Page created 2 September 2001




Crests are often found with what appear to be medals depicted hanging below them. Many of these are actually the badges or jewels of British orders of knighthood. Whilst most people will be aware of the Order of the Bath and that of the Garter, there are others less well known: Order of the Thistle; Order of St Patrick; Order of St Michael and St George; Order of the Star of India; Order of the Indian Empire.

There are quite a number of crests with 2 and 3 badges appended; the one shown here with 4 is exceptional. All the badges etc. are different and theoretically it should be possible to identify the order depicted. However, the badges or jewels are very small and many have eluded identification. The Most Honourable Order of the Bath, one of the better known orders, creates particular problems with its variety of classes: 1st, 2nd, 3rd, military, and civil.

The four illustrations above, from a set of British Orders: all relate to The Most Honourable Order of the Bath and carry the motto of the orderTria juncta in uno. They are, from left to right, the civil & diplomatic badge, the star of the knights grand cross, the badge of the military section and the star of the military knights commanders. The two crests at the sides also relate to the order of the Bath, with personal crests enclosed by the motto of the order. That on the right is of a baronet, distinguished by the badge (red hand) of Ulster.


When individuals can be identified from their arms or crests then their honours can often be found from biographical details of knights included in Peerages and Baronetages of the period. This page does not set out to give a definitive account of the orders, most of the Peerages carry sections on them with illustrations of their regalia, origins, officers, numbers of members, and occasionally listings of members by name at a particular date. An order which does not receive wide coverage is the Royal Hanoverian Guelphic Order: shown here is the collar and badge of the Order on the crest of the Earl of Wilton.


The magnificent armorials shown here, in a very opulent execution, are those of Sir William Wellington Cairns, KCMG, and illustrate some of the etiquette in displaying the order to which an individual belonged. Cairns was created a Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George (CMG) in 1874 and a Knight Commander (KCMG) 3 years later. The display here with his personal arms encircled by the motto of the Order, Auspicium melioris ævi, and with the badge pendant was executed after his elevation. As a companion he would have displayed only the fourteen point badge. The highest division of the order, Knights Grand Cross (GCMG) were additionally entitled to display the collar of the order.

The origins of the handsome collar (Right) are not known. The SS collar is Lancastrian (the central rose may be an allusion to the red rose of that county) and in the Victorian era was still worn by the Heralds, the Lord Mayor of London and certain judges.


I have only located one set of crests depicting British orders which is a little surprising, four of these relating to the Order of the Bath are shown above and the two shown here are the star (left) and the badge (right) of The Most Illustrious Order of St Patrick. They carry the date, 1783, of the institution of the Order and its motto, Quis separabit.

The paucity of this set may be because there were sets of scraps of British and Foreign orders which are quite attractive and are two or three times the size of the average crest: they are found relatively often in crest albums.


Left: A nice depiction of the badge of The Most Eminent Order of the Indian Empire. The letters of India appearing in the petals. Surmounted by a personal crest.

Right: The crest of General Frederick Edward Chapman, GCB. The badges probably the Order of the Bath, Legion of Honour and 3rd Class Medjidie.

Right: The arms, supporters and motto of Baron Lurgan, with the collar and badge of The Most Illustrious Order of St Patrick.

Left: Armorial display with badge of The Most Exalted Order of the Star of India. The arms and crest probably of Lieut-Gen. Richard Harte Keatinge.

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