Sunday, March 8, 2015

Flags for Balfour of Burleigh's Regiment

"Every land is a homeland for the courageous man"

Below are the flags used for Lord Balfour of Burleigh's Regiment. They were made in photoshop and can be printed for use with your own armies.

The sheet above is Burleigh's colonel's color, and the sheet below is a company color. Both are based on a set of black flags captured by Cromwell's army at the Battle of Dunbar in 1650. They are described by Payne Fisher and tentatively identified as Burleigh's on the basis of the motto and device used on the Colonel's color.

The key evidence that these colors were carried by Burleigh's Regt is the use of the Balfour motto, "OMNE SOLUM FORTI PATRIA" and the "maiden" device. I made a quick search on the interwebs, but I cannot find any independent verification that the Lords of Burleigh ever used this particular maiden device. However, I did find that the mermaid is a common device, and given the colors had been damaged, perhaps the image or the desrcription has been misinterpreted over the years.

A quick google search indicates that the version of the mermaid associated with Burleigh is shown above, in which the maid is shown arms up on both sides (as in the maiden device) but is holding a snake and a swan or goose head. I think it looks quite similar to the "Maiden" device described by Fisher. 

The latin Balfour motto, "OMNE SOLUM FORTI PATRIA", is written in red on the gold scroll work. It translates as "Every land is a homeland for the courageous man", and is a quotation from Roman poet Ovid (43BC to 17AD); a verse from book I, line 493 of "Fasti" (Festivals).

The second motto on the colonels color is gold in color and is the standard post-1650 covenanter inscription, "COVENANT FOR RELIGION KING AND KINGDOMES". Most regimental colors captured at Dunbar bore this version of the motto, and that makes these flags anachronistic for 1644. 

The other peculiarity of this set of colors is the choice of a black field. While black fields are used in company colors, the use of black on a colonels color is highly unusual, the convention at the time being a white field. 

An example of a reproduction black ensign is shown below. This was provided by Martin Scott, a follower of this blog, and native of Auldearn, who is a member of the Sealed Knot and a re-enactor in Sir Arthur Erskine's Regiment of Foot, another regiment with black ensigns. Erskine's Regt was raised in 1643 and served in Leven's army at Marston Moor. The motto used pre-dates the 1650 standard.

The use of black is also unusual given the recruiting area in Fife. Most Fife regiments raised at this time adopted a yellow field with white saltire for company colors. Given these departures from the norms I have assumed (as did Reid) that Burleigh would have used a similar scheme for the regiment raised in 1644, albeit with a more archaic covenanter motto.

This is my third set of flags prepared for a covenanter regiment, the first being Campbell of Lawers' Regt (which I made for Roy's first painted unit - Roy decided to hand draw and paint the rest of his flags on foil), the second was the Earl of Sutherland's Regt.

The flags can be printed out and used as is, but I like to re-paint over the printed design using the three layer method, to get the hand-painted look. The end-product can be seen in the photos.

The main references used for these flags are...

  • "Scots Armies of the C17th. II: Scots Regiments and Colours, 1647-51" by Stuart Reid (Partizan Press)
  • "The English Emblematic Tradition (3): Emblematic Flag Devices of the English Civil Wars, 1642-1660" by Alan R. Young (Ed.) (University of Toronto Press)


Flags of War said...

I hit the same wall as yourself with the device on the flag. Ive plans do the flags but with the mermaid rather than the suggested Maiden.

Great work on your flags as well 😊

elcid1099 said...

Thanks, look forward to seeing what you do with that. Thought about mocking up an alternate using the mermaid but just have to much else on my plate. I think it will look better. But need to finish cornets for the Gordon Horse.

DeanM said...

Sorry for this late post, but great looking flags. And very nice of you to share them.

cameronian said...

Great work as ever.
Arms of the Lords Balfour of Burleigh 1607 - 1715 are here:

Anonymous said...

Hi there,

I've just read your article and thought that it was quite interesting - something different to what I'm used to. I stumbled across your article because I was doing some research for my familia and when I read your article, I immediately wanted to let you know that a small part of what you wrote was inaccurate: the Mermaid is holding a swan's head and an otter's head. Not a snake's head. The otter has remained as one of the most prominent symbols in the Balfour family (of which I am part of - the Dutch branch: Balfoort). The otter is a symbol of Siward, the Earl of Northumbria, when he slew an enemy of his named Otto. Otto's head was severed from his body and Siward kept the head. Otto's family however required his head back so that they could bury him properly (sending him to the afterlife properly), and Siward refused. So the family bargained with him and, for Otto's head, Siward was given the lands owned by the family. Little did anyone know though, the lands that Siward acquired through this deal had hundreds, if not thousands, of otters scattered all over the place (rivers, streams, hills, etc.) And that's why we have Otters in the Balfour family-crest - because Michael 1st, Balfour of Burleigh believed that he was a descendant of Siward, and being taught the lesson of Siward's battle against Otto, Michael was inspired to put Otters on his coat of arms.