The Wickenden Coat of Arms
The Wickenden History section includes a page with one of the Wickenden Coat of Arms as its image.  One of the questions in the F.A.Q. has to do with the source and significance of these iconic images.

  • A coat of arms / family crest is a unique heraldic design on a shield or escutcheon or on a surcoat or tabard used to cover and protect armour and/or to identify the wearer.
  • There are two coats of arms for Wickendens listed in Burke's General Armory.  One features a hand, dexter, holding a cross crosslet fitchee and three interlaced chevrons in gold over a blue shiled.
  • The other features a lion rampant in red, crowned.

  • Neither listing in Burke's General Armory begins with or includes a location county as do most others.  Why?  Does this mean that the crest was awarded to Wickendens while they were living in Wickenden and therefore a location was not needed?
  • For the Coat of Arms with interlaced chevrons, a dexter hand holding a cross crosslet fichee.  What do the elements of the crest signify?
    • The helmet is not mentioned in Burke's General Armory.  Why, when and by whom was it added and what does it indicate about the recipient or family?
    • What does the cross crosslet fitchee indicate?  Perhaps some connection with a religious organization.  Two possibilities:  One - Wickenden was a "tenement" of the Manor of Cowden Lewisham which paid fees to a Priory.  Two - Some of the Wickenden lands were at one point granted to a parish by a Wickenden.
    • Finally, what do the interlaced chevrons indicate, if anything?  Perhaps an allusioin to the first letter of the name, a "W"?
  • When was the crest awarded, to whom, by whom and in recognition of what?
  • Same questions for the second coat of arms, withthe lion and crown.
Preliminary research has answered a few of the questions listed above.

  1. The grant of these two Arms is described in the preceding entry in the General Armory.  They were awarded through the Office of the Ulster King of Arms, which had the sole power to award and renew Arms throughout England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales.
  2. Most Arms included helmets, and the type and orientation of the helmet was used to indicate the status of the individual or family.  A steel helmet with closed grate indicates a status below even a Knight ... that of a Squire or a land holder.
  3. The insignia of a cross indicates some connection with a religious organization, while the lion might indicate service related to the King.  There were occasions in Wickenden history, now described in the section on Knight Service, where a Wickenden provided Knight Service to the Prior of Michelham as well as to a King and Queen.
  4. The Augustinian Priory of the Holy Trinity was founded at Michelham in 1229 by Gilbert de Aquila.
  5. The Wickendens were owners of the Manor of Lewisham as copyholders during the reign of King Philip and Queen Mary and in this capacity most likely owed Knight Service directly to the royals.
BENDLET - Here is some information about the black bar or "bend" on the red shield with the lion.  A bend is a broad, diagonal band across the shield representing either a scarf worn like a sash, or the shield suspender of a knight or military commander.  It has often been granted to those who have distinguished themselves as commodores.

"Commodore" is a naval rank used in many navies that is superior to a navy captain, but below a rear admiral. ... As an official rank, a commodore typically commands a flotilla or squadron of ships as part of a larger task force or naval fleet commanded by an admiral. Since some English wars involved battles at sea, and since the Wickendens have a long history as sailors, it is likely that the Knights Service provided to the King and Queen may have involved activity in the navy and service at the rank of a commodore.

A charge half the width of a bend is termed a bendlet. A bend signifies defense or protection, and is a bearing of high honor. As on the Wickenden Arms, the bend is assumed to go from the upper right corner of a shield to the lower left.  This assumes that the orientation of the corners is reversed when viewing the shield from the front.  If the direction of the band is reversed, then it is a bendlet "sinister," which has been used occasionally as a mark of illegitimacy.  This may be why the "owner" of the red shield with the lion and the bendlet going from upper left to lower right when viewing the shield from the front, placed the comment below the image that the Arms were "unofficial," which is presumably what was believed to be the meaning of the designation "illegitimate."
CHEVRONELS - Here is some information about the chevrons on the blue - Azure -  Arms.  The chevron represents the roof of a house, derived from the French word "chevron" meaning rafter. It signifies protection. The chevron was granted to those who had participated in some notable enterprise, had built churches or fortresses, or had accomplished some work requiring faithful service.

The chevronel, is the diminutive of the chevron and is much narrower. Chevronels may be stacked on top of each other or side-by-side at the same height, which is termed interlaced, or braced. So the Wickenden Arms include interlaced chevronels.

Since the Wickendens owed Knights Service to the Priory of Michelham, perhaps they were granted Arms with interlaced chevronels to signify service in building the church or monastery.
KNIGHTS SERVICE - A table is under construction showing the key dates, Wickenden lands for which service was provided, organizations to whom service was provided, monarchs and wars during which service may have been recognized by granting of Arms.  While not yet complete, the table has yielded some interesting suggestions, which have been integrated into the text of the section on Why Wickenden?  The table is attached here in draft form:

Edward the Elder
918Manor of LewishamSt. Peter's, Ghent, in Belgium899-925ORIGINAL GRANT of Manor to St. Peter's BY Elstrudis,  daughter of Alfred the great and wife of Baldwin, Count of Flanders.

Edmund the Magnificent
946Manor of LewishamSt. Peter, Ghent939-946GRANT CONFIRMED by Eadgar, King of the English


Edward (the Confessor)
1016Manor of LewishamSt. Peter, Ghent1042-1066GRANT CONFIRMED


William I
1066Manor of Cowden in LewishamSt. Peter, Ghent1066-1087Granted a fresh charter, ADDING WIGENDEN to the Manor

Henry III
1229Manor of Cowden in LewishamKnights Service to PRIORY OF MICHELHAM.  Religious Arms possible.1216-1272[Augustinian] Priory[ of the Holy Trinity founded at Michelham
After 1229Manor of Cowden in LewishamReligious Arms possible for construction of Priory at Michelham.
Manor must have been GRANTED TO THE PRIORY at Michelham




Henry VIII
unknownWarefield and WaremeadThomas de Wickenden, "ancestor" of William Wickenden.1509-1547Gives lands to Priory "to hold in capite by Knights Service."  Unclear as to whether the Manor was part of this gift or was acquired and gifted before or after.

Religious Arms possible for gift of land or for service in support of construction of Priory (indicated by interlaced chevronlets).
1538 - Henry VIII granted Letters Patent to Thomas Lord Cromwell, enabling him to hold possession of the Priory by tenure of Military Service.

1536 - Thomas Cromwell begins the dissolution of the monasteries under the 'Reformation'. .
1541 - Cromwell was executed and his estates wee granted to William Fitzalan, Earl of Arundel, "in capite, per service militare."

Edward VI

Mary I
1556 or 1557Manor of Cowden in Lewisham and Warefield and WaremeadSackville and Winton1553-1558In the 3rd or 4th year of King Philip and Queen Mary, the Queen granted the Manor and lands to Richard Sackville and Thomas Winton 
After 1556Manor and landsWilliam Wickenden
It appears that the Queen seems "to have joined in the sale of this Estate[ by Sackvlle and Winton] to William Wickenden"

Elizabeth I

Knights Service to the ROYALS.  Royal Arms possible. Commodore ranking possible.  1558-1603

1588 - A Spanish Armada of 130 ships sailing against England is defeated by bad weather and the English fleet under Admiral Drake and John Hawkins


James I

After 1556 and before 1625Manor and  landsSon of William Wickenden
Son of William Wickenden inherits Manor and lands.
Before 1650Manor of Cowden Lewisham and landsGrandson of William Wickenden and two Great GrandsonsCharles IWilliam dies possessed of the land, leaving at his decease two sons, who divided this Estate between them
After 1650Manor of Cowden Lewisham and landsTwo Great Grandsons inherit the Manor.  One keeps his share, the other sells his.1625-1649Wickenden lost BUT Wickendens settled throughout Kent and surrounding counties.

LATEST QUESTIONS - It is clear, as indicated on the Why Wickenden? page, that there were several possible opportunities for Wickendens to have been awarded the two arms that are on record in the Burke's General Armory.  However, despite additional research on the Wickenden Coats or Arms, there are several remaining questions, among which are the following:
  1. Were these arms registered by the King or Arms at the Ulster Office, and if so, were they granted to Wickendens living north of the River Trent?
  2. Did these Wickendens still own Knights Service to the Prior of Michelham, and did Thomas de Wickenden or some other contribute to the construction or extension of the Prior?
  3. Did William Wickenden succeed William Fitz-alan as owner of the Manor of Lewisham in Cowden, and is that why his coat of arms includes a similar lion rampant?
  4. What exactly is the significant of the bandlet - a diminuitive to the status of the Earl or a diminutive to the role of a Commodore?
UPDATE - Most of the questions posted in earlier replies have been answered, with a number of specifics still unanswered:
  1. Questions one, two and three: It appears that the Wickenden Arms were granted by the Ulster Office of the King of Arms because Knights Service to the Priory of Michelham and to the Monarchy - for the Manor of Cowden Lewisham - , were at one point originally provided by the Duke of Norfolk, which county was located "north" - actually south of the river mouth, but north of most of the river - of the River Trent, the boundary of the Office's authority.  Evidence includes a.Both the symbols for the Priory - cross crosslet fitchee - and for the Monarch - lion rampant - are included in the Duke's Coat of Arms and are featured in the two Wickenden Arms; and b. Documents appear to indicate that Thomas de Wickenden provided Knights Service to the Priory and  William Wickenden provided Knights Service to the Monarchy.
  2. Question four:  It is possible that the bandlet indicates that William Wickenden served in the Queen's Navy in some capacity below that of a Commodore.  However, since we believe that William resided in Cowden, and documents indicate that the King had given the Manor to William Fitz-alan, prior to its purchase by William Wickenden, it is perhaps more likely that the bandlet indicates a diminution of rank from that of William Fitz-alan, who was the premier Duke and also the Earl of Arundel, while Wickenden was just an Esquire or landed gentry - although the helmut style is also an indication of this rank.
  3. The precise meaning of the  bandlet is therefore still an open question, as are the dates of these events and the process through which these Arms were granted to the Wickendens.