The Churchward One-Name Study


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The Churchward "Coat of Arms".

There is NO Churchward Coat of Arms or, put another way, no member of any Churchward family has ever been granted arms. 

Why do people believe otherwise?  There are three reasons

  1. The Brass Plate in Stoke Gabriel Church.

Most Churchwards, at some time or another, find their way to Stoke Gabriel in Devon, and in the church is a splendid stained glass window dedicated to the long association between the Churchward family and the village.  Underneath that window is an equally-splendid brass plate, complete with a “coat of arms”.  All this is due to Frederick Churchward (1839-1922).  “Squire Fred”, as he was affectionately known, had been a successful banker until his retirement in 1906 – after which he took over Hill House in Stoke Gabriel.  He was not the eldest surviving son of the Hill House family but, by that time, most of the family had emigrated and he was probably the only one left who could afford to run the traditional family “seat”. In the event he quickly bought himself into the affections of the villagers as their “Squire” and spent a good deal of money on improving Hill House and many other aspects of village life.

However, in his enthusiasm to celebrate over 400 years of association with the village he commissioned this brass plate complete with a bogus coat of arms.  It is in fact a collage of armorial bits and pieces taken from other families – almost certainly armigerous families into which the Churchwards of Stoke Gabriel had married down the years.  The main quarterings have been identified as belonging to the Rolfe; Goodridge; Sladen and Tufton families.  The three crests belong to the Rolfe; Sladen and Goodrige families, and the motto is that of the Tufton family.  “Ales Volat Propriis” = A bird flies to its own (aka Birds of a feather flock together).




2. Stained Glass Doors in Hill House, Stoke Gabriel.

At the rear of Hill House (now the Gabriel Court Hotel) are a pair of doors which contain a crest and motto. 

Once again, belonging to the Tufton family.






3. The Arms of the Dimond-Churchward Family

Whenever a commercial organisation is challenged to produce a “Churchward coat of arms”, it always managed to turn up the coat of arms which was granted to the Revd. Marcus Dimond Dimond-Churchward (1837-1916), Clerk Prebendary of Exeter Cathedral.  They were granted to him and his descendants, and also to the other descendants of his late father – James Dimond-Churchward (1780-1838).

The official description of the Dimond-Churchward arms is:-
Blazoned Gules on a Fess Argent a Fleur de Lys between two Lozenges of the first in chief a Stag trippant of the second.
Crest : On a Wreath of the Colours in front of a Stag’s Head couped proper three Lozenges conjoined Gules each charged with a Fleur de Lys Or.
Motto: Suaviter in Modo (Gentle in manner).

The story started with the father – who was born James Dimond, the third son of Faby Dimond and Mary (née Churchward) – the only sister of James Churchward of Stoke Gabriel.  In James Churchward’s will of 1813 lands were left to James Dimond on condition that he changed his surname to Churchward.  On 22nd. February, 1817, James Dimond was permitted by a Royal Licence to take the name Churchward.  The end result was the hyphenated Dimond-Churchward compromise.
James Dimond-Churchward and his wife, Catherine, had eleven children, of whom six did not survive infancy.  Of the remaining five, two daughters married and so lost the surname, two did not marry, and Marcus Dimond Dimond-Churchward himself did not marry.  Any descendants would therefore not bear either the Dimond or the Dimond-Churchward surname.

This genuine coat of arms therefore does not have any connection whatsoever with any holder of the Churchward surname.