Denny Family Heraldry

The family Coat - Armour

                        Denny Family Coat-Armour

The original Coat-Armour (Coat-of-Arms) was used in the ancient 
and authentic Arms of the Denny family, used on the seal of Geof-
frey Denny in the 1300's. Some branches of the family altered their 
arms or else adopted new ones. These were frequent practices in 
early heraldic usage.

The original arms is described as follows:
     Its blazon is: Argent, a chevron sable between three five 
     pointed mullets gules or. In color reproduction one would see, 
     on a silver shield, a chevron of black, this between three 
     scarlet mullets (stars) with small openings in their centers 
     showing gold. A mullet represents a pricking device or rowel 
     of a spur. These Arms, borne by the earliest known ancestor of 
     the Denny family to whom direct lineages have been traced, are 
     the only ones which, with propriety, may be borne by the Denny 
     family in America.

Through Geoffrey Denny's second marriage a usage of the Stanmore 
family Coats-of-Armour came about through the son, Thomas, who was 
brought up by his mother's family. Such usage was not too uncommon. 
Therefore, some branches have used either the original or varia-
tions of the Stanmore Arms. Such usage is not authentic, however.

This Coats-Armour is described as:
     Blazon: Argent, a fesse danciettie gules. In English this is a 
     silver shield, across which is a band of scarlet, with notched 
     edges. The mantlet or drapery around a shield, falling on the 
     helmet, denotes a knight's mantle, slashed in battle, and 
     especially the mantle of a Crusader.

Although the earliest usages in Great Britain of Coat-Armour is the 
de Clare Arms around 1138 or 1148 A.D., 30 years after the first 
Crusade, we have no evidence of the use of armour seals by the 
kings until 1189 by Richard I. His grandfather's tomb (Geoffrey of 
Anjou) bears a seal of six leopards from 1151 A.D.. Geoffrey's 
descendents corrupted these leopards to the present lions used as a 
symbol of Great Britain.

Some of the very earliest Coats-of Arms has no crest. The earliest 
usage of a crest on a shield is that of the De Quincy's, Roger in 
particular, sometime before 1250. The usage of a crest on the Denny 
Armour, therefore, probably indicates its adoption sometime after 
this date.

After the College of Heraldry was established and Coats-Armour was 
registered and somewhat regulated, some families or branches of the 
family altered, changed, or adopted new coats-of-arms. This seems 
to have been the case with Sir Anthony Denny (January 18, 1500  - 
September 10, 1549) who had the coat-of-arms changed in its entire
ty. (There may be some question as to whether he did this or one 
of his ancestors, possibly a grandson, as will be noted later.)

The coat-of arms as attributed to Sir Anthony Denny is as follows:
     Arms: - Quarterly 1 and 4; gules, a saltire argent between 
     twelve crosses, crosslet or; 2, or, a fesse dancettee, gules, 
     in  chief three martlets, sable; 3, azure, three trout fretted 
     in triangle argent, a mullet pierced or for difference.
     Crest - A cubit arm, vested azure, cuffed argent, holding in 
     the hand proper five wheat ears, or. 

In ordinary English this is as follows:
     Blazon: gules, scarlet: argent, silver or white; or, gold or 
     yellow;  sable, black; azure, bright blue. A mullet which is 
     used  for "difference", in heraldry signifies descent from a 
     third son of an ancestor who was head of the family, according 
     to the laws of primogeniture. The mantlet (martin or swallow) 
     denotes, similarly, descent from a fourth son.

The odd part about this coat-of-arms is that quarters one and four 
are identical with the Coat borne by the ancient family of Windsor. 
This same coat was emblazoned in a window of the church at West 
Hurling, Norfolk. Sir Henry Lyttleton Lyster Denny, noted historian 
(English) of the Denny genealogy thinks these arms were borne by a 
Denny, who Sir Henry believes was either Sir Robert Denny or his 
son, Thomas Denny. Sir Robert died about 1419 and his son Thomas 
died in 1429. He also states that there were two other, different 
Denny coats in windows of this same West Hurling Church. He 
presents no evidence that the three coats in the windows were borne 
by members of the Denny family, however.

No connection directly to the Windsor line has been established, 
however, unless it would be through Sir Robert's wife Amy, whose 
maiden name is unknown. Normally the 1st and 4th quadrants are 
honored quarters and are reserved for those whose surname is borne 
by the bearers of the quartered arms. The exception to this would 
be if the family whose arms are transmitted outranks that of the 
family receiving the arms. This would be the case in regard to 
royalty (Windsor). Thus, it may have been possible that the Col-
lege of Heraldry knew Sir Anthony bore royal blood and granted him 
this honor of using the Windsor arms in the place of honor.

It may even be that, due to his close connection with Henry VIII 
and Edward VI, the College of Heralds granted Sir Anthony the 
privilege of using the Windsor arms as a favor. Nevertheless, no 
definite connection has been established as a direct connection to 
the Windsor family through Sir Anthony. More will be discussed 
below as a possible connection through Sir Edward Denny, Baronet of 
Tralee Castle.

The second quarter of this Coats Armour was a golden field, a fesse 
dancettee (horizontal band with notched edges) of scarlet, there 
being three black martlets (martlets or swallows) across the upper 
edge of the shield. It has been explained previously that this was 
the Stanmore coat and that the second wife of Geoffrey Denny was 
Joan Stanmore and that the son of Joan and Geoffrey used the sur-
name Stanmore. Some branches of the Denny family have continued to 
use, to the present time, some form of the Stanmore Coat Armour. 
Perhaps because Sir Anthony had broken with the ancient faith and 
did not wish to be closely identified with the rest of the family, 
he wished to emphasize the severance to Protestantism and yet have 
the new shield connected with the past. It should also be noted 
that in the new shield the background was gold rather than silver 
as on the original Stanmore Armour.

In 1555 Sir Matthew Carew visited Paris and found in the great 
Abbey of St. Denis on the tombs, dating to 1420 the Coat Armour 
with the fesse dancettee. In place of swallows it had three cres-
cents indicative of descent from a second son. Otherwise it resem-
bled the Stanmore Armour. Martlets signified descent from the 
fourth son. These arms were presumably borne by Denny's before the 
adoption by Sir Anthony. These tombs lay among the nobility of 
France. Sir Henry Lyttleton Lyster Denny believes some of the 
lineage traced along this path is incorrect, however.

The third quarter of Sir Anthony's new Coat-of-arms emblazoned the 
arms of the Troutbeck family. Their use by Sir Anthony is entirely 
understandable. His grandfather, William Denny, married Agnes 
Troutbeck and she, being an heiress, heraldically, was entitled to 
pass on her family arms and Sir Anthony picked them up to use on 
his new Armour.

The third quarter shows three silver trout, in triangular fashion, 
on an azure shield and a golden mullet indicating descent from a 
third son.

The crests were not used until after 1250. The arm was azure, the 
cuff silver, the hand flesh, and the wheat grain golden ears.

The simplified form of Sir Anthony's coat-of-arms was as follows:
(DENNY - Tralee Castle, Co. Kerry, bart.)
     Gu. a saltire between twelve crosses crosslet or crest. A 
     cubit arm, habited azure, cuff ar., hand ppr. grasping five 
     ears of rye or, motto - "et mea Messis erit".

In this coat only one of the three quarterings are used from Sir 
Anthony's, that being the Windsor coat which was similar to the 
Coat of Holy Cross Abbey.

Mottoes were used by some of the families and were subject to 
change. This particular motto meant "and my harvest shall be" (more 
of a slogan) interpreted as "what I have sown I shall reap."

The baronets of Tralee must be mentioned and followed up. Sir 
Edward Denny, born in 1547, probably at Chestnut in Herfordshire 
had as a godfather at his baptism, the boy king, Edward VI. In his 
childhood he was left an orphan. Sir Anthony died in 1549 and his 
mother (Lady Joan) in 1553. He lived in the golden age of English 
history and was well acquainted with and associated with the great 
Englishmen of this period and with the early founding period of 
America. Though his father's will bequeathed him certain lands in 
Herfordshire, he really had to make his own way in the world. "By 
God's favor, Queen Elizabeth's bounty, and his own valor, he 
achieved a fair estate in the county of Kerry, Ireland."

He sailed in 1578 with his kinsmen (cousins), Sir Walter Raleigh 
and Sir Humphrey Gilbert to plant a colony in America. The expedi-
tion was unsuccessful and he took to privateering, capturing Span-
ish, French, and Flemish ships for the Queen. He became discontent 
in this service and asked to be excused. He was put in command of 
the company who lay siege to Fort-Del-Ore, Ireland. For this en-
deavor he received thanks and favor of the Queen and Council. He 
took a prominent part in the fighting that defeated the Earl of 
Desmond who was killed.

Sir Edward Denny was given the Earl's castle, Tralee. It was in 
ruinous condition but contained 6000 acres plus smaller castles and 
was restored during the reign of James I by his  grandson. Tralee 
was originally called Traleigh "stand of the Leigh" and was owned by 
the Fitzgerald's a very old family in Irish history (remember John 
Fitzgerald Kennedy?).

The interesting part here is that the Fitzgeralds were closely 
connected with the Windsors. Through marriage, etc., they became 
part of the family of the Earl of Desmond and the possibility 
exists that it was not Sir Anthony at all but rather Sir Edward 
Denny who adopted the Windsor coat-of-arms into the Denny shield 
due to his acquiring the Castle Tralee. The question may have been 
answered by now but was still not researched prior to WWII. Tralee 
was later destroyed completely by the Irish who did not like any
thing that transpired concerning the English and especially their 
giving away what was their lands.

Sir Edward's tomb says he was "beinge of Queen Elizabeth's privie 
Chamber and one of ye Counsell of Munster in Ireland," Governor of 
Kerry and Desmond and as a "Collonell" in the military forces of 
Ireland. The rest of his epithet is very flattering. Sir Edward 
married Lady Margaret, daughter of Piece Edgecombe in August 1582. 
He died in February 1599, actually 1600 by our modern calendar. The 
Edgecombes were related to Anne Boyelyn and Catherine Howard, two 
of the queens of Henry VIII. She was for five years Maid-of-Honor 
to Queen Elizabeth.

There are excellent records of the family through this time period 
on to the mid 1700's. Another Sir Edward Denny, son of the one 
above, was very distinguished also in his service to the kings and 
queens and fought against Cromwell.

             The Dennys of Dumbarton

The Denny's are shown to have been of Norman descent and ancestry. 
The Denny name was brought into Great Britain at the time of the 
Norman Conquest. The ancient town of Denny, in Stirlingshire, 
probably took its name from one of these early settlers. An estate 
there, occupied by the Knight's Templars, in very early times, 
appears in the records as the "Barony of Temple Denny". These lands 
were the headquarters of the Order of Scotland. This town lies not 
far distant from Dumbarton. This was a very important town both 
politically and economically.

Most of these Dennys from this region seem to trace to the Dennys 
of England and many of the Dennys of Pennsylvania trace to the 
Dennys of Scotland. The Dennys of Pennsylvania were predominantly 
Presbyterian which figures historically to the Scottish ancestry.

The Scottish Coat-of-Arms:
     Arms - Argent, three estoiles of eight points in chief sable.
     Crest - A hand erect, pointing with two fingers to the sun. 
     All proper.

It seems that the Dennys of Delaware are definitely of English 
origin and would be safest using the original Denny Coat-of-Arms.

The above information was gleaned, for the most part, from the 
Denny Genealogy referred to in the other section and has been 
largely paraphrased.

      (Information Researched by Edward C. Denny, Sr., 1976)

There are three interesting "asides" found in researching the above 

     1. Sir Edward Denny was raised by his aunt and uncle who were 
     the parents of Sir Walter Raleigh after the death of his 
     father and mother.

     2. Sir Anthony Denny was reported to have been the "best man" 
     at five of Henry VIII's marriages.

     3.  Another Denny (Sir Edward ? I think) was reported to have 
     been the strongest man in Ireland. He was high sheriff of 
     county Kent and escorted James and Mary down from Scotland 
     when they assumed the throne.

We need to make the connection back to England from our ancestry in 
Delaware to establish where we fit into this picture. It would also 
be nice to find out how the family became members of the Society of 
Friends yet wound up settling in Delaware as opposed to Pennsylva-
nia, which was founded originally for the Quakers by William Penn.

A lot of Denneys are around today. Most of these trace to the 
descendants of Sir Edward Denny's offspring who stayed in Ireland, 
married Irish Lassies, and Gaelicised their names to fit in with 
the neighborhood. These are truly Irish, in heart at least, ... we 

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  • Copyright, Graphicraft, December 23, 2004.