KIRTON BENBOW ARMS
Arms in Kirton Church Window, Devonshire
Callender and Britton on page 140 of their “Admiral Benbow, Fact and Fiction” suggest that “It is doubtful whether John, Deputy Clerk to the Crown in Chancery, was the earliest of the Benbows to bear arms”. They point to a Medieval Coat of Arms in the work of The Rev. John Barcham or Barkham (1572?-1642) who produced a work on Heraldry, which was later enhanced by John Guillam, Rough Croix pursuivant of the College of Arms, and published under his name in 1610, as A Display of Heraldrie”. The above arms are found on page 332 of the 1660 fourth edition and are described as follows:
“The Field is Sable, two long bowes bent in Pale, the strings counterposed, Or, between as many sheaves of Arrowes, Banded, Argent.”
This is remarkably similar to the Benbow arms on the Milton dish, with one exception, the arrows are more plentiful in the Kirton rendition. Significantly, the strings are adjacent, as in the Milton and Newport Arms. The colours, black, silver, and gold are common with the Newport Benbow Arms.
Guillam adds: “This Coat standeth in Kirton Church in Devonshire. This sort of bearing may signifie a man resolved to abide the utermost hazard of battell, and to that end hath furnished himself to the full, as well with instruments of ejaculation, as also of retention. The Bow and arrows in former ages, have won more glory to this Kingdome than any other sort of Souldiery whatsoever, as the renowned Victories obtained in France do well testifie.”
Callender and Britton point out that Kirton in Devonshire is Crediton.
More recently(1999), W.R. Benbow has corresponded with the Archivist at the Devon Record Office, who believes that the Church is the still extant Holy Cross Church which was built in the twelfth century. Unfortunately, the window with the Benbow Arms has not survived.
However, what we do have here is evidence of a Benbow coat of arms dating back to Medieval times.
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