Ballard Heraldry

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This page is for the display & discussion of Heraldic Achievements (Coat Armour, Crests, Badges & Standards) of Ballard families that have been duly authorised by a recognised Heraldic College such as the Court of the Lord Lyon or the College of Arms.

Ballard Heraldry


There are many sources from which descriptions (blazon) or illustrations of Arms may be found, ranging from Armories such as Burke's General Armory to Town Guides and privately printed family works. Many of these illustrations and descriptions have found their way into print through their continued use by a family over many generations. Many are not recorded with the College of Arms or, if they are, they have variances from the original because they were informally differenced. The importance of the documentation collected during the Herald's Visitation should not be underestimated, providing as it does, one of the few medieval documents with sometimes quite extensive, pedigrees. That is not to say, however, that they should be blindly accepted as "proof positive" that the family tree actually was as recorded and there are a number of reasons why that may be so. These are more fully explored in the following section which investigates in more detail the "The Evidence in Heralds' Visitations Relating to Ballard Genealogy". At the bottom of the page you will find some of the Ballard Arms that have been documented. You will note that even where arms clearly relate to the same family there may be minor differences between family members. Each description of arms or a crest is illustrated and where there is a documented pedigree on WikiTree it is linked to. Where the arms are indicated as being sourced from the College of Arms then these are the authoritative Arms as laid out in a letter that I hold from Dr.Conrad Swan, York Herald.

Understanding a "Blazon"

In case you have ever wondered what that seemingly inscrutable description of a coat of arms is all about here is a quick overview based upon one of the Ballard arms, The basic shield is known as the field and anything placed upon it is a charge. The principle charge is named first and then lesser charges that are on the field and then devices (essentially another name for a charge) which are placed on the principal charge. Certain charges, like the Griffin, can be shown in a number of different poses. Analysing the blazon for Ballard of Highbury; "Sable a Griffin passant Ermine ducally gorged Or between two quatrefoils in chief and a crescent in base of the last", we get:-

  • The colour of the field
    • Sable (black)
  • then the principal charge, its characteristics and the relevant colours
    • a Griffin passant ermine ducally gorged or
  • then the lesser charges on the field
    • between two quatrefoils in chief and a crescent in base of the last

So let's go down to the next level:-

  • a Griffin passant ermine
    • "a Griffin" - I'll assume you know what that is
    • "passant" means three feet on the ground with the right foreleg raised.
    • "ermine" is a fur, basically white with little "ermine spots" on it.
  • ducally gorged or
    • "ducally gorged" is the heraldic term for wearing a Duke's coronet but it is around the neck and not on the head, "or" is gold in colour.
  • between two quatrefoils in chief
    • "between" - well, the Griffin is placed between ..
    • "two quatrefoils" - basically a four leaved plant, think of the four leaf clover or the shamrock.
    • in chief means in the top one third of the shield and describes where to place the quatrefoils.
  • and a crescent in the base of the last
    • and finally there is a crescent in the bottom one third of the shield and its colour is "of the last" colour mentioned, which was "or" (gold)

The Science of Heraldry

Anyone interested 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 or the Heraldry Society of Scotland.

The Evidence in Heralds' Visitations Relating to Medieval Ballard Genealogy


Before describing 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). Heralds initially 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. Other 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. Tournament 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 of gentry).

Herald's Visitation

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. The Harleian 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. This collection 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.

Harleian Manuscripts

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.

Additional 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.

This pedigree has yet to be uploaded.

Additional 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.

Harleian Manuscript 1560, folio 205

The Suffolk 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

Harleian Manuscript 1545, folio 79

Contains a 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 the Griffin was probably either rampant or sergeant as most Ballard griffins were.

This pedigree has not yet been uploaded.

Harleian 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?

This pedigree has not yet been uploaded.

The Infamous Fulco Ballard 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 yet none to date have proved a link, secondly because Fulco is not actually 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! It is in fact quite evident that the pedigree was, in several significant areas, simply manipulated by various people to fit the purposes of giving them an armigerous background.

Harleian 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 there is 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 the total lack of 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. This is, as the title suggests, a manuscript depicting the Leicestershire & Nottinghamshire branches’ claims to the Horton lineage & thus pays scant regard to the cadet branch based in Sussex. It acknowledges their claim but it does not provide supporting evidence of it. The Leicestershire & Nottinghamshire branches were called to account for their claim to arms in 1615 the Sussex branch began the process of formally documenting their claim in 1619. It seems that some collusion may have taken place with the two major protagonists being educated & legally trained & quite probably knowing of each other if not formally acquainted. The Nottinghamshire Visitations took place in 1530, 1569, 1615 and 1662 - 1664. These can be found in: 1. "Visitation of Nottinghamshire, 1530" (Surtees Society, vol. 41, 1863, edited by W.H.D.Longstaffe; 2. "Visitations of Nottinghamshire, 1569, 1615", Harleian Society, vol. 4, 1871, edited by G.W.Marshall; 3. "Nottinghamshire Visitation 1662 - 1664", Thoroton Society Record Series, vol. 13, 1950, edited by K.Train. The Leicestershire Visitations took place in 1563, 1619 and 1682-3. These can be found in: 1. "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; 2. "Visitation of Leicestershire in 1619", Harleian Society, vol. 2, 1870, edited by J.Fetherston.

1189, folio 14b - Leicestershire; Ballard of Wymsall, from Co. Linc.,

  • Georgus 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 Smith militus
          • 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 Leicester
          • 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
            • Samuell Ballard
            • Thomas Ballard filia et heir
            • Anna
          • = (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
      • Robertus Ballard
    • Rogerus Ballard
      • Petterus Ballard
        • Johanis Ballard
          • Willimus Ballard
          • Henricus Ballard
        • Thomas Ballard
          • Ricardi Ballard
          • Thomas Ballard
          • Thomas Ballard

This is substantially the same as the previous manuscript. It would appear to be John Ballard son of Adrian who was the person proving his right to arms. John was a goldsmith in London.

Ms 1431, folio 7

Once again a close replica of the previous manuscripts and two of the differences could simply be transcription errors.

Leicestershire; Ballard Ms 1189, folio 3

This depicts the quartered arms of William Ballard of Wymeswold.

Harley 6125, folio 117b

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 Thomas. 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.

Harley 6125, folio 118

William Ballard of Wyneswold; This manuscript depicts the quartered arms of Ballard(1 & 4), Nobyll(2) and Lonell(3). As shown above in 1189, folio 3.

Harleian Ms1076, folios 166, 167 & 203, 204 - Sussex; Ballard of Wadhurst, from Co. Kent & Wandsworth from Kent

Research over the past 25 years or more has only revealed evidence supporting this pedigree from Thomas Ballard & Alice Aynescombe down. There is 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, in fact he is Thomas Ballard sometime MP of Wycombe. 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!

The Sussex Visitations took place in 1530, 1570, 1633-34 and 1662. These can be found in: 1. "Visitations of Sussex, 1530, 1633-4", Harleian Society, vol. 53, 1905, edited by W.B.Bannerman; 2. "Visitation of Sussex, 1570", published in 1840 and edited by T.Phillips; 3. "Visitation of Sussex, 1662", Harleian Society, vol. 89, 1937, edited by A.W.H.Clarke. The Kent Visitations took place in 1530, 1574, 1592, 1619-21 and 1663-8. These can be found in: 1. "Visitation of Kent, 1530", Harleian Society, vol. 74, 1923, edited by W.B.Bannerman; 2. "Visitation of Kent, 1574", Harleian Society, vol. 75, 1925, edited by W.B.Bannerman; 3. "Visitation of Kent, 1592", Harleian Society, vol. 75, 1925, edited by W.B.Bannerman; 4. "Visitation of Kent, 1619-21", Harleian Society, vol. 42, 1878, edited by R.Hovenden; 5. "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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