McCandlish / McCandless Heraldry - The Cuindlis Families

McCandlish Heraldry

[Image: McCandlish coat of arms with lion crest and motto scroll; see text for descriptive details.]
McCandlish coat of arms with crest22

Introduction

At least one McCandlish was nominally armigerous (i.e. had, or at least asserted, a coat of arms) – one blazon, associated with one crest and one motto, are known for certain. None of these are ascribed in heraldic sources to McCandless or other spellings, but this means little as the spellings did not settle down until the late 19th century. A coat of arms does not indicate a noble family or even a knighthood; so far, no evidence has been found of any McCandlishes, McCandlesses, Conlisks, Quinlesses, etc., who were among the major landed gentry, the peerage (barons and earls and dukes and such), or the knightage, of England, Scotland, or Ireland20. However, many records from the middle ages to early modern period are long since lost, so a more illustrious past is not impossible, even if all Cuindlis descendants in recent memory have been commoners.

This will be disappointing news for some, but all available evidence tells us that this coat of arms and crest were simply unilaterally assumed, probably in the early 19th century, and were not officially granted by any heraldic authority, Scottish or otherwise. They do appear, collected as they were found in use, in several authoritative heraldry books as far back as 1830, so they have nearly two centuries of traditional imprimatur as being in use by certain McCandlishes. Nevertheless, the records of the Court of the Lord Lyon, the authority in Scotland, are available and searchable online, and no names related to [Mc]Candlish in any form appear in them33. The records of the College of Arms in London, the authority for England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, are not online yet, but have been expertly searched. Peter O’Donoghue, Herald of York, wrote back from the College of Arms in September 2023:34

I have carried out a search of the official records of grants and confirmations of Arms from the late seventeenth century to the present day and have found no trace of a grant of Arms to anyone with your surname or with an obvious variant. I have also examined our official photographic copies of the records of grants of Arms made by Ulster King of Arms, former heraldic authority for Ireland, and again nothing was found. At this stage therefore it would seem to be unlikely that any grant was made to someone with your name; I wonder therefore if the Arms you mention were assumed rather than granted.

Just in case, the available sources for Irish heraldry32 have also been scoured, along with those of Canada35, with no matches.

These results are perhaps not surprising. The motto associated with this coat of arms (see below) translating to ‘The only nobility is virtue’ or ‘Only virtue ennobles’ is a strong hint in the direction of scoffing at heraldic law and its protection of coats of arms as tesserae gentilitatis (‘insignia of gentility’). And, since heraldry rights and restrictions are not protected in the common law but only in rarely enforced heraldic law, it was actually not all that uncommon for people to simply make up their own coat of arms. Doing so in Scotland could (still today) result in a fine, as there is more enforcement there, but there has been nearly none in England for the last few centuries, except in cases of usurping someone else’s arms. In Canada, assumed arms are not illegal while usurpation of someone else’s arms remains so; same in South Africa, New Zealand (since 1988), and Australia (since 2018)36.

Irish heraldry today is rather unclear, and subject to much debate. It is usually similar to British in being that of a particular individual and that person’s inheritors, not entire families, but is no longer as gender-divided; and, like English but unlike Scottish, Irish heraldry does not regulate mottoes. However, the Chief Herald’s Office has repeatedly waffled back and forth, since 1957, on the idea of a family-level entitlement. Regardless, there appear to be no statutory or otherwise-enforced laws against assuming arms, or using the assumed arms of predecessors, in the modern Republic of Ireland. However, the Office of the Chief Herald there asserts a regulation that arms are only legitimately borne by one who A) is directly granted arms (a new armiger); B) has provably inherited arms by direct descent from a registered armiger; or C) “has shown by a high standard of proof that the same arms were used by three generations of the family or at least one hundred years”. That last rule seems remarkably permissive (and perhaps relevant to McCandless, etc., families in the north of Ireland, in relation to the arms described in detail on this page below), but is also reported to no longer be much allowed by current Chief Heralds. Irish heraldry has a very complicated history, and its present-day nature and even legitimacy at all are hotly debated, mostly on principles relating to the Irish Constitution. (See detailed footnote with sources.49) According to the organization Heraldry Ireland, there are many assumed arms in use in the country.

That brings us to a largely American elephant in the room: there is, broadly speaking, no such thing as a “family” crest and coat of arms. Such achievements – despite what heraldic product mongers, especially in the US, will try to tell and sell you – almost always belong to specific individuals and are inherited in direct succession. They do not belong to entire families38. So, even if these arms were legimatetly granted to someone instead of assumed, it would still be illegal (unless you were that person’s direct heir) to sport those arms in the UK and several other Commonwealth jurisdictions, because they are not arms to which one is entitled. In the US and Canada, doing it is at least in very poor taste. Putting a picture of the arms on the wall as a curio of family-history interest is one thing, but putting them on your vehicle is quite another, a public display (a bearing of arms) amounting to declaration that they’re yours.

The exact issues with regard to this particular coat of arms and crest detailed below are at least fourfold:36

  1. In England and Scotland (and Wales and Northern Ireland), they are not legal for public use, because they were assumed and not granted.
  2. In Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa, they are not legal for public use (unless you just happen to be the heir who inherited them directly), because they were previously assumed by someone else, and such assumption is legal in those jurisdictions, so use by someone else would be usurpation.
  3. In the US, there is no legal issue, but using them as if they are your own would be very tacky, akin to the “stolen valour” of wearing military decorations one did not earn.
  4. In Ireland, there is no law against assumed arms, but a governmental heraldic body asserts they are improper, so it could probably often be taken as tacky there, too.

So, What Is Okay to Use?

Mottoes/slogans are more properly considered a family affair. A McCandlish motto is covered below, along with some claimed but unsourced slogans for McCandless.

Also, it is permissible under Scottish heraldry law to devise and wear clan or family badges or crest badges (sometimes incorrectly called “crests”) based on an individual’s crest, but differenced from it with a surrounding belt and buckle, the motto appearing on the belt. A McCandlish crest badge is detailed below. Typically these badges are worn on the cockade of Highland headgear, but you could just as well put one one your jacket, and use one as a belt buckle. Crest badges were originally only made with the crest of a clan chief, but today badges are available for virtually all clans and major Scottish families, sometimes using a crest and motto known to have been held by an amigerous member of the family (there are many “armigerous clans”, those that lack a recognized chief of the name). Various companies, societies/associations, and other organizations have also simply invented their own crest badges37, and this practice appears to have attracted little criticism, much less negative attention from legal heralds.

A considerable amount of researching has turned up no Lord Lyon rule against such a thing. Ergo, it appears to be entirely permissible to use the assumed crest and motto in crest-badge form, even within Scotland.

The Blazon (Coat of Arms)

Found in Robson (1830)1, Berry (1840)11, Burke (1851)2, and Papworth (1874)18 are the following McCandlish (or M’Candlish) arms, without the original individual owner being fully named (though identified in Scotland, below, from other sources): [Image: McCandlish blazon visually rendered; for details see textual blazon description.]
Rendering of the McCandlish blazon22

Blazon: Or, a galley her oars in action and sails furled Sable, flags Gules; on a chief of the last, three mullets Argent.

(Punctuation varied by writer. Capitalization also varies, and we use upper-case for the tincture names for clarity, because some are otherwise confusing, e.g. “Or” looks like a conjunction, and “Proper” looks like a judgement/evaluation.)

In plain English, this means: A gold (yellow) shield or escutcheon, with a central figure of a rowed and single-masted ship with sails furled up and oars deployed, all in black, but sporting red flags; a red bar across the top 1/3 of the shield features three silver (white) five-pointed stars. A slight variant on this blazon (missing information about the oars) is found in Bolton (1927)40.

The above is how the arms were recorded by English heraldic writers, using English terms. These arms, however, are from Scotland, and a proper blazon in Scottish heraldic language would read:

Blazon: Or, a lymphad her oars in action and sails furled Sable, flags Gules; on a chief of the last, three stars Argent.

This blazon is directly associated with the crest given below. Having a crest, it probably dates to the late 16th century or later, and is certainly as old as 1830 when Robson published it1. In Berry (1840), it was printed in an addendum to previous work; this consisted largely of then-recent additions to the heraldic registers and other recent “discoveries” by the author, so the blazon probably dates to the 1820s. It could, however, be generations older, and even be slightly differenced from earlier arms (which have been lost), e.g. by the addition of the coloured flags. The authors of these works were only able to record arms of which they had become aware. This one is not found in heraldry books, consulted so far, earlier than Robson (1830). It was not found in any works specific to Scottish heraldry, e.g. Paul (1895, 1903)19, only in those cited above, which are general British heraldry works, and based on collecting heraldry as found and observed in use rather than coats of arms recorded as legal proofs by heraldic authorities.

Another indication that these arms were an unofficial assumption rather than an official grant of arms is that, although they date back to a known resident of Scotland, they are not inalienably associated with a motto, which under Scottish heraldry would be a part of the arms and even specified as to position above the crest or below the shield. (This is not the case in English heraldry, which treats mottoes as matters of family preference and their placement of artistic preference13.) At first blush, there seems to be a weak point of “Englishness” about these arms, namely that the stars are called “mullets” and not “stars” (proper mullets in Scottish heraldry are pierced with a central hole and usually six-pointed)23. However, if Robson himself wrote out the blazon to describe arms he saw in emblazoned (artistically drawn) form, he would simply have used the terms most familiar to him. Same goes for use of the term “galley” instead of “lymphad” (though the English-preferred “galley” does appear in some official Scottish blazons). This explanation is probable, since the arms are not officially recorded by the heralds, so the written blazon had to come from somewhere, and Robson and most of the later writers to record this were English and experienced primarily in English heraldry. See the crest section, below, for a strong argument against an origin in England for these arms. Regardless, we know that five-pointed, non-pierced stars were the desired design, because we have the personal book-plate illustration of an earlier bearer of the arms (see below).

For a Cavendish blazon often confused as one for McCandlish, see later section.

Possible Symbolism of the Arms

The specific elements (charges) in a blazon do not generally have pre-defined meanings or symbolism (the exception is marks of cadency and differencing, which are a prescribed system of indicating birth order, bastardy, assumption of arms by marriage, etc., and these arms do not feature any). While the chief (the band across the top) is a feature often latterly used as a sub-field of arms on which to display horourable augmentations (symbols awarded by the crown for especially meritorious and usually military service, which would surely not be applicable to someone with assumed arms), the design element is general and pre-dates augmentations by many centuries46. Various (mostly American) vendors of heraldic knickknacks have webpages that, as part of their romanticized marketing, make claims such as that a ship indicates ‘life’, ‘happiness’, or ‘adventure’, but such ideas are just made-up meanings assigned differently by random people with an opinion, and are not found in any authoritative works of heraldry. The symbols are not totally devoid of all senses of significance, however.

In particular, the galley, also known as the lymphad, is common in western Scottish heraldry47, e.g. in the arms of the Lordship of the Isles, and of Campbell, MacDonald, Gunne of Caithness, and MacFie, among at least two dozen others, as well as of the town of Oban. Galleys are also used to a lesser extent in Irish and Manx heraldry, but not often in English arms or otherwise. The lymphad represents a type of ship more often called (outside heraldic blazonry) a birlinn. It was a rowed, single-masted vessel with a sail, and was once in common use in the Hebrides and the lochs of the western Highlands (also in Ireland). Whether it was a development from Viking longships has been debated, as sailed-and-oared vessels were known in Britain long before the Viking age, but the Vikings also had a strong cultural impact in Britain and Ireland.

Despite heraldic charges not having formal symbolic meanings, the herald Alasair Campbell of Airds has perhaps controversially argued that in west Highlands and Islands heraldry, the galley indicates a Viking connection, on the basis that the Vikings used their maritime mobility to control much of this area for a long time, and a few prominent families using the charge, such as MacDonald and MacDougall, trace descent to Somerled, the Norse-Gaelic King of Argyll and the Isles.52 However, this charge is frequently used by other lineages without a strong Nordic connection; if the galley represented “Norse royal power”, we should find it in common use in the arms of Scandinavian nobles (but do not); and these galleys do not represent Viking longships (which are actually not-uncommon charges in northern continental heraldry from France to Russia), even if the jury is still out on whether the latter influenced, among real-world shipwrights, the construction style of the former. A supporting bit of evidence is that arms of Magnus V, 10th Earl of Caithness (d. ca. 1329) feature a galley, and it became a “symbol of western sea-girt lordship” among various interrelated families in the region.54 But that family clearly have Norse connections, this does not automatically make the lymphad a symbol of “Norseness”. There can be little question, though, that the charge is referential to the sea-mediated interconnectedness of the west Highlands and Hebrides, which once formed (with parts of northeast Ireland) the Gaelic kingdom Dál Riata, and later (with the Isle of Man) the Norse-Gaelic Kingdom of the Isles.

McCandlishes not being known to be a sea power of any kind (or closely connected with one), the galley was probably selected for this coat of arms simply for its strong associations with western Scotland. The presence of a Scottish-style antique galley indicates the designer of the arms was probably well aware of Scottish heraldic tradition and used this figure intentionally. However, the (so far unproven) claim of a connection between the McCandlishes and the Campbells means that the lymphad as a symbolic connection to arms of several Campbell branches cannot be entirely ruled out. The close similarity of the McCandlish design to one of the MacDonald blazons (with a black lyphad with red flags, on gold) possibly means that the McCandlish one could not have become recognized under Scottish heraldry law without further differentiation than the stars in chief, though this is not certain.

The trio of stars (rather ambiguously called “mullets”) in a chief, the bar across the top, are found in some other, established Scottish coats of arms. The head of Clan Douglas (one of the most powerful Lowland families in the late middle ages) has three stars, white on blue; MacRae has three (sometimes two, depending on branch), red on white; and MacMillan has blue or white ones on varying chiefs (depending on branch). Three stars were also more anciently used as symbols of the House of Moray (Moireabh, originally a Pictish kingdom) and Ross, though not a feature of later Anglo-Norman-style heraldic coats of arms used by that lineage, except their earliest chiefs (“Argent, above three stars Azure, a hand Proper”). McAndrew (2006) calls this star triad “the original military symbolism of the men of Moray”. These Morays claimed descent from the Cenél Loairn kindred of Dál Riata, and supplied several kings of Alba. A branch who were descendants of Malcolm MacAedh or MacHeth (d. 1168), later became Clan MacKay in Strathnaver after being banished there. The “district” stars of Moray were appropriated, in a triangular pattern, for the arms of the main line of another family, who took on the lands-name Moray after moving there and who were originally of Normano-Flemish origin as [de] Moravia, imported to Scotland as allies of King David I. They are better known today as Clan Murray, and an Innes branch of them also uses the stars in their arms.50

But all of this is probably just coincidental, as there are no known (or even “family legend”) associations of the McCandlishes with any of these clans. There is no particular associative “meaning” of stars as a motif in heraldry. Even in McAndrew’s comprehensive Scotland’s Historic Heraldry (2006), stars and proper mullets do not even warrant index entries, and make few appearances in the arms of leading Scottish families. So it is anyone’s guess what the designer of these arms had in mind when using them. However, they do likely represent stars in the sky; by contrast, the true Scottish mullet, with a hole in the centre and typically six points, was actually a spur and is often regarded as suggestive of cavalry.

Who Bore These Arms?

This blazon’s details are quite certain, as they are consistent in the sources cited above, and were recorded as still in use, with the crest, by a known historical individual, in 19053 and again in 19114: George Glennie Leslie McCandlish (1873–1925), who became a solicitor (attorney) in London in 1896.12 His family had been living in England since a generation earlier, and using the arms then (e.g. on a surviving bookplate; see below).

This quasi-armigerous family were not major land-holders; no McCandlishes or related appear in the massive Visitation of England and Wales by Howard & Crisp (1893–1921)16, except one passing mention as a marriage partner in the genealogy of the more prominent Mytton family28; this man was George G.L. McCandlish’s father, William (1825–1898), and the user of the aforementioned heraldic bookplate (illustrated below). In turn, his father in Edinburgh, also named William (and married to a MacGregor), was clearly an earlier (though not necessarily the orginal) user of the blazon: it is first recorded in 1830 in sources so far, when the younger William was only about 5 years old. This is overwhelming evidence for the arms being devised and assumed in Scotland (despite stricter heraldry enforcement there). Whether the blazon is still in direct hereditary use depends on whether the younger William’s eldest son William Herbert McCandlish29 had a son and that son had a son, and so on, to the present day. However, since the youngest son, George G.L. McCandlish, was also provably using these arms, it can be assumed that the middle sons, Charles Murray McCandlish30 and John Alexander McCandlish31, may have been as well. As noted below, the arms were recorded as in use at some point in the United States; and of William’s sons, at least Charles did emigrated there (some time before 1891). Whether any of these men have surviving heirs, who still might be claiming these arms, will be a matter for genealogical research. (Hypothetical claimants could be women, not just men, since laws regarding heraldry, as covered elsewhere on this page, vary by country and in many do not exist.)

A source not checked yet: Reid, David; Wilson, Vivien (eds.); An Ordinary of Arms Contained in the Public Register of All Arms and Bearings in Scotland, 1902–1973, Vol. 2; 1977; Edinburgh: HMSO; ISBNs 9780950529905, 0950529907. This is a scarce and expensive volume, and not generally available through inter-library loan in the US, nor available digitized online (not even as part of the Public Register database at ScotlandsPeople.gov.uk yet, as of 2023). As it only covers Scottish grants of arms from 1902 onward, it will be of questionable relevance to our investigations.

The Crest

A crest does not issue without a blazon6. If there were two or more crests discovered with certainty for this name, then this would necessarily mean there were multiple coats of arms to go along with them. So far, only one of each is certain (even if they were assumed rather than granted).[Image: Drawing of a heralic demi-lion (front half of lion) rearing up aggressively, in green]
“A demi-lion Vert” crest22

Robson (1830)1, Berry (1840)11, Burke (1851)2, and Bolton (1927)40 provide the following for McCandlish (or M’Candlish):

Crest: A demi-lion Vert.

In plain English, this means an upright lion, shown cropped to the waist or haunches up, facing to viewer’s left, with arms raised in a fighting position, and all in green, aside from traditionally red tongue and claws.8

This crest is directly associated with the blazon above, in Robson (1830)1 and Berry (1840)11, the only reliable sources to provide a McCandlish blazon and crest together.

A variant, of the aforementioned George Glennie Leslie McCandlish, was recorded in Fairbairn (1905)3 as: A demi-lion rampant Vert. However, this was reverted back to “A demi-lion Vert” in a subsequent 1911 edition4, probably because “rampant” was redundant. It means ‘upright’ or ‘rearing up’, and is the only position or attitude in which to have a demi-lion (the superior/anterior half of a lion) in a crest.7

More evidence of the crest (and associated arms) being created and assumed in Scotland is that the crest is not unique. Under the post-medieval heraldry rules of England (and Wales and Northern Ireland, and all of Ireland before 1921) two families could not have the same crest, while in Scotland (as in medieval England) they could. The designer of these arms seemed to care about such matters, as they follow all the rules of proper heraldic design. A demi-lion vert, without other distingishing features, is the crest, back to the medieval period, of several English families39, so new arms in England around the early 19th century would not have used this simple device (and such a crest certainly could not have issued officially in England, as confirmed in a letter from the College of Arms34). But not only was this not a concern at all in Scotland, there appear to be no Scottish crests using this device anyway, so the road to adopting a plain green demi-lion was open in Scotland, without attracting any attention from anyone who might claim their crest was being usurped.

A crest is always depicted on a twisted wreath of the livery colours (the dominant tinctures in the blazon); for details see next major section.

Like a blazon, a crest is the personal property of a specific armiger, and his direct-line male descendants. For a version anyone may use, see the crest and motto badge, below.

For Cavendish crests often confused as ones for McCandlish, see later section.

Possible Symbolism of the Crest

The heraldic lion rampant has long been symbolic of Scotland, and has been called “the Dalriadic lion” and at least legendarily associated as a symbol with the kingdom of Dál Riata, the Ulster-Irish colony that Gaelicized so much of what was originally western Pictland in the early medieval period. Campbell of Airds (2004) sees the Scottish lion rampant as ultimately referential to “the royal line of the sons of Erc, Fergus, Loam, and Angus who moved across the North Channel” from Ulster, starting their Scottish colony in Argyll.52

While William I of Scotland was called “The Lion”, there is no proof of his use of it as a heraldic device. His son, Alexander II, however, used a lion rampant in a seal on charters, ca. 1222, as did Alexander III (with the distinctive “double tressures flory counterflory” border still found in the royal Scottish arms and flag today). In surviving documents, it was first recorded in colour (the expected red on gold) in 1244.51 Other 13th-century sources have the lion rampant as a symbol of Scotland.53 Lions feature prominently in many other Scottish arms and crests.

This lion had earlier been used by the House of Dunkeld (Dùn Chailleann), established by Duncan I (r. 1034–1040), and who were at various points Kings of Cumbria, Lords of the Isles, and of Allerdale, and of Dunbar, etc., and partly ancestral to the later royal House of Stuart/Stewart, who inherited and still use the red lion and fleur-de-lys border so strongly associated with Scotland. They claimed lineage back to the Cenél nGabráin kindred of Dál Riata. The lion was used in formal heraldry even earlier by the Mormaers (Earls) of Fife, which then included also Kinross; they claimed descent from the Pictish line that provided Queen Gruoch, wife of King MacBeth (he was the inspiration for Shakespeare’s character). Later, in the Lowlands, they became Clan MacDuff, named for the family scion King Dub[h] mac Mael Coluim of Alba (ca. 928–967); the main, chiefly line of the clan still use an undifferenced red lion charge and a red lion with sword as the crest. Thirteenth-century seals show the lion rampant simultaneously in use for Fife and for the King of Alba/Scotland.53 (The royal Scottish arms from the Dunkeld–Stuart line are differenced with the flory-counterflory tressure because they are temporally junior to the Fife/MacDuff heraldry.)51 The MacRaes and MacMillans (mentioned above in relation to the stars in the blazon) both also have arms that feature lions (red or black). Green lions are rare in general, especially in Scottish heraldry, though the current Rothesay Herald of the Lord Lyon Court, Liam Devlin, has one holding two organ pipes as his crest; another appears as a supporter in the arms of the Lothian Regional Council.

McCandlishes have no purported connections to any of these families, nor to Lothian. Of the clans to which various amateur genealogists have suggested (without proof) the McCandlishes are connected, the only ones with even vague similiarities in arms to McCandlish are Campbell, with some branches using a galley (on white); Buchanan with a complete lion (black on gold); Gordon, a lineage of which has three lion’s heads (red on gold); and Montrose, two lines of which use a red lion on white or gold. These are all in the main blazons, and are very weak correspondences; there are no crest similarities (despite Scottish rules not requiring unique crests).

The lion of the McCandlish crest is probably simply meant to be emblematic of Scotland, since it is one of the most common symbols thereof. This is reinforced by the prominent use of Scotland’s traditional red and gold in these assumed arms. What the green of the lion could have been meant to represent (if anything) is unknown, though the large number of relatives who moved to the north of Ireland (plus western Scotland’s deep historical ties to Ulster) is perhaps a reasonable guess. It would also tie in well with the central galley of the arms, associated with Scotland and Ireland and their interconnectedness.

The Wreath, Helm, and Mantle

A crest – whether by itself, integrated into a complete coat of arms, or put within the belt-and-buckle of a crest badge (see below) – is depicted on a twisted wreath of the livery colours (the dominant tinctures in the blazon, in our case Gules and Or: red and gold).

In a full coat of arms (heraldic achievement), the crest and its wreath sit atop a helm (also helmet or heume), with a mantle (also mantling or lambrequin) of cloth flowing out from the wreath. The helm and mantle are not used with a crest badge or a crest by itself. Non-knights and non-peers take an iron (grey) helm below their crest.55

Non-royals and non-peers use a mantle of the livery colours. In Scottish heraldry, the mantle colours would actually have been strictly prescribed as Gules lined (or doubled) Argent (red, with white/silver) if the arms had been officially matriculated before 1890. While these erstwhile arms pre-date that mark, they were never officially granted and thus never matriculated, so livery colours are the only ones appropriate. Exceptions are only made when specified in a patent of matriculation, which does not and cannot exist for this assumed coat of arms.

One mid-20th-century genealogist made some strange contrary claims about McCandlish helm and mantle – see here, claims 6 and 7 – but they are heraldically impossible.

The Mottoes/Slogans

[Image: William McCandlish antique colour bookplate with motto, coat of arms, and crest]
19th-century bookplate with
motto “Sola nobilitas virtus
Mottoes are not controlled by English heraldic law and may be adopted or changed at will by owners of arms. In Scottish heraldry, they are controlled, and are recorded as part of the blazon; the unofficial adoption of these arms, however, makes the point moot. So it is possible for there to be more than one motto for McCandlish over time.

The best-attested we have for McCandlish is the following:

Motto: Sola nobilitas virtus

This is Latin for ‘Virtue alone ennobles’ or ‘The only nobility is virtue’. This is found on the mid- to late-19th-century heraldic bookplate of a William McCandlish featuring the arms and crest described above9; this was probably the father or grandfather of George G.L. McCandlish discussed above. It is also found in Bolton (1927), ascribed to McCandlish40. It was also the motto of Hamilton15, of the Earl later Duke of Abercorn in Ireland14, and of an early American settler from England named John Edwards. The variant Sola nobilitat virtus is an attested motto of Hamilton again15 and of Moubray/Mowbray; and the versions Virtus sola nobilitat/nobilitas or Sola virtus nobilitat are mottos of several other families15. Sola nobilitas virtus is also the motto of Shawlands Academy in Glasgow, but it was not founded until 1857.

Another more suspect motto (or slogan – secondary motto) claim is Illumino marem et terram (‘Lighting the sea and land’). This was given, in association with the same McCandlish arms and crest but ascribed to the name McCandless, by Charles E. McCandless Jr. in a self-published genealogy book5 (one full of a great deal of nonsense), but has not been found in use in period materials (bookplates, headstones, etc.), nor any standard heraldic reference works. (The similar Per mare per terras, ‘By sea, by land’, is the motto of Clan MacDonald.) Nevertheless, it was adopted in the truncated form Illumino marem as the ship’s motto of the USS McCandless in 1972. (The patch illustrated here shows the wrong kind of ship; heraldic galleys are single-masted. And it should show red flags.) [Image: Oval military patch reading 'U.S.S. McCandless FF-1084', and featuring the McCandlish/McCandless coat of arms, with lion crest, and the motto 'Illumino Marem']
Ship patch from the
USS McCandless

From the same self-published book5 is another dubious motto/slogan claim, of Fideli nil difficile (‘Fidelity is not difficult’). This also has not been found in any works on heraldry or any period materials. In the more sensible Latin form Fideli nihil difficile (‘To the faithful nothing is difficult’), it is a motto of McCarthy.

All that said, because English heraldry does not control mottoes or slogans, and Scottish heraldry couldn’t really control unofficially assumed arms, simple use of any of these mottoes by actual McCandlish/McCandless/etc. families is enough to confer some level of authenticity and tradition to them. Heraldry is not, after all, a dead art of the past, but continues into the future. What is known with certainty is that the first of these mottoes, Sola nobilitas virtus, was in proven use for McCandlish at least as early as the 19th century.

For a Cavendish motto often confused as one for McCandlish, see later section.

The Crest and Motto Badge (for Anyone to Use)

[Image:Clan crest badge in colour, with green demi-lion rampant and 'Sola Nobilitas Virtus' motto]
McCandlish crest badge, in colour
(or get black-and-white version)27
A crest badge can be worn or otherwise used by anyone. It places the crest (with wreath) inside a belt forming a ring, with the motto written on the belt.

Crest badges are traditionally created from the crests of clan chiefs. However, today they are routinely also used by armigerous clans (around half the extant clans) and families – those with no chief, just an armiger with undifferenced arms somewhere in the family history, often a former chief, but not always). There appear to be no formal heraldic rules against creating and using crest badges from assumed arms (and the practice seems to be common for commercial and organizational purposes37).

The most common use of a crest badge is as a metal brooch worn on the cockade of the bonnet (cap – Balmoral or Glengarry style). As of this writing, there are no manufacturers of crest-badge brooches for McCandlish, because the family is too small to warrant mass-production attention from anyone yet. One of the goals of a Cuindlis family association/society, which this website hopes to help form, is to get crest badges made available from one maker or another.

Note: If you get a crest badge pin custom-made by someone, please do not wear it with feathers (either real ones or ones designed into the pin). In Scots heraldry law, they are reserved for chiefs (3 feathers), chieftains (2), and armigers (1) of a clan. Random yahoos putting feathers on their bonnet badges is considered an offensive and stupid-looking “styrofoam Scottish” behavior characteristic of “ugly Americans”. A hackle (a bonnet decoration made of cut and dyed feathers) is a feature of particular military (and occasionally non-military pipe band) uniforms, and also not appropriate for random civilian Highland dress, any more than appropriating part of any other uniform insignia would be.

Supporters, War Cry, Plant Badge (or Lack Thereof)

No supporters (figures on either side of the shield) are known. Supporters would not be expected, because they are reserved for the nobility and members of orders of knighthood, and sometimes for prominent organizations (in Scottish, English, and Irish heraldry)24.

Nor is there a known war cry (these are rarely recorded in heraldic listings). The reference work The Slogans and Warcries of Scotland of Old (Pearson, 2010) does not include McCandlish or a related name, but is focused on clans and other major families, and is not comprehensive.

There also is no recorded plant badge – a feature of Highlands clan tradition (at least from the early 19th century) that one would not particularly expect for a small Lowlands family anyway. Before clan tartans, clans mostly used a particular colour of cockade on the bonnet (cap) to tell one clan from aonther. There is a belief that they also used a particular choice of plant sprig to wear in the cockade for the same purpose, but this is based on a single clan’s Jacobite-era account; the emblematic plants now associated with most of the clans almost all derive from a list made by the Highland Society of London around the same time the organization was assigning tartans to clans, ca. 1815–1822. Regardless, Highlanders generally wore whatever tartan and other cloth was available to them (since clan tartans generally date from the 19th century onward), so cockade colours and at least some use of plant badges may date back quite far. But none seem to be recorded for this family.

Separate McCandless Coat of Arms?

Unfortunately no. What seemed to be a possible coat of arms specific to McCandless, known only from an 1822 gravestone (of a currier, or leather-tanner, named Thomas McCandless) was rediscovered in Derry/Londonderry and published by Seamus Bellew in 201744, and had no colour information or a proper blazon (textual description). This seemed promising at first, though a little confusing, as the escutcheon had two supporters (horses rampant), a feature normally reserved for knights and peers, but lacked a chapeau or helm of rank to go along with them. The arms themselves looked like they featured scrolls, and a prominent cross.

Our forum member Peter McCandless of Northern Ireland tracked the blazon down. It turned out to be the arms not of an individual, but of the Worshipful Company of Curriers, a livery guild with which the deceased had been professionally connected. The actual blazon (granted 1583) is “Azure, a cross engrailed Or between eight shaving knives in saltire Argent, handled of the second.” (See image.) So, not scrolls after all, but a currier’s hide-scraping implements. (Aside: The supporters on the gravestone were actually wrong, and should have been an elk and a goat.)45

Separate Conlish/Quinlisk Coat of Arms?

Unfortunately, no again. One vendor of heraldic products has claimed25 that there is a coat of arms for Irish Conlish/Conliss/Quinlish/Quinlisk/etc. (it treats all such spellings as the same name, when it includes them at all). It does not provide a proper blazon, but illustrates a field of blue (azure), with gold (or) crossed pastoral staves (crosiers); the crest appears to be a bishop’s mitre, Proper. This is not a reliable source, and doesn’t cite any. As shown below, these are actually the arms of the Church of Ireland’s Bishopric of Clonfert, Galway (now absorbed by the Bishopric of Tuam, Limerick, and Killaloe).

These certainly seemed like ecclesiastical armorial bearings given their features. At first, the question was whether they were were those of Cornelius Ó Cuinnlis, a 15th-century bishop of Emly and Clonfert. But they did not appear in any works that include Irish arms32, nor any other heraldry works, for such a name (or any variant of Cuindlis).

Thanks again to some hints from the College of Heralds in London, we have been able to track them down. They appeared in one source as associated with the Church of Ireland’s Bishopric of Clonfert, Galway: Sapphire, croziers saltire Argent. (“Sapphire” is another heraldic term for “Azure” or blue. “Argent”, or silver/white, here is a discrepancy from the heraldic vendor’s image, which uses “Or“, gold/yellow. The original painted panel is very dark and colour-faded, so lack of perfect agreement is not surprising.) The arms were recorded by Joseph Welland in 1843–1860, as found in the famous Clonfert (Saint Brendan’s) Cathedral41. This source did not associate them with any individual, and there was no reason to think they were in particular those of Cornelius Ó Cuinnlis or another of related name. The oldest parts of the cathedral as it exists now were originally Roman Catholic and date to after 1179 (the last of several years in which it was destroyed by Viking raiders), while the majority of its layout actually dates to the 15th century, though it was destroyed again by a fire in 1541, long remained a ruin, then was rebuilt in 1664–1678 by the Church of Ireland (Protestant episcopal, and a split-off of the Anglican Church or Church of England), specifically under Bishop Edward Wolley or Wooley.

The arms in question (see image) could have been associated with Clonfert at any time before Welland’s drawings, but the fact of the Protestant mitre crest means they cannot pre-date the Reformation of 1534–1536, almost a century after the tenure of Catholic Ó Cuinnlis anyway, and they most likely pre-date the Bishopric of Clonfert and Kilmacduagh merger in 1627, since they are the arms of Clonfert not of Clonfert and Kilmaduagh. The arms can be firmly pinned to Wolley’s era at the latest, as they are depicted in a painted carving in the cathedral that was taken from the nearby bishop’s “palace” before its ruin, along with a panel featuring Wolley’s personal arms, and they were both again recorded by Walter Fitzgerald (as Azure, two croziers in saltire Or, along with the Protestant mitre crest, which matches the vendor’s version, and a motto of Pasce Oves Clonfertensis ‘Feed the Sheep from Clonfert’ or more loosely ‘Tend the Flock of Clonfert’, painted again in the bishop’s palace while it still stood in the 19th century.43 (Aside: Wolley’s personal arms as recorded by Fitzgerald are completely different from the ones under examination here, just found together with them. Also, neither of these arms are to be confused with the arms of the co-existing Roman Catholic Diocese of Clonfert; those are always the arms of the current bishop – Michael Duignan, as of 2023, whose arms bear no resemblance to the ones under discussion here42.) The Church of Ireland Clonfert arms are also not “legal” any longer, after the merging away of the separate bishopric in 1834; they are just an old historical curiosity, and not even a family-historical one.

Cavendish Confusion

Many times the Scottish and later Ulster Scots [Mc]Candlish has been confused with the southern English Ca[ve]ndish both as to the name (as detailed here) and as to the heraldry. This confusion can finally be traced to a specific source, and laid to rest.

In Berry (1840)11, we find another blazon and two crests attributed to “Candlish or M’Candlish”: Sable, three bucks’ heads, cabossed, Argent attired Or, crest: A snake, nowed, Proper; and to “Candlish”, crest: An ostrich’s head, collared and ringed … [tinctures not specified]. There’s just one problem: These arms are very well established as belonging to Cavendish (which also occurs as de Cavendish, Cavendishe, Cavindith, Caundis[h], Caundysh[e], Candish[e]); and both crests, in complete form, are also of Cavendish/Candish21. In the earlier heraldic work by Edmonson (1780) we find the bucks’ heads coat of arms properly ascribed to Candish (i.e. Cavendish), not “Candlish”.26

Fairbairn (and no one else in heraldic writing) repeated Berry’s assertions, and then compounded the error. In both his 1905 and 1911 volumes3, 4, he ascribed to “Candlish, or M’Candlish” the family motto of Cavendish: Cavendo tutus (‘By caution safe’ or ‘Safe by being cautious’). This motto is also that of Allmack/Awmack, Cruikshank/Cruckshanks, Hardwick, and Waring, so it is not exclusive to Cavendish. However, it would be a much stronger motto candidate if found in some other source that did not mis-attribute Cavendish arms to McCandlish, or if it had been found associated with McCandlish in any period materials at all other than Fairbairn.

There are only three possible explanations for this sore confusion between families from opposite ends of Great Britain who simply have superficially similar names. It cannot happen under the laws of heraldry that two different people of different families would be granted the same arms.

1.  Berry (or an unknown source he used) simply confused Scottish Candlish with English Candish, ascribing Candish arms to Candlish and failing to note they were already arms of Candish/Cavendish. This is the most likely explanation. Errors in such works were frequent (as evidenced by the long errata and corrigenda published for them in successive volumes). Burke clearly thought it was an error, as he left these bogus “Candlish” blazon and crests out of his Encyclopædia of Heraldry2 and General Armory15, despite otherwise including almost everything from Berry; same with Papworth (1874). (Fairbairn, unfortunately, repeated the errors in his own works much later3, 4. We know he did this indiscriminately because he repeated the “broken” ostrich-head crest, with the colour information missing, without repairing it.) In Berry’s weak defense, the name McCandish has occasionally occurred, derived from McCandlish, and if truncated further to Candish would be coincidentally the same in form as the Candish derived from Cavendish (much as Grimes exists from different derivations in both Ireland and England). But Berry was a heraldry expert and should have recognized the famous arms of Cavendish when he was reattributing them to “Candlish” and caught himself in the error before publishing. Same goes for Fairbairn.

2.  Some Cavendish/Candish relatives could have actually started using the spelling Candlish, independently of the Scottish family. This is enticing a possibility until one notices that aside from Berry, and copy-catting by Fairbairn, there is no record in any of the usual sources for any southern English family of Candlishes, much less one connected to the Cavendishes, a ducal family of great reknown and, like Spencer and Churchill, a very well-studied pedigree. If there were a Candlish cadet branch of Cavendish, it would be very well known by now and be found in multiple genealogical and other sources, not just in Berry/Fairbairn. Even if this hypothesis were true, Berry and Fairbairn were still in error, by attributing M’Candlish to the Ca[ve]ndish blazon and crest in question. It would be an easy enough mistake to make, if they had found a real south-English Candlish family of Cavendish extraction and they were also aware of the name McCandlish in Scotland. But there was never, and logically could not be, a name *M’Cavendish, so M’Candlish could not possibly derive that way. No matter how you slice it, Berry and Fairbairn were confusing unrelated Scottish and English nomenclature and heraldry.

3.  Some Scottish [Mc]Candlish family, perhaps after relocating to England, could have put on airs and tried to associate themselves with Cavendish/Candish, including by usurping their arms, prominently enough to get recorded in Berry but not enough to attract negative attention under the laws of heraldry (which admittedly did not have much enforcement). This is a slim possibility, and again there is no evidence for it aside from Berry/Fairbairn. However, it would not be the only time that unrelated people have tried to pass themselves as Cavendishes; some few Irish Cavanaghs and O’Kevanes had gone by Cavendish, a “super-anglicization” that MacLysaght charitably described as “rather pretentious”. What we know of McCandlishes moving south during this timeframe and associating with families of the English landed gentry is the aformentioned William McCandlish (the younger) and his sons George G. L. McCandlish, etc.; what we see is not usupration of others’ honors but assertion (legitimately or not) of their own armorial bearings – at least a generation earlier by William the elder in Scotland. So, of the three hypotheses laid out here, this is the weakest, and the first the strongest.17

Regardless, it is clear that these are Ca[ve]ndish not [Mc]Candlish arms, crests, and motto. For reference, see footnote21 where is listed all known Ca[ve]ndish arms and crests, and sources for them. If you run across one of these, you can be certain it is not McCandlish/McCandless or related. This includes a shield with three stags heads, and crests that consist of a wolf head, a knotted snake, or an ostrich head, all of which have sometimes been mis-attributed to [Mc]Candlish. (Other Cavendish arms have not, but are also listed in the footnote just to be safe.)

Unfortunately, various American and even British heraldry bric-a-brac vendors still get this wrong and list Cavendish arms, crests, and mottoes for McCandlish and related names. (E.g., MyFamilySilver.com, who have been contacted with a correction as of 2023-09.)


Footnotes

1: Robson, Thomas; The British Herald, or Cabinet of Armorial Bearings of the Nobility and Gentry of Great Britain and Ireland From the Earliest to the Present Time, Vol. II; Sunderland: Turner & Marwood; 1830; at entry “M’Candlish” (pages are unnumbered).

2: Burke, John; Burke, John Bernard; Encyclopædia of Heraldry, or General Armory of England, Scotland and Ireland, 3rd ed.; London: Henry G. Bohn; 1851; at alphabetical entries (pages unnumbered).

3: Fairbairn, James; Fairbairn’s Book of Crests of the Families of Great Britain and Ireland, 4th ed., Vol I; London: T.C. & E.C. Jack; 1905.

4: Fairbairn, James; Butters, Lawrence; MacLaren, Joseph (ed.); Fairbairn’s Crests of the Leading Families in Great Britain and Ireland and Their Kindred in Other Lands; New York: Heraldic Publishing Company; 1911.

5: McCandless, Charles E., Jr.; The McCandless Clan; High Point, North Carolina: self-published; undated, ca. 1950s. Right from its title it is off to a bad start, falsely claiming the family qualifies as a clan. It contains numerous dubious assertions, including a raft of heraldic ones that do not agree with any of the major works on British heraldry, and which can’t be backed up with any period sources so far.

6: Fox-Davies, Arthur Charles; Brooke-Little, J.P. (ed.); A Complete Guide to Heraldry; Bonanza Books; 1969; p. 245. The basic text of this book (without Brooke-Littes’ editorial notes) is available online via the Gutenberg Project, but with different page numbering, so it would have be keyword-searched for the relevant material: https://www.gutenberg.org/files/41617/41617-h/41617-h.htm.

7: “[T]he term ‘a demi-lion’, unless otherwise qualified, may always be assumed to be a demi-lion rampant couped.” Fox-Davies, Arthur C.; Brooke-Little, J.P. (ed.); A Complete Guide to Heraldry; Bonanza Books; 1969; p. 144.

8: “A lion rampant and any other beast of prey is usually represented in heraldry with the tongue and claws of a different colour from the animal. If it is not itself gules [red], its tongue and claws are usually represented as of that colour, unless the lion be on a field of gules. They are then represented azure, the term being ‘armed and langued’ of such and such a colour. It is not necessary to mention that a lion is ‘armed and langued’ in the blazon when tongue and claws are emblazoned [painted] in gules, but whenever any other colour is introduced for the purpose it is better that it should be specified.” Fox-Davies, Arthur C.; Brooke-Little, J.P. (ed.); A Complete Guide to Heraldry; Bonanza Books; 1969; p. 135.

9: McCandlish, William; bookplate; ca. 1860-1890; in the special collections of the Newark Public Library, New Jersey; https://newarkpubliclibrary.libraryhost.com/repositories/2/archival_objects/87002. This is better evidence than a listing in any heraldic catalogue, since it proves actual use by a family member and the presumptive owner of the coat of arms.

10: Fox-Davies, Arthur Charles; Brooke-Little, J.P. (ed.); A Complete Guide to Heraldry; Bonanza Books; 1969; p. 252.

11: Berry, William; Encyclopædia Heraldica, or Complete Dictionary of Heraldry, Vol. IV: Supplement to the Dictionary of Arms; London: Sherwood, Gilbert and Piper; 1840; at alphabetical entries (pages unnumbered). Earlier volumes in this series began in 1828, but the fourth volume was published in 1840 (according to Berry’s entry in The Dictionary of National Biography), and McCandlish, etc., do not appear in the earlier volumes.

12: Pollock, Frederick (ed.), The Weekly Notes, Pt. 1; London: Incorporated Council of Law Reporting for England and Wales; 1896; pp. 213–214; At Google Books.

13: Fox-Davies, Arthur Charles; The Art of Heraldry: An Encyclopædia of Armory; London & Edinburgh: T.C. & E.C. Jack; 1904; p. 327.

14: Berry, William; Encyclopædia Heraldica, or Complete Dictionary of Heraldry, Vol. I; London: Sherwood, Gilbert and Piper; 1828; in “Mottoes” chapter (pages unnumbered)

15: Burke, John Bernard; General Armory of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales, London: Harrison; 1884; p 1181, 1184.

16: Howard, Joseph Jackson; Crisp, Frederick Arthur; Visitation of England and Wales; 21 vols.; privately printed; 1893–1921. The passing mention of a McCandlish was a William McCandlish (1825–1897) of Edinburgh and later Westminster, appearing in a Mytton pedigree on p. 113.

17: MacLysaght, Edward; The Surnames of Ireland, 6th ed.; Dublin: Irish Academic Press; 1997 [1957]; p. 41.

18. Papworth, John W.; Morant, Alfred W. (ed.); An Alphabetical Dictionary of Coats of Arms Belonging to Families in Great Britain and Ireland, Vol. II; London: T. Richards; 1874; p. 1090.

19. Paul, James Balfour; An Ordinary of Arms Contained in the Public Register of All Arms and Bearings in Scotland; Edinburgh: William Green & Sons; 1895.
Paul, James Balfour; An Ordinary of Arms Contained in the Public Register of All Arms and Bearings in Scotland; 2nd ed.; Edinburgh: William Green & Sons; 1903.

20. E.g.:

  • Dod, Charles Roger; The Peerage, Baronetage, and Knightage of Great Britain and Ireland; London: Whittaker and Co.; 1844. And editions of 1854, 1855, 1856, 1864, 1865, 1866, 1872, 1904, 1905, 1908, 1920, 1921, and 1923.
  • Debrett’s Illustrated Peerage and Titles of Courtesy of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland; London: Dean & Son; 1876.
  • Fox-Davies, Arthur Charles; Armorial Families: A Complete Peerage, Baronetage, and Knightage; Edinburgh: T.C. & E.C. Jack; 1895.
  • Debrett’s Peerage, Baronetage, Knightage, and Companionage; London: Dean & Son; 1903.

21. Cavendish (Candish, Caundyshe, etc.) arms:

  • Argent, three piles wavy Gules.
  • Argent, three piles wavy, two from the chief, and one rising from the base between them, Gules.
  • Argent, two bendlets, the upper Sable, the lower Gules.
  • Gules, a chevron Ermine between three pineapples Or.
  • Gules, three piles wavy Argent.
  • Or, a lion Gules, tail forked.
  • Or, a lion rampant Gules, tail forked.
  • Or, a lion coward Gules, tail forked.
  • Sable, a chevron between three standing dishes Argent.
  • Sable, a chevron Ermine, between three cups Argent.
  • Sable, a chevron Or, between three covered cups Argent.
  • Sable, a chevron Or, between three uncovered cups Argent.
  • Sable, a chevron Or, between three standing dishes Argent.
  • Sable, three bucks’/stags’ heads Argent, a mullet Or.
  • Sable, three bucks’/stags’ heads Argent attired Or.
  • Sable, three bucks’/stags’ heads caboshed Argent.
  • Sable, three bucks’/stags’ heads cabossed Argent attired Or.
  • Sable, three bucks’/stags’ heads embossed Argent attired Or, a bonier of the second.
  • Sable, three bucks’/stags’ heads caboshed Argent attired Or, within a bordure of the second.
  • Sable, three cross croslets Or.
  • Sable, three cross croslets fitchée Or.
  • Sable, three crosses botonée fitchée Or, two and one.
  • Sable, three crosses fitchée Or.
  • Sable, three crosses crosslet Or.

Cavendish (etc.) crests:

  • An ostrich’s head Azure, gorged with a collar Sable, rimmed Or, and charged with three bezants.
  • A serpent/snake nowed fessways Proper.
  • A serpent/snake nowed Proper.
  • A serpent/snake nowed Vert.
  • A wolf’s head couped Azure, collared Or.
  • A wolf’s head couped Azure, collared and ringed Or.

Cavendish (etc.) motto: Cavendo tutus.

Sources:

  • Edmondson, Joseph; A Complete Body of Heraldry, Vol. I; London: T. Spilsbury; 1780; pp. 35, 52, 101, 105.
  • Edmondson, Joseph; A Complete Body of Heraldry, Vol. II; London: T. Spilsbury; 1780; at alphabetical entries (pages unnumbered).
  • Fox-Davies, Arthur Charles; Armorial Families: A Directory of Gentlemen of Coat-armour, Vol. 1; 7th ed.; London: Hurst & Blackett; 1929; pp. 334–335.
  • Burke, Bernard; A Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Landed Gendry of Great Britain & Ireland; Vol. 1; 6th ed.; London: Harrison; 1879.; pp. 285–286.
  • Willement, Thomas; A Roll of Arms of the Reign of Richard the Second; London: William Pickering; 1834; p. 42.
  • Berry, William; Encyclopædia Heraldica, or Complete Dictionary of Heraldry, Vol. II: Dictionary of Arms; London: Sherwood, Gilbert and Piper; 1828–1840 (year uncertain); p. 238.
  • Berry, William; Encyclopædia Heraldica, or Complete Dictionary of Heraldry, Vol. IV: Supplement to the Dictionary of Arms; London: Sherwood, Gilbert and Piper; 1840; at alphabetical entries (pages unnumbered).
  • Morant, Alfred; Humphery-Smith, Cecil R. (ed.); General Armory Two: Alfred Morant’s Additions and Corrections to Burke’s General Armory; 1973; London: Tabard Press / EP Publishing. Also reprinted by Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing; p. 31.

22. Heraldry images based on:

  • Overall coat of arms, including crest: Modified version of art purchased (and specifcally licensed for web use) from Bonanza seller “Coat of Arms Family Crest”: https://www.bonanza.com/listings/Mccandless-Family-Crest-Coat-of-Arms-JPG-or-PDF-Image-Download/1259142237 (not recommeded; it was modified because the image was deficient and erroneous in several ways).
  • Galley: Modified version of ship element from art, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license, by Wikimedia Commons user “Czar Brodie”: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Duke_of_Argyll_arms.svg.
  • Motto scroll: Modified element from art, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license, by Wikimedia Commons user “Lumia1234”: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Coat_of_arms_of_Nigeria.svg.

23: Fox-Davies, Arthur Charles; The Art of Heraldry: An Encyclopædia of Armory; London & Edinburgh: T.C. & E.C. Jack; 1904; pp. 221–222.

24: Fox-Davies, Arthur Charles; The Art of Heraldry: An Encyclopædia of Armory; London & Edinburgh: T.C. & E.C. Jack; 1904; pp. 317–319.

25: “Cunlisk History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms”, HouseOfNames.com; 2022; House of Names / Hall of Names / Swyrich Corp.; https://www.houseofnames.com/cunlisk-family-crest (accessed 2022-06-01). It bears repeating that this is a heraldry bric-a-brac vendor, known for erroneous claims, not a reliable source.

26: Edmondson, Joseph; A Complete Body of Heraldry, Vol. II; London: T. Spilsbury; 1780; at alphabetical entries (pages unnumbered).

27: Image credits: based on example crest badge image:
  https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Clan_member_crest_badge_-_Clan_X_(fictional).svg
by Wikimedia Commons user “Celtus”, based in turn on previous images by “S@m” and “Greentubing”. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

28: Burke, Bernard; A Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Landed Gentry of Great Britain & Ireland, vol. 2, 8th ed.; London: Harrison; 1894; p. 1464. Quote: “MYTTON … of Garth … Letitia Clementina, m. 1 Jan. 1869, William McCandlish, Esq., C.E., and has issue.” The C.E. here means ‘civil engineer’. This is the only McCandlish who showed up in various pedigree books for England and Wales. The Garth in question (there are many places named that in the UK) is the Garth estate, consisting of lands in Guilsfield, Montgomeryshire, Powys, Wales (not to be confused with Garth, Treflys, Powys; nor Garth, Knighton, Powys).

29: William Herbert McCandlish, b. 23 October 1869 in Lewisham, Kent or in London; d. 1957, Ealing, Middlesex, England; m. [wife’s name unknown], April 1910; had dau. Mona Frances Letitia McCandlish (1911–2001). Any other offspring unknown so far. This William Herbert McC. lived in London; managed the Sabulite Works explosives factory in Barwick, Hertfordshire, for Sabulite (Great Britain) Ltd.; and obtained several patents, including in the US. What appears to be his will (dated 1952, and executed in 1958, in Cheshire for some reason, so conceivably a different man by the same name in the same period) is available online but for a fee. Genealogical sources:

30: Charles Murray McCandlish, b. 12 April 1871, Lewisham, Kent; d. 30 November 1890, Seattle, Washington, US. No offspring data found yet. Genealogical sources:

31: John Alexander McCandlish, b. 26 May 1872; d. 1947. No offspring data found yet. Is missing from the William and Letitia McCandlish offspring list at Geni.com. Photographs of John (1929) are in the National Portrait Gallery, which listed him as a “company director” without naming the company. Not to be confused with the man of the same name who died in 1949 in California. He is not turning up in genealogy databases and similar sources as of 2023-09. A will that is probably his (created 1941, and revised 1947) is available online, but for a fee; it suggests he lived in Stokewood, Buckinghamshire, and earlier in St Brelade on the isle of Jersey. The only genealogical source so far:

32: Irish heraldry works consulted so far:

  • Papworth, John W.; Morant, Alfred W. (ed.); An Alphabetical Dictionary of Coats of Arms Belonging to Families in Great Britain and Ireland, Forming an Extensive Ordinary of British Armorials; 1874; London: T. Richards; 2 vols.
  • Fairbairn, James; Fairbairn’s Book of Crests of the Families of Great Britain and Ireland; 4th ed.; 1905; London: T.C. & E.C. Jack; 2 vols.
  • Fairbairn, James; Butters, Laurence, and MacLaren, Joseph (eds.); Fairbairn’s Crests of the Leading Families in Great Britain and Ireland and their kindred in other lands; 1911; New York: Heraldic Publishing Co.
  • Burke, Bernard; The General Armory of England, Scotland, Ireland, and Wales; 1884; London: Harrison & Sons.
  • Morant, Alfred; Humphery-Smith, Cecil R. (ed.); General Armory Two: Alfred Morant’s Additions and Corrections to Burke’s General Armory; 1973; London: Tabard Press / EP Publishing. Also reprinted by Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing.
  • Knight, Frederick; Rumley, J.; Crests of the Nobility & Gentry of the United Kingdom of Great Britain & Ireland; 1911 [1827]; London: Simpkin & Marshall.
  • Burke, Bernard; Fox-David, Arthur C. (ed.); A Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Landed Gentry of Ireland, New Edtion, 1912, London: Harrison & Sons. And several earlier combined British and Irish editions.
  • MacLysaght, Edward; Irish Families: Their Names, Arms, and Origins; 4th ed.; 1985 [1957]; Dublin: Irish Academic Press.
  • Kelly, Patrick; Irish Family Names with Origins, Meanings, Clans, Arms, Crests and Mottoes; 1939; Chicago: O’Connor & Kelly.
  • de Breffny, Brian; Irish Family Names: Arms, Origins and Locations; 1989 [1982]; Gill & MacMillan.
  • Terry, James; “Addendum: List of the Names of Irish Septs contained in the Book of Arms compiled by Sir James Terry, Athlone Herald (1690), now preserved in the British Museum”; in: Matheson, Robert E.; Special Report on Surnames in Ireland, with Notes as to Numerical Strength, Derivation, Ethnology, and Distribution; Dublin: HM Stationery Office; 1909; pp. 76–78.

33: “Advanced Search: Coats of Arms”; ScotlandsPeople.gov.uk; 2023; National Records of Scotland / Court of the Lord Lyon; https://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk/advanced-search/legal-records/coa#form (accessed 2023-09-13). This is a digitization of ”The Public Register of All Arms and Bearings in Scotland” from 1672 to 1921 (as of 2023-09; it may include post-1921 records later, though these would not be of any interest for this research).

34: E-mail on 2023-09-12 from Peter O’Donoghue, MA, FSA, York Herald; College of Arms, Queen Victoria Street, London EC4V 4BT; to Stanton McCandlish, in response to query submitted to the College of Arms on 2023-09-04.

35: “Advanced Search”; The Public Register of Arms, Flags, and Badges of Canada; 2023; Governor General of Canada; https://www.gg.ca/en/heraldry/public-register/advanced-search (accessed 2023-09-14).

36: On assumed arms in various jurisdictions, see:

37: Two examples of recently made-up crest badges not based on any legitimate heraldry, which have nevertheless become virtually inescapable at Highland games events and Celtic festivals, are the logo of the vendor Celtic Jackalope, probably the leading supplier of clan crest-badge apparel; and that of Clan Inebriated, a rather frivolous Celtic-heritage club for those without a formal Scottish clan connection.

38: Under certain continental European systems, there actually are family not just individual coats of arms, but that would not apply to British arms, nor to assumed arms, anyway. Nor would it apply to entire surnames or a collection of etymologically related surnames, but only to those directly descended from the original grantee of the arms.

39: The plain “A demi-lion vert” crest is (officially) recorded in English heraldry for: Dyes, Pope (of Hendall, Sussex), and Sutton (of Ediall, Staffordshire). Some Irish (Republic of Ireland) arms also use it, including Logan and Pomeroy. But it has not been found for any other Scottish armigers. The English and probably Irish cases probably go back to the late medieval era, since later English-controlled armory would not have permitted duplicate crests.

40: Bolton, Charles Knowles; Bolton’s American Armory; 1927; Boston: F. W. Faxon Co. / Riverdale Press; pp. 111, 221. This source rather sloppily re-renders the blazon as “Or a galley sable with furled sails of the second, flags gules; on a chief gules, three mullets argent”, which amounts to the same image (except that it forgets to describe the oars). It also provides the crest as “A demi-lion vert”, and motto as Sola nobilitas virtus. The book is evidence that the arms with crest and motto were in use in the US in the early 20th century. Charles Murray McCandlish (a son of one of the William McCandlishes using these arms in Britain) is known to have moved there (d. 1890, Seattle, Washington). From the book’s introduction: “This is a record of those coats of arms only that have been in use (some of them from the earliest Colonial times) within the bounds of the present United States.”

These arms under any name, and any arms for this name, are not found in U.S. Heraldic Registry: Registration of Contemporary and Historical American Heraldry, http://usheraldicregistry.com/. That doesn’t really demonstrate much other than that no living Americans directly claiming these arms by descent have bothered to register them with that independent (non-governmental) organization.

41: Welland, Joseph; “Clonfert Diocesan Coat of Arms (Saphire Croziers Saltire Argent)”, RCB Library – Architectural Drawings; 2016 [1843–1860]; Dublin: Church of Ireland Representative Church Body Library; https://archdrawing.ireland.anglican.org/items/show/998 (accessed 2023-09-21).

42: “Coat of Arms and Motto”; ClonfertDiocese.ie; 2021; Diocese of Clonfert; https://www.clonfertdiocese.ie/our-diocese/coat-of-arms-and-motto (accessed 2023-09-21).

43: Burke, Donal G.; “Bishop Edward Wolley”; Burke’s East Galway; 2011; http://burkeseastgalway.com/bishop-edward-wooley/ (accessed 2023-09-21).

44: Bellew, Seamus; “Heraldry in the graveyard at St Columb’s Cathedral Derry / Londonderry: McCandless”; Irish Heraldry; 2017-08-19; https://irishheraldry.blogspot.com/2017/08/heraldry-in-graveyard-at-st-columbs.html (accessed 2023-09-23).

45: Hartemink, Ralf; “Worshipful Company of Curriers”; Heraldry of the World; 2023-08-20; https://www.heraldry-wiki.com/heraldrywiki/index.php?title=Worshipful_Company_of_Curriers (accessed 2023-09-23).

46: Fox-Davies, Arthur Charles; Brooke-Little, J.P. (ed.); A Complete Guide to Heraldry; Bonanza Books; 1969; pp. 102–103, 456–457.

47: Fox-Davies, Arthur Charles; Brooke-Little, J.P. (ed.); A Complete Guide to Heraldry; Bonanza Books; 1969; p. 221.

48: Lewis, Samuel; “Clonfert, Diocese of”; A Topographical Dictionary of Ireland; 1857; via LibraryIreland; https://www.libraryireland.com/topog/C/Clonfert-Diocese-Galway.php (accessed 2023-09-25); includes an illustration of the arms.

49: This is something of a crash course in the convoluted history and problems of Irish heraldry. Ireland originally had a loose system of clann/sept-based heraldry in the form of apparently hereditary symbols usually borne on standards/banners and used in seals, as elsewhere throughout Europe and beyond, to ancient times. The medieval Gaelic leadership sometimes adopted armorial (shield) bearings after observing the Anglo-Norman practice, with inheritance of them originally controlled, as with real property, by the complex Gaelic system of tanistry. The Normano-English invaders increasingly imposed their feudal primogeniture-based system, with an Ireland King of Arms dating back to perhaps 1369, an office replaced by the so-called Ulter King of Arms (actually based in Dublin) in 1467 or 1552 (sources conflict on the date). As in England, this began with recording and “confirming” traditionally assumed arms and resolving conflicting claims to the same pattern; the royal control and granting of arms didn’t happen until well into the 15th century, even in England. Either there was a general antipathy toward taking on English-style arms by the Gaelic Irish, or else the English-controlled authorities were reluctant to record (and later issue) them, as most Irish historical arms are for Anglo-Norman families in the Pale, the English-colonized region around Dublin. This began to change in the late 16th to early 17th centuries, after English common law (and primogeniture-based inheritance) became more widespread throughout the country.

Arms that were granted or were in traditional use, and known from various sources (family letters, headstones, etc), by Gaelic families in the west of Ireland are often not found in surviving official sources. Worse, the “Ulster” Office actually suffered record loss and destruction multiple times in the late 17th century and onward. It is thus possible that Ó Cuindlis-related armigers existed in and around Connacht (and vaguely possible that later Mac Cuindlis-related ones, incoming with and after the Plantation of Ulster, did likewise in the north), with arms that have since been lost. Discovery of any such arms is unlikely, but one never knows, given the rate at which old manscript materials are being digitized, uploaded, and indexed on the Internet.

The “Ulster” King of Arms mutated into the Chief Genealogical Office under the republican government in 1943, renamed the Office of the Chief Herald of Ireland in 1945. Mildly, as Northern Ireland conflicts go, the Chief Herald relinquished to the College of Arms in London all jurisdiction in NI (the College’s authority for NI is the Norroy King of Arms, who confusingly took over the “Ulster” title after establishment of the Republic; while NI is within Ulster the former does not encompass all of the latter). Frustratingly, the heraldic registers of the Chief Herald Office and historical Ulster Office are not available online, and even the portions of their material that have been digitized are hopelessly buried among the vast National Library of Ireland online catalogue, making Irish heraldry research unusually difficult. A “Genealogy and Heraldry Bill 2006” would have modernized this mess, but did not pass.

A formal and semi-regulated system of heraldry, but of contested legal authority, continues in Ireland under the Constitution of 1937, via the Chief Herald’s Office. It operates as a “practice of the state” and “a cultural tradition”, broadly and vaguely claims it “retains and exercises the right to regulate the use of arms”, and has asserted regulations of who is “entitled” to “bear” a coat of arms in Ireland. However, it actually comes with no legislatively conferred powers beyond its existence to “facilitate, encourage, assist and promote the granting and confirming of coats of arms” (note the lack of powers to restrict, invalidate, etc.), nor any judicial (enforcement) functions of any kind. One curious feature of it is that, aside from issuing new grants and registering new holders of directly inherited arms, it has also issued “confirmations” of a right to particular arms, more loosely than other jurisdictions: on the basis of use by three generations or for 100 years. However, the office reportedly no longer often applies this rule.

A further wrinkle is that Article 40.1 of the Irish Consistitution declares that “all citizens shall, as human persons, be held equal before the law” and also forbids the granting of noble titles. This seems to have permissive implications; the British association of heraldry with a noble class is basically constitutionally invalid in Ireland, though treatment of arms-bearing as a symbol of historical “gentility” (however that might be defined) nevertheless continued into at least the early half of the 20th century. One constitutional result is abandonment in Ireland of separate inheritance and cadency/differencing rules on a gendered basis (though it still uses marks of cadency in relation to birth order), and of the rule that women cannot bear crests, and of rules for differencing marks indicative of birth out of wedlock. All these details aside, the Constitution has also called into question the Chief Herald having any authority at all, and even sowed doubt as to the validity of the blazons it has granted since the beginning of the Republic. This also interrelates with “courtesy recognition” by the Irish government in 1991 of several claimants to bloodline “Chief of the Name” status of prominent Irish clanns/septs, which led to scandal, culminating in a 1999 decision by the Chief Herald that such recognition would cease, and a 2003 declaration by the Attorney General that it was unconsistitional and without any legal basis. The AG also wrote that the royal-prerogative-based “powers relating to the grant of all honours and dignities did not survive the enactment of the Constitution”. As a separate matter, the Chief Herald was also statutorily granted copyright over the arms it newly issues, which arguably renders them potentially useless to their grantees and no longer a form of heritable property.

Much confusion also resulted from Chief Herald of Ireland Edward MacLysaght, in 1957, creating the concept of “sept arms”, which were arms associated with a prominent line of a family but not identifiable to a specific individual, and which under MacLysaght’s rule could be “displayed” (e.g. on the wall) but not “borne” (e.g. on one’s clothing or vehicle) by any family member of direct relation. The exact interpretation of this has been hotly debated, and the idea has been rejected by MacLysaght’s successors anyway. The entire proposition was dubious all along, as many if not most of the examples MacLysaght provided as usable as sept arms by entire families (which is not the same thing as surnames), said to not be ascribed to particular individuals but just traditional to various prominent families or branches thereof, have proven in later research to in fact be grants (often by MacLysaght’s own predecessors in the Ulster Office) to individuals who are now identifiable, and which often have living claimants to their direct inheritance. I.e. their use by random family members or surname bearers under the “sept arms” concept is provably usurpation of existent individuals’ heraldic property. The evidence that has largely unravelled the sept-arms idea has likely come to light because computerization and the Internet have resulted in more systematization of archives and the easier examination of materials that were previously near-lost in haphazardly catalogued and stored paper form in disparate locations.

It has also been suggested that the “sept arms” notion is not just incompatible with Anglo-Norman and later Hiberno-Norman primogeniture, but even with the original Gaelic tanistry system, which while more “democratic” (among an a elite) was nevertheless a system of social stratification which separated the landed gentry and warrior class, and their symbols, from the common labourers within a sept, clann, or other kindred group. A counter-argument is that there is early evidence of something like sept arms among the Gaelic Irish, because arms were historically often in use by multiple members of the same family but without any differencing changes. (And multiple explanations have been offered for this, which we need not go into here.)

Depite MacLysaght’s successors abandoning the sept-arms idea shortly after he introduced it, the Office of the Chief Herald in modern times has issued very confusing statements that include language implying family-level heraldic entitlements, such as:

a grant or confirmation of arms from the Chief Herald of Ireland serves as an enduring heritable manifestation of the common bond between … all descendants of the grantee and … their country of [familial] origin. The same grant … recognizes the grantee and his or her family within that context as a share-holder in the cultural heritage of the island ….

It has been claimed recently (2010s) that the Chief Herald now refuses to newly register arms that have previously been simply “assumed”. And a plan (since 2013) by Heraldry Ireland, part of the Genealogical Society of Ireland, to independently set up a registry of assumed arms was abandoned in 2023.

Principal sources:

50: McAndrew, Bruce A.; Scotland’s Historic Heraldry; 2006; Woodbridge: Boydell Press; pp. 29–30, 456–457; https://archive.org/details/scotlandshistori0000mcan/mode/2up (URL access: free registration).

51: McAndrew, Bruce A.; Scotland’s Historic Heraldry; 2006; Woodbridge: Boydell Press; pp. 23–31; https://archive.org/details/scotlandshistori0000mcan/mode/2up (URL access: free registration).

52: Campbell of Airds, Alastair Lorne; “A Closer Look at West Highland Heraldry”; 2021 [2004]; The Heraldry Society of Scotland; p. 2; https://www.heraldry-scotland.co.uk/westhigh.html (accessed 2023-09-27). Campbell of Airds argues persuasively for a west Highlands regional heraldic style (which even spread into Ulster, and the red hand motif so strongly associated with Ulster also occurs frequently in arms of Hebridean prominent lineages). Frequently associated with families connected to the Lordship of the Isles and its Council of the Isles, it is characterized by frequent uses of galleys, lions rampant, hands, and salmon, all of which he considered “totemic” of several early lineages. And it is often (mostly after 1491) quartered by original design rather than as a commemoration of marriage to an heraldic heiress, the usual reason for quartering. However, it was neither a style universal in that region nor one confined to it, and because of the nature of shifting clan conferderations, it does not represent a particular single familial lineage. His certainty that the galley represents a Viking connection rather than martime dominance in general is a rather dubious supposition. His connection of the lion rampant to Dál Riata is on firmer footing, and found consistently in various other writers on the subject, including McAndrew (2006) cited above, and The Highland Clans by Iain Moncreiffe of that Ilk (1967).

53: McAndrew, Bruce A.; Scotland’s Historic Heraldry; 2006; Woodbridge: Boydell Press; p. 38; https://archive.org/details/scotlandshistori0000mcan/mode/2up (URL access: free registration).

54: McAndrew, Bruce A.; Scotland’s Historic Heraldry; 2006; Woodbridge: Boydell Press; pp. 55, 225, 605; https://archive.org/details/scotlandshistori0000mcan/mode/2up (URL access: free registration).

55: Fox-Davies, Arthur C.; Brooke-Little, J.P. (ed.); “The heraldic helmet”; A Complete Guide to Heraldry; Bonanza Books; 1969; pp. 228–244. Peers, clergy, and some others may have additional options used with or in place of the helm, such as a coronet, cap or chapeau of rank, and bishop’s mitre or cardinal’s hat.

56: Fox-Davies, Arthur C.; Brooke-Little, J.P. (ed.); “The mantling or lambrequin”; A Complete Guide to Heraldry; Bonanza Books; 1969; pp. 287–302. See especially p. 295 on Scottish mantles: “That the mantlings of all other [i.e. non-peer] arms matriculated before 1890 shall be of gules and [lined with or “doubled”] argent. … That the mantlings of all other persons whose arms have been matriculated since 1890 shall be of the livery colours [the dominant ones in the blazon], unless other colours are, as is occasionally the case, specified in the patent of matriculation.” The English rules also have non-royal, non-peer mantles as the livery colours. Since these arms were never matriculated or otherwise official at all, and there have been no McCandlish (McCandless, M’Canlish, etc.) peers, only the livery colours could be appropriate for depictions of the McCandlish blazon as assumed arms, which results in Gules and Or, red and gold.

Last modified 2024-04-29 by SMcCandlish.