The Heraldic Arms of Richard Lane

With each answered question a new mystery springs! Is it possible the sketch of Richard Lane’s arms in Jean Chevalier’s diary was drawn later, from Chevalier’s description? Or were they incorrectly presented on the pall over Richard Lane’s casket?

Early in my research, I first encountered a description of Richard Lane’s arms in the translation of Jean Chevalier’s diary:

“On the black pall which covered the coffin, Milord Keeper’s arms, painted on paper, were fixed, – two at the ends and three on each side. The arms showed the figure of a lion between three crosses, two above the lion and one below. the pastor’s pulpit was draped with black cloth, on which the arms of the dead man were displayed.”

I first found a sketch of those arms in a 1934 book by Major Rybot called “Elizabeth Castle” which was reporting based on the Chevalier account of Richard Lane’s funeral.  But what did those arms really look like?  Would any records of those arms have survived the nearly 4 centuries which have passed since he lived?  A search of the internet revealed nothing of his arms…

But soon after, while investigating Middle Temple, I came upon images of the majestic Middle Temple Hall, and its “armorial”  plaque-lined walls. Was it possible that Richard Lane’s arms were among the hundreds of these honorary panels lining the walls of that magnificent structure?  For the longest time, I only hoped so, and was prepared to search the hall when I visited to find out.

But a few weeks before I left for my research trip, Lesley (the Archivist I had begun communicating with) told me something wonderful – that Richard Lane had been a “Lenten Reader” and so his armorial panel was among those on the walls of Middle Temple Hall.  But that wasn’t all.  Because Richard Lane had later been made a knight, he had been given the far greater honor of also having his arms appear in a stained glass panel on the upper windows of the Hall. I couldn’t wait to see them!

Entrance to Middle Temple Hall, London


But when I finally did see them, I was met with a surprise – the two arms were not the same…  I later realized Charles II had given Richard Lane an updated set of arms after he became a knight in 1643 – most notably with the inclusion of a lion among the saltires.  It was these updated arms which appear on the windows of Middle Temple Hall, and which had adorned the pall over Richard Lane’s casket during his funeral in St Helier, Jersey.

Among the generously provided access, materials and consultation I received during my visit to Middle Temple, I was given a copy of a book written by one of the Junior Archivists, Barnaby (with an introduction written by Lesley).  This book includes a photograph of each armorial plaque and a summary of key information about each “Reader” or “Treasurer” so honored.

Armorial Montage
The reference book of armorial panels at Middle Temple

Richard Lane’s original arms (appearing on the wooden armorial panel) consisted of a vertically split background with three “saltires” (a St Andrew’s cross – similar to an “X”), two above the third.  The Latin words on ribbons in the panel show his “latinized” name (“Richardus Lane”), and indicate that he was a Lenten Reader (“Lector Quadrag”) in 1629 (“Anno 1629”).

The glass armorial honoring Richard Lane appears high on the windows along the North side of the Hall, and is stunning.  The original split background of the field has been replaced by a bold red, and a rearing golden lion now appears among the (now-golden) saltires. Beneath the arms, along with his latinized name, appears the word “Miles” – which indicates he was a knight.

Interestingly, the sketch attributed to Chevalier includes an important error – an error that makes me wonder whether the arms were sketched from the description instead of direct observation.  Chevalier describes the arms as including “three crosses”, and the sketch shows three traditional Christian crosses – not the saltires (or St Andrews crosses) which actually appear on both armorial panels of Richard Lane in Middle Temple.

Jean Chevalier’s sketch of Richard Lane’s arms from the book “Elizabeth Castle”

Were the paper armorial shields attached to Richard Lane’s pall incorrectly made, or did Chevalier (or someone else) draw them incorrectly later from memory or his description?  Perhaps the only way to know for sure would be if the original pall had been buried with Richard Lane’s casket, and that pall and paper armorials were found relatively intact.  After 367 years, this is unlikely, to be sure!

But, there is some hope of this possibility – although reportedly not normally done, apparently the pall was buried with the casket of Major Pierson when he was interred in the center of the same church in St Helier in 1781, and after 230 years it was still intact.  But more about that later – that’s the subject of another, very interesting article soon to come!


Your comments and corrections are gladly welcomed.  I admire great writing, but have little choice but to approach this task as one of slowly grinding a workable edge onto a rough blade – with my thanks for your generosity of spirit and firm critique in the meantime! – Greg Sherwood


3 thoughts on “The Heraldic Arms of Richard Lane”

  1. Since Lane has both, what is the protocol for placement of arms on the wood paneled walls vs. in stained glass windows?


    1. No protocol, really. They are separate honors. If you are a Reader or Treasurer, an armorial panel is put up for you. If you are a knight or receive other major honors, they are put them up on the glass. But the truth is, the hall is full, and they are putting new panels in other halls/chambers now. Not sure what they are doing with new knights, etc… As far as which you use, I don’t know if the former are considered “retired” and not to be used anymore, or whether the owner is free to display whichever they like.


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