I return you my dear Mr. Burke the sincerest thanks for the favour of your very friendly letter, and assure you I cannot express the joy and satisfaction I felt on reading it, and finding that Notwithstanding your attention to the cares of business, the noise and Hurry of a Town, and the engagements of friends and acquaintances, I am happy enough to have so high a place in your esteem as not to be forgotten. It has remov'd no small share of uneasiness that visits me many times, when I consider myself thrown at a distance from every friendly connection with you, and deprived of the many advantages I deriv'd from your most agreeable Improving conversation and Judicious counsel, who with all the freedom and kindness of a good friend us'd to advise and instruct me and Engag'd the influence of that distinction and character your merit both deserv'd and Acquired, to procure me Notice and Esteem among your friends. These were Advantages the Loss of which cant but affect me with a good deal of sorrow, which in some measure Vanish by reading your letter, and a packet sent me by Mrs. James Taylor, Arbuckle and Thorowgood Smith who continue to favour me with their correspondence.
The inclosed piece of my drawing is your coat of Arms, which I thought you might be fond of having painted on your chair at the foot of your picture, or engrav'd on a seal for your use, on your Plate, furniture &c. As I have of late Studied a little Heraldry you may depend on their being taken of According to wit, and in a manner that an Esquire or private gentleman ought, by law, to wear 'em. You may also be assur'd that they are your Arms, (of which in the sequial I will convince you) and that I would not rashly give you another's armour, which to wear would not only be ungenerous, or some thing worse, but Subject you to Action of tresspass, by any of the family whose Arms you wore, so that if you think you could depend on my knowledge in Pointing out the difference between an EJECTMENT and ASSAULT and BATTERY, take these as your Arms. I forgot til this moment that you understand Heraldry; for methinks I recollect your telling me you studied this branch of science at the University. Whether you
Now sir, to let you see I would not act upon any affair of importance without reason and some good authority, I will in the first place make it appear that I have lately got acquainted with your family and its arms, and secondly that I understand something of heraldry.
As to your Family you know in the year 1066 two brothers, viz. Serlo and John de Burgo or Burke sons of one Eustice, a Norman attended the conqueror into Britain who for their services in the Conquest, gave them several Manores in the County of York, where Serlo built the Castle of Knaresborough, which stands to this day; he dies without Issue, and is Succeeded by John his brother, who for the loss of one eye, was called Monoculus. John Marries a Norman Lady Nam'd Beatrice de Vessey of a very extensive fortune, being sole heiress to her father Pvo: they had Issue two sons, James Lord of Knaresborough—the other Nam'd Richard the Red. Richd has Issue Walter, who had Issue three sons, Namely, Haburt, Jeffrey, and William; Hoburt (whose transactions are mention's in Smollett's History of Eng. 2 Vol.) was Earl of Kent and Chi. J. of Eng. Jeffrey was Bishop of Ely, and Willm, Sirnam'd de Adelmel, was sent into Ireland by Henry 2, who confer'd upon him the greatest part of the province of Connaught. We have no account of the descendants of that part of the family Which remain's in Britain, and not one Notable or even obscure family of that Name Appears now adays to Exist as natives of the Island. We must now conclude that these died without Issue; for having vast Estates in Britain, we can't Suppose that they left them, and transported themselves to Ireland to share the Acquisitions of William, and consequently the Various branches of the name in various conditions of fortune in Ireland must be the descendants of the Said William.
However this may be, their Arms were always the same, Until the third year of Charles first 1627, when a branch of the house of Clanrichard was Creat'd Viscount Mayo, and the Arms to be Wore, by his branch, were somewhat alterd, to establish a difference between those of the Earl and Viscount. In our conversation at1 with the Earl of Clanrichard, except those differences peculiar to him as a Nobleman, which none but his heir apparent (not even his second son) can wear. You will perhaps ask how comes it to pass that the arms of a nobleman can be said to be the same with those of a private gentleman? I answer, that to establish a distinction between private gentlemen, persons enobled and Royal Families of the same family, the Arms of Gentlemen, Esquires, Knights and Barronetts, are blazon'd with tinctures, Viz. Metals, Coulours & furs &c. those of Barons, Viscounts, Earls, marquesses, and dukes, by precious Stones, as Topas, pearl &c. & Emperors and Kings by planets, as Sol, Luna &c. In ranging their armies in the field of war, when Armorial Standards were first introduced by their ancestors, these differences being observ'd, in depicting the Standard of each family on each man's Shield, or embroidering it on their banners or pennons, the better to be known at a distance from each other, in order to inspire them with martial bravery and courage to distinguish themselves thro' all their respective tribes and clans. This, I say being observ'd was a material & sufficient difference.
As I know your great aversion to any thing that savours of dulness or prolixity, I must think, that by this time you are tired
You will excuse Sir I hope the Enormous Size of my letter, &
It may be observ'd that the Strokes drawn from top to bottom in the Cross in the Arms, denote a red colour or in Heraldry, Gules, accordingly the Cross must be red when you paint your Arms on your Chariott or Chair. The little points, in the field or charge, denote a yellow colour which must be also observ'd as aforesaid. The Lion must be black and the Car on the Crest, must be white. Pray send me word whether you like the Arms, or are satisfied they are yours, as I don't pretend to infallibility, yet I am as convinced of these being your's as if I really knew so. If you are pleas'd with 'em, and are willing to have your Arms pasted on the front of all your books, which is usual with most Gentlemen that have or know their Armour, And you will, as soon as this arrives, send me word & proof, I will have your Arms engrav'd on Copper-plate by an engraver living in Fredericksburgh who serv'd his time in London, a man of genius and design, in his business; After it is finished, I will send it to you by a Sure hand, or rather to Mr. Bind, where you can have it; Mr. Bind has no Rolling press for copper-platework but you may send the piece by a Vessel from Town, to Philadelphia where in Third street, you can have any number of pieces struck off for one Shilling a hundred. Several gentlemen in this Neighborhood have done so; the expence in Philadelphia for the number you may want (which will be perhaps 2000) is 20s. and as for the Copper plate done here, I will make you a present of it. I shall conclude with telling you that My letter being so fraught with impertinence, inaccuracies, and digressions, I don't expect any Answer to this particular letter, except that I above mention'd.
The field. Or. Cross-Gules, in the dexter canton, a Lion Rampant, Sable.
Crest. A wreath, a cat & mountain. Proper.
Motto. Un Proy, Une foy, Une Loy.
1 According to this maxim in Heraldry; “it is Lawful for any person, of any house or Family, to wear his Arms with Proper distinctions &c.” McKensey on Heraldry, which would be a good plea in Bar in Trespass.