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Urquhart of Byth, James - Matriculation 1741
Meldrum House, Old Meldrum, Aberdeenshire

To all and Sundry whom these presents do or may concern Alexander Brodie of Brodie Esq Lyon King of Arms Doeth hereby Certify and make known that the Ensign Armorial pertaining and belonging to James Urquhart of Byth Esquire in the County of Aberdeen whose father was a lawful son of Adam Urquhart of Meldrum by Lady Mary Gordon Daughter of Lewis Marquess of Huntly now Dukes of Gordon is matriculated in the Public Register of the Lyon Office and is thus blazon’d Viz three coats quarterly first and fourth Or three bears (recte boars, as illustrated) heads erased Gules langued Azure being the Paternal Bearing of the House of Cromartie to which Meldrum is Heir Male and Representative, second Argent a demy-otter issuing out of a barr waved Sable, crowned Or, and third Or three crescents within a double tressure counterflowered Gules, Above the shield an Helmet befitting his degree with a Mantle Gules doubling Argent and on a Wreath of his colours is set for his Crest a Dagger and a branch of Palm sliped and disposed saltierways proper and in an Escroll above this Motto Weigh Well v Which Coat above blazon’d is hereby Ratified Confirm’d and Assign’d to the said James Urquhart Esquire and his heirs as that proper Coat of Arms and Bearing in all time comeing In Testimony Whereof these presents are subscrived and my Seal of Office appended here at Edinburgh, the thirtieth day of July One thousand seven hundred and forty one years (signed) Dundas Lyon Depute Illuminated by Roderick Chalmers Ross Herald

William Urquhart of Meldrum and his first cousin James Urquart of Byth both matriculated arms in the same day. In his matriculation, William of Meldrum was recognised as "Heir Male and representative of the House of Cromartie Chief of that Ancient Name in Scotland" and also as heir of line and representer of Meldrum.

This James of Byth was the son of James Urquhart of Byth, second son of Adam Urquhart of Meldrum by his wife Lady Mary Gordon. He married Jane Porterfield of Comiston (Edinburgh) and had James (aforesaid) as well as Adam, Mary and Elizabeth. They all died without issue.

Given the coincidence in the dates of the matriculations and James' Edinburgh connection, might one guess that he was the moving spirit behind both petitions. The previous registration in ca 1672 by Adam Urquhart of Meldrum was of the two coats of Seton and Meldrum quarterly, without any Urquhart. This was, of course, highly irregular, as his pronomial arms are missing.

However by 1741 Meldrum had become Chief of Urquhart and unusually for that date chose to bear the chiefly Urquhart arms unquartered. James perhaps used the Meldrum and Seton quarters, inherited with the Meldrum estate, to keep those arms on record. As Mackenzie writes, quartering can be a difference, so in this case the arms are technically differenced, even if somewhat confusingly.

The Urquhart arms on both matriculations are described as Gules three bear's heads erased Or, but illustrated as the correct boar's heads. Clearly the scrivener misread both texts, or else Lyon Depute Dundas was nodding at the time. Urquharts have always been shown in armorials with boar's heads, so there can be no doubt that it was a mistake.

Photographed: William L Urquhart II
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