. 1791. Arms of Blyth family? From a drawing by Miss
Elizabeth Barrett of Concord, 1922. Hill Burying Ground, Concord,
Mass. See Heral. Jour., vol 3, pp. 155-6. Dr. H. M. Buck says arms
of George Blyth, sec. to Council at York. See Glover MS. Also
similar to Person."
However, a few entries later Bolton lists similar arms, "Erm on a fess
az 3 lions ramp" as appearing (impaled with Gerrish) on a silver mug
owned by Samuel Barrett of Portsmouth, N.H., as of 1761. His mother
was a Gerrish. The mug was subsequently passed down in his family.
So the bracketed guesses at tinctures in the blazon of the arms on the
tombstone may be wrong.
The Heraldic Journal article gives complete descriptions of both
tombstones and provides a genealogical note on the family. Nathan was
James's second son; the immigrant ancestor was Humphrey Barrett who
was born about 1592 and settled in Concord, Mass., about 1640. It
goes on to say: "The arms are not seen under the name of Barrett in
any heraldic work, but in Smith's MS Promptuarium Armorum, often
quoted in the Journal, we find this coat, Ermine, on a fess gules
three lions rampant or, with crest a lion sejant gules, ascribed first
to Barret of London, but with the correction, 'This is Blyth, as in
fol. 113.' On this leaf and in heraldic dictionaries we find the coat
as Blithe of London, 1575."
Any indication as to what the motto was?
I wonder whether the tombstone originally had a motto which was
subsequently eradicated (doesn't appear to have been carved,
though...). My eyes trick me, but there seems to be some faint
scratchings on the banner; perhaps the result of vandalism that has
been sanded down.
> Guy Power <ghp9...@gmail.com> wrote in news:91c69346-593c-4fdb-9a76-
> > Joe,
> > Any indication as to what the motto was?
> > I wonder whether the tombstone originally had a motto which was
> > subsequently eradicated (doesn't appear to have been carved,
> > though...). My eyes trick me, but there seems to be some faint
> > scratchings on the banner; perhaps the result of vandalism that has
> > been sanded down.
> "Akins was here."
a genealogist's sketchbook:
> "Akins was here."
Sorry; I'm just a thick Englishman. What does the above mean?
Thanks for that, but who's Akins? Is he the American version of
Kilroy? (I thought Kilroy was American)
See Sean's page on this:
Please excuse my idiocy!
> That's brilliant!
> Please excuse my idiocy!
No worries. By the way, Sean's page on Mr. Akins should be updated to
reflect his recent venture, forging a racist, pseudo-Druid tract -- this
was aired here briefly last spring. But it looks as if this fraud has
been further fleshed out with a faked backstory involving a fictitious
Nazi scholar, including an apparently faked photo of said Nazi in
uniform (search google groups with keywords "Akins of that Ilk" +
"photoshop"; click on "And here we have . . . MORE fakery").
Tweren't no idiocy on your part, just an in-joke from some years ago.
Are there many dodgy gravestones littering The States?
Yes indeed. The study of early New England gravestone carving has
become a notable (if small) field, and there has been quite a bit of
good scholarly work done on it. Many of the most prolific carvers have
now been identified, but there are still many more to be discovered,
and many more details to be worked out. It's a bit like art historians
identifying the painters responsible for ancient Greek vases. The
Farber Collection of New England gravestone photographs is an
excellent online scholarly resource, with more than 9000 stones
On stylistic grounds this Barrett stone looks to be the work of the
William Park workshop of Groton, Massachusetts. William Park senior
(1705-1788) was an immigrant from Scotland who was already an
experienced stonemason when he arrived in New England. He began
carving gravestones in the 1760s, and was soon joined by his sons and
probably assorted apprentices. There are probably thousands of
examples of his craftsmanship still visible today in the cemeteries of
eastern Massachusetts. He was very accomplished, and a fine letter-
carver in particular. He may not have been a grand classical sculptor
(considering his lions), but when you realize that each of those lions
is probably only about two inches high I think he deserves a lot of
Another thing to note is the exceptional quality of the material Park
and others of his time had to work with. Look again at the sharpness
of the carving, and consider that it's been outdoors and unprotected
through more than 210 New England winters. The eastern Mass. carvers
of this period were exceptionally fortunate in having a source of
ideal slate which has retained its sharpness for well over two
centuries. The main quarry was called Pin Hill and it was located in
the town of Harvard, Mass.
> including what looks like a "forget me not" on the helm.
This in fact is likely to be a carver's mark rather than an element of
the heraldry proper. That five-part flower is characteristic of
William Park's workshop (though I wouldn't call it an essential or
definitive feature). Here's an example of a Park stone from 25 years
before -- quite different in overall style (and not heraldic), but
with the same five-part flower that appears on many stones from his
Thanks very much for the reply. Heraldic artwork amazes me and is the
key interest for me. Mr. Park did indeed have great talent for
lettering, and you must be right about the flower: it's in almost
everything you presented. Just a great talent.
I may have missed it, but is there a wrod to describe this type of
work with respect to heraldry? It seems so much in line with
hatchments (which he may have done as well??) that there has to be
some sort of name to describe it other than "headstone carving".
Thanks again - great material.
You got the "Akins" thing down now haven't you? This guy actually
answered an email I sent to him asking him how he became chief . . .
Bear in mind that Akins did not seem to have defaced these (apparently
authentic) gravestones with the fake arms -- he merely photoshopped the
There is no good up-to-date census of early armorial gravestones in the
US. Laural Gabel compiled a database of extant (or otherwise attested)
heraldic gravestones in the eastern US, while writing her 1997 article,
"Headstones, Hatchments, and Heraldry, 1650-1850," in _Gravestone
Chronicles II_. This was assembled from her personal observations as
well as systematic extraction from works like Bolton and others of
lesser value. I have discussed with her the presentation of an online
database, founded on her original data, in a way which could be
corrected and updated, for example by cross reference to the fine photos
and comments in blogs like those of Robert O'Hara and Caitlin Hopkins,
or the Farber collection. I hope that such a project could appear on the
website of the NEHGS Committee on Heraldry, which perhaps may be
launched in 2010.
Jonathan Clark, 1781, three trefoils around a chevron, with a griffin
Jonas Cutler, 1782, three griffin(?) heads erased (the mantling is
nicely done, for stone)
These are both products of the William Park workshop again; note the
five-part flower on the Cutler stone. Perhaps one of our local heralds
can say whether these have any roots in the Clark and Cutler families
or if they were new creations.
Possibly so, but it's also characteristic of the work of the Boston
heraldic painter John Coles, Sr. (d. 1809). The shape of the shield
on the Barrett stone as well as the placement of the crossed branches
below and the form of the helmet closely resemble Coles's style and
may well have been based on it. (Many Massachusetts heraldic
embroideries from this period also follow the Coles pattern.)
If the scroll ever had anything on it, and if it followed the Coles
style, the inscription would have been "By the name of Barrett."
See an example at http://www.aaawt.com/images/264-18_Dyer-Coat-of-Arms_2.jpg
Excellent, Joseph. I had wondered about the interesting crossed
(palm?) branches, and how the "supporters" (if that's the right term
for them on the Barrett stone) were really just half creatures with
tails hooked around the scroll. The professional carvers like Park and
his apprentices must have had reference materials or templates, and
must have studied or perhaps made drawings of other artists' works to
use as models. Certainly the Parks' lettering follows the best
typographical standards of the day in fine detail. Would that we could
travel back and see what the inside of their workshops actually looked
Question for everyone: are crossed branches with demi-supporters, as
seen in Coles' work, characteristic of any particular school, style,
or tradition? This is the link again:
I hope to find time to tackle an Akins update over the Christmas break,
but I am way over-extended at the moment. And one would not wish to
neglect Mac Carthy M�r ;-)
Alleged Arms and Wills of Akins of That Ilk