Ballard Genealogy and Heraldry
The Evidence in Heralds' Visitations
Relating to Medieval Ballard Genealogy.
What they help to prove and disprove
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the content and evidence provided by the Heralds' Visitations it is worth taking
a short detour to place into context both the Heralds themselves and the
importance of Heraldry at that time (1530 - 1690).
specialised in the running and scoring of tournaments, which during the 12th to
14th Centuries were melees rather than the formalised joust of the Elizabethan
period often depicted in films. The full-face helm, which had become a necessity
during that time, made it difficult to identify armoured men in battle and in
tournaments and the practice arose of decorating shields and surcoats
("coats of arms") with distinctive designs-- "arms". Heralds
became experts at identifying knights by their arms since it would have been
impossible to maintain an accurate score for each knight otherwise. Over time
the heralds began recording arms and developed armorials - a reference book or
roll picturing or describing (blazoning) arms. One of the earliest of these is
"Ballard's Roll" compiled by William Ballard when he was March King of
Arms (1460 - 1480) and following his death sold by his widow to Sir John Wrythe.
As a result of the Heralds' familiarity with arms, knights wishing to
assume arms consulted them to see whether their desired design conflicted with
an established one.
than the role described above the Heralds were also messengers.
Previously, when a lord planned to host a tournament, he would send his
herald(s) throughout the kingdom (or even throughout Christendom) to put forth a
challenge (i.e. invitation). Princes would have their heralds accompany them in
battle to help them identify men of both sides by their arms and banners, as
well as to parley with the enemy as seen in Henry V. They took on the
sovereign's identity by wearing the royal coat of arms (it was treason to harm a
herald in his tabard) and were considered the voice of the crown. Royal
proclamations were proclaimed by the heralds. Henry VIII often employed heralds
to parley with rebels or foreign princes but by Elizabeth's reign this duty had
largely died out.
officiating, as we have seen, was the primary job of heralds in the early period
of heraldry but by Elizabeth's reign jousting was in decline. There were few
tournaments other than the annual ones celebrating the Queen's accession day and
it was during this period that there was an increased emphasis on genealogy in
the heralds' work as the gentry class rose in importance. Wealthy new Merchants,
Guildsmen and others were eager to prove their gentility and be granted arms.
Only persons of gentry class or higher could bear arms so anyone with arms was
by definition gentle (the period Latin word for gentleman was "armigero"
i.e. one who bears arms) so the heralds were effectively the gatekeepers to the
gentry class. This was of course a great money-making opportunity. Many
spurious pedigrees were produced for a fee and heralds were on occasion censured
or even imprisoned for granting arms to " base-born" individuals.
William Dethick was criticized for making grants to persons who were thought to
be too inferior, including Stratford glover John Shakespeare (whose son William
had worked with Dethick to obtain the grant for his father and thus become born
Visitation & The Harleian Manuscripts
By Letters Patent
in 1530 Henry VIII instructed all sheriffs, mayors, bailiffs and other officials
concerned to give all aid and assistance to Clarenceux King of Arms on his
forthcoming visit to each of the counties within his province of Southern
England and South Wale. This was for the purpose of confirming and registering
the arms of those who claimed to be gentry, by gathering evidence to show that
the claimant was legally borne, to
"reform all false armory and arms devised without authority", and to
grant new arms to those that qualified for them. The herald would record the
pedigree and arms for a fee or, if the claimant was found to be not up to
standards he was disclaimed: required to sign a statement that he was "no
gentleman" and forbidden to bear arms. This was proclaimed throughout the
shire-- a harsh fate in that class conscious era. The last Visitation was that
of London between 1687 and 1700. The records resulting from this work are known
as the Visitation Books and are held by the College of Arms but copies have been
made throughout the years and perhaps the most famous is in the collection now
held at the British Library and known as the Harleian manuscripts.
manuscript collection was formed by Robert Harley, 1st Earl of Oxford, his son
Edward, 2nd Earl of Oxford and his grandson Edward, 3rd Earl of Oxford. It
consists of copies of many ancient documents, including the Visitation Books, in
more than 7,000 volumes and in addition over 14,000 original legal documents. In
1753 it was purchased for £10,000 by the British government and, with the
collections of Sir Robert Bruce Cotton and Sir Hans Sloane, formed the basis of
the British Museum library, now the British Library.
should not be confused with the Harleian Society, which was founded in 1869 as a
Record Society with the aims of providing printed copies of many documents
including those found in the Harleian Manuscripts.
Science of Heraldry
in a more detailed explanation of the science of Heraldry with the associated
rules and precedents as they relate to England, Scotland or Wales should refer
to one of the many excellent books on the subject such as “A Complete Guide to
Heraldry” by Arthur Fox-Davies reprinted by Bracken Books in 1993 [ISBN 1
85891 079 X]. For a simpler introduction I would also recommend “Simple
Heraldry” by Iain Moncreiffe of Easter Moncreiffe O.St.J., F.S.A.Scot.,
Advocate, Falkland Pursuivant-Extraordinary and Don Pottinger MA., DA. Herald
Painter Extraordinary to the Court of the Lord Lyon King of Arms, published by
The Promotional Reprint Company Limited in 1993 [ISBN 1 85648 115 8]. This book
is an excellent “primer” and well worth reading if you just want to get a
taste for the subject. Alternatively try the links page on the website of the
Heraldry Society (http://www.theheraldrysociety.com/)
or the Heraldry Society of Scotland (http://www.heraldry-scotland.co.uk/).
There are more
than a dozen manuscripts held at the British Library, which contain Ballard
Genealogies of varying detail. What follows is a description of the content of
each and an analysis of their accuracy and usefulness for modern Ballard
genealogists. Unless otherwise stated, most of these are from the Harleian
Manuscripts and represent the notes taken by the Heralds during their
Visitations between 1530 and 1690. It should be noted that this not an
exhaustive list as I have not included details of the "disclaimers"
contained within the records.
Manuscript 5529,folio 9
This relates to
the ancestry of William Ballard, March King of Arms, mentioned above. It shows
his descent from William Ballard, MP for Hereford in the time of Edward III
(1327/31) to Thomas Ballard and then to William Ballard. It is written in a very
unclear hand but is nonetheless legible. It was almost certainly provided by
William Ballard at some time during his tenure of the office of March King.
There is an
extensive pedigree for this family, which has been compiled by several
researchers over the past 50 or so years, and the information in this manuscript
has not so far been called into question.
manuscript 14,314 folio 54b
This refers to
only three Ballards. It is principally the genealogy of the family of
Christopher Bagshaw gent and has an entry for the marriage of John Bagshaw
(great grandson) to Johanna Ballard, daughter of John Ballard and Mary (Cahorne?).
This manuscript is amongst those relating to Shropshire and is probably from the
material gathered for the Visitation of 1623, which can be found in
"Visitation of Shropshire", Harleian Society, vols 28, 29, 1889.
Manuscript 1560, folio 205
family of Ballett, of Codenham & Ufford is depicted in Harleian Manuscript
1560, folio 205. There is a single
reference to Ballard in the first generation when William Ballett is referred to
as Ballett or Ballard. Thereafter all individuals are surnamed Ballett. See
"Visitations of Suffolk, 1561, 1577, 1613 (1882) edited by W.C.Metcalfe and
"Visitation of Suffolk, 1664-8" Harleian Society, vol. 61, 1910
Manuscript 1545, folio 79
drawing of a crest or arms done in ink and with shorthand abbreviations
indicating the tinctures and metals of both the arms and the crest of John
Ballard of Much Dewchurch. According to the College of Arms "On 1 January
1557, already existing Arms were confirmed, and the Grant of a Crest made to
John Ballard of Much Dewchurch (Great Dewchurch), co. Hereford: Sable a Griffin
passant Ermine ducally gorged Or. Crest: A demi griffin Ermine supporting with
the claws part of a broken tilting spear proper." This is the same family
as that of William Ballard, March King of Arms mentioned above and the reference
to already existing arms being confirmed ties in with the premise that this
family was granted arms c1400. These arms would certainly have been recorded by
1460 since William would have been unlikely to have overlooked his own line!
According to a letter dated 17th July 1978, edited by fellow UK
Ballard genealogist Adrian J Ballard on 12th Sept 2000 and received
from Hubert Chesshyre, the then Rouge Croix Pursuivant
“Azure a Griffin regardant (or more correctly, gardant) ermine were the arms borne by the father of William Ballard, March King of Arms circa 1481 – circa 1490 and are so blazoned on the second folio of the Book known as Ballard’s Book (College of Arms MS M3) which Garter Wrythe bought from his widow. I have looked at this and the passage which mentions the arms also names William as son of Thomas Ballard and grandson of William Ballard of Lecton, county Hereford, whose wife Rose was fourth in decent from Sir Richard Hurtisley, Lord of Lecton and of Hurtisley in that county.
This narrative Pedigree and description of the arms is repeated in a copy of the visitation of Chester in 1580 (MJD 14. 310). The arms are not illustrated in these two manuscripts, but I assume the Griffin was rampant or sergeant as most Ballard griffins were.”
Manuscript 1476 folio 438
The Visitation of London of 1634 shows Thomas Ballard of Swepston, co. Leicester, who had sons Humfrey, Robert and John who was a Vintner of London. They were, according to the College of Arms, allowed the Arms: Sable a Griffin rampant Ermine holding in the dexter claw something that looks like a fleur de lis (drawing uncertain) Or. Crest, a demi Griffin Ermine. The pedigree is recorded in Harleian Manuscript 1476 folio 438, which also shows that it was John Ballard who provided the information, and that Thomas Ballard was married to Ann, daughter of Henry Hall of Hether in the county of Leicester. It should be noted that John Ballard supplied no information as to his grandparents. This was either due to lack of knowledge or because John's was a new grant and having established his "free and legal birth" and his gentlemanly status (property of over £300 in value) no further ancestry was needed.
This pedigree is
one of those classic dilemmas that we face. Does it provide evidence that the
branch descends from the Leicester, Lincolnshire or Nottinghamshire lines -
especially since there is an Ann Hall who figures in those families or is it cleverly
constructed to leave the Heralds with that impression?
Infamous Fulco Line!
What now follows
is basically all of the material that relates to the various branches within the
Ballard families of Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire and Horton in
Kent (also referred to as the Fulco Ballard line). I refer to it as infamous for
a number of reasons. Firstly because so many people claim connections to this
family and none to date have proved a link, secondly because Fulco is so
unlikely to be part of this family, thirdly because the
senior line of the family ended with the imprisonment of Nicholas Ballard and
finally because so much of it is simply wrong! At this stage I even have strong
suspicions that the pedigree was, in several significant areas, simply manipulated
by various people to fit the purposes of giving them an armigerous background.
Manuscript 1548, folios 180 & 181 - Ballard of Horton, Kent & Co.
Leics, & Notts
Apart from the first three generations, the rest of the pedigree is substantially accurate as far as I have been able to prove so far. Interestingly this is the only manuscript that identifies Thomas Ballard of Callis as a brother of Nicholas and indicates that whoever provided the detail had a good knowledge of that line or had done some research and found the will of Nicholas Ballard - the only place that this information is recorded.
It is not wholly accurate, however, as I have evidence that Thomas of Callis had a son Thomas. This fact may have been "overlooked" by the Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire branch for one simple reason - they wanted to prove that they were now the senior branch of the family and entitled to bear the arms without any differentiation from the original grant dating back to Gregory and (in their minds if not in fact) up to Fulco. It was thus expedient to illustrate that no members of the senior line were living or had heirs entitled to the undifferenced arms.
The problem at
the moment is in finding documentary evidence that confirms that John Ballard
married Margaret Hussey and that he is the same John Ballard who was brother to
Clement. Note also the complete lack of detail in the Roger Ballard line
confirming that what was there probably wasn't supplied by the family themselves
but abbreviated from the other records by the Heralds themselves.
Nottinghamshire Visitations took place in 1530, 1569, 1615 and 1662 - 1664.
These can be found in:
"Visitation of Nottinghamshire, 1530" (Surtees Society, vol.
41, 1863, edited by W.H.D.Longstaffe;
"Visitations of Nottinghamshire, 1569, 1615", Harleian Society,
vol. 4, 1871, edited by G.W.Marshall;
"Nottinghamshire Visitation 1662 - 1664", Thoroton Society
Record Series, vol. 13, 1950, edited by K.Train.
Leicestershire Visitations took place in 1563, 1619 and 1682-3. These can be
"History and Antiquities of the County of Leicester" (first
published 1792-1811, reprinted 1971) by J.Nichols and containing the visitations
for 1563, 1619 and 1682-3;
"Visitation of Leicestershire in 1619", Harleian Society, vol.
2, 1870, edited by J.Fetherston.
1189, folio 14b
- Leicestershire; Ballard of Wymsall, from Co. Linc.,
Ballard, Arrm. familia Rici sedi =
Thomas Ballard of Horton in Kent =
Phillipa filia Thomae Walsingham
Humfridus Ballard natur 1449
Clemens Ballard ob 10 H 7 = Janna
filia et hi Gwilmi Kellam als Draper de Greenwiche
Nicholas Ballard qui vondricit parieum ob 17 Eliz = Maria filia Johis
Elizabeth filia & he ob di morbo vocat the dead palsey
Johannis Ballard de com Lincoln =
Margea filia Hussey
Johannis Ballard ob.s.p.
Thomas Ballard = Janna filia Digby de Kettlebye
Thomas Ballard de com Linc.
Elizabeth filia & heiress uxor ___ Clapham de com Ebors
Edwardus Ballard de Wymsall in com. Leic. = Elizabetha filia ___ Noble de
Williamus Ballard = (1) Isabella filia Tho Oglthrope
de com Ebors
Edwardus Ballard de Wynsall in com Leic. = Valentinus filia de Lanceloti
Rolston de Watnall Compnoy
Thomas Ballard filia et heir
= (2) Anna filia ___ Hall de Godalming in Surrey
Georgius Ballard de Radcliffe in com Nott
Adrianus Ballard de London = Anna filia Lambert de Bansted in Surrey
Johhanis Ballard = ____ (and issue mark shown)
Daniel Ballard de London
same as the previous manuscript. I suspect that John Ballard son of Adrian was
the person who was proving his right to arms. John was a goldsmith in London.
1431, folio 7
Once again a
close replica of the previous manuscripts and two of the differences could
simply be transcription errors.
1189, folio 3
Arms and crest
depicted are as for Ballards of Horton.
Wm Ballard had 2
wives had issue by ye first Edw of Wymsold com Leic & by ye 2 Andrew of Lond
George of Radcliff com Nott David of Lond with 2d & a son had issue same
This is the only
source in which the names of Andrew and David appear instead of Adrian and
Daniel. In view of the fact that all other sources correctly name them this
should be discounted as evidence of anything other than mistranscription.
of Wyneswold; This manuscript depicts the quartered arms of Ballard(1 & 4),
Nobyll(2) and Lonell(3). As shown above in 1189, folio 3.
166, 167 & 203, 204 - Sussex; Ballard of Wadhurst, from Co. Kent &
Wandsworth from Kent
Research to date only supports this pedigree from Thomas Ballard & Alice Aynescombe down. I have a strong suspicion that Thomas Ballard of Wadhurst, who married first Mary Spencer and second Mary Leveson, may have contrived with John Phillipott, the Herald, to arrive at this pedigree. It matches in antiquity his mother's Whitfield line and gives Thomas, then a wealthy lawyer & land owner, a solid gentlemanly background from which to marry off his children into the minor Gentry.
It is far more likely that the Wadhurst line is descended from the Ballards of West Firle in Sussex and it can be shown that in any case Gregory did not have a son Roger - so there is no proven connection to the Horton line. Gregory is in fact the one who was a servant to Richard II and there is no evidence that his father was George. It would seem that whoever compiled this pedigree found a reference to Fulco in the Close Rolls and because it was associated with a parish in Kent decided he would make a "documented" starting point for the pedigree. Unfortunately they didn't do enough research because Gregory can clearly be shown to have originated from Beaconsfield in Buckinghamshire!
Visitations took place in 1530, 1570, 1633-34 and 1662. These can be found in:
"Visitations of Sussex, 1530, 1633-4", Harleian Society, vol.
53, 1905, edited by W.B.Bannerman;
"Visitation of Sussex, 1570", published in 1840 and edited by
"Visitation of Sussex, 1662", Harleian Society, vol. 89, 1937,
edited by A.W.H.Clarke.
Visitations took place in 1530, 1574, 1592, 1619-21 and 1663-8. These can be
"Visitation of Kent, 1530", Harleian Society, vol. 74, 1923,
edited by W.B.Bannerman;
"Visitation of Kent, 1574", Harleian Society, vol. 75, 1925,
edited by W.B.Bannerman;
"Visitation of Kent, 1592", Harleian Society, vol. 75, 1925,
edited by W.B.Bannerman;
"Visitation of Kent, 1619-21", Harleian Society, vol. 42, 1878,
edited by R.Hovenden;
"Visitation of Kent, 1663-8", Harleian Society, vol. 54, 1906,
edited by G.Armytage.
1084, folio 100
(John White, Baron of the Cinque Ports)
1135, folio 86
(John White, Baron of the Cinque Ports)
1194, folio 79
(John White, Baron of the Cinque Ports)
1406, folio 42
(John White, Baron of the Cinque Ports)
All of the above
show the marriage of Thomas Ballard of Wadhurst in com Sussex to Mary da. &
h. of John Spencer of London. She was the 2nd wife of John White of Nordiam who
married firstly Jane da. of Rich. Boys of Hawkhurst. Thomas Ballard and Mary are
shown as having a son Thomas Ballard of Wadhurst.
Ms 1194 folio 79
is particularly significant for the evidence that the depicted arms give us.
Firstly the quartering of the White arms has a crescent as a difference mark,
confirming that they belong to William White (he was the second son) and his
male line. Secondly the impaled arms of Spencer have a star as a difference
mark, which confirms that John Spencer (Mary's father) was the third son.
Finally the Spencer arms are clearly those of “Spencer of South Mills”.
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