Staveley Arms of Yorkshire

Staveley Arms of Stainley

The more established and recognizable Staveley ‘devices’ of a chevron and lozenges with stags or bucks heads ‘caboshed’, started with the later families as it seems for the 14th century there was a fair mishmash of Staveley designs.

This would perhaps imply ‘non-lineal’ descent from the earlier line whose blazon was completely different. However this is not known for sure and I, for one, would dispute that suggestion. It is known that the William Staveley of Oxford and Yorkshire had this later emblem and his dates are 1430-98.

The revised device seems to have come into being some time around 1400-1450 (around the time Henry V was imposing his heraldic regulations) and indeed this William, or John his father, may well have been the first grantee of this more complex design.

The established ‘meanings’ for blazon devices are by their wide usage rather general in nature but it is worth recording that the ‘Chevron’ represents ‘accomplished work of faithful service’, the ‘Lozenge’ means ‘constancy’ and stags/bucks/hart head device is for ‘peace and harmony -  one who will not fight – unless provoked.’

It is quite interesting to note that the blazon (colour scheme) of the Thormanby line is identical to the later Oxford/Leicester line and also indeed the London line being a silver shield, with gold stags heads on a blue chevron and black lozenges.

Staveley Arms of Thormanby, Yorkshire

However from ‘Church notes etc. from Berkshire and Oxfordshire c. 1590 (fo.21v and 46v. and Fo. 37) the sketch recording the arms of the original William in Bicester church (sadly now lost) give the lozenge colour as being blue, not black. This is the same as the Devon Staveleys (originally from Yorkshire).

Grinton Arms

I have a personal theory regarding the development of the Staveley arms which whilst possible of some merit does not stand up to really close scrutiny. As we know the Staveleys had long time associations over many centuries with Healeaugh and Grinton in Swaledale (indeed Stainton is just three miles from Grinton). Grinton is the seat of the Swale family. However, the other great powerbase of the Swale’s was South Stainley and indeed it would appear that they may only have achieved this status via the 14th Century marriage to a female Staveley. This resulted in the demise of the Staveleys manorial rights in South Stainley when the male line had petered out.

It was then with some surprise that I discovered that the Swale Arms of Swale Hall, Grinton are given (from Victoria County History. North Riding of Yorks vol ii) as Sable, three harts heads caboshed argent with horns or.  (Three silver deer heads with gold antlers shown front-on, on a black background). This recognizable Staveley ‘device’ of three ‘stags heads caboshed’ does strongly raise the possibility of a marital link with, probably, the 14th century Swinton Staveleys (of whom we frustratingly know so little but may originally just have had the simple chevron device) and the Swale family of Grinton. As I say, this is just idle speculation but further research may come up with something more definitive in due course.

Author: Peter Staveley


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