A few months ago Stephen Plowman wrote about the Gallop coat of arms as recorded in the 1677 Visitation of Dorset. It’s an interesting topic for me because I’m a descendant of immigrant Capt. John Gallop (c1593-1650) — like so many other Americans.
Now Plowman is back with more on the Gallops. This time the question is where they got the quartering with the white bear (Azure a bear passant Argent).
No one knows the origin of these arms. Under English heraldic rules these should be the arms of a heraldic heiress, a woman who transmits her father’s arms to her descendants because she has no brother.
There are two heiresses recorded in the Gallop pedigree at the Visitations. They are Alice, daughter of William Temple, of Templecombe; and Elizabeth daughter of Thomas Thorne, of Caundle Marsh. These arms aren’t known to match to either family. So the mystery remains.
I can’t help but see this figure as a polar bear. It reminds me of the arms of Greenland (Azure a polar bear rampant Argent). Not that Greenland makes any sense in this context, but I love polar bears so I’m always going to see the polar bear connection if there’s one anywhere in the vicinity. (Totally off-topic, but I have a polar bear charm with snow flake obsidian that used to hang from the rear-view mirror of my car.)
Plowman notes the arms quartered with Gallop in this instance match those on record for Aresen (Denmark), in Rietstap’s Armorial Général. An unlikely lead, but it’s the best anyone has so far. Now that I know, I’ll be watching for other instances of a white bear on a blue background.