Category Archives: Ancestry

Well I have been busy working and not been tinkered with my Family History for over 6 months. I have now started to review a wealth of Middle Ages material and it seems timely to start experimenting with my blog.

The first Purves shield (earlier only seals are recorded) to be found from Charters and so forth is that of Thomas Purves of Handwood around 1410/11:

PURVES, Thomas, of Handwood. On a bend three cinquefoils with a star in sinister chief. Foliage at top and sides of shield. Legend (Goth. Caps.): s THOME PVRVAS. Diam. i in. Durham Ch. 24 Feb. 1410/11, Laing, ii. 828.

My first question is where is Handwood? Google Maps is generally pretty poor at place names and the OS search (say through Streetmap) is better the nearest I could find is Houndwood near Coldingham.

Further investigation using documents in the Coldingham area is a Thomas Purves in 1400 who is the man at arms (or esquire) to William Douglas (2nd Earl of Angus) (1398-1437) [note: William becomes Earl in 1402 the date of charter is likely then not 1400/01] and then 16 July 1424 in Sywnwod as a fief to Archibald, 4th Earl of Douglas (1372-1424) [note: 4th Earl died in Aug 1424 at Battle of Verneuil] perhaps Thomas is now too old to fight? Why did his fief move from the Earl of Angus to the Earl of Douglas?

Regardless, as predicted there are connections (as vassals) with the Douglas family.

Where is Sywnwod? Well is it is Swinwood, which can be seen now as a Mill 3 miles east of Houndwood. Interestingly Scotlands Places identifies Swinwood Mill (or at least 650m NNE) as a site of a 58m diameter palisaded settlement (i.e. wooden motte and bailey castle).

So the mullet (star) might be “inherited” from the fief to Douglas, the three cinquefoils (or fraise) need further investigation and suggest links to Fraser, Ker , Hamilton and Bothwell families – more to explore.

When I finalise the connections and references I will post on to the web site … blogs … work/thoughts in progress?

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