A (False) Herauldical Essay Upon the Surname of Miner

Thomas MINER wrote back to England sometime during the mid 1600s, perhaps about 1683,  in investigation of his ancestory.  In return, he received this manuscript that contains an essay that traces the ancestry of Thomas back to a Henry Bullman who lived in the 1300s. The essay is written on a colorful, six foot long scroll and was originally published in NEHGS Register of April 1859 (volume XIII, pages 161-5). It is stored in the library of the Connecticut Historical Society located in Hartford, Connecticut.

WARNING: A study titled “The Curious Pedigree of Lt. Thomas Minor” by John A. Miner and Robert F. Miner and published in the NEHGS Register of July 1984 (volume 138 pages 182-5) indicates that much of the contents of this document and the coat of arms it presents are FALSE.

This essay is written on a colorful, six foot long scroll and was originally published in NEHGS Register of April 1859 (volume XIII, pages 161-5). It is stored in the library of the Connecticut Historical Society located in Hartford, Connecticut.

Miner Coat of Arms – Fabricated c1680

“It is more praiseworthie in noble and excellent things to know something, though little, than in mean and ignoble things to have a perfect knowledge. Amongst all those rare ornaments of the mind of man, herauldry hath had a most eminent place, and hath been in high esteem, not only at one time and in one climate, but during all times and through those parts of the world where any ray of humanitie and civility hath shined, for without it all would be drowned in the chaos of disorder.

Neither is she so partial that money shall make the man. For he ought not to be accounted a perfect Herauld except that he can discern the difference betwixt a coat armoriall obtained by valor or purchased by money. Scutum Gentilitium Palud amentum et Cristatum, honorable not mercenary as appears by this Coat of the Miners.

The reason (as Garcillasso sayeth, page 432) is this: Edward the third going to make warre against the French took a progress through Somersett and coming to Mendippe Colles Minerary, Mendippe Hills in Somersett, where lived one Henry Miner[1] his name being taken both a denominatione loci et ab officio, who with all carefullness and loyalitie having convened his domestic and menial servants armed with battle axes, proffered himself and them to his master’s service, making up a complete hundred.

Henry Mynor supposedly received this coat of arms in 1359

Wherefore he had his coat armorial Gules (signifying minius, red, another demonstration of the origin of the surname), a fesse (id est, cingulum militare, because obtained by valor) betwixt three Plates Argent, another demonstration of the arms for there could be no plates without mines. It is folly to suppose such a surname Minor to have any coat of arms, it being contrary, yea contradictory in terms, that Minors can obtain paternal coats or achievements unless it be presupposed that Major was his father.

Bartas, a French Herauld, says Miner is a word contracted in Dutch, Min-heir; that is, my master or lord, and gives his reason for this the Plates to be dollars or pieces of eight, abundance of which will make any Hollander (albeit born on a dung-hill) to be titled min-heir but ye Crest, reason aforesaid and chronology proved the first.

And albeit Heraulds differ in the describing (says Fordon, page 342) of this surname Miner and time, with the various dialects of several Counties, have almost made it to be another name; yet if ignorance would strive to eradicate Ancestry, it cannot do it in this Coat, the name and colors making so much proof with the place (says Baker). 1st the place where the original came from Mendippi Colles Minerari, 2nd the field minius, 3rd the charge minerall, 4th the circumstances and actions upon record relative to the crest being a battle axe armed at both ends minerall

Coat of Arms Conferred by Edward III 1339

Heraldry is not a thing of yesterday or which may be other ways found out, being already condescended upon by all nations and as it were established Jure Gentium among the Greeks, Romans, Germans, French, Spaniards, English, Scots, Danes and Hungarians, etc.  Fordon, the great antiquarian, sayth that the King’s Secretary returned the aforesaid Henry Miner a compliment for his loyaltie in these words – Oceanus (quamvis magni flury multique Torrentes Sint ei Stipendary), non de dignatur recipere minores Rivulos id est – The Ocean (though great rivers with many currents pay him tribute) disdains not also to receive the lesser of loyal brooks which by one only urn pour themselves into its bosom.     This Henry died in the year 1359 leaving behind him Henry[2], Edward, Thomas and George Miner of whom little is to be said save only that Henry married one Henreta Hicks, daughter to Edward Hicks of Glocester of whom as appears by the paling of their arms are the Hicks of Beverston Castle in Glocester descended, and had issueWilliam[3] and Henry.

William married one Hobbs of Wiltshire and had issue Thomas[4] and George. Henry, the 2nd son, served Richard the second anno 1384. Thomas in 1399 married one Miss Gressleys daughter of Cotton in the Countie of Stafford and had issue Lodovick[5], George and Mary.

Lodovick married Anna Dyer daughter of Thomas Dyer of Staughton in the Countie of Huntington and had issue Thomas[6] born 1436 and after that twins born twenty two years after the birth of the said Thomas and the twins George and Arthur who both served the house of Austria the younger married (as Philipe Comines relates) one Henreta d’La Villa Odorosa.

Thomas married Bridget second daughter to Sir George Hervie de St Martins in County Middlesex and died 1480 leaving his son William[7] and daughter Anna Miners in tutorage to their mother Bridget whom she resigned to her father and turned to a monasterical life in Datford where she remained during the remainder of her life.

William married Isabella Hartope de Frolibay and lived to revenge the death of the two young princes murdered in the Tower of London upon their inhuman uncle Richard the 3rd. It was said of this William Miner, that he was Flos Millitiae, the flower of chivalrie. He left behind him 10 sons, William[8], George, Thomas, Robert, Nathaniel and John; the rest are not recorded. The 2 last went over to Ireland, 1541, when King Henry the 8th was proclaimed 1st King of Ireland. Nathaniel married one Fitzmaurice nee Catherlough in the provence of Leinster in Ireland. John married to Joselina O’Bryan daughter to Teig O’Bryan of Innis in the County of Clare whose posteritie remain there in the name of Miner bearing the same coat. George married and lived in Shropshire. Thomas in Hereford.

William the eldest son has issue Clement[9] and Elizabeth Miner and was buried in Chew Magna the 23rd day of February Anno Domini 1585 and lies interred in the priest’s chancel about four foot from the wall with this inscription HEIR ___ETH ___M MYNER___ OF ___PSH OBIIT XXIII FEBRU MDLXXXV. This and no more is legible upon the stone with the coat expressed in the margin at this + sign. But by the records and registers of the said church it is evident that his name was William Myner, they both agreeing in the same date and place and must needs have been the head of the same family as by the paternal coat clearly appears. Clement his son succeeded his father in heritage and married _____ and had issue Clement, Thomas[10], Elizabeth and Mary Miner and departed this life the 31 of March 1640 and lies interred in Chew Magna in the County of Somersett.

Clement the eldest brother married Sarah Pope, daughter of John Pope of Norton-Small Reward in the County of Somersett and had issue William and Israel. This Clement was buried at Burslington in the County of Somersett. Thomas his brother is now alive in Stoningtown, in Carneticute Collony in New England Anno Domini 1683 and has issue John, Thomas, Clement, Manasseh, Ephraim and Judah Miner and two daughters Marie and Elizabeth.
William Miner, eldest son of Clement Miner, married Sarah daughter of John Batting of Clifton of Glocestershire and lives Anno 1683 in Christmas Street in the City of Bristol and has issue William and Sarah. Iseraell, the second son, married Elizabeth daughter of Thomas Jones of Burslingtown in the County of Somersett and has issue Clement, Thomas, Sarah, Jean and Elizabeth Miner Anno 1683.

And now having done with the description genealogically, I hope that [in Greek: even every ingenious stranger makes mention] and if I have used any old or ancient words, yea words now differently syllabicated, I may excuse myself with Quintilianus, “Verba a vetustate repetita non solum magnos assertores habent, sed etiam afferunt orationi majestatem aliquam, non sine delectations”, and for the ingenious reader I am; not caring that every peasant should venture his sick brained opinion upon this essay knowing well that ars nominem habet inimicum praeter ignorantum, but if he will take this counsel [in Greek: if thou hast no taste in learning meddle no more with what thou understandest not].

And keeping himself silent he may pass for a wit while on the contrary his too much garrulity shows his nakedness as much (Damian a goes de moribus Aethiopum) as Prester John who derives himself from the Lyons of Solomon or Frithulf from Seth: but I shall be very much beholden to the learned reader who, if he can give more satisfaction in this essay, would for the honor of Antiquity (who now lies in profundo Democratis Puteo) mend the Errata Chronologically and see if he can derive the surname from a longer time it being supposed that Henry Miner’s name before the King’s progress in Somersett was Bullman but how certain however I know not: but leave it to some other whose learning and experience exceed mine. Desiring nothing more than that Heraldie should be restored to its pristine splendor and truth, and not be abused by every common painter and plasterer who, before he will lose a fee, will fansie a coat of arms to the loss of their estates and coats, and sometimes their very names.

Quid non mortalia pectora cogis auri Sacra Fames.    But – “Emblemata ad voluntatem Domini Regis sunt portanda et non alias” and Herauldie, stands in need of the dose gaperapsusys, and now I conclude with Ralphe Brooks, Esquire, and York Heraldie.

To make these names alive again appear,
Which in oblivion well neigh buried were,
That so your children may avoid the jarres,
Which might arise about their ancestors;
And the living might those titles see,
With which these names and houses honored be,
Yet I hope of more acceptance from,
Those future times that after we shall come.
For when beneath the stroke of death I fall,
And those that live these lives examine shall,
Detraction dying, you that do remain,
Will credit me and thank me for my pains.
Virg. – si quid novis rectius,
Candidus imparti – si non, his utere mecum.

In the margin along with the coats of arms for Hicks, Hobbs, Gressley, Dyers, Hervies, Harcops, Opes, Battings and Jones is the following note:

This Coat of the Miners of Chew I attest to be entered at Bath in Somersett by Clerenceux the 4 of K. James the first which visitation is in custody of me, 1606. Alex: Cunninghame”

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8 Responses to A (False) Herauldical Essay Upon the Surname of Miner

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