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- 1 2022-04-28T00:14:23+00:00 Craig Dietrich 2d66800a3e5a1eaee3a9ca2f91f391c8a6893490 Volume 3, Plates 26 — 44 Craig Dietrich 3 plain 2022-06-28T18:30:21+00:00 Craig Dietrich 2d66800a3e5a1eaee3a9ca2f91f391c8a6893490
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Plates 3.26-3.30: Scottish Seals—Plate 3.28
Scholarly Commentary with DZI View for Vetusta Monumenta, Plate 3.28.
Click here to access the introduction and overview for Plates 3.26-3.30.
Plate: The plates in this series were engraved by the heraldic engravers Barak Longmate, senior, and his son, Barak Longmate, junior. Longmate, senior, died in 1793, leaving most of the task to his son, who produced all the final preparatory drawings for these plates, as well as the engraving for at least one. The drawings of the five plates of Scottish seals were signed by Longmate, junior. Plate 3.27 is the only plate to carry a date and it has a unique signature on the lower right: B. Longmate Junr del et sculp 1792. All the other plates are signed thus: B. Longmate Junr del (on the left) and B. Longmate sculp (on the right). All but one of the plates carry the signature of Longmate, senior, as engraver. However, the Longmates did not produce the initial drawings of these Scottish Seals. The first set of drawings were made by Jacob Schnebbelie, who produced images for Vetusta Monumenta between 1788 and 1791. Thomas Astle, who wrote the explanatory account published with the engravings, first mentioned this project in a letter to Schnebbelie in 1788. Astle chaired the committee charged with selecting seals for engraving and reported on Schnebbelie’s progress to the Council of the Society of Antiquaries of London. The Longmates may have corrected some heraldic details when they took over the project for engraving.
1. Seal of Patrick, Earl of Dunbar
2. Seal of Dervorgilla of Gallowa
3. Seal of Roger de Quincy
4. Seal of William Comyn, Lord of ‘Kirkincolach’ [Kirkintilloch]
5. Seal of Robert Bruce, Fifth Lord of Annandale
6. Seal of John Balliol
7. Seal of John de Hastings, Lord of Abergavenny
8. Seal John Comyn, Lord of Badenoch
9. Seal Patrick of Dunbar, Earl of March
10. Seal of John de Vesci
11. Seal of Nicholas de Soulis
12. Seal of William de Ross
Commentary by Rachel Meredith Davis:
No. 1 The seal of Patrick, earl of Dunbar
The seal illustrated here seems to be misidentified as the seal belonging to Patrick, fourth earl of Dunbar (d. 1232) when it is in fact the seal belonging to his descendant, Patrick, seventh earl of Dunbar (d. 1289). Astle identified this seal as attached to a 1218 foundation charter of the Red Friar’s Monastery of Dunbar, but he gave no further indication of where he accessed this charter (Astle 1792, 16).
Extant impressions of the seal measure approximately 2 ¼ inches. The obverse image depicts a mounted warrior, in armor. In the dexter; [right] hand, he wields a sword and in the sinister; [left] hand he supports a shield, bearing a lion rampant, although these arms are not easily identifiable in the illustration here. The legend of the obverse image reads: "SIGILLVM PATRICII COMITIS: DE • DVNBAR" [The seal of Patrick, earl of Dunbar]. The depiction of the knight in the obverse equestrian image straightforwardly proves that Astle misidentified the seal as it features a cylindrical helmet with crescent above it. The horse’s trappings are checky, as well, which differs from other extant impressions of the earlier earl’s seal (DCD Misc. Ch. 774, 775 [Durham Cathedral seal catalogue 2809]). Extant impressions of this earl’s seal feature a knight wearing a circular helmet with nasal, rather than the helmet depicted in the illustration here, a style of helmet consistent with the late twelfth and early thirteenth century. (DCD Misc. Ch. 763, 764, 766 [Durham Cathedral seal catalogue 2804]; DCD Misc. Ch. 743, 744, 765, 767 [Durham Cathedral seal catalogue 2805]).
There are also easily recognizable differences between the small oval counterseals of the two earls. That of the fourth Patrick of Dunbar (d. 1232) featured an impression likely made from an intaglio gem. It featured a female head in profile to the dexter, which Walter de Gray Birch suggested was a bust of Pallas (Birch 1887, 253 [no. 15,675]). The legend of this counterseal reads: "BRISEZ : VAEZ : LISEZ : CRAEZ’ [Brisez,voyez,liscez,croyez]. J.H. Stevenson has suggested that this legend was a similar conceit to other contemporaneous seal legends in Scotland, conveying the biblical sense of ‘Break me and I will teach you’ from the book of Judges (Stevenson, 2012, 208). The counterseal is extant in the Durham Cathedral Archives and confirms this description. By contrast, the counterseal depicted on this plate depicts a lion attacking a stag or horse. The legend reads: "IE SV SEL DE AMVR LEL" [Je su sel de amur lell], which Stevenson has identified as a conceit similar to that used by the earlier earl (Stevenson 2012 208). The imagery of the lion attacking a horse could be interpreted as a visual metaphor for vice or hubris, which has been posited in other instances of this imagery’s use (Reynolds, pers comms). The counterseal of the seventh earl, depicted here, seems to be impressed from an intaglio gem as well, which suggests that this was a common practice amongst the earls of Dunbar in authenticating their charters.
The illustration here provides a good likeness of the seal impression—even if Astle misidentified the owner of the seal—and it includes the reverse image of the counterseal, which is not consistently catalogued. Henry Laing included a description of the obverse image of Patrick, fourth earl of Dunbar, but did not include a description of that earl’s counterseal. His source material was a 1200 charter from the Melrose Charters, now held by the National Records of Scotland (Laing 1850, 53 [no. 283]). Laing’s 1850 catalogue does not include a description of the later seal depicted here, nor did Laing include a description of the seal in his 1866 supplemental volume, despite the charters held by the Durham Cathedral Archives being amongst his source material. Another seal belonging to the seventh earl (d. 1289) appears in Laing’s catalogue, however, with a different counterseal from a 1251 charter (Laing 1850, 54 [nos. 286-7]). Seals belonging to both earls are described by Birch in his 1887 catalogue, and Birch argued that the seal had been misidentified by Astle in Vetusta Monumenta (Birch 1887, 253 [no. 15,675]; 255 [no. 15,684]). The seal of the fourth earl of Dunbar also appears in William Rae MacDonald's Scottish Armorial Seals; however, it is misidentified as belonging to the fifth earl (MacDonald 1904, 95 [nos. 779-80]). MacDonald also included a description of both seals belonging to the seventh earl of Dunbar in his catalogue, the 1279 example being the seal illustrated here (MacDonald 1904, 95-96 [nos. 782-5]).
Astle’s interest in this seal stemmed from the eventual claim by the Dunbar family to the Scottish throne in the early 1290s. He also referenced the seal of the competitor, Patrick de Dunbar, earl of March, which also appears in this plate (No. 9). He traced the lineage of the Dunbar family, beginning with the “Saxon kings of England,” to the fourth earl, whose marriage to the illegitimate daughter of William the Lion would bolster the Dunbar claim to the Scottish crown (MacDonald 2004; Astle 1792, 16). Fiona Watson has commented on the political importance of the fourth earl as well as the eighth earl, noting the peripheral nature of the fifth, sixth, and seventh earls to the events of the mid thirteenth-century (Watson 2008). The importance of Patrick, fourth earl of Dunbar, as a magnate in the Anglo-Scottish marches, his legal offices as Justiciar of Lothian and Warden of Berwick-upon-Tweed, and his marriage to the daughter of William the Lion explain Astle’s decision to include a depiction of his seal on this plate, but the illustration proves that he mistook the seventh earl Patrick’s seal for that of the more influential fourth earl.
No. 2 The seal of Dervorgilla of Galloway
The seal of Dervorgilla of Galloway, as illustrated in Plate 3.28, was made from an impression attached to the 1282 Statutes of Balliol College, given by its founder, Dervorgilla. She founded Balliol College in memory of her beloved husband, John Balliol, who had died in 1268 (Astle 1792, 18). The impression of her seal, as viewed by Astle, is currently well preserved, and remains attached to the 1282 Statutes (D.4.1, 1282 Statutes of Balliol College). Astle observes that this is the only surviving impression of the lady’s seal, which seems to be correct.
The illustration presented here provides a good likeness of the original obverse and reverse impressions of the lady of Galloway’s seal. The seal is a pointed oval in red wax, measuring 2.25x1.5 inches, with seal and counterseal (D.4.1, 1282 Statutes of Balliol College). The obverse image (the seal) depicts a standing female figure, which Astle describes as dressed “in her dowager’s habit,” a loose gown with a close dress. The figure wears on her head a veil and wimple, completely covering her hair, which further denotes her age. Married and widowed women wore their hair covered, which delineated them from young, unmarried women, who wore their hair loose (Gilchrist 2013, 84). The figure stands on a corbel, and holds two shields aloft in each hand. When read from the perspective of the sealer, the <i>dexter</i> [right] shield bears the arms of Balliol (an orle) and the <i>sinister</i> [left] shield bears the arms of Galloway (a lion rampant crowned). Beneath each shield is a tree, from which are suspended two shields, one from each tree. The <i>dexter</i> [right] shield bears the arms of Chester (three garbs) and the <I>sinister</i> [left] shield bears the arms of Huntingdon (two piles in a point). The legend, in Gothic capitals, reads “† S’ DEVORGUILLE DE BALLIOLO FIL’ ALANI D GALEWAD” [The seal of Dervorguilla de Balliol, daughter of Alan of Galloway]. The reverse image, bearing her counterseal, features a tree with three branches, from which hang three shields. The largest shield, which occupies the center of the visual field, bears impaled arms of Galloway (a lion rampant crowned) and Balliol (an orle), dimidiated. The two higher branches feature smaller shields, bearing three garbs for Chester on the dexter [right] shield and two piles in a point for Huntingdon on the sinister [left] shield. The seal legend, in Gothic capitals, reads “† S’ DERVORGILLE DE GALEWAD’ DNE DE BALLIOLO” [The seal of Dervorguilla of Galloway, lady of Balliol].
The seal and counterseal belonging to Dervorguilla of Galloway are well-catalogued. A description of the seal appears in the Scottish seal catalogues (Laing 1866, 14 (nos. 71-2); MacDonald 1904, 127 (nos. 1028, 1029). Henry Laing cites the 1282 Statutes as his source for the lady’s seal in his catalogue, as does William Rae MacDonald. MacDonald also provides further references to Laing, Astle, and British Museum collections. The seal is described in Walter de Gray Birch’s catalogue, which accounts for British Museum collections (Birch 1887, 269 (no. 15746). The seal and counterseal casts of Dervorguilla of Galloway can now be found in the British Library (BL, Seal XLVII 1073; Seal XLVII 1074). The citations provided by compilers lend credence to Astle’s assertion that the 1282 impression attached to Balliol College Statutes is indeed the only extant version of her seal.
Astle’s interest in the seal and counterseal of Dervorguilla of Galloway was threefold. First, her lineage became of national importance in the 1290s, when her son, John Balliol, became a claimant to the Scottish throne. His right to the Scottish crown was asserted through his maternal lineage, as Dervorguilla was the granddaughter of David, earl of Huntingdon, and younger brother of William the Lion, king of Scots (r. 1165-1214). Astle laboriously traced this descent from William the Conqueror through to Dervorguilla (Astle 1792, 17).
As mentioned, the seal is attached to the foundation statutes for Balliol College Oxford. In the document, Dervorguilla identifies herself as “Deruorgulla de Galwedia, domina de Balliolo” [Dervorguilla of Galloway, lady of Balliol] (Salter 1913, 277 (no. 564). The statutes include a series of stipulations for the commemoration of the soul of her beloved husband [dilecti mariti], John Balliol, as well as for her predecessors and herself (Salter 1913, 278). This included the celebration of three masses a year as well as daily prayers for John, their deceased children, and their living friends (Salter 1913, 278). These stipulations are part of the pro anima clause in legally binding documents. Pro anima translates to “for the sake of/on behalf of the souls,” and it has recently been argued that these clauses showed the community of the living and the dead (Hodgson 2016, 109; Jamroziak 2010, 37-58; Jamroziak, 2005). Additionally, this clause indicates how women understood their position in the family. The way in which Dervorguilla cognizes her kin relationships in the 1282 statutes can be compared with her donation charter granting lands to the Church of St Mary of Sweetheart and the monks at the convent of Dundrennan on behalf of the souls of her husband, predecessors, and deceased children (CRC, Laing Charter No. 46 [2531, Box 65] [This is a 1359 royal confirmation of the thirteenth-century donation]). In both documents the language of the charter created Dervorguilla as the center of these kinship networks, the root of these relationships. The language of the charters might also be parsed in the visual imagery of the lady’s seal, with in both the obverse and reverse images featuring trees, which had strong visual associations with dynastic lineage (Bedos-Rezak 1990, 5). The heraldic devices featured in her seal also show her understanding of her noble lineage and her connection to each of the four lineages represented in her seal.
No. 3 The seal of Roger de Quincy
The seal of Roger de Quincy, earl of Winchester and constable of Scotland, as depicted in this plate, depicts a more or less intact impression of the seal. A damaged version of the seal can be found attached to a 1250 donation charter to Holyrood Abbey deposited in the National Records of Scotland (NRS, GD45/13/262). Likewise, a slightly damaged impression of the seal survives attached to a 1253 agreement between de Quincy and his kinsman, Edmund Lascy, held by the National Archives, Kew (TNA, DL 27/203). Astle seems to have used the “Duchy Office” (TNA) seal in commissioning the illustration for this plate (Astle 1792, 19). Magdalen College, Oxford, holds several extant impressions belonging to the earl, with the most intact example attached to a charter dated 1260 (Brackley C. 125; 4 A; 8).
The plate illustration seems to be an accurate interpretation of the impression. The seal is round and in green wax, measuring 3.0625 inches in diameter (TNA, DL 27/203). The obverse image features a night in chain armor with surcoat and cylindrical helmet, with a sword in the right hand and a shield on the left arm. The shield bears seven mascles [voided lozenges] (three, three, one). Due to the curvature of the shield in the illustration, only five mascles can be seen here. The horse’s caparisons [decorative coverings] also feature mascles, of which there are twelve. Between the horse’s legs is a wyvern. The seal legend, in Gothic capitals, reads “SIGILL ROGERI DE QVINCI COMITIS WINCESTRIE” [The seal of Roger de Quincy, earl of Winchester]. The reverse image (counterseal) features a knight on foot, facing dexter [right], in chain armor with surcoat and cylindrical helmet with a wyvern crest. The knight holds a sword in the left hand and shield on the right arm, charged again with mascles, combatting a lion on the dexter [right]. Between them, in the base, is a rose of six petals. The counterseal legend, in Gothic capitals, reads “SIGILL ROGERI DE QVINCI CONSTABVLARII SCOCIE” [The seal of Roger de Quincy, constable of Scotland].
The seal and counterseal belonging to Roger de Quincy is well-catalogued. A description of the seal, as well as a plate illustration, appears in Laing’s catalogue (Laing 1850, 113-4 [nos. 681, 682]; Plate XI, fig. 2, 295). Laing’s source material for the catalogue entry and plate illustration was the slightly damaged seal attached to the 1250 charter, now deposited in the NRS (NRS, GD45/13/262). A description of the seal can also be found in MacDonald's Scottish Armorial Seals (MacDonald 1904, 280-1 [nos. 2226, 2227]). MacDonald’s sources for the seal include the 1250 charter examined by Laing, but also the “Duchy Office” charter, now held by The National Archives. A description can also be found In Birch’s catalogue (Birch 1887, 342 [no. 6346]). Astle questioned the meaning of the six-petal rose badge in the counterseal of the earl. He suggested that it should have been a cinquefoil [five-petal flower] to represent allegiance to the family of Beaumont, earls of Leicester, suggesting it was an error on the part of the artisan who made the seal (Astle 1792, 19). A cinquefoil would have represented his connection to the Beaumont family through his maternal lineage, as his mother was Margaret de Beaumont, daughter of the earl of Leicester. Scottish cataloguers did not provide further comment on this design element of de Quincy’s seal. It is difficult to assess whether this was an error made on the part of the artisan or whether the six-petal flower should be read as merely a further design element to make forgery of the seal more difficult.
The seal design of de Quincy reflects contemporary fashions regarding seals belonging to the male elite (Neville 2017, 106; MacEwan, 2005, 84; Harvey &MacGuinness 1996, 43). Both the obverse and reverse image show him as a warrior. Unique design elements of the seal, which warrant further discussion, are the wyvern [bipedal dragon] and lion. There is still debate around the meaning of the two creatures that feature in Roger de Quincy’s seal design and the evidence seems to suggest the symbols were of personal significance to Roger, even if the two creatures also hold broader symbolic meaning (Reynolds, pers comm). George Henderson has suggested that de Quincy copied the seal belonging to his father, Saher de Quincy (Brackley A.2; Brackley 11 A.; Henderson 1978, 32). However, his father’s seal did not feature a wyvern. Henderson has indicated a wyvern featured in the silver seal matrix of Robert Fitzwalter, a close friend, cousin, and crusader companion of Saher de Quincy (Henderson, 1978, p. 34; BM 1841,0624.1.British Museum). Importantly, FitzWalter’s seal features a floating shield bearing seven mascles (three, three, one) indicating his relationship with Saher de Quincy. The seal of Saher de Quincy also visually noted this relationship, with his design featuring a floating shield bearing the arms of FitzWalter (Henderson 1978, 33l; Birch 1887, 343 [nos. 6355, 6356]). Further to this, Henderson noted the presence of the FitzWalter arms in the seal design of Saher de Quincy’s wife, Margaret (Brackley B. 180; BL Seal XCVII, 51; Seal XCVII, 59-60; Henderson 1978, 34; Stevenson 1914, 146-47). We might read the presence of the wyvern and lion together in Roger de Quincy’s seal as a stylistic inheritance from both his father and his father’s cousin: imagery that commemorated the influence of these men on his upbringing and his personal relationships with them.
Astle’s interest in the seal stemmed from Roger de Quincy’s marriages, and his claim to titles via his first wife. He was married to Helen of Galloway, one of the co-heirs to Alan, lord of Galloway (and sister to Dervorgilla of Galloway, whose seal appears as no. 2 on this plate) (Astle 1792, 19). The relationship between Roger de Quincy and his sister-in-law, Dervorguilla of Galloway, may explain the choice to feature the seal illustrations together on Plate 28. In his discussion, he wrongly noted, that “in early times jurisdictions, great offices, and honors, by the law of Scotland, descended to females” (Astle 1792, 19). Rather, the instance in which de Quincy was able to claim himself constable of Scotland, by right of his wife, arose out of the co-inheritance of Galloway by the three daughters of Alan, who died without male issue. Subsequently, he was married to Maud de Bohun, and lastly to Margaret de Ferrers. Astle’s interest in de Quincy aligns with early historical interest in the earl, which also focused on the “death” of his lineage with the absence of a male heir (Simpson 1993, 104), rather than in the design elements of the seal itself.
No. 4 The seal of William Comyn, lord of ‘Kirkincolach’ [Kirkintilloch]
Astle’s commentary on the seal of William Comyn, lord of Kirkintilloch, is brief, and he seems to have included it because of the individual’s connection to the Comyns of Badenoch. It is attached to an instrument dated 1290 between William and Hugh de Balliol, sheriff of Lanark. The instrument is presently held by the British Library (Harl. Ch. 43. B. 11).
The illustration depicted here shows a small seal, which measures approximately 7/8 inches in diameter. The seal is armorial. The shield bears semée [seeded] of cross crosslets fitchy, three garbs. The shield is suspended from a strap passing through the beak of a bird, within a pointed Gothic trefoil. The legend reads: “‘S’ WILLELMI COMIN” [Seal of William Comyn].
Nineteenth- and early twentieth-century seal catalogues also include a description of the seal. While it is absent from Laing’s catalogue, which likely owes to the fact that it was not held by Scottish archives, it is included in Birch’s and MacDonald’s work (Birch 1887, 339 [no. 16,023]; MacDonald 1904, 66 [no. 584]. MacDonald seems to have accepted the supposition put forward by Astle that the individual was a member of the Badenoch family. The description of this seal immediately precedes a descriptive entry of the seal belonging to John Comyn of Badenoch, the Competitor.
Nos. 5 to 12 The seals of the Competitors
Seal Nos. 5 to 12 come from a document relating to the succession to the Scottish throne. These seals come from a specific notarial instrument in which the competitors agree to submit their claims to Edward I f England to decide the Scottish succession (Astle 1792, 20). Astle notes that the agreement, dated 2 June 1292 at Norham, was held by the chapter house at Westminister at the time (1792), but it is now held by The National Archives, Kew. There are a number of agreements relating to the competitors from the beginning of June 1291. The entire series of documents relating to the claim for the Scottish throne dated at Norham are held by The National Archives (TNA, E 39/16/3; E 39/16/13; E 39/16/17; E 39/18; E 39/88/1). It is worth noting that all of the competitors’ claims to the Scottish crown were through maternal lineage, with the exception of the lord of Badenoch: Astle explored each claim to the crown via these lineages in detail. Walter Bower provided an extensive narration of the succession crisis and the genealogies of the competitors in the beginning of Book XI of his fifteenth-century chronicle, Scotichronicon (Bower 1990, 6.3-37).
No. 5 Robert Bruce, fifth lord of Annandale
The seal of Robert Bruce, fifth lord of Annandale, is the same seal used by his father, also the lord of Ananndale, according to Astle (Astle 1792, 20). The seal depicts a mounted knight with drawn sword in his right hand, a typical gendered depiction of masculine and chivalric ideals amongst the medieval male elite. On his left arm he bears a shield charged with a saltire and chief, which is also shown on the horse’s caparisons. The legend reads: “ESTO FEROX UT LEO” [Be as fierce as a lion].
A description of this seal can be found in nineteenth- and twentieth-century seal catalogues from impressions of the seal as used by Robert Bruce, fourth lord of Annandale. The source material for Birch’s catalogue entries were Cotton and Harley Charters and a seal cast, which are now held by the British Library (BL, Harl. Ch. 43, B 12; Cott Ch. xi, 38, Seal xlvii.1039). According to Birch, the seal impressions were made in a dark green wax (Birch 1887, 248-49 [Nos. 15,646; 15,647; 15,648; 15649). Henry Laing’s description of this seal is also taken from a seal impression belonging to the fourth lord of Annandale from a document dated 1240 (Laing 1850, 29 [No. 138]). The seal is described as belonging to both the fourth and fifth lords of Annandale by MacDonald, who took Astle’s interpretation to be correct (MacDonald 1904, 30 [No. 270]). MacDonald’s source material in his catalogue compilation at the start of the twentieth century included the 1291 notarial attestation consulted by Astle.
The Bruce family was of Anglo-Norman origin, as observed by Astle (Astle 1792, 20). The third lord of Annandale, also called Robert Bruce, married Isabel, an illegitimate daughter of William the Lion, who was the grandmother of the fifth lord of Annandale, whose seal is described here. It was this lineage that was used by the Bruce family to legitimate their claim to the Scottish crown (Barrow 2005). The fifth lord was actively involved in the politics of the realm following the deaths of Alexander III in 1286, and his only heir, Margaret, Maid of Norway, in 1290 (Barrow 2005; Duncan 2008). His grandson, Robert I, would become king of Scotland in the fourteenth century. The seal of Robert I of Scotland is included among the royal seals illustrated in Plate 26 (No. 1).
No. 6 John Balliol
The seal of John Balliol, lord of Galloway, is a round armorial seal bearing the arms of Balliol, an orle. The legend reads: “† S’ · JEHAN DE BAILLOVEL” [The seal of John Balliol]. The particular impression from which this illustration was taken is described in Laing’s catalogue as well (Laing 1850, 24 [no. 102]). A description can also be found in Birch’s catalogue (Birch 1887, 281 [no. 15,791]. The heraldry used is worth noting in John Balliol’s seal, as his title, lord of Galloway, and his claim to the Scottish crown were both through his maternal lineage, as the son of Dervorguilla of Galloway, whose mother was Margaret, eldest daughter of David, earl of Huntingdon (d. 1219), the younger brother of the Scottish king, William the Lion (Stell 2005). His mother’s seal is illustrated in this plate (No. 2) and it was her death in 1290 that gained him a rich inheritance in both Scotland and England (Stell 2005). On 30 November 1292, he was inaugurated king of Scots at Scone and he exploited his connections with Picardy via his Balliol lineage throughout his reign (Stell 2005). However, he abdicated the throne in 1296 and was imprisoned and later exiled in France. His son, Edward, would also make a bid for the Scottish throne during the second War of Scottish Independence (1332-1356). His privy seal is illustrated in Plate 26 (No. 4).
No. 7 John de Hastings, lord of Abergavenny
The seal impression depicted here, belonging to John de Hastings, lord of Abergavenny, is armorial, bearing a maunch. A maunch is a heraldic charge that represents a lady’s detachable sleeve with a wide cuff. These were often given in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries as favors for knights in tournaments. Astle notes that these arms are the same as the arms used by the Hasting earls of Pembroke and Huntington. The legend reads, “S’ • IOH’IS • DE • HASTINGES” [The seal of John de Hastings]. The British Library holds a cast of this seal (BL, Seal xlvii. 1140; see the description in Birch 1887, 420 [nos. 10,535, 10-536]). The source material for Henry Laing’s description was the same document used by Astle (Laing 1850, 74 [no. 414]). John de Hastings’s right to the Scottish throne was claimed through his mother, Joan, the eldest sister of George de Cantelupe, the son of Henry de Hastings, son of Ada, daughter of David, earl of Huntington. His claim was not directly a claim for the throne, but rather a claim of a third of the inheritance relating to the Scottish crown, which was rejected quickly (Watson 2005). The title included here indicates his Scottish holdings. He also held land in England and following the forced abdication of John Balliol in 1296, he sided, along with others amongst the competitors, with the English king (Barrow 2005).
No. 8 John Comyn, lord of Badenoch
The seal of John Comyn, lord of Badenoch, bears a knight on horseback at full speed, with sword drawn in the dexter [right] hand and on his sinister [left] arm a shield bearing three garbs [sheaves of wheat], which are also represented on the caparisons of the horse. On the top of the helmet may be a crescent and a star or this may be part of the legend. The legend reads, “S’ SECRETI JOHIS CUMIN” [The private seal of John Comyn]. The seal is described by Laing in his 1850 catalogue, using the same impression used by Astle (Laing 1850, 41-2 [no. 222]). MacDonald also noted the seal, taking in extant impressions as well as seal casts (MacDonald 1904, p. 66 [no. 585]). It is also included in Birch’s catalogue (Birch 1887, 251-2 [nos. 15,660, 15,661]). The British Library holds a cast of the seal, which served as source material for Birch (BL, Seal xlvii. 1117). Comyn claimed his right to the Scottish throne via descent from Donald III (Donald Bane), brother of Malcolm III (d. c. 1099) (Barrow 2005). He was additionally a guardian of Scotland, elected in 1286, and he later supported the Balliol faction, as brother-in-law of John Balliol (Young 2008).
No. 9 Patrick of Dunbar, earl of March
The seal of Patrick, earl of Dunbar and March, is armorial, bearing a shield, hanging from a strap at the top of the central visual field. The shield bears a lion rampant within an orle of eight roses. There is foliage on either side of the shield, with a star at the top on both the right and left sides. The legend reads, “† S’ DN’I PATRICII DE DUNBAR COM’ MARC’’ [The seal of Lord Patrick of Dunbar, earl of March]. This seal impression, illustrated by Astle, differs from many of the seals catalogued as belonging to the earl, which were equestrian seals and another featuring a tree motif. This specific seal was catalogued by the Scottish cataloguers Laing and MacDonald (Laing 1850, 55 [no. 291, also illustrated]; MacDonald 1904, 96 [no. 786]. It is also described by Birch (Birch 1887, 369-70 [nos. 16,141, 16,142]. The British Library holds a cast of this seal (Seal xlvii. 1124). As noted by Astle, the eighth earl Patrick of Dunbar claimed his right to the Scottish crown via his being descended from Ada, illegitimate daughter of William the Lion. He was the first earl to designate himself the ‘earl of March’ and he sided with English forces when war broke out in 1296 (Watson 2008).
No. 10 John de Vesci
The seal of John de Vesci, as illustrated here, is an armorial seal, bearing a cross with a label of five points. The shield is surrounded by tracery. The legend reads, “† SIGILLVM JOHANNIS • DE • VESCI” [The seal of John de Vesci]. The seal is described by Laing, MacDonald, and Birch (Laing 1850, 139 [no. 835]; Birch 1887, 600 [nos. 17,025, 17.026]; MacDonald 1904, p361 [no. 2823]). John de Vesci represented the claim for his father, William de Vesci, in this transaction (Waugh 2005). Significantly, earlier cataloguers believed that John de Vesci was participating in his own right, not recognizing his participation as being on behalf of his father. This misunderstanding seems to have originated with Astle (Astle 1792, 23). The Vesci claim was through descent from Margaret, a mistress of William the Lion (Barrow 2005). The seal used by Astle for this plate was also the source material for Laing and Birch. The British Library holds a cast of this seal (Seal xlvii. 1185).
No. 11 Nicholas de Soulis
The seal of Nicholas de Soulis bears a bird, possibly a falcon, within a border of tracery. The legend reads, “SIGILLUM NICOLAI DE SOULI” [The seal of Nicholas de Soulis]. The seal is described by Laing and Birch, and both used the same source material that Astle used for this plate (Laing 1850, 123 [no. 749]; Birch 1887, 642 [nos. 17,197, 17978]). MacDonald’s description of the seal belonging to Nicholas de Soulis, the competitor, differs from the descriptions of the other two cataloguers. His source material was a 1296 document, in which an armorial seal belonging to de Soulis was apparently used (MacDonald 1904, 316 [no. 2506]). The Soulis claim to the Scottish crown came from their descent from Marjorie, an illegitimate daughter of Alexander II of Scotland. The Soulis family, led by Nicholas’s son William, later plotted to take the Scottish throne in 1320, which was violently punished by Robert I at the Black Parliament of 1320 (Bower 1990, vol. 7, 3; Barbour 2007, 702-03). The Soulis conspiracy has been noted as evidence of continued factionalism amongst the Scottish nobility following the Scottish victory at Bannockburn and a reaction to Bruce’s rewarding of his supporters at the expense of other ancient Scottish families that were not Bruce supporters (Penman 1999, 26-48).
No. 12 William de Ross
The seal of William de Ross, as illustrated here, bears three water-bougets, two and one [a pair of water bags on a yoke], the arms of Ross. The shield is featured at the center of the visual field, with wyverns [bi-pedal dragons] on either side. The legend reads, “* S’ WILLELMI DE ROS” [The seal of William de Ros]. The seal is described in Laing, Birch, and MacDonald, all of whom cite Astle’s source material (Laing 1850, 116 [no. 700]; Birch 1887, 543 [nos. 16,807, 16,808]; MacDonald 1904, 290 [no. 2307]). The British Library holds a cast of this seal (BL, Seal xlvii. 1167). De Ross’s claim to the Scottish crown was through descent from Isabella, an illegitimate daughter of William the Lion, who his lawyers claimed had been legitimated. However, he withdrew his claim to the throne in November 1292, siding with Balliol’s claim. He later fought for the English during the first War of Scottish Independence (McNamee 2005).
Nos. 13 to 20 seals attached to an instrument dated 2 January 1292 at Newcastle-upon-Tyne
Astle’s source material for these seals seems to be a notarial instrument nullifying all efforts of overlordship by Edward I of England in Scotland, including a nullification of the 1290 Treaty of Northhampton, which Astle cited as being among the charters in the Chapterhouse of Westminister at the time of writing (Astle 1792, 25). The whereabouts of this document today are not apparent; however, the National Archives, Kew, holds seals belonging to each of the sealers indicated by Astle among detached Scottish seals. The individuals represented in this grouping of seal illustrations offer a further opportunity to consider the divided allegiances of Scots during the early years of the first Scottish War of Independence, something that Astle commented on in his assessment of the seals. While some succeeded in maintaining their positions of authority in the early fourteenth century, others were exiled to England for their support of Balliol or the English cause. From a perspective of identity, the seals in this group also give us an opportunity to think about how Anglo-Scottish nobles conceived of their allegiance to Scotland, England, or both. Some of the men represented here held extensive estates in both Scotland and England and until 1286, the identity of “Anglo-Scottish” noble was not as divisive. We will see a shift in identities and a more distinct “Scottishness” in Plates 3.29 and 3.30, where there is a much more pronounced separation between elites north and south of the border following nearly a century of endemic warfare and conflict abroad.
No. 13 William Fraser, bishop of St Andrews
The seal of William Fraser survives through impressions held by the National Archives, Kew (TNA, SC 13/F8; SC13/F31; SC 13/G23; SC 13/C51; SC 13/C50). He was bishop of St Andrews from 1279-1297. The obverse seal impression was noted to be in excellent condition. It bears, within a Gothic niche (ornamented with croketting and finials), a full-length figure of a bishop in pontifical vestments. The dexter [right] hand gives the benediction [middle and index finger pointed, thumb extended, and pinky and ring finger curled toward palm]. His sinister [left] hand holds a crozier [hooked staff that symbolized the office of bishop]. The background is diapered with a lozenge, enclosing a cinquefoil. At the bottom of the visual field, within a quatrefoil, is a shield, bearing six roses, three, two, and one, which represent the Fraser arms. The legend reads, “S’ WILLI FRASER DEI GRA. SCOTTORU. [EPI]” [The seal of William Fraser, [bishop] of Scots by the Grace of God]. The legend belies the significance of St Andrews in medieval Scotland, as Fraser recognizes his pre-eminence amongst bishops as “bishop of Scots, by the Grace of God.” The wording of the legend is evocative of the royal legends present in Plate 3.26, in which kings recognized themselves as “king of Scots, by the Grace of God.” The bishop of St Andrews was the leading bishop of Scotland, which is indicated by the legend, showing a cognizance of his national importance as office holder of the bishopric of St Andrews (Brown and Stevenson 2017, 1). Furthermore, Duncan has noted the bishop’s prominence in leadership amongst the guardians after 1289 (Duncan 2004). His political influence and family background are both noted by Astle in his commentary (Astle 1792, 25). We might also consider the interplay of lay elite and elite ecclesiastical identities within this image, as the bishop is represented in his episcopal regalia with the symbols of that office, but also includes the arms of his noble family, suggesting that both were integral to his identity and his exercise of authority as bishop of St Andrews.
The reverse seal impression bears the figure of St Andrew, extended on the cross, with a shield on either side of the cross. Both shields bear the arms of Fraser, which are featured in the obverse image. Above the dexter [right] shield, is a crescent, with a star of six points above the sinister [left] shield. There is some discrepancy over what issues the coronet that descends to the saint’s head, which is not clearly represented in the illustration here. Laing suggests a greyhound (Laing 1850, 145 [no. 864]). However, Birch’s interpretation seems more persuasive within an understanding of the overall imagery. If we read the architectural canopy at the top of the visual field as a representation of the kingdom of Heaven, Laing’s interpretation of a hand (Hand of God) issuing the crown seems more likely given the fact that the depiction of St Andrew here is that of his martyrdom (Voragine 2012, 17-8; Birch 1887, 49 [no. 14,926]). At the base of the visual field, there is a figure of a bishop in profile, praying to the saint above. The legend reads, “S’ • WILL’I • FRASER • EPI • SAI •ANDREE” [The seal of William Fraser, bishop of St Andrews].’ The reverse image complements the obverse image of the seal. Where the obverse image represents the identity of the bishop, using the symbols of the office, as well as identifying Fraser’s membership within the Scottish elite through the presence of the heraldic device, the reverse image locates the specific office of bishop held by Fraser, the bishopric of St Andrews, using symbology of the saint’s life to create a local representation of the episcopal see that he served.
The seal is well-catalogued. Descriptions of the seal can be found in Laing, Birch, and MacDonald (Laing 1850, 144-45 [nos. 863, 864]; Birch 1887, 49 [no. 14,926]; MacDonald 1904, 123 [nos. 994, 995]). Both Birch and MacDonald included descriptions of an earlier seal of the bishop, used in the 1280s (Birch 1887, 48-9 [no. 14,925]; MacDonald 1904, 123 [no. 993]). The British Library holds a cast of the bishop’s seal (BL, Seal xlvii. 364, 365). In addition, Durham Cathedral Archives holds three extant impressions of the seal, which do not seem to have been consulted by the antiquarian compilers of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries (DCD Misc. Chs. 1296, 1305, 740 [Durham Cathedral seal catalogue 3624]).
No. 14 Robert Wiseheart, bishop of Glasgow
Extant impressions of the seal and counterseal of Robert Wishart, bishop of Glasgow, are held by the National Archives, Kew (TNA, SC 13/E41; SC 13/D48). The obverse seal impression, as illustrated here, bears similarities to the bishop of St Andrew’s seal, although it is less intricate in its design. The obverse image bears, like No. 13, the standing figure of a bishop standing on a corbel, with dexter [right hand] making the sign of the benediction, and the sinister [left] hand holding the bishop’s crozier. The figure is dressed in episcopal vestments, with mitre, regalia of the office of bishop. To the right of the figure there is a fish haurient [with a ring in the mouth]. To the left of the figure a bird sits on a wavy branch of trefoiled foliage. Both symbols are associated with Kentigern (also known as Mungo), and relate to miracle stories of the saint, as chronicled by his twelfth century biographer, Jocelin of Furness (Forbes 1874, 43; 101-2). The symbols and Kentigern, are strongly associated with Glasgow, as he was the city’s patron saint. (Davies 2009, 74-5). The legend reads, “S • ROBERTI • WYSCHARD • DEI • GRA • EPISCOPI • GASGVENSIS” [The seal of Robert Wishart, by the Grace of God, bishop of Glasgow]. The reverse image is also less intricate than the impression in No. 13. It appears to be a signet ring impression, bearing, perhaps, an image of a bishop kneeling in profile.
The seal impression is well-catalogued, and the Scottish antiquarian compiler, Laing, notes far more intricate and elaborate versions of the bishop’s seal, which suggests he had multiple seals and that the impression viewed by Astle may have been the least interesting (Laing 1850, 164-65 [nos. 346, 347, 348, 349]). Along with the English source material consulted by Astle, Laing used extant impressions attached to the Melrose Charters (now held by National Records of Scotland). Birch also noted multiple seals belonging to Wishart, the 1292 impression illustrated here being the first version of the bishop’s seal, according to Birch (Birch 1887, 105-06 [nos. 15,116; 15,117; 15,118; 15,119; 15,120; 15,121; 15,122; 15,123]). The British Library holds casts of the material consulted by Birch (BL, Seal xlvii. 252, 253; 254, 255; xxxv. 100, 101, 102).
Astle’s interest in the bishop related to his political career during the first War of Scottish Independence. He notes the bishop’s outspoken nature and later support of the Bruce cause, which saw his imprisonment from the later 1290s to the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314 (Astle 1792, 26; Duncan 2004). The later seals catalogued by nineteenth- and twentieth-century compilers all survive after 1315, which suggests the bishop had new matrices struck following his incarceration and his return to ecclesiastical power.
No. 15 John Comyn
The seal of John Comyn is held by the National Archives, Kew, as a detached seal from a 1292 attestation of homage to John Balliol, king of Scots. The document it was attached to seems to be a fragmentary document, but it may be the more intact version of the document viewed by Astle in the late eighteenth century (TNA, SC 13/S 746). The seal is armorial, bearing a shield, hanging from a guige, bearing three garbs, the arms of Buchan. On either side of the shield are lizards. The lizard motif does not appear to be used by other members of his family, which suggests it may have been a design feature to distinguish his seal from that of his father. This is corroborated in the legend, which reads, “S’ IOHIS COMYN FIL • COMIT D • BOGHA” [The seal of John Comyn, son of the earl of Buchan]. Astle noted that his father was also party to the instrument to which this seal was attached, although it had been torn off by the time of Astle’s writing (Astle 1792, 26). The seal is described in Laing and MacDonald, although Laing did not mention the lizards on either side of the shield in the design (Laing 1866, 44 [no. 258]; MacDonald 1904, 65 [no. 581]). The Comyn earls of Buchan were exiled for their continued support of the Balliol claim, and, as Astle noted, did not regain their lands until the mid-1370s under the reign of Robert II. He was a cousin of John Comyn, lord of Badenoch (No. 8), one of the competitors to the Scottish crown.
No. 16 Alexander Balliol
An extant impression of the seal belonging to Alexander Balliol survives as a detached seal, held by the National Archives, Kew. The seal dates from an attestation of homage to John Balliol, king of Scots (TNA, SC 13/S744). It is an equestrian seal, bearing an armed knight on horseback. The knight holds in his dexter [right] hand a raised sword, with a shield bearing an orle, the arms of Balliol, on the sinister [left]. The horse’s housings also bear an orle, the arms of its rider. The knight wears a helmet with a plume of feathers, and the horse bears a plume of feathers as well. The legend reads “‘S’ ALEXANDRI DE BALLIOLO” [The seal of Alexander of Balliol]. Astle commented on Balliol’s adherence to the English crown, suggesting that his allegiance was motivated by a desire to keep his English estates. His Scottish lands were forfeited during Bruce’s reign (Astle 1792, 26-7). The seal is described in Laing, Birch, and MacDonald, who seem to have used similar, if not the same, source material as Astle (Laing 1850, 15 [nos. 73, 74]; Birch 1887, 246 [no. 15,633]; MacDonald 1904, 10 [no. 89]. The British Library holds a cast of the seal (BL, Seal xlvii. 1091].
No. 17 Geoffrey de Mowbray
The seal of Geoffrey de Mowbray survives as a detached seal, held by the National Archives, Kew. Like the seal belonging to Alexander Balliol, it was attached to a 1292 attestation of homage to Balliol (TNA, SC 13/S742). It is an armorial seal, with a shield bearing a lion rampant, over all in chief a label of five points. The legend reads, “* S’ GALFRIDI • DE • MOVBRAY” [The seal of Geoffrey of Mowbray]. Birch includes a description of this seal in volume 3 of his catalogues, amongst other English nobles (Birch 1887, 287 [no. 11,993]). The seal is not described by Laing or later Scottish cataloguers, which perhaps indicates the predominance of the Mowbray family in England following the forfeiture of their Scottish lands under the reign of Robert I.
No. 18 Patrick Graham
The seal belonging to Patrick Graham survives detached and joined to the seal belonging to Geoffrey de Mowbray (no. 17) (TNA, SC 13/S743). The seal is armorial, bearing three escallops [shells] in chief, the arms of Graham, on a shield. On either side of the shield is a boar’s head in profile. Astle’s inclusion of Graham seems to be because the duke of Montrose, at the time of Astle’s writing, was a direct descendent of Graham (Astle 1792, 27). The seal is described by Laing, Birch, and MacDonald in their catalogues, who all seem to have used similar source material to Astle (Laing 1866, 75 [no. 444]; Birch 1887, 692 [no. 17,326]; MacDonald 1904, 140 [no.1119]). The British Library holds a cast of the seal (BL, Seal cviii. 64).
No. 19 William de St Clare, lord of Roslin
The seal of William de Sinclair, lord of Roslin, survives as a detached seal, held by the National Archives, Kew (TNA, SC 13/S 31). It is an armorial seal bearing a shield of arms. The arms are a cross engrailed, the arms of Sinclair (St Clare). The shield is between three couped boars’ heads. The shield and boar’s heads sit within a carved gothic trefoil, with foliage. The legend reads, “† S’ • WILLELMI • DE • SCO • CLARO • MILITIS” [The seal of William de Sinclair, knight]. The seal is well-catalogued, and later cataloguers seem to have used a 1292/3 instrument (Laing 1850, 123 [no. 744]; Birch 1887, 546 [no. 16,821]; MacDonald 1904, 313 [no. 2473]). The British Library also holds a cast of the seal (BL, Seal xlvii. 1173).
No. 20 Thomas Randolph of Strathdon
The seal of Thomas Randolph of Strathdon might be held as a detached seal from 1292 attestations of homage to Balliol, in the National Archives, Kew (TNA, SC 13/S 745). The seal is armorial, featuring a shield bearing three lozenges, the Randolph arms, within tracery. The legend reads, “† SIGILLVM THOME RANDOLF” [The seal of Thomas Randolph]. The impression is only catalogued by MacDonald, which means the illustration included here by Astle might be one of the few remaining sources for Randolph’s seal (MacDonald 1904, 283 [no. 2250]). MacDonald further designated Randolph as the executor of Devorguilla of Galloway (No. 2). Astle noted the importance of Randolph during the reign of Alexander III and his marriage to a daughter of the countess of Carrick, making his children kindred of the future king of Scotland, Robert Bruce (Astle 1792, 28; Duncan 2004). The arms of Randolph of Strathdon, as represented here, would change with his son, Thomas Randolph, first earl of Moray, who incorporated a double (royal) tressure (flory, counter-flory) into his heraldic device to visually gloss his kinship to the royal family (Laing 1850, 115 [no. 690]; Birch 1887, 535 [no. 16,777]; MacDonald 1904, 283 [no. 2251]).
No. 21 Robert Bruce, sixth lord of Annandale
Astle’s source for the seal belonging to Robert Bruce, sixth lord of Annandale, was a charter that he had within his own library, dated 1298 at Writtle, in which Bruce gave twenty-two acres of land in Writtle to Nicholas Bannintone, knight (Astle 1792, 28). The source material for the Scottish cataloguers seems to have been a 1285 charter, dated at Melrose. Presumably this copy is still held with the Melrose Charters by the National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh. < br/>
The seal is armorial, bearing a saltire and on a chief a lion passant guardant. On each side of the shield is a lizard or wyvern. The legend reads, “‘S’ ROBERTI DE BRUS COMITIS DE CARRIK” [The seal of Robert de Bruce, earl of Carrick]. His claim to Carrick was by right of his wife, Marjorie, countess of Carrick (Duncan 2008). The seal depicted here could be compared to the seal belonging to Marjorie, which depicts the same arms within an oval seal, with a tree featured at the top of the shield, also attached to the 1285 Melrose charter. Both seals were described and illustrated by Laing (Laing 1850, 30 [nos. 140, 141]). MacDonald also used the Melrose charters as source material and included descriptions of both the earl’s and the countess’s seals (MacDonald 1904, 31 [nos. 275, 277, 279]). Birch suggests that this seal was the reverse of the earl’s equestrian seal (Birch 1887, 249 [no. 16,652]).
He was the father of the Robert I of Scotland, and the son of Robert Bruce, fifth lord of Annandale, claimant to the Scottish throne. The seal of his father is depicted in this plate (No. 5). The seal of his son is depicted in Plate 26 (No. 1). We might read the dragons depicted in the throne within Robert I’s seal as a visual allusion to the iconography present in his father’s seal seen here.
A seal ring belonging to Duncan earl of Fife (?)
The provenance of this ring is not certain, and Astle’s claim that it belonged to Duncan, earl of Fife, even less so. He noted the similarity of the ring to other rings made in the latter half of the fourteenth century. He suggests, based on conjecture, that the ring belonged to Duncan, who was earl of Fife until his death in 1353 (Astle 1792, 28). Astle notes the ring was in possession of the contemporary earl of Fife when he consulted it for this plate, which would have been one of the Duff earls of Fife. As Astle noted, the earldom of Fife was resigned, voluntarily, by his daughter and heir, Isabella, countess of Fife in 1371, to her brother-in-law, Robert, earl of Menteith (NLS, Ch. no. 698). The earldom of Fife was forfeit in 1425 when Murdach, duke of Albany, earl of Fife and Menteith, was convicted of treason and executed (Bower 1990, 8.243-5). The ring does not include any legend which might suggest the owner of the ring, but the depiction of the knight on horseback suggests a later date than the earl of Fife’s lifetime, and it may have belonged to a later earl or another Scot with similar arms altogether.
The seal depicts a knight on horseback, bearing in the dexter [right] hand a sword. On the sinister [left] shield, a lion rampant, the arms of Fife, but also the arms of earldoms of Menteith and Angus. The horse’s caparisons also bear a lion rampant. The male figure wears a crested helmet with a lion rampant with a long plume of feathers. The crested helmet is more reminiscent of later fourteenth-century equestrian seals, for example, the seal of Robert II of Scotland in Plate 26 (No. 5). This is further supported by the fact that descriptions of the earl’s seal do not mention a crested helmet (Laing 1850, 61 [no. 334]; Birch 1887, 260 [no. 15,712]; MacDonald 1904, 114 [no. 926]). The fact that none of the other compilers from the later nineteenth and early twentieth centuries chose to include the ring into their catalogues suggests further that Astle’s depiction here misidentified the ring and its (medieval) owner.
No. 1: My thanks to Dr Gordon M Reynolds, University of Edinburgh, for his thoughts on the meaning of the imagery featured in this seal.
No. 2: My thanks to Dr Bethany Hamblen, Archivist and Records Manager at Balliol College, Oxford, for providing me with images of the seal impression belonging to Dervorguilla of Galloway, as well as a transcription of the 1282 Statutes.
No. 3: My thanks to Dr Bethany Hamblen, Archivist and Records Manager at Balliol College, Oxford, for providing me with images of the seal impression belonging to Dervorguilla of Galloway, as well as a transcription of the 1282 Statutes.
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