High above the far aisle at Trinity Church, Bradford-on-Avon, since at least the turn of the century, hangs a 'hatchment' which is attributed to the Shrapnel family. I knew of it's existence many years ago having read of it in W H Jones book 'Bradford-on-Avon. Although I had been to Bradford Church many times I had never looked up at the particular place where it hangs. It took a visiting Australian Shrapnel to tell me where it was for which I was grateful. This prompted me to write the following:
A hatchment is an heraldic device on a diamond shape board which is often hung on the gates of the premises of an important person after his death. This was probably the case after the death of 'The General'. The hatchment was most likely put on the gates of Midway after Henry's death. When the house was sold and the family dissipated no doubt it was given to the Church at Bradford-on-Avon for safe keeping. It has possibly been there since the 1880s, certainly it was there by 1900.
Regrettably it is fairly clear that this hatchment never was an official Coat of Arms and no Grant of Arms appears to have been made to Henry.
This was brought to light in the mid 1970s when a gentleman called Biddulph made exhaustive searches of the records to no avail. It would seem that when Henry was in line for a knighthood and based on his expectations he had several Coats of Arms, crests and the like prepared for him. Unfortunately King William who favoured Henry died before he could bestow the honour. Henry became out of favour with Parliament mostly for political reasons and the matter was dropped.
However, the assumed crests and devices became part of the heritage of the family and they were used in part by the 'son of the first', etc with several slight modifications.
There are two Coats of Arms, the first which has been used as a line drawing on various family newsletters and which is in the Bradford-on-Avon Church aisle. This has been expertly described as follows:
I. Crusily, a lion rampant; 2 and 3 Quarterly I. And IV., Argent, a bend or II. Azure, a saltier or; III. Azure, on a saltier or, two bars gules; IV. Gules, a fess ermine between three nag's heads erased or; over all on an escutcheon a bomb fired. Crest, out of a coronet or, a plume of ostrich feathers. Motto: Ratio ultima Regum.
The second Coat of Arms appears to have been an alternative design which only exists as a grey metal template for inking on documents. Nevertheless it is equally complicated but quite different to the first. It has two bursting shells with the inevitable nag's head and lions but appears quite drab, obviously being metallic grey. Regrettably it has not been officially described.
There are several other versions of crests and seals in existence, one in particular is that on the home page of this site This one is often personalised with initials below the plumes.
THE FAMILY COAT OF ARMS
that never was!