The Goodman Coat of Arms

Gabriel Goodman, Dean of Westminster and son of Edward Goodman, Esq. of Ruthin, was the first to be granted armorial under the Goodman name, granted by Elizabeth I (1558-1603) in 1572 (“Burke‚Äôs General Armorial“). Those are specified as: “per pale, ermine and sa., an eagle displayed, with two heads or, a canton az. A martlet of the third”. And, the crest was: “out of a ducal coronet or, a demi-eagle displayed with two heads erm.” The following describes those specifications in more familiar terms.

“Per pale” means: a shield divided vertically into two equal halves. Then, the base color scheme is described as: “ermine and sa.”. Ermine are small stylized symbols, appearing like ermine tails, or like a cross with a bulbous base, usually repeated many times, and sa., being sable, or black. Since no other color is mentioned, the ermine symbols would be black, on a white background. Therefore, we start with a shield, the left half of which has repeating black ermine symbols on a white background, and the right half of which is black. Then, superimposed on the shield is: “an eagle displayed, with two heads or”. The double headed eagle is significant, as it is usually used only in royal arms. “Displayed” means: with wings outspread, tips upward. And, “or” is the metallic color of gold. So, the gold colored, double headed eagle, with wings outspread, dominates the shield. Then, “a canton” is a small square in the upper-left corner (the dexter chief) of the shield, and “az” is azure, or blue. The martlet is a small bird, resembling a house martin, but having no feet, which, in the heraldry of England, indicates the fourth son. And so: “a martlet of the third” indicates that the martlet is in the third element of the shield, the blue canton square.

Although there are other arms attributed to later and different Goodman families, those are usually derivatives of those of Edward, and the original arms of Edward Goodman of Ruthin are the ones generally found on coffee cups, wall plaques, and other commonly available momentos.

At one point, the Goodmans of Chester did use a “spread eagle” as an emblem (Harleian Society: Visitation of Cheshire 1580). Variations on a one- or two-headed eagle on a coat of ermine and sable were used by Goodman families of Hertfordshire (Harleian Society: Visitation of Herts 1634), Northamptonshire (Lord Hyland, History of Kilmersdon – Taunton 1910), Leicestershire 1619 (Burke’s General Armory) and Ruthin (Lewis Dwnn’s Visitation of Wales). Apart from Chester 1580 and Hertfordshire 1634 where the families are linked, whether these families are all related isn’t clear, but certainly the coats of arms are similar. (Ref: Dr. Ian Thompson, his research at Society of Genealogists in London)

Edward Goodman, Esq. claimed royal descent through his mother, who was descended from the line of Meredydd ap Bleddyn, a Prince of Powys, and his wife, Hunydd. Hunydd was the sole daughter of “Efnydd ap (the son of) Gwenllian”. Efnydd was the Founder of the Fourteenth Noble Tribe of Wales. Edward Goodman was therefore of pure Welsh blood, and a royal of Powys line.

Goodman Coat of Arms

Goodman Coat of Arms, ca 1572

Interpretation and Graphic
(c)2008 Ron Goodman

Impression from the seal of the Dean of Westminster, Gabriel Goodman of Ruthin, c. 1600 – 1610. This coat of arms was granted to the Goodman family in 1572.

Gabriel Goodman Seal, ca 1600

This item comes from: National Museums & Galleries of Wales (Item reference: 30.236/2). If you would like to see the original item, or require information regarding copyright, please contact the repository/contributor.


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