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Badge of an Earl of Derby (family name Stanley)

February 26, 2011

This badge appears on the front covers of all three volumes of a copy of Edward Ward’s The History of the Grand Rebellion (London: Printed for J. Morphew, 1713) in the Mortimer Rare Book Room, Smith College Library, Northampton, Massachusetts.  The crown is that of an earl; the garter and motto indicate that he was an officer of the Order of the Garter.

The badge has been identified by Farley Katz as the result of my query posted on the CERL provenance web site.  It is that of one of the Earls of Derby (whose family name is Stanley); the 13th and 14th earls were Knights of the Garter, installed 1839 and 1859, respectively; the 13th earl seems the most likely candidate, based on the probable date of the binding.  Both were named Edward Smith-Stanley.  David Shaw, on the CERL provenance site, suggests that the James Stanley who signed the title page of volume 2 (see below) was likely the 10th Earl of Derby (1664-1736), based on the date of publication of the book.

Further information has been provided on the CERL site by Philip Oldfield, who is at work on a data base of British armorial binding stamps.  He writes:

This is the stamp of a 19th century Earl of Derby. The stamp is very similar to that used by Edward Geoffrey Stanley, 14th Earl of Derby (1799-1869). The dimensions of his stamp are 44 x 28 mm. What are the dimension of this stamp?  [42.5 x 27.5 mm]  Beneath the eagle is a chapeau, or cap of maintenance turned up ermine.  The eagle and child crest is based an old family legend (of which there are two versions), as reported by Farley Katz. However, is the eagle protecting the child or preying upon it? This has always puzzled me. There are a lot of pubs in south Lancashire named “The Eagle and Child”.  Although there was a sale of the library at Knowsley Hall in 1954, there are still quite a lot of books there, including several belonging to the 14th Earl.  The signature of J. Stanley is most probably James Stanley, 10th Earl of Derby (1664-1736).

The curious image of an eagle and child is explained thus, as quoted from Katz’s post on the CERL site:

The crest illustrated by Barrington

“Those Stanleys once had a very bad ancestor who had an illegitimate child and, like any right thinking Englishman of the time, abandoned the child in an eagle’s nest. The eagle, however, had other thoughts and raised the child as his own, leading to his eventual adoption and reconciliation. See Archibald Barrington, M.D., Familiar Introduction to Heraldry, Explaining in a Series of Lectures the Principles of the Science, etc. London: H. G. Bohn, 1848. (On GoogleBooks). Page 92. Image on page 217 (Plate B1): ‘[The crest] of the Earl of Derby is still more striking ; it is shewn at B 1, and is thus blazoned : “On a chapeau, gu., turned up, erm., an eagle, wings endorsed, or, feeding an infant in its nest, ppr., swaddled, az., banded of the third.” This crest is that of the Lathams, now represented by the Stanleys, and is said to have been assumed on account of one of their ancestors having abandoned and exposed an illegitimate son in an eagle’s nest, and the eagle having nurtured and fed him. From this extraordinary circumstance, his father was induced to take him again and to adopt him as his heir.'”

A somewhat different version of the legend is given in John Seacombe’s History of the House of Stanley (text of the 1793 edition on-line). In this version, the supposedly childless and elderly father arranged for the child to be placed in the eagle’s nest and “discovered” by a faithful retainer, allowing him to adopt the child without having to acknowledge paternity.

Each volume also contains an armorial bookplate without a name, apparently unrelated and the subject of the next post, as well as the signature of James Stanley (in volume 2 only) and a pictorial bookplate of Norman J. Dennis.

The crest also appears on an armorial bookplate in the Mortimer Rare Book Room’s collections, that of Edward John Stanley, the second Baron Stanley (1802-1869), in a copy of the 1491 edition of Tibullus, Catullus, and Propertius printed in Venice by Bonetus Locatellus for Octavianus Scotus.

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