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Another Pipe Banner and a Correction

Another Pipe Banner and a Correction

About a year ago, I made a bagpipe banner and blogged on it.  The banner was to be a banner for the personal piper of Simon McTavish of the NorthWest Company.  In that post, I questioned some of the heraldic info out there and the coat of arms of the NorthWest company.  This stated, I was quite sure on the heraldry of Simon McTavish.  I have since found some information contradicting my earlier research on Simon’s arms.  With this now known, I took my older pipe banner and fixed it to follow this new research.  Luckily, the corrections were small.  I had to change the stags to bucks and change the motto to “Non Oblitus.”  This is done, and the banner should now be (hopefully) good.   Here is the text of the 1793 grant of arms for Simon (the transcription is mine)…

Simon Mactavish of Garthbeg Esquire BEARS Quarterly first and forth Girony of eight Sable and Or Second and Third.  Argent a Bucks head cabossed gules Attyred Or on a Chief engrailed azure a cross crosslet fiched between two mullets of the third, all within a Bordure of the second.  CREST A Boars Head erazed Or. langued proper MOTTO Non Oblitus

Meanwhile, I have also ALMOST verified the use of the arms that I had painted as NWCo Arms as actually being arms granted in memoriam of William and Simon MacGillivray by their family (“Granted by College of Arms, London, England on June 6, 1823 as a lasting Memorial of the Discoveries made by the North West Company under the direction of the said William and Simon McGillivray.”).  This is a rather odd bit of heraldry, but this aside, it is now proven to be of no use in my interests of pipe banners and NWCo heraldry of the pre-1821 period.  Interestingly out of this I have found that William Macgillivray did matriculate arms with Lord Lyon’s court in 1801.  This emblazonment is as follows (my transcription)…

William Macgillivray of Montreal Esquire, eldest son of Donald Macgillivray who was the son of William the son of Benjamin whose father was Farquhar a younger son of the family of Dunmaglass Bears Azure a lymphad with sails furled and oars in action Or flagged gules with a border argent on a chief or the second a buck’s head cabossed sable attired of the third between two cross-crosslets fitché of the last.  Crest a Buck’s head and neck issuing proper attired Or.  Motto Be Mindfull    Matriculated 4th March 1801

In order to continue with my desire to create a Company Piper’s banner, I built a new back to the Red Ensign/NWCo flag banner that I had made last year.  This new back, instead of having the 1823 arms of the MacGillivrays, has the beaver gnawing the tree crest that I believe DOES go with the NWCo.  Although there is no record or grant of arms to the company from either Lord Lyons Court in Scotland or the College of Arms in London, the use of this crest seems to have been used by the company as early as the 1780s.  The gnawing beaver shows up both on the earliest of Beaver Club medals as well as on a NWCo Seal from about the same period.

Having only portrayed a NWCo piper at one event, I did, however, find that the banners that I created were an enormously helpful interpretive tool.  I spoke with numerous school groups as well as adults and the banners made explanation of the company, bagpiping, and the fur trade connect effortlessly.  I look forward to using these next week as I do this portrayal again at the same event in Chippewa Falls, WI.  Meanwhile, I am now itching to make a banner for a personal piper to William MacGillivray.  Perhaps I need to do some more research on whether such a person existed first.  Also, I am starting to see the development of an interesting blog/article/paper/lecture on heraldry of the NWCo and related topics.  Perhaps I will call it “Lairds of the NorthWest: Making of a Fur Trade Aristocracy.”



Special thanks to Elizabeth Roads, LVO, FSA, AIH., Snawdoun Herald, Lyon Clerk and Keeper of the Records to the Court of the Lord Lyon as well as thanks to Shawn Patterson for the help with heraldic questions pertaining to the Company and these individuals.  Thanks also to Jeremy Kingsbury for always being an inspiration to my interests in things Scottish and bagpiping dealing with the fur trade.

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