Serpents and Doves: The Enys Arms
Serpentes vicut et Columbae
There has been some discussion, especially among the Enys’ themselves, as to what constituted the various components of their Coat of Arms. The three Serpentes mutated at intervals into lizards, wyverns or crocodiles.
Below is a missive from June 1682, in which Samuel Enys advises his son on the state of play to date.
CRO EN 1898
“Sonn, June 1682
You will finde in the Box of Enys Writings certayne Coates of Armes made up & tyed… & written hereon, Coats of Armes Marked [sigil]
One of them is subscribed by ye Hearolds yat went ye Cirquitt which is the Armes of Enys, but of [another?] famylie & taken up by my Granfather or your Granfather Enys & since that, we give your Coat/ the Reason gave of I intend to tell you/ butt that is none of ye Coat of our Famylie for we antiently gave ye 3 Lizards as thay are in ye glasse windows att Enys, in Hall & Parlor and accordingly I have caused our Pedegree to bee drawn on Parchm’t as you see.
If the Hearald’s Officers come their Cirquitt into this Countie in my time, I will endeav’r to have you signe that Pedegree tho’ twill cost some Money.
If they come not in my time you must doe ye like they will tell you that the other matter I first speak of is our Coate for that it is, soe in their books & indeede so it is, for I have seen it so there, but you must pretend that our antient Coat was the 3 Lizards & that I founde them so defaced by time & eaten with the moths & by hiding them in the Time of ye Troubles. Let that I caused all the old writings & Deeds to bee read over & thereout drew the pedegree.
I now leave you which was don by one Marshall & Hearald’s painter that then lived at Charing Crosse…about 16 years since, which Deeds to prove ye same you will finde Bound up in one Bundle & written thereon, Deeds to prove our Pedegree & not shew ye former Coat at all, yet I would have you doe tho’ it twice costs five pounds, which I know will doe ye work with the secretary.
Rather thoroughly will take the payne to reade over ye Deeds/ which if they would/ I think they cannot for they [be] above 400 years old.
We are now in June 1686.
Att Mr Hornbrook’s last being here, I had some discourse with him about heraldry whoe I finde understood something therein & tellinge him ye difference of ye 2 Coates, wee gave & now give. Hee told me that was only a mistak of ye Heralds & their painters, for both of them are Lizards & not understanding truly what a Lizard was, gave it as they did faultye soe that its still 3 Lizards & not another thing & the one may bee accepted as well as ye other, butt I finde by my Granfather’s papers that there in the Glasse Windowes att Enys is ye Lizard of our Coat.”
The motto should probably read ‘Serpentes sicut et Columbae’ (meaning, ‘like serpents and doves’ following Jesus’ advice to his disciples and found in the King James Bible, Matthew 10:16). It is unclear when the corruption took place. (ed.)