Main Page Early Family History


The Crest

For a crest (the item borne on top of the helmet) the family used a black bear's head, with a gold muzzle, sitting upon a yellow tree stump.  The head has the appearance of having been torn off, and the tree stump the appearance of having been torn out of the ground.
The crest forms something of a pun.  The tree-stump is the 'stock' of a tree, and with the bear's head we have 'Bear-stock'.  In the 15th century the crest was changed to a silver �heraldic antelope� a mythical creature made up of the body, head and tail of a lion, and the legs of a deer with cloven hooves.  It has a small curved horn on its nose and two straight, serrated antlers. This change of crest may have been political.  The Bostocks served the Black Prince and his son, King Richard II.  One of the Prince's badges was a 'stock' of a tree, which he distributed to his servants.  The usurping Lancastrian kings used an heraldic antelope as one of their badges.  Was the continued use of the 'stock' in the crest an embarrassment in the early 15th century, and was it then changed to the antelope?


The Arms

In the twelfth century it became common practise for a warrior to bear symbols to identify himself in battle; these might be devices upon his shield. Early insignia was of a simple fashion such as a plain coloured, or party coloured shield, with a geometric pattern or some beast painted on. A repeat of these symbols upon his surcoat led to them being called his 'coat of arms'.
A set of rules were developed to regulate the use of coats of arms. Certain colours were used: black, blue, red and green. Yellow and white were used to denote the metals gold and silver. In order to aid recognition over a great distance it was ordained that a coloured symbol, or charge, should not be placed on a coloured background, or a metal on a metal, only a combination of metal and colour could be allowed. 

Only the senior line of the family could use the basic coat of arms; younger members of the family had to use a 'differenced' coat.  A crescent on the coat of arms indicates the bearer to be a second son of the family; a star, a third son; a small bird, a fourth; and so on.  
Even today the rule applies so that just by bearing the name of Bostock does not imply a right to use the basic coat of arms - a legal right would have to be proved through the College of Arms in London. 
The Bostock family adopted a simple shield of arms - a black shield with a silver horizontal band across the centre.  In heraldic language Sable, a fess, humettee, argent. whilst the use of the horizontal band is very common, the fact that it is cut off before reaching the edges of the shield is rare in English heraldry, and is the only example in Cheshire.

          BOSTOCK  OF  BOSTOCK, 1580           &          BOSTOCK  OF  MOULTON, 1580


In the latter part of the 13th century heraldry indicated not only the identity of an individual, but lordship and family alliances.  The arms of families allied by marriage became grouped together; such a practise is known as 'marshalling'.  Generation by generation the Bostocks acquired extra lands and lordships by marrying heiresses.  As they did so they added the arms of the wife's family to the Bostock arms.  Eventually a complicated shield of arms, divided into many parts, known as 'quarters' was achieved.  At the end of the 16th century Charles Bostock of London, a son of Robert Bostock of Bostock, bore a shield consisting of 20 'quarters'.  The Bostock family of Holt bore an achievement of sixteen 'quarters'.  The Abingdon branch a shield of twelve.  In such a 'quartered' shield the subjects family arms always occupy the top left corner. Despite the early simple coat of arms, those of the Tudor period were very complicated.  Such coats of arms are useful to the student of heraldry and genealogy as they portray a family's history through its marriage alliances.

Examples of Bostock heraldry may be seen in the church of Moreton Say, Shropshire, where there is an alabaster effigy to John Bostock; in the parish churches of Abingdon and Dartford; and on a brass effigy in the church at Whethemstead.
A number of modern-day families legally bear arms.  The family who live at Sittingbourne, Kent, have the basic shield differenced by a golden eagle above the silver band; their crest is a gold bear's head, with a red muzzle, on a black tree-stump.  The Bostock family of Teddington, Middlesex, bear the basic shield with two golden roses above the silver band and a Staffordshire knot below; their crest is as the ancient crest but with the knot on the tree stump. 

Bostock of Bostock

Bostock of Belgrave

Bostock of Churton

Bostock of Moulton

Bostock of Moreton Say

Bostock of Whethamstead

Bostock of Whixall



The later medieval crest

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� Tony Bostock 2007