Pimbley's Dictionary of Heraldry - B

Bachelor - A member of the oldest, but now the lowest, order of knighthood in Great Britain. Formerly a Bachelor meant a knight without a sufficient number of vassals to have his banner carried before him in battle.

Badge - A distinctive mark; a cognizance. It is somewhat similar to a crest, but was not placed on a wreath, nor was it worn on the helmet. The badge was a possession of princes, noblemen and other gentlemen of rank, and to this day is retained by some of those houses. The badge of the Plantagenets was the broom plant (Planta genista); the line of Lancaster had a red rose, while the badge of the house of York was a white rose.

In former times badges were embroidered on the sleeves of the servants and retainers, and the practice is still in use to some extent.

In the time of Henry IV the terms livery and badge seem to have been synonymous.

Badger - (Bad'-ger) A mammalian animal found in England and on the Continent. It is often used in heraldry. It is sometimes called a gray and also a brock.

Bagwin - (Bag'win) A mythical animal, having the tail of a horse, and with long horns curved over the ears.

Balls - Balls, occasionally tasselled, are sometimes shown on charges.

Ballet - (Bal'-lay) A bearing which consists of bezants, plates, hurts, etc., distinguished from each other by their color.

Bande - (Ban'-dy) The French word for the term in bend

Banded - (Band'-ed) When a garb is bound together with a band of a different tincture it is described as banded of that tincture.

Bandrol - (Band'-rol) A small streamer depending from the crook of a crozier and folding over the staff. (Universal Dict.)

The small silk flag which occasionally hangs from a trumpet. (Johnson.)

Banner - A square flag, generally embroidered with the owner's arms. No one below the rank of knight banneret is entitled to a banner.

Banneret - Knight Banneret. The institution is an ancient one, and its members , who had the privilege of leading their retainers in battle under their own flag, ranked next in order below the Knights of the Garter, provided they were created on the battle field by the King; otherwise they took rank after baronets. The order is now extinct.

Bar - An ordinary which crosses the shield horizontally. It differs from a fesse in that it occupies only one-fifth of the field. There is room for but four bars on a shield.

BARS GEMEL - Bars placed parallel to each other. A bar with closets placed in couples.

IN BAR - Charges arranged in two or more rows. It differs from in fesse in that the latter term signifies charges in a single row.

Barbed - Bearded. Usually specifically of the arrow; also, of the five leaflets in the compound leaf of some roses.

Barbel - (Bar'-bel) A "bearded" fish found abundantly in the Thames and Lea. It is an early heraldic bearing.

Barded - A horse in harness is said to be barded and caparisoned. Originally a barded horse was one protected by metal trappings, such as those ridden by knights in medieval times. The armor covered the neck, breast and shoulders.

Barnacle - An instrument for pinching a horse's nose for the purpose of restraining him.

Baron - A nobleman of the lowest order of the English peerage.

BARONESS - The wife of a baron, or a woman who holds the baronial dignity in her own right.

BARON and FEME - Applied when the coats of arms of a man and his wife are borne per pale in the same escutcheon. When the wife is not an heiress her arms occupy the sinister side, and the husband's the dexter. If she is an heiress, the husband bears her arms on an escutcheon of pretense.

Baronet - The lowest British titled order that is hereditary. They are supposed to take precedence immediately after the barons, but in reality their rank is inferior to that of the Knights of the Garter. The badge of a baronet is, sinister, a hand gules ("a bloody hand") in a field argent.

Barred - Supplied with bars; placed between bars. [BAR.] [BARRY.]

Barring - The same as BARRY or BARRULY. (Chaucer.)

Barrulet - (Bar'-rul-et) The barrulet is one-fourth of a bar, and occupies a twentieth part of the field; never borne singly. Sometimes called a bracelet. When used in couples barrulets are bars gemel.

Barrully - [The same as BARRY.]

Barry - (Bar'-ry) The division of the field by horizontal lines into a certain number of equal parts.

BARRY BENDY - Signifies a field divided bendwise, the tinctures being counterchanged.

BARRY BENDY SINISTER - A combination of barry and bendy sinister.

BARRY BENDY DEXTER AND SINISTER - A combination of barry and bendy dexter and sinister. (Sometimes called barry lozengy.) BARRY LOZENGY - The same as barry pily.

BARRY PILY - Divided into an equal number of pieces by piles placed horizontally across the shield.

Bars gemel - (jem'-el) Two horizontal bars on a field close to each other; a pair of bars.

Barwise - Arranged horizontally in two or more rows.

Base - The lower part of a shield. Specifically, the width of a bar parted off from the lower part of the shield by a line horizontally drawn. (Sometimes called basc-bar, baste and plain point.)

Base-bar - {See BASE.]

Basilisk - (Bas'-i-lisk) A fabulous animal which was believed to be so deadly that even its breath was fatal to those who came near it. It somewhat resembled the Cockatrice, differing, however, in that it had two heads, the second being at the extremity of its tail. This additional head is the cause of it sometimes being called AMPHISIEN COCKATRICE.

Basket - A winnowing basket.

Baston - {See BATON.]

Bat - The BAT figures to some extent in heraldry, often called a reremouse.

Bath - Order of the Bath. An English order of knighthood, which was instituted by Henry IV in 1399, and revived by George I in 1725. It derives its name from the fact that candidates for initiation were required to bathe the night before investiture.

Baton - (Bat'-on) The Baton, or, more fully, the Baton Sinister, is a diminutive of the bend sinister, of which it is one-fourth the width. It is a rare bearing, and generally denotes illegitimacy. Sometimes, though erroneously, called a fissure.

Battering-ram - A bearing representing the engine used in ancient times to beat down the walls of besieged places. It was a large beam, with a head of iron, sometimes made to resemble the head of a ram. The battering ram is borne by the Earls of Lindsey.

Battle-axe - A weapon like an axe, formerly used in battle, hence it became conspicuous in heraldry.

Battled - (Bat'-tled) A chief, chevron, fesse, etc., borne on one side in the form of the battlements of a castle.

Battled-embattled - [See GRADY.]

Beaked - When the beak and legs of a bird are of a different tincture from the body it is said to be beaked and membered of that tincture.

Bear - The bear is one of the beasts of heraldry. Early examples are the arms or Beresford and of Fitz Urse.

Bearer - The supporter of a shield on an escutcheon.

Bearing - A charge; any single charge or emblem included within an escutcheon. (Generally used in the plural, as "armorial bearings.")

Beauseant - (Bo'-ze-aunt) The banner borne by the Knights Templar in the thirteenth century. It was of cloth, sable and argent.

Bebally - A word used by some of the old writers for party per pale. (Parker: Gloss. of Her.)

Beeque - {See BEQUE.]

Bee - Sometimes made use of in heraldry. Sir Robert Peel used bees in his arms, and so did Sir Richard Arkwright.

Belie - (Bel'-ie) A term sometimes used for gules. (Universal Dict.)

Bell - Church bells have been made use of in heraldry, though not frequently. The same can be said of hawks' bells.

Belled - When a falcon or hawk has bells affixed to its legs it is said to be belled.

Belt - A badge of knighthood.

Bend - One of the ordinaries. It is formed of two lines, and is drawn from the dexter chief to the sinister base point of the escutcheon. It generally occupies one-fifth of the field; but formerly it was one-fifth only when plain, and one-third when charged.

The bend is said to have been derived from the border on a woman's cap known as a bend. It is possible that its origin was a representation of the baldric. According to some, the origin was a scaling ladder. In the beginning of heraldry the bend was a mark of cadency, but later became an honorable ordinary.

"The diminutives of the bend are the bendlet, garter or gartier, which is half its width; the cost or cottice, which is one-fourth; and the riband, which is one-eighth." - (Gloss. of Her.)

BEND SINISTER - An ordinary resembling the bend in form, but extending from the sinister chief to the dexter base. The diminutives of the bend sinister are the scarpe, which is half its width; and the baton, half as wide as the scarpe and couped.

IN BEND - When bearings are placed bendwise the term in bend is used.

PER BEND - [See party per bend, under Party.]

Bending - The same as BENDY. (Chaucer.)

Bendlet - A diminutive of the bend. Generally it is half the width of the bend; but sometimes it appears much narrower. In ancient heraldry a bendlet azure on a coat was a mark of cadency.

"Bendlets are occasionally enhanced or placed in chief sinister.." - (Gloss. of Her.)

Bendy - An escutcheon having bends which divide it diagonally into four, six or more parts is called bendy. The lines are drawn in the same direction described under BEND: when drawn in the contrary direction they are styled bendy sinister.

BEND BARRY - [See Barry Bendy.]

BENDY LOZENGY - Having each lozenge placed in bend.

BENDY PILEY - Divided into an equal number of pieces by piles placed bendwise across the escutcheon.

Beque - (Bee'-kay) Beaked. This term is used of a bird having its bill of a color different from that of the body. [See BEAKED.]

Bevelled - {See BEVILLED.]

Bevilled - (Bev'-illed) When the outward lines of an ordinary turn in a sloping direction.

Bevilways - At a bevil. This term is used of charges or anything similar.

Bezant - (Be'-zant) A gold roundlet, representing a coin of that name. It is supposed to have been introduced into English heraldry by the Crusaders, who had received the gold coin while in the East. [See also ROUNDEL.] [For Cross Bezant, see under cross.]

Bezante - (Be-zan'-tay) Covered or studded with bezants; seme of bezants.

Bicapitated - (By-cap'-i-ta-ted) Having two heads, such as the two-headed eagle on the arms of Russia, as well as on those of Austria.

Bicorporate - (By-cor'-por-ate) Having two bodies; having the hinder parts in duplicate, with one head and one pair of forepaws.

Big - [See BIGG.]

Bigg - Barley. Specifically, the barley common to the north of Scotland, having six rows of seed. Bigland of Bigland bore "Azure, two ears of bigg or." (Also written big.)

Billhead - The head of a bill. Generally borne on a charge. (The bill was a war instrument - a species of halberd.)

Billet - (Bill'-et) (1) An oblong square, supposed to represent a sheet of paper folded in the form of a letter. Its proportion is two squares.

(2) A staff as a billet, raguled and tricked, meaning a ragged staff in pale. (Gloss.of Her.)

Billetty - (Bill'-et-ty) Seme of billets.

BILLETTY COUNTER-BILLETTY - Barry and paley, the divisions of the former being as wide again as those of the latter.

Bird - Birds figure to a large extent in heraldry, and represent the contemplative as well as active life. Among those used with the greatest frequency are the following:



















Among the terms applied to birds are Membered, Armed, Closed, Disclosed, Rising and Volant.

BIRD AND BANTLING - A Lancashire term, applied to the well-known crest of the Stanleys of an eagle preying on a child.

Bird-bolt - A short arrow with a broad, flat end.

Bitted - Said of a horse when borne with a bit of a different tincture from the animal itself, when it is said to be bitted of that color. This term is also used to describe a horse's head with bit and rein; as, "Three horses' heads couped, bitted and reined or."

Black - This color in heraldry is known as SABLE.

Blackamoor - A negro. Channing of Foxcote bore: "Argent, three blackamoors' heads couped sable, capped or, fretty gules."

Bladed - (Bla'ded) A term used when the stalk of any grain is of a color different from the ear.

Blanch - White. {Argent.]

"Nor who, in field or foray slack,
Saw the blanche lion e'er fall black?"
-Scott: Lay of the Last Minstrel

Blasted - When a tree is leafless it is said to be blasted.

Blaze - To emblazon: to blazon. (Contracted from blazon.)

Blazing star - A comet.

Blazon - (Bla'-zon) To describe a coat of arms; to give an accurate description.

"Proceed unto the beasts that are given
in arms, and teach me what I ought to observe in their blazon." - Peacham

"The coat of arms of which I am not herald enough to blazon into English." - Addison

The word blazon comes from the German word blasen, to blow as with a horn, because in the age of heraldry the style and arms of each knight were so proclaimed on public occasions.

Blazoned - That which is blazoned ; a blazoned coat of arms.

"Now largesse, largesse, Lord Marmion,
Knight of the crest of gold!
A blazoned shield, in battle won."
-Scott: Marmion.

Blazoner - One who blazons coats of arms.

Blazonry - The art of blazoning: to describe a coat of arms in the technical language of heraldry. The rules of blazon are remarkable for their precision, simplicity, brevity and completeness. The proper order of describing arms is: First, give the field, its color (or arrangement of colors, if more than one), and the character of partition lines when parted; second, the charges, and first those of most importance, their name, number and position (when an animal, its attitude); third, marks of difference, cadency, baronet's badge, etc.

Blazure - [From BLAZON.]

"The blazure of his arms was gules." Berners: Froissart, chap. 281.

Blemish - [See BLEMISHED.]

Blemished - (Blem'-ished) Having an abatement or rebatement. (Used of a sword with its point broken.)

Blighted - The same as BLASTED.

Block Brush - A bunch of the plant Butcher's Broom (Ruscus aculeatus). It is borne by the butcher's company of London.

Blood Color - Sanguine. (Not to be confused with BLOODY.)

Bloody - Gules.

Bloody Hand - A hand tinctured gules. The device of Ulster, hence borne by baronets.

Blue - This color in heraldry is known as AZURE.

Blue Mantle - One of the pursuivants in the College of Arms.

Boar - The boar is one of the ancient charges of heraldry. With the exception of the lion, it is the only beast borne in the roll of Henry III.

Boltant - (Bolt'-ant) Bolting; springing forward. (Used of a hare or rabbit.)

Bolting - [See BOLTANT.]

Bomb-shell - A fire ball; a projectile of oval shape.

Bonnet - The velvet cap within a coronet.

Border - [See BORDURE.]

Bordure - (Bor'-dure) The border of an escutcheon, occupying one-fifth of the shield. It is sometimes the mark of a younger branch of a family; and, again, when charged, may refer to maternal descent, especially in ancient heraldry. When used in an impaled coat the bordure is not continued around the inner side.

"In blazoning arms the bordure is placed over all ordinaries except the chief, the quarter and the canton. It has no diminutives, but may at times be surmounted by another of half its width. When a bordure is bezante, billette or has similar markings, the number of bezants or billets, unless otherwise mentioned, is always eight." - (Gloss. of Her.)

BORDER COMPONY - This should be composed of 16 pieces. It implies augmentation, or, in more recent times, illegitimacy.

Bote-roll - The same as CRAMPIT.

Bottoned - (Bot'-toned) Having bottonies, buttons, round buds or knots. They are generally displayed in threes. The term is essentially the same as treffled (trefoiled).

Bottony - (Bot'-ton-y) A bud-like projection, of which three are generally together.

Cross BOTTONY - A cross of which each limb terminates in three bud-like prominences, presenting a slight resemblance to the trefoil.

Bouget - (Bou'-jet) A bucket for carrying water. It is an early charge, and is identified with the names of Ros and Rose. [See WATER BUDGET.]

Bourdonnee - (boor'-don-nay') With the extremity shaped like the handle of a pilgrim's staff; as, a cross bourdonnee. This was the original cross on the arms of Jerusalem, now blazoned "A cross potent."

Bow - The bow occurs in heraldry occasionally, though not as frequently as might have been expected, it was once an essential weapon of war.

Bozon - The same as BIRD-BOLT.

Braced - Interlaced. (Also written brazed.)

Bracelet - The same as BARRULET.

Brazed - Braced; Interlaced. [Interfretted.]

Bretage - (Bret'-ig) Having embattlements on each side.

Brick - Somewhat resembling a billet, but showing its thickness in perspective.

Broad Arrow - The head represents a pheon, except the engrailing, or jagging, on the inner edge is wanting.

Brock - [See BADGER.]

Broom Plant - The badge of the Plantagenets.

Budget - [See WATER BUDGET.]

Buffaloe - A name applied by some of the earlier writers to the common bull.

Builler - A wild bull.

Bullet - (Bul'-let) A name sometimes given to the ogress or pellet.

Bute - One of the pursuivants of the Lord Lyon's Court, Scotland.

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