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GENEALOGY OF THE CUSHING FAMILY

COAT OF ARMS


Crest and Motto

These of course are not hereditary and may be assumed by all who consider themselves entitled to legally bear arms.

The only crest widely used by the Cushings is that in the frontispiece, which may described as follows "Two lions' gambs erased sable supporting a ducal coronet or, from which hangs a human heart gules." This is the one found on the Granary Burying Ground tablet.

The motto "Virtute et numine"(by valor and divine aid) has also been in general use.

The Cushing Arms

The Cushings of Norfolk, England were entitled to bear arms for many successive generations through their holding the manors of Chosely, Hardingham, etc. During this time of course the arms were repeatedly 'differenced' by different branches. Therefore the attempt to ascertain the exact coat-of-arms borne by the branch which came to America is accompanied by some difficulty, and several arms differing slightly in certain details have been used and published by different authorities

The original arms of the Cushing family were undoubtedly "gules an eagle displayed argent" (Fig. I). These were the arms of Roger Cossyn, William Cusseyn and others until John . From this all the others have been derived. Later, by a marriage with an heiress, the arms were quartered. So far, it has been impossible to identify the family from which this quartering was derived. The marriage probably occurred some time about 1500. In the Heraldic Visitation of the County of Norfolk, England, made in the year 1563, in which the marriage is given of John Oldham, Shimpling, of Norfolk, with Elizabeth, daughter and heir of Francis Cushin (page 19) of Hingham, Norfolk, the Cushing arms are described as follows :-" Gules, an eagle displayed argent; quartering, gules three right hands torn from the wrists, a canton chequery or and az." Based on this description, which is obviously slightly indefinite as regards the position of the hands, we have the following forms

First, that given as a frontispiece to this volume and considered by the writer as most authoritative. This is the form advocated by the late H.G. Somerby of England as the result of several years research in the records and deeds of Norfolk County, and it is quoted in the Register of the New England Historical and Genealogical Society. As to the position of the hand behind the canton, when not otherwise expressly specified three hands would be placed two in chief and one in base, and a canton used to be placed on a shield without altering in the least the arrangement of the original emblem.

Second, the shield used in the first edition of this work. (Fig. 2) For this arrangement we can find no authority and are forced to the conclusion that the position of the hands and the coloring of half the shield argent are due to the artist's ideas only. In fact, the late Lemuel Cushing acknowledged that it was inaccurate. The cut is quoted here because through the last edition it has been given wide circulation.

Third, the arms found on the tombstone of Lt.-Gov. Thomas Cushing, in the Granary Burying Ground, Boston, Mass., dated 1788 (Fig. 3). These are also the arms in the "Gore Roll of Arms" (Heraldic Journal,Vol.1, 1865), They are especially worthy of note as being the earliest arms of which we have any record as being borne by an American Cushing. Unfortunately, no authority can be found for the omission of the third hand, and it is almost certain that the carving was made from a too hasty description ; the third hand, which is partly covered by the Canton, being accidentally omitted.


Photo courtesy of David Cushing, davidc@metrocast.net

Fourth, the Herald's College, London, Eng. was applied to for the correct Cushing arms, and they furnished the accompanying shield, (Fig. 4), quoting as their authority the above mentioned Heraldic Visitation. The Government Office of Heraldry, London, is responsible for the following statement :-" No crest is found for the family but the quartering is that of Dennier, an heiress of which family must have married into that of Cushing; Cushing, gules an eagle displayed argent; Dennier, gules three dexter hands couped or, in bend sinister, a canton compony of 8 az. and or.

Fifth, the arms used by several American branches of the family for several generations (Fig 5). These are the ones recognized in Matthews American Armoury and Blue Book and in Crozier's General Armoury 1904. As noted above, there is no authoritative record of the position of the hands in the quartering, so this arrangement may be justifiable. We can only remark that the oldest carvings or deeds always shew the hands bendwise and not erect. These differences that have been quoted must not be considered as throwing any doubt on the authenticity of the Cushing Arms. This has been acknowledged by every authority on heraldry, the direct descent from the Cushings of Norfolk whose arms are recognized in Heraldic Visitations is enough to establish their right. The slight variations are due to the original inaccurate descriptions, which permit of variation according to the artist's ideas.

Popular Cushing Coat of Arms widely used today:

Photo courtesy of Catharine Graff, catharinegraff@gmail.com