Few Questions of Heraldry - CHAPTER IX,
Merrill (1827-1900) writing in 1896 said, referring to
the Merrill coat of arms: (*)
have an old copy which grandfather passed down to us.
This copy is very old. Grandfather brought it to Topsham
with him in 1760. In heraldry it reads thus: 'He beareth
Or, a chevron Azure, between two leopards' faces in chief
Gules, and a dagger in base of the second, by the name
of Merrill. On the back is pasted a paper which says,
'Granted anno D° 1641 to Sir Peter Merrill of Sumersetshire
Bart. and descended to the family of Merrills.' "
coat of arms accordingly is traced back to John5
Merrill (1734-1828), grandfather of William-Patten7
Merrill of Topsham and Brunswick, Maine. But it bears
strong internal evidence of spuriousness.
Coles, and his son John, Jr., both of Boston, were industrious
painters of coat-armor in New England in the last quarter
of the eighteenth century and in the early nineteenth.
Their work was generally copied from Guillim's "Display
of Heraldry," a folio published in several editions
in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Neither Coles,
seemingly, made any effort to ascertain if there were
any genealogical connection between a client and the grantee
of the arms which Guillim described, and the work of both
men is discredited by all students of heraldry.
coat of arms which William-Patten Merrill described was
examined and photographed by the author of this Memorial
in Brunswick in 1905. It bears unmistakable earmarks of
the younger Coles' handiwork. The shape of the shield,
the helmet surmounting it, the scroll, the fanciful mantling
and other decorative details are identical in character
with known examples of Coles' work. It may be dismissed
as unworthy of serious consideration. (**)
heraldic artist seems to have been in doubt with regard
to the identity of the creature whose head serves as a
crest for the mythical Sir Peter's coat of arms. At any
rate, he neglects to define or describe it. Perhaps the
crest was a lion's head, erased, contourné.
Lewis Merrill wrote, 16 Jan. 1885: "The Heralds'
College says there never was a Sir Peter Merrill, Bart.,
in Somersetshire or elsewhere." Diligent search in
Papworth and Morant's "Ordinary of British Armorials"
fails to disclose a coat of arms answering the description
of the one supposed to have been granted to Sir Peter.
(*) See pages 91,
The author has endeavored to reproduce this coat of arms,
as well as may be with pen ard ink, without impairment
or intentional improvement. The somewhat bizarre outburst
of flourishes at either side of the helmet is the mantling,
and is supposed to be a heraldic representation of the
frayed and tattered trappings of a knight who has returned
from the wars.