Somerset Notes & Queries

Bartlett Arms of Corton Denham

The illustration which faces this page places on record - and may stimulate some descendant of the family to rescue from decay - a weatherworn coat of arms carved in Hamden stone on the west altar tomb lying dismantled in the churchyard at Corton denham. It approximate date is suggested by the following inscription graven along the front of the same tomb.

"HERE LYETH THE BODY OF JOHN BARTLETT WHO DYED MARCH THE 10 1659"

Bartlett Arms of Corton Denham
Bartlett Arms at Corton Denham

It appears from the evidence contained in wills, registers and 'inquisitiones post mortem' that these Bartletts for nearly two centuries owned Holway Manor in Corton, together with Wethergrove and Bescombe in Sampford Orcas, rendering for them "Suit and Service to the Lord of the Manor of Hardington Mendeville." The above John was fifth son of another John (1583-1647) whose father, Simon, (son of John and Alice[#]) was baptised at Corton, September 21st, 1544. Later descendants from the same stock were John Bartlett, Mayor and Alderman of Bristol, 1743, Thomas Bartlett a pioneer governor of one of our African Colonies, the Rev. William Bartlett, Rector of Newark (d. 1835) and his son the Rev. Symeon Taylor Bartlett, LL-D., Rector of Everley and Chaplain to the Earl of Downe (1877).

[#] Could be Alice Arnold, since she brought Wethergrove and Bescombe to the marriage.

A younger branch, descended from Richard Bartlett of Wethergrove (died 1620), produced the nonconformist Divine Robert Bartlett of Compton and Yeovil, Somerset (died 1710) and Dr. John Bartlett, physician of Castleton (son of the Rev. Henry Bartlett, Fellow of Wadham and Rector of Fordingbridge) on whose tomb in Sherborne Abbey, dated 1703, the same arms are blazoned in their proper tinctures, which a herald would describe:

"Quarterly, per Jesse indented, argent and gules, four crescents counterchanged."

Now the real point of interest in these arms is the fact that they were originally not the coat of the Bartletts, but of the family of Stopham of Stopham, Sussex, and of Bryanston (*), Dorset. In Stopham Church they may be seen blazoned on fifteenth century stained glass, and on tombs dating from 1428. The parish is still the property of a lineal descendant of John Bartelot, M.P. for the Cinque ports, and Marshall of the Earl of Arundell. who in 1395 married Joanne sister and co-heir of William de Stopham. The real arms of Bartelot as engraved on his tomb are:- "Sable, three sinister gloves pendant argent, tasselled or."

(*) ralph Bartelot adopted crescents circa 1080 because these are 'marks' (e.g. 'charges') of cadency, appropriate for younger sons.... and Ralph was a younger son of Adam!

The mystery is why the heralds of 1569 and 1623 specially chose to register the four crescents instead of the gloves as being the arms of the Bartletts of Worcestershire, and Wiltshire. They were used also as from feudal times, before the internal meddling of heralds, by the Bartletts of Dorset and Somerset. They figure on the tomb (1614) of Dorothy wife of Edward Popham, Esq., in Wellow Church, Somerset. She was daughter and heir of Richard Bartlett of Compton, Somerset. (1553-1617)

The natural conclusion from these facts is that the Corton Bartletts claimed kinship with the family of Stopham; who held their estates under the Earl of Arundell, and though the Dorset Feet of Fines records that in 1332, William Arundell and Alice, his wife, granted to Robert Bartelot one toft and one dove house in Shaftesbury for himself and his heirs for ever, the link with Somerset is not apparent.

Still there should be an interest in this old tomb to some of the descendants still living in various parts of the Empire. Moreover it is probable that a little research would prove that our Somerset Baronet, the present Sir Basil Bartlett of Hardington Mandeville, is descended from these Corton and Hardington Bartletts of 1540; and therefore entitled to being the feudal arms depicted in our illustration.

[Corton Denham is about 6 miles N.E. of Yeovil; and Hardington Mandeville is about ½ mile S.E. of East Chinnock.]

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