The Scrope and Grosvenor Controversy, 1385-1391

The Azure a Bend Or - the cause of the heraldic uproar. (Wikipedia)
The Azure a Bend Or – the cause of the heraldic uproar. (Wikipedia)

R. Stewart-Brown

Transactions of the Historic Society of Lancashire and Cheshire: Vol. 89 (1938)


Scrope versus Grosvenor was one of the earliest heraldic law cases brought in England. In 1385, King Richard II of England invaded Scotland with his army. During this invasion, two of the king’s knights realized that they were using the same coat of arms. Richard Scrope, 1st Baron Scrope of Bolton from Bolton in Yorkshire and Sir Robert Grosvenor from Cheshire were both bearing arms blazoned Azure a Bend Or. When Scrope brought an action, Grosvenor maintained that his ancestor had come to England with William the Conqueror bearing these arms and that the family had borne them since.

The case was brought before a military court and presided over by the constable of England. Several hundred witnesses were heard and these included John of Gaunt, King of Castile and Duke of Lancaster and Geoffrey Chaucer and a then-little known Welshman called Owain Glyndŵr. It was not until 1389 that the case was finally decided in Scrope’s favor. Grosvenor was allowed to continue bearing the arms within a bordure argent for difference. Neither party was happy with the decision, so when King Richard II gave his personal verdict on 27 May 1390 he confirmed that Grosvenor could not bear the differenced arms.


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