Arms Explanation

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The Arms of The Lord Alderdice


The Arms - ‘Or a Fess wavy between two Cotises wavy set on the outer edge with Alder Leaves all between three Estoiles Azure’ The Crest - ‘In front of a Boar salient to the sinister Azure armed and unguled Or a Boar salient Or armed and unguled Azure’ The Supporters – ‘On either side a Pegasus reguardant Argent maned tailed unguled and winged Or in the mouth a Flax Flower Azure slipped and leaved Or’ The Badge – ‘Within an Annulet set on the outer rim with Alder Leaves the Head of Janus couped Or’

Having regard to the Life Peerage granted by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in Letters Patent dated 8 October 1996, the Earl Marshal, the Duke of Norfolk, by warrant dated 10 October 1996, authorized Garter King of Arms to prepare arms and a crest for the newly ennobled Lord Alderdice. The warrant also authorized supporters, to which a peer is entitled, and the preparation of a badge. The grant of arms was signed and sealed on 27 March 1997.

The starting point chosen for the construction of the armorial bearings was the Allardice arms since it seemed likely that Lord Alderdice was related to this Scottish family. The Lord Lyon raised this probable relationship at the time of Lord Alderdice’s ennoblement. The Allardice arms show three boars heads with the upper two separated from the lower one by a wavy fess. The boar’s head was a particularly suitable device to represent Lord Alderdice’s two sons, Stephen and Peter, since this was the badge of The Campbell College in Belfast where they studied, however it was a less appropriate device for his daughter Anna. The boars heads were therefore replaced by three heraldic stars representing the children, the device retained as crest of two boars on a peer’s helmet, all set on a baron’s coronet.

Since Lord Alderdice’s political work had been the reason for his elevation it is heavily represented in the arms. The tinctures gold and blue were those used by the international liberal political organizations. Britain and Ireland are shown by the division of the shield into larger and smaller areas by the blue wavy fess representing the Irish Sea. This symbolized too the division between Protestant Unionists and Catholic Nationalists. The ‘watery fess’ also referred to the bridge-building function of Lord Alderdice’s party, the Alliance Party.

The fess gave the opportunity for a heraldic pun on the name Alderdice showing the blue ‘river’ with dikes (cotises) on either side mounted with alder leaves – hence ‘alder dikes’. The motto ‘Bene qui pacifici’ (Blessed are the Peacemakers) from the Beatitudes is appropriate given Lord Alderdice’s commitment to peace, and is associated with an earlier Allardice. The choice of two winged Pegasi, refers to his father’s breeding of ponies during his youth, and records a childhood memory of a visit to Powerscourt, Co Wicklow. They are winged representing Lord Alderdice’s profession of psychiatry, and are a reminder of the work of CS Lewis, also from East Belfast. Finally the Pegasi each hold in their mouths a flax flower. This signifies both the linen villages of Donacloney where he spent his early life, and Broughshane where he met the love of his life, Joan, Lady Alderdice, and they often walked by the lade of the flax mill. Lord Alderdice later turned again to the flax plant when as Speaker of the Northern Ireland Assembly he was searching for a symbol acceptable to both unionist and nationalist politicians.

The Janus Head of the Badge is the symbol of peace associated with the second king of Rome, Numa Pompilius, who worked to heal the divisions between the early Romans and the Sabines amongst whom they lived.


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Last updated: March 05, 2014