Broad Arrow

  • Posted on: 20 September 2009
  • By: David Thrale

The Thrale's Broad Arrow Iron
Princess Elizabeth thanked the Thrale family for hiding and securing her escape at Nomansland from Queen Mary between 1556 and 1558.

When Elizabeth became Queen she repaid the Thrale family by giving them the family arms and a broad arrow.

Broad arrow commentaries

Dr. John Griffith's account

In January 1879, Dr. John Griffith Vicar of Sandridge wrote …

“Copied Jan. 1879 by J. Griffith, Vicar of Sandridge from an M.S.1 paper in possession of Mrs. Syrett, the draper's wife of St Albans and who was a friend of Miss White. The original ancient document was sent to the Cape of Good hope by her husband Mr. Syrett and who was acting executor to Miss White…

In ye last year or two of Queen Mary's reign (1556 - 1558) and during the persecution of Elizabeth, Elizabeth was under ye necessity of making her escape from Hatfield or Theobalds to Ashridge or from Ashridge to Hatfield or Theobalds; being pursued and nearly taken by Queen Mary's emissarys, she dismounted her palfrey or horse and escaped into the barn or house of Mr. Thrale of No Mans Land, where she was concealed for several days and escaped. As a reward, Queen Elizabeth, on coming to the throne, gave the Thrale family as a token of her regard amongst other things, arms, a broad arrow, etc.

The necessary steps to be taken in my opinion at the Heralds office is to take the above and search the records of the first seven years of Queen Elizabeth to see what arms were granted to the Thrale family of No Mans Land. Copied from an ancient document found with Miss White’s letters.”

Mr. W. Foster's account

The same history was written in 1920 by Mr. W. Foster with additional information that the manuscript leaf and a portrait of a Mrs. Thrale holding a large bird with a spread wing belonged to Miss Elizabeth Pemberton White of St Albans. He also wrote…

“She was connected with the Thrale family who for centuries farmed lands a few miles north east of St Albans at Sandridge until half a century ago; they also had a museum. By hearsay Mr. Samuel Wellingharn of Hammonds, married a Miss Esther Thrale; Mr. Grindon married another Miss Thrale. Mr. White, son of a White-Pemberton marriage, married their daughter Miss Grindon; of this marriage one daughter, Miss E.P. White, died unmarried; Another daughter married Mr. Gale, whose son Charles Gale married a Miss Wood, a niece of James Wood the banker; and a son James White born 1780, died 1847, married during the years 1800-1812 in Europe, Miss Jeanie Joubert, daughter of a French Huguenot, whose wife was Miss Bothia Collins; of their large family, one family sprung through a Miss Joubert marrying a Mr. Sergeant at the Cape. Mr. James White of Grahamstown and Mr. Joubert with their families were amongst the 1820 Cape Settlers. Their lineage and Thrale connections were sought. Miss E.P. White died at St Albans January 25th 1864 aged 86 years. One monument at St. Peters in St Albans covers Miss White and Matilda Williams who died August 18th 1863 aged 63 years, and covers also a legendary romance of royalty.”

Richard W Thrale's account

In A New Thraliana, Richard Thrale indicates that The College of Arms have no record of such a grant of arms. The time when Princess Elizabeth was in danger was during Wyatt’s rebellion, when Mary ordered Elizabeth to return from Ashridge to London. The journey would have been the only one which would have brought Elizabeth anywhere near No Mans Land, and then she would only be under semi-arrest. She was sick and was carried in a litter and passed through Redbourn where she stayed all night. She then went to St Albans where she stayed at Sir Ralph Rowlatt's house where she 'tarried all that night all heavy, feeble in body and comfortless in mind'. From there they passed to Master Dodd’s house at Mimms where they remained one night, and from thence to Highgate where she stayed at Mr. Cholmley’s house. She left Ashridge in January 1554 and arrived at London on 28 February.

Rev. Ian Dunlop, author of Palaces and Progresses of Elizabeth I considers where there is smoke there is usually fire. The broad arrow mark was used by the Thrale family for centuries until the Napoleonic Wars and the adoption of the broad arrow as the official government mark.

Broad arrow mark on 1600 will of Thomas Thrale

Since the writing of A New Thraliana, in July 2004, it has been discovered that the 8 September 1600 will of Thomas Thrale bore his mark which was in the shape of a Broad Arrow. This is important because it provides evidence of the use of the Broad Arrow as an identifier by the Thrale family during the reign of Elizabeth I.

Thomas Thrale's Broad Arrow mark from his 8 September 1600 will

Broad arrow iron

William Thrale of Nomansland who died in 1883, gave the Broad Arrow iron (used for marking sheep) to Vicar John Griffith, and his daughter Mrs. A S Johns lent it to the St Albans Museum where it was exhibited in the 1940s. It was later acquired by Richard Thrale and was exhibited again at the Museum of St Albans at their Centenary Exhibition in 1998.

  • 1. Manuscript.


David Thrale's picture

I have just realised that the relative proximity between Hatfield House - the residence of Princess Elizabeth and Nomansland Farm is only 5 miles, and this lends the story greater feasibility. Google map's walking route. owner: David Thrale | My blog | Family motto: In cruce confido

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