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Coat of arms


The arms of Kelway are described in Burke’s General Armory (1884) as ‘Ar (silver), two thigh bones in saltire sa (black), between four pears or (gold), a bordure engr. of the second (black).’  A representation of this coat of arms can be seen on the gable wall of Wearne Lodge, Huish Episcopi, formerly known as Gladioli Villa, which James Kelway built and lived in from 1867 until his death in 1899.

This image shows the more common design, which incorporates pears and glaziers’ snippers.

The pear is thought to be derived from the French ‘Caillou’ or Burgundy pear. The accounts of King Henry III for 1276-92 show that young pear trees were produced for the royal gardens at Westminster, the varieties being 'Kaylewell' or 'Calswel', 'Rewel' or 'de Regula' and 'Pesse-pucelle'.  'Kaylewell' was a synonym for 'Caillou', which, though a hard fruit only fit for baking, was commonly planted in England before the 19th century.

The thigh bones may be a mis-copying of glaziers’ snippers, or irons.  The Kelway family seems to have been associated with glazing, probably at the time of the re-building of Sherborne Abbey.

The Kelways were interested in their family history, and they used a coat of arms on their catalogues.  Its earliest appearance seems to be when it emblazoned the cover of the 1879/80 gladiolus catalogue, described as a trade mark.


This seems to be a typical example of Victorian kitsch.   The ‘trade mark’ is ‘quartered’, showing the Kelway arms (with thigh bones) in the first (top left) and fourth (bottom right) quarters.  In the second (top right) quarter there is a leopard’s head with three martlets, and in the third (bottom left) quarter, a camel.  The shield is surmounted by a cock, and there is a motto underneath: ‘dulcius ex asperis’, which means ‘sweeter after struggle’.

Quarterings are used to display descent from other families, but it is not known which families the other quarters refer to, if any.

The cock on the crest is used by the Kelways of Cullompton, in Devon, to whom they may have been related.  At Lytes Cary Manor, near Kingsdon, the arms of Kelway are shown quartered with the arms of the Lytes, and a splendidly drawn pedigree of the Lyte family records the marriage of a female Kelway from the Cullompton branch to a Lyte in the 1500s.

It is likely that the family commissioned this coat of arms for their own use, since it seems to bear little relation to historical or heraldic accuracy.