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WORTHINGTON
(THE WORTHINGTON FAMILY COAT OF ARMS)

The Story of the Worthington Family Crest is as follows: Party per fesse dancettee argent and sable, a pale counterchanged, and three tridents erect of the second. Crest - On a wreath of the colours, upon the trunk of a tree fessewise eradicated and sprouting proper, a goat passant argent, gorged with a collar gemelle sable, holding in the mouth a sprig of oak fructed also proper. Motto - "Virtute dignus avorum."

Much of the material for the histories of the Worthington families during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries was recorded by the mediaeval heralds. In early days, a hearld was an officer having the duty of making a kingís or lordís proclamations, and of bearing ceremonial messages. In the thirteenth century they took on the duties of organising and conducting the military tournaments. It was natural therefore that the heralds should have become the authorities on menís insignia, such as the distinguishing marks on their shields and penons. As these insignia were passed from father to son, it was also natural that the heralds should make it their business to maintain genealogical records.

During the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the heralds made periodic visits to various parts of the country with the authority of Royal Commissions. They were to inquire into, and draw up records on, all matters connected with the bearing of arms, including the genealogies of the armorial families. The officer of arms conducting a visitation was empowered to "put down or otherwise deface at his discretion" all unlawful arms and crests, "in plate, jewels, paper, parchment, windows, gravestones and monuments or elsewhere wheresoever they be set or placed". The records were filed at the College of Arms, and some of them have since been published. The heralds usually made pen sketches of the coats of arms and crests above the recorded pedigrees. For the most part these sketches were not works of art, as they were only required as records; nor were they coloured, the colours being indicated by letters.

The armorial bearings recorded at the visitations were "allowed". In other words, the herald admitted that the holder had a right to them by ancient usage. Most of the armorial bearings of the Worthington families were of this kind, but there is an exception in a coat and crest granted by Christopher Barker, who was Garter King of Arms from 1536 to 1550. No Christian name was recorded, but on the coat was written "Worthington Le Eundum" meaning Worthington of the same place. Presumably Richard Worthington, who was lord of the manor of Worthington during the period, visited the College in London to make sure that the arms which he and his ancestors were already using were properly authorised, and to protect the family from the possibility of others taking the same arms. The Worthingtons of Worthington had already been using arms for half a century, for Richard's grandfather, Hugh, was described as an armiger in 1464. The coat of arms of this family was Argent three dungforks sable, and their crest A goat statant argent browsing at a clump of nettles vert. The family may have selected these devices to symbolise a type of pastoral life with which they had long been associated, but the dung forks were a pun on the word "worthing" which was dialect for manure.

In English heraldry, heraldic devices are inherited by all sons and continue to descend to all members of the same house in direct male line. But since the purpose of heraldry was to distinguish men as well as families in the tournament and battlefield, cadet branches of the family would usually make differences in their coats of arms and crests. Also each son of the same family would indicate his seniority by adding one of a definite range of charges. The eldest son would add a label until his father died, the second would add a crescent, the third a molet, the fourth a martlet, and so on. In some cases, these conventional marks of seniority were used by the other Worthington families as permanent marks of difference. The Worthingtons of Blainscough simply added In chief a crescent to the coat of the Worthingtons of Worthington, while the Worthingtons of Crawshaw added In chief a molet gules. The Worthingtons of Branston in the city of Lincoln (stemming from a third son of William Worthington of Welboume in Lincolnshire) had for coat Argent three dungforks pierced sable in chief a molet pierced gules. To the coat of Sir William Worthington of Essex was added On a canton or the hand of Ulster gules.

When a man entitled to heraldic arms marries an heiress of a man also entitled to arms, the male line descendants of the marriage are entitled to the quartered arms of the two families. The arms of the direct male line are placed in the first and fourth quarters of the shield and those of the ancestors of the heiress in the second and third. Such a coat was used by the Worthingtons of Crawshaw who quartered their arms with those of the Thornton family, namely: Argent on a bendgules three thorns or.

The crests of the various Worthington families also had differences. All those in use prior to 1600 contained the Goat statant argent, but while the goat of the Worthingtons of Worthington was Browsing at a clump of nettles vert, that of Sir William Worthington of Essex held In its mouth a sprig of oak vert fructed or. The goat of the Worthingtons of Blainscough was Horned or charged on its shoulder with a crescent, and browsing at an olive tree vert. The goat of the Worthingtons of Crawshaw was Horned collared and chained or, a plant growing in front of its forefeet vert. The goat of the Worthingtons of Branston in Lincolnshire was Charged on the flank with a molet pierced gules, browsing at a plant vert.