Arms at the grave of George Seton, Baillie of Tranent, 1769.The Arms of the Seton's

The Seton's were known for their bold display of armorial devices, which occupied prominent positions and decorated their places of  residence.  So noted in fact, that even Sir Walter Scott wrote in detail those of Lord Seton's Lodging in the Cannongate, near the Royal Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh.

Written as such:  "...a paved court, decorated with large formal vases of stone, in which yews, cypresses, and other evergreens, vegetated in sombre sullenness, and gave a correspondent degree of solemnity to the high and heavy building in front of which they were placed as ornaments, aspiring towards a square portion of the blue hemisphere, corresponding exactly in extent to the quadrangle in which they were stationed, and all around which rose huge black walls, exhibiting windows in rows of five stories, with heavy architraves over each, bearing armorial and religious devices."

"Roland Graeme... too, pulled the bobbin, and the latch, though heavy and massive, answered to the summons, and arose.  The page entered with the same precipitation which had marked his whole proceeding, and found himself in a large hall, or vestibule, dimly enlightened by latticed casements of painted glass, and rendered yet dimmer through the exclusion of the sunbeams, owing to the height of the walls of those buildings by which the court-yard was enclosed.  The walls of the hall were surrounded with suits of ancient and rusted armour, interchanged with huge and massive stone escutcheons, bearing double tressures, fleured and counter-fleured, wheat-sheaves, coronets, and so forth..."

Sir Walter Scott's, "The Abbott".

Examples of the Arms of the Seton's of Barnes line are:

Or, a sword in pale az. between three crescents, within a double tressure flory counter-flory gu. Andrew SETON, merchant, London (1766).

Or, a sword in pale ppr., supporting on its point an imperial crown between three crescents gu., within a double tressure flory counter-flory of the last (1st and 4th quarters). Lieut.-Col. James Seton, Governor of St. Vincent and the Grenadines (1806).

The arms of Alexander Seton, Lord Urquhart is 1588, his earlier seal, an ecclesiastical vesica, had the basic Seton arms differenced only by a Crosier placed behind the shield and the legend Priorus de Pluscarden.  Thereafter he added a Fess charged with three Cinquefoils for his maternal descent from Hamilton of Sanquhar.  Subsequently he became one of the Octavians, being created Lord Fyvie in 1598 and finally Earl of Dunfermline in 1605.  His arms are blazoned Quarterly, 1st and 4th, Or, three crescents within a double tressure flory counterflory Gules (Seton); 2nd and 3rd, Argent, on a fess Gules, three cinquefoils Argent.

Pont states the latter quarters represent the Earldom of Dunfermline, and on the death of the 4th Earl, the Seton's of Barnes descended from Sir John Seton of Barnes (d.1594), the elder brother of the 1st Earl, became heirs of line.  They bore a "sword" in pale Azure, hilted and pommelled Or, supporting an imperial crown proper between the three crescents and Royal tressure all Gules.  MacKenzie states that the lands of Barnes were granted to the Seton's with the sword as a charge of augmentation by Robert I.  Bruce A. McAndrew, though wrong, had felt that this seemed unlikely on two grounds because first he saw no record of it till the appearance of the sword in the Winton inescutcheon, a gap of 300 years; and second that the seal of Sir John Seton of Barnes is difference with a cross-crosslet fitchy, readily mistaken for a sword.

In actual fact, with the grant of Arms, and in Seton paper's notes, the augmentation of the sword and crown have been noted.  It was only out of good taste, and perhaps modesty that the coat was not borne.  With the Winton Honours, it was fully appropriate to add the augmentation, and thus is was done.  What is not mentioned or illustrated further however, is that Sir John Seton of Barnes was created a a Knight of the Order of St. James of Calatrava, or of St Iago (Jago), at that time the order of knighthood in that kingdom of greatest esteem. In memory whereof, he and his heirs has a sword in their coat of arms, being the Badge of that Order, and McAndrew assuming that to being the cross-crosslet fitchy, when in fact it is not.

What should be remembered then, is that Saint Iago (Jago) refers to St. James of Compostela, or simply as Santiago de Compostela.  From Spanish, from Santiago, a combination of "Sant’ Iago", and "Saint James". Sant is from Latin Sanctus, "holy" or "saint". Iago is a northwestern Spanish form from Latin Jacobus, "James".  Legend holds that St. James's remains were carried by boat from Jerusalem to northern Spain where he was buried on the site of what is now the city of Santiago de Compostela. 

This is the According to legend, the apostle Saint James the Greater brought the Message of Christ to the Celts in the Iberian Peninsula. In 44 AD he was beheaded in Jerusalem. His remains were later brought back to Galicia, Spain. Following Roman persecutions of Spanish Christians, his tomb was abandoned in the 3rd century. Still according to legend, this tomb was rediscovered in 814 AD by Pelayo, a hermit, after witnessing strange lights in the night sky. Bishop Theodemir of Iria recognized this as a miracle and informed the Asturian king Alfonso II (791-842). The king ordered the construction of a chapel on the site, and this chapel grew into the Cathedral of Santiago, also associated with the Knights Templar, and the Order of St. Iago, to which King Philip II invested Sir John Seton of Barnes.

The Order of St. James does not use the cross crosslet fitchy.  The Order uses the emblem of the twelfth-century military Order of Santiago, named in reference to Spain's patron saint, Saint James the Great. This cross design is also called the Cross of the Knights of Santiago, as well as the Spanish Cross, and the cross design bears a heart-like ornament on its top supporting a crown.

The arms of Sir John Seton of Barnes then, should reflect the following Cross of Santiago supporting a crown:

           Cross of Santiago     Cathedral and Order of Santiago


The Seal of Alexander Seton, Chancellor of Scotland
created Prior of Pluscarden by Queen Mary
& Earl of Dunfermline by James VI and I

The British Museum © 2005,

The Seal of Alexander Seton, Chancellor of Scotland.

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Arms of the Seton Earls of Winton © The Seton Family 2005

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