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The Coat of Arms of the Phelps Family in Tewkesbury, England

The authors of the Phelps Family in America could find no original coat of arms or crest used by William or George Phelps who settled in Dorchester and later Windsor, Connecticut, 1635-6, though they found that some of their descendants about the middle of the 18th century "adopted various styles of arms and crests." Other sources have since described arms for William Phelps of Dorchester.

"From our English correspondence we find(1), says the Rev. William Phelps Prior, of the Tewkesbury family, "Our arms is a black sable lion chained and rampant." He says again: "I observe the Irish family and the John Delafield Phelps family, of Salisbury, both offshoots of the Tewkesbury Phelps family. The latter family, of which John Phelps, the clerk of the court that convicted Charles 1, was a descendant, have adopted a coat of arms given them doubtless by Cromwell, consisting of a wolf salient between crosses crosslets.

Says the late John Lloyd Phelps, Esq., of the Irish Tewkesbury line, "The arms of John Delafield Phelps is a lion rampant, sable, between six crosses crosslets"; as to this, Rudder and Bigland, local historians, differ. One says a lion rampant-the other a wolf salient.

Again says Isaac Phelps, "Our coat of arms, as I believe, is a mailed armor and two wolf's heads."

Says John Batton, of Yeoville, "Phelps is a common name in Somerset and Dorsetshire; a family of that name, bearing for their arms a lion rampant, were respectable land proprietors."

Phelps Family Arms
Irish Coat of Arms
Veritas Sine Timore

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Crux fidei lux
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J. and C. Phelps, Milton Wiltshire, write, "At the Herald's office, they inform us that only two coats of arms have been granted the Phelps family since the time of William the Conqueror."

From Burke's Commons of England, an extract, "Francis Phylppe of Nether Teyne, in the Parish of Checkley, died 6th of Edward VI., (Note-Edward VI. 1547-1553) and was succeeded by his son John Phelipe of Nether Teyne, who died in 1641, leaving, among others, a son Anthony Phelps," etc.

Many of Mr. William Phelps', the emigrant's descendants, think this Francis Phylyppe and James Phelps of Tewkesbury were brothers, and sons of Richard Phylyppes. [Nether Teyne is about twelve miles from Lichfield, Staffordshire and from fifty to sixty miles north of Tewkesbury.]

The coat of arms of this family is a lion rampant, six crosses or crosslets.

Various heraldic sources describe three known crests for Phelps families in England and Ireland and one for Willaim Phelps of Dorchester: (2)

Phelps: Russell Square, London. per pale or and at a wolf salient, oz. between eight crosses crossletts, fitchy gu. crest. A wolf's head erased az, gorged with a collar or, charged with a martlet sa.

Phelps: Salisbury, County Wiltshire, England. Sa. a wolf salient between two crosses crosslets, fitchy chief, as many in vase and two fleurs-de-lis, crest a demi lion erased, sa. charged on the shoulder with a chevron argent holding in the dexter paw a tilting spear ppr. and resting the left on a cross pattée, also sa.

Phelps: Dursley, Gloucestershire, England. Per pale or seme of cross crosslets, fitchy GU a wolf saliant, oz. crest, a wolf's head, oz. languid and erased, GU gorged with a collar, or there on a martlet sa. Frangas non flectas. (You may break me, but you shall not bend me.)

Phelps, William. Dorchester, Colony of Massachusetts. Argent, a lion rampant sable between six cross-crosslets fitchee, gules. Crest: a wolf's head erased azure. Motto: Veritas sine timore. (TRUTH WITHOUT FEAR; pictured above)

Another source of unknown reliability, the "Media Research Bureau" of Washington, D.C., states that the motto of the Phelps of Dursley is, "Nil Nisi Honestum" - (NOTHING UNLESS HONORABLE)."

For an interpretation of the shorthand use to describe these crests, see Coat of Arms Glossary.

Burke's Landed Gentry, Vol. II, after giving other details of the Phelips Montacute family, says:

"The seat of the Phelips described in a former edition, now occupied by farmer Hooper, pleasantly situated near the river, and not far from the chapel.

At the east end of the building in an old window in the hall were-argent. a chevron between three roses, seeded and lered proper. Philipi, impolling, and 4 Phelips as before, two and three or, on a chevron sable, three eagles' heads crossed argent, both by the name of Phelips.

Crest a fire grate argent flaming proper. Motto-'Est Inclita Virtus.'

In the parlor, north window: First range, remaining Sept. 17th, 1779-eight various coats; of these the 7th is Phellipee impolling, ermine a lion rampant, guardant or Terberrele.

Second range-eight various coats; of these the 3rd, Phellipes impolling; sable a lion passant, or between three helmets, argent compton under this panso. "

From the office of the Domesday Book, No. 20, Cooper Institute, in 1861-now discontinued-''The American bearings of the family of Phelps are: per pale, or (gold), and argent, (white or silver), a wolf salient azure (blue) with an orle of eight crosses crosslet, fitchie gule (red). Crest, a wolf's head erased (torn off), azure collared or, the collar charged with a martlet sable (black)."

The interpretation of the arms is as follows:

"The parting, per pale, indicates that a fortification had been placed, by ancestors, in the face of an enemy. The wolf signifies courage and endurance, the crosses-crosslets fitchie being emblems of the second Crusade or Holy War, shows that it was in that campaign the arms were earned or acquired. The martlet in the crest is the martin or swallows of Palestine, and indicates that an ancestor had been upon a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, in addition to having been in the second Crusade."

Says Mr. B. Beadham, under date of Oct. 20th 1897, Newtown, England, "The arms of Phelps are: Argent, a lion rampant, sable, between six crosse's crosslets, fitchy gules."

Rudders', Gloucestershire edition, 1779, page 620.

The following [image above left] is a copy of the coat of arms as used by the descendants of our English ancestors. While the following [image above right] "a wolf salient," is used by some of the descendants of our English ancestors, especially by the Irish branch.

Reference is made in our English correspondence to John Phelps, clerk of the court that convicted Charles I.

Says Harper's Pictorial History of England, edition of 1849, 111-377, "The name was anciently spelled 'Phyllyppes,' but has always been pronounced 'Phelps.' After the time of Edward IV, the superfluous letters were dropped." [For more information, see Origins of the Phelps Name.]

The family has been for a number of centuries in the county of Stafford, England.

(1)1 From The Phelps Family of America and Their English Ancestors, (Save $200 by ordering through us.) By Oliver S. Phelps and Andrew T. Servin. (Get an updated index here.) Vol. I, p 49-53. [Original spelling and grammar] See the glossary for definitions of the known terms.

(2) Fairbairn, James Fairbairn's Book of Crests of the Families of Great Britain and Ireland Being a Fourth Edition, Revised and Enlarged. Volume 1. 1905

(3)Burke's Landed Gentry (pages 1265-7)