William Dugdale

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Sir William Dugdale of Blyth Hall in 1656: an etching by Wenceslaus Hollar Wenceslas Hollar - William Dugdale (State 5) cropped.jpg
Sir William Dugdale of Blyth Hall in 1656: an etching by Wenceslaus Hollar

Sir William Dugdale (12 September 1605 – 10 February 1686) was an English antiquary and herald. As a scholar he was influential in the development of medieval history as an academic subject.

Antiquarian Specialist or aficionado of antiquities or things of the past

An antiquarian or antiquary is an aficionado or student of antiquities or things of the past. More specifically, the term is used for those who study history with particular attention to ancient artifacts, archaeological and historic sites, or historic archives and manuscripts. The essence of antiquarianism is a focus on the empirical evidence of the past, and is perhaps best encapsulated in the motto adopted by the 18th-century antiquary Sir Richard Colt Hoare, "We speak from facts, not theory."

Herald historical profession

A herald, or a herald of arms, is an officer of arms, ranking between pursuivant and king of arms. The title is commonly applied more broadly to all officers of arms.



Dugdale was born at Shustoke, near Coleshill in Warwickshire, where his father, John Dugdale, was steward to the local landowner. As he was born, a swarm of bees flew into the garden, which some considered "a happy presage on the life of the babe." He was educated at King Henry VIII School, Coventry. In 1623 he married Margaret Huntbach (1607–81), with whom he had nineteen children. In 1625, the year after his father's death, he purchased the manor of Blyth, near Shustoke. During an enclosure dispute with a neighbour a few years later he met the Leicestershire antiquary William Burton, who acted as arbitrator. He became involved in transcribing documents and collecting church notes and met other Midlands antiquaries such as Sir Symon Archer (1581–1662) and Sir Thomas Habington. He began working with Archer on the history of Warwickshire and their research led them to the archives of public records in London. There he met Sir Christopher Hatton, Sir Henry Spelman, Sir Simonds d'Ewes and Sir Edward Dering. Hatton provided him with hospitality in Holborn and became his principal patron.

Shustoke village in the United Kingdom

Shustoke is a village in the North Warwickshire district of the county of Warwickshire in England. The population of the civil parish at the 2011 census was 549. It is situated 2.5 miles northeast of Coleshill, the nearest town.

Coleshill, Warwickshire town in Warwickshire

Coleshill is a market town in the North Warwickshire district of Warwickshire, England, taking its name from the River Cole, which it stands on. It had a population of 6,481 in the 2011 census and is situated 11 miles (18 km) east of Birmingham.

Warwickshire County of England

Warwickshire is a landlocked county in the West Midlands region of England. The county town is Warwick, although the largest town is Nuneaton. The county is famous for being the birthplace of William Shakespeare.

In 1638 through the influence of his friends Dugdale was created a pursuivant of arms extraordinary by the name of Blanch Lyon, and in 1639 he was promoted to the office of Rouge Croix Pursuivant of Arms in Ordinary. The accommodation in the College of Arms and the income from his post enabled him to pursue his research in London. According to his later account, in 1641 Sir Christopher Hatton, foreseeing the war and dreading the ruin and spoliation of the Church, commissioned him to make exact drafts of all the monuments in Westminster Abbey and the principal churches in England.


A pursuivant or, more correctly, pursuivant of arms, is a junior officer of arms. Most pursuivants are attached to official heraldic authorities, such as the College of Arms in London or the Court of the Lord Lyon in Edinburgh. In the mediaeval era, many great nobles employed their own officers of arms. Today, there still exist some private pursuivants that are not employed by a government authority. In Scotland, for example, several pursuivants of arms have been appointed by Clan Chiefs. These pursuivants of arms look after matters of heraldic and genealogical importance for clan members.

Rouge Croix Pursuivant

Rouge Croix Pursuivant of Arms in Ordinary is a junior officer of arms of the College of Arms. He is said to be the oldest of the four pursuivants in ordinary. The office is named after St George's Cross which has been a symbol of England since the time of the Crusades.

Westminster Abbey Church in London

Westminster Abbey, formally titled the Collegiate Church of Saint Peter at Westminster, is a large, mainly Gothic abbey church in the City of Westminster, London, England, just to the west of the Palace of Westminster. It is one of the United Kingdom's most notable religious buildings and the traditional place of coronation and burial site for English and, later, British monarchs. The building itself was a Benedictine monastic church until the monastery was dissolved in 1539. Between 1540 and 1556, the abbey had the status of a cathedral. Since 1560, the building is no longer an abbey or a cathedral, having instead the status of a Church of England "Royal Peculiar"—a church responsible directly to the sovereign.

Portrait of Sir William Dugdale by Silvester Harding Portrait of Sir William Dugdale by Sylvester Harding.jpg
Portrait of Sir William Dugdale by Silvester Harding

In June 1642 he was summoned with the other heralds to attend the king at York. When war broke out Charles deputed him to summon the castles of Banbury and Warwick to surrender. He witnessed the battle of Edgehill, and later returned with a surveyor to make a survey of the battlefield. He arrived in Oxford with the king in November 1642 and he was admitted MA of the University. He worked as a bureaucrat in the royalist capital, especially after December 1643 when Hatton was appointed Comptroller of the Household. In 1644 the king appointed him Chester Herald of Arms in Ordinary.

York Historic city in the north of England

York is a city and unitary authority area in North Yorkshire, England, with a population of 208,200 as of 2017. Located at the confluence of the Rivers Ouse and Foss, it is the county town of the historic county of Yorkshire and was the home of the House of York throughout its existence. The city is known for its famous historical landmarks such as York Minster and the city walls, as well as a variety of cultural and sporting activities, which makes it a popular tourist destination in England. The local authority is the City of York Council, a single tier governing body responsible for providing all local services and facilities throughout the city. The City of York local government district includes rural areas beyond the old city boundaries.

English Civil War Civil war in England (1642–1651)

The English Civil War (1642–1651) was a series of armed conflicts and political machinations between Parliamentarians ("Roundheads") and Royalists ("Cavaliers") over, principally, the manner of England's governance. The first (1642–1646) and second (1648–1649) wars pitted the supporters of King Charles I against the supporters of the Long Parliament, while the third (1649–1651) saw fighting between supporters of King Charles II and supporters of the Rump Parliament. The war ended with the Parliamentarian victory at the Battle of Worcester on 3 September 1651.

Banbury market town and civil parish on the River Cherwell in Oxfordshire, England

Banbury is an historic market town on the River Cherwell in Oxfordshire, England. The town is situated 64 miles (103 km) northwest of London, 37 miles (60 km) southeast of Birmingham, 25 miles (40 km) south-by-southeast of Coventry and 22 miles (35 km) north-by-northwest of the county town of Oxford. It had a population of 46,853 at the 2011 census.

During his leisure at Oxford he collected material at the Bodleian Library and college libraries for his books. It was during these years that he met Elias Ashmole, who later became his son-in-law. Following the surrender of Oxford in 1646 Dugdale returned to Blyth Hall and compounded for his estates under the terms of the Oxford articles. Hatton, who had opposed the surrender, went into exile in France, where Dugdale visited him in 1648. He recommenced his antiquarian researches, collaborating with Roger Dodsworth on the Monasticon Anglicanum, the first volume of which was published in 1655. In the following year he published his own Antiquities of Warwickshire, which was soon recognised as a model county history. In this work he was one of the first to consider the significance of stone tools, stating these were "weapons used by the Britons before the art of making arms of brass or iron was known". [1]

Bodleian Library main research library of the University of Oxford

The Bodleian Library is the main research library of the University of Oxford, and is one of the oldest libraries in Europe. With over 12 million items, it is the second-largest library in Britain after the British Library. Under the Legal Deposit Libraries Act 2003 it is one of six legal deposit libraries for works published in the United Kingdom and under Irish Law it is entitled to request a copy of each book published in the Republic of Ireland. Known to Oxford scholars as "Bodley" or "the Bod", it operates principally as a reference library and, in general, documents may not be removed from the reading rooms.

Colleges of the University of Oxford colleges and PPHs which are autonomous self-governing corporations within the university

The University of Oxford has 38 Colleges and six Permanent Private Halls (PPHs) of religious foundation. Colleges and PPHs are autonomous self-governing corporations within the university, and all teaching staff and students studying for a degree at the university must belong to one of the colleges or PPHs. These colleges are not only houses of residence, but have substantial responsibility for teaching undergraduate students. Generally tutorials and classes are the responsibility of colleges, while lectures, examinations, laboratories, and the central library are run by the university. Most colleges take both graduates and undergraduates, but several are for graduates only.

Elias Ashmole English antiquarian, politician, officer of arms, astrologer and alchemist

Elias Ashmole was an English antiquary, politician, officer of arms, astrologer and student of alchemy. Ashmole supported the royalist side during the English Civil War, and at the restoration of Charles II he was rewarded with several lucrative offices.

At the Restoration Dugdale obtained the office of Norroy King of Arms through the influence of the Earl of Clarendon. In the office of Norroy he undertook heraldic visitations of the counties north of the Trent. In 1677 he was knighted and promoted to the office of Garter Principal King of Arms, which he held until his death. In his last years he wrote an account of his life at the request of Anthony Wood. He died "in his chair" at Blythe Hall in 1686.

Norroy and Ulster King of Arms Officers of Arms of the College of Arms of the United Kingdom

Norroy and Ulster King of Arms is the King of Arms at the College of Heralds with jurisdiction over England north of the Trent and Northern Ireland. The two offices of Norroy and Ulster were formerly separate, but were merged in 1943. Norroy King of Arms is the older office, there being a reference as early as 1276 to a "King of Heralds beyond the Trent in the North." The name is derived from the French nord roi meaning "north king". The office of Ulster King of Arms was established in 1552 by King Edward VI to replace the older post of Ireland King of Arms, which had lapsed in 1487.

Edward Hyde, 1st Earl of Clarendon 17th-century English politician and historian

Edward Hyde, 1st Earl of Clarendon was an English statesman who served as Lord Chancellor to King Charles II from 1658, two years before the Restoration of the Monarchy, until 1667. He was loyal to the king, built up the royalist cause, and served as the chief minister after 1660. He was one of the most important historians of England, as author of the most influential contemporary history of the Civil War, The History of the Rebellion (1702). He was the maternal grandfather of two monarchs, Queen Mary II and Queen Anne.

Heraldic visitation tour of inspection by a herald (or other officer-of-arms) to regulate and register coats of arms, and to record pedigrees

Heraldic visitations were tours of inspection undertaken by Kings of Arms throughout England, Wales and Ireland. Their purpose was to regulate and register the coats of arms of nobility and gentry and boroughs, and to record pedigrees. They took place from 1530 to 1688, and their records provide important source material for historians and genealogists.


He also edited Sir Henry Spelman's Glossarium Archaiologicum (1664) and Concilia (1664), adding his own extensions to the latter. His Life, written by himself up to 1678, with his diary and correspondence, and an index to his manuscript collections, was edited by William Hamper, and published in 1827.


See also

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  1. Chris Stringer (2007). Homo britannicus. The Incredible Story of Human Life in Britain. London: Penguin. p. 2. ISBN   0-14-101813-5.
  2. 1 2 Dugdale, Sir William (1693). "Monasticon Anglicanum". or The History of the Ancient Abbies, and other Monasteries, Hospitals, Cathedral and Collegiate Churches, in England and Wales. With Divers French, Irish, and Scotch Monasteries Formerly relating to England (Translated from the Latin). London: Sam Keble and Hen Rhodes. Retrieved 3 January 2010. Full text at Internet Archives.
  3. "The history of imbanking and drayning of divers fenns and marshes, both in forein parts and in this kingdom, and of the improvements thereby extracted from records, manuscripts, and other authentick testimonies / by William Dugdale". Quod.lib.umich.edu. Retrieved 29 September 2015.
  4. "Dugdale's Visitation of Yorkshire, with additions". Archive.org. Retrieved 29 September 2015.
  5. Godfrey, Walter H; Wagner, Anthony (1963). "'Garter King of Arms', in Survey of London Monograph 16, College of Arms, Queen Victoria Street (London, 1963), pp. 38-74". british-history.ac.uk. Retrieved 1 November 2018.


Heraldic offices
Preceded by
Henry Lilly
Rouge Croix Pursuivant of Arms
Succeeded by
Henry Dethick
Preceded by
Edward Walker
Chester Herald of Arms
Succeeded by
Thomas Lee
Preceded by
George Owen
Norroy King of Arms
Succeeded by
Sir Henry St George
Preceded by
Edward Walker
Garter King of Arms
Succeeded by
Sir Thomas St George