English Armorial by John Philipot, Somerset Herald

  • Reference
      GB 133 Eng MS 5
  • Dates of Creation
  • Name of Creator
  • Language of Material
  • Physical Description
      Extent of unit of description: 360 x 200 mm.  1 volume (35 folios); Medium: vellum.
  • Location
      Collection available at John Rylands Library, Deansgate

Scope and Content

Manuscript with 66 coats of arms, emblazoned two at a time on each page. The names and titles of the holders are written above each coat. The work was originally meant to be solely an armorial of the Anglo-Scottish nobility of the court of Charles I around the year 1635, but with later instructions from his commissioner, Elizabeth, Philipot added an explanation of the rules of precedency and the different forms of address and title of the English aristocracy and Royal officials. These were then included in the work as the first two folios after the preamble.

Administrative / Biographical History

The manuscript was a gift of Elizabeth Stuart, 'Winter Queen' of Bohemia and sister to Charles I of England and Scotland, to her son Charles 'Lodowick' or Lewis, otherwise known as Prince Karl Ludwig von Pfalz-Simmern (1618-1680), the eldest surviving son of Frederick V, Elector Palatine and the 'Winter King' of Bohemia. For much of his early life and adulthood Karl Ludwig lived in exile in Holland at the Hague, as his father had lost all his lands and title by 1623 under an Imperial ban and invasion enacted by his rival to the Crown of Bohemia, the Holy Roman Emperor, Ferdinand II. Through his mother, he and the rest of his family enjoyed close connections to the court of Charles I, with Knighthoods of the Order of the Garter being bestowed on both himself and his younger brother Rupert, the famous Royalist cavalry commander during the English Civil War.

It was during the diplomatic mission in 1635 to bestow the Order of the Garter onto Karl Ludwig that John Philipot (1589?-1645), then Somerset Herald, met Elizabeth Stuart and was commissioned by her to produce this manuscript. Philipot himself was a career herald, being introduced to the College of Arms in 1618 through his wife's family connections, as his uncle-in-law was the famous herald Robert Glover (See GB 133 Eng MS 6 ). He frequently acted as a deputy during the county visitations for the more senior Heralds, including William Camden as the Richmond Herald and later as the Clarenceux King-of-Arms, Richard St George as the successor to Camden, and Sir John Burroughs as the Norroy King-of-Arms. In 1624 Philipot was promoted to Somerset Herald when his predecessor, Robert Creswell, was forced to sell his office. As a reward for his faithful service during the Civil War, Charles I was reputedly intending to promote him to Norroy King-of-Arms, but Philipot died prematurely in London, and was buried on 25 November 1645.

Source: Thomas Woodcock, 'Philipot, John (c.1589-1645)', Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004. By permission of Oxford University Press -' http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/ref:odnb/22108.

Access Information

The manuscript is available for consultation by any accredited reader.

Acquisition Information

Purchased by Enriqueta Rylands, on behalf of the John Rylands Library, in 1901 from James Ludovic Lindsay, 26th Earl of Crawford.


Description compiled by Henry Sullivan, project archivist, with reference to the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography article on John Philipot.

Other Finding Aids

Catalogued in the Hand-List of the Collection of English Manuscripts in the John Rylands Library, 1928 (English MS 5).

Custodial History

Formerly part of the Bibliotheca Lindesiana, the Library of the Earls of Crawford and Balcarres, from Haigh Hall, Wigan, Lancashire (bookplate inside front cover).

Alexander Lindsay, 25th Earl of Crawford, purchased English MSS 5 and 6 for £75 each from the Berlin bookseller Albert Cohn in February 1876. Cohn stated that they belonged to a 'Berlin gentleman'. Source: National Library of Scotland, Acc 9769, Crawford Muniments, Library Letters, 1876, ff. 15 and 58. See also the provenance information for English MS 6.

Related Material

The UML holds a similiar armorial created by Robert Glover, Philipot's uncle-in-law and predecessor (GB 133 Eng MS 6).