Forty Coats of Arms from the County of Gloucestershire, 1768.
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Forty Coats of Arms from the County of Gloucestershire, 1768.

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Forty Coats of Arms from the County of Gloucestershire, from Sir Robert Atkyns' The Ancient and Present State of Gloucestershire, Second Edition, 1768.

This engraving features forty different coats of arms from the county's upper class families. It is one of eight such engraved plates that were published in Atkyn's book. Each escutcheon is drawn using the same shield shape. The name of the bearer is written above the coat of arms and a small crown indicates those arms that belong to a duke, earl, or baron. Included on the plate is the author's coat of arms, under the title Atkins of Saperton. His escutcheon features a cross ordinary and four pierced mullets (five point stars).

Heraldry became an important aspect of identity during the middle ages. The earliest known representation of a coat of arms appears on the Bayeux Tapestry from the eleventh century. Originally worn by knights and lords during battle they developed into a symbol of the bearer or his family. In Britain only the aristocracy could bear a coat of arms. They were passed from father to son with minor alterations being made to each bearer's full heraldic achievement to maintain the individuality of the bearer. Female members of the family could have a modified version indicating their connection to the bearer.

Robert Atkyns (1647-1711) was the eldest son of Sir Robert Atkyns. He was educated at St. Edmund's Hall, Oxford and Lincoln's Inn. In 1668 he was called to the bar, but he chose not to practice. He held a number of different offices during his lifetime among them were Commissioner for Assessment of Gloucestershire and Deputy Lieutenant for Gloucestershire. King Charles II knighted him in 1663 and the following year he married Louise Carteret. He served as a Member of Parliament for the borough of Cirencester (1679-85) and Gloucester (1685-89).  Atkyns is best known for his history of Gloucestershire County, which was published in 1712 as The Ancient and Present State of Gloucestershire.

- Naomi Bean 

Plate size: 15.5" x 8.5"
Sheet size: 16.5" x 10.5"
Condition: Fine antiquarian condition.