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Coffee cup & saucer, Qianlong c.1775, with the arms of Troutbeck showing a mistake

The coat is correctly of Troutbeck of Dunham in Cheshire descended from Sir William Troutbeck, knighted at the time of the intended coronation of Edward V in 1483 (which never took place).

A Harleian manuscript of 1424 refers to the crest as ’A moor’s head’ while another branch records the crest of ’A scaling ladder’. Both of these crests refer to the crusades (rather than later slavery) and it is certain that an early Troutbeck would have taken part in one of the crusades and been granted this crest. The tomb of an earlier Sir William Troutbeck in the Troutbeck Chapel in Chester (later destroyed) , who died at the battle of Blore-Heath at the age of 24 in 1459, is described thus: ’It was a faire tombe of one of the Troutbecks. The man all in riche armour ... under his feet a lion couchant; under his head, a helmet mantled, having on it a wreath of trouts and a moores head.

There was later a family at Blencowe, near Penrith in Cumberland, descended from the Reverend Edward Troutbeck who, in his will of 1612, left 2 shillings and 6 pence for the repair ’of Dalmainbridge ... that a laden horse may go over it without danger’. His descendants were John Troutbeck (who in his will of 1787 left the interest from £200 ’to be distributed every Easter on the family tombstone in Dacre churchyard if the day be fine ... and at the discretion of Troutbeck of Blencowe ... or other Troutbeck for as long as one could be found to take the trouble of it’) and also George Troutbeck (1713-80).

George Troutbeck’s grandson was the Reverend John Troutbeck (1832-99), a Canon of Westminster Abbey and chaplain to Queen Victoria, most remembered today as a musicologist and translator into English of choral texts. He officiated at the funeral of Charles Darwin in 1882 and was himself buried in Westminster Abbey. This family used exactly the coat and crest intended for this service, as can be seen from the brass memorial plate for the Revd. John Troutbeck in the parish church of St Andrew, Dacre, Cumberland (see fourth image; © Peter Cox).

An interesting error has been made on this tea service, almost certainly through a misunderstanding while sending instructions to China. The arms are a pun on the Troutbeck name, being three entwined trout which should be on a blue field indicating a ’beck’ or stream.  The original artwork was possibly a bookplate, or perhaps a black and white drawing in which the colour of the shield has been represented by hatched lines - horizontal lines indicating the colour blue in heraldry.  Beneath the red enamel these horizontal lines can be seen quite clearly on the close-up of the armorial.

Whether this error amused or irritated its purchaser when the porcelain arrived home two years later can only be conjectured; however, Mr Troutbeck did immediately order another service in which the colour of his armorial was correctly painted blue (see additional image - this cup with correct arms in blue not available for sale), taking the opportunity of also reducing both the scale and number of the somewhat over-obtrusive putti

Reference : Howard, David S.; Chinese Armorial Porcelain, Volume II, p.491, and also the same volume p.17 in illustrations of Heraldic errors and overpaintings with description of this error on p.15, continuing on p.18.

Condition : Cup haircrack near handle, saucer two haircracks, all consolidated.

Size : saucer 5 inches

Stock Number : 43775

Price : £650

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