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Armoiries – John Sandford Fleming MacLean November 29, 2005

Posted by Iglika in Exposition virtuelle Sandford Fleming, Objets.

In honour of Sir Sandford Fleming, who among many accomplishments, designed Canada’s first postage stamp, the three penny beaver, and advocated the adoption of the beaver as the official “Canadian Animal”– a beaver in some form, perhaps holding a sprig of red whortleberry (the plant badge of the Mackintoshes).

My father intends to petition the LL for a grant in memory of his g-g grandfather Donald McLean, who was born on the Isle of Mull in 1787. We know that he was a crofter when he emigrated to Canada. Our MacLeans/Mcleans came from the Ross of Mull. A noted Mull historian and genealogist said that, while it would be difficult indeed to learn which branch of the MacLean clan our family sprang from ( as Donald is the last MacLean we can identify due to the destruction of OPR in a storm while being carried across a loch ), the lands of the Ross were under the control of Duart.

When the MacLeans settled in Quebec, they quickly made a name for themselves in the lumber business. Donald’s grandson, William Archibald MacLean, was the founder of a number of well-known lumber companies, including the Wood-Mosaic Corporation. He moved to Kentucky in the 1890s.

William’s son Angus Donald MacLean–my grandfather–married Joan Beatrice Fleming, of Ottawa. She was the grand-daughter of Sir Sandford Fleming, KCMG, who was the Chief Engineer of the Canadian Pacific Railway, and the inventor of Standard Time ( a native of Kirkcaldy ), and the grand-daughter of the Hon. Charles Herbert Mackintosh, Lieutenant Governor of the NWT, a MP, and Lord Mayor of Ottawa.

My father John Sandford Fleming MacLean, is the eldest son of Angus and Joan. He was born in Whitstable, Kent, lived in Kentucky, moved to Canada in the early 1960s, where he headed the international affairs of Wood-Mosaic. In 1969 he made the radical decision to become a priest. He was ordained an Anglican Priest in 1972, and served 5 parishes, including his last Canadian parish of St. Columba. He moved back to Kentucky in 1986, where he was rector of a parish until his retirement. His wife (my mother) Patricia, was born in Kentucky, on land given to her ancestors by George III. Her people came over to America in 1608.

My father wishes arms to reflect the West Highland tradition of the MacLeans, meaning quarterly. I have studied both volumes of An Ordinary of Arms. Almost all of the grants are quarterly, based either on the Chief’s arms and differenced by the addition of a bordure or a fess, or on the arms of a chieftain. These arms usually contain the traditional West Highland totems in some sort of arrangement: rock, galley, hand, cross crosslet fitchee, salmon, lion rampant, tower. As I do not have access to the Public Register of Arms to read the letters patent, I cannot tell if the arms granted to many of these MacLean arms are cadet arms of clan chieftains, or what.

I hope this information fills in a lot of the background details. We have considered petitioning the Canadian Heraldic Authority, as my father is a Canadian as well as an American citizen, but we feel that petitioning LL for a grant to an ancestor, and then seeking a matriculation off those arms is the way to proceed.



John Sandford Fleming MacLean, Jr.

Arms : Quarterly, 1st, Argent, a rock Gules, 2nd Or, a dexter hand fesswise couped Gules holding a cross crosslet fitchee in pale Azure, 3rd Or, on sea undy Azure and Argent a lymphad sails furled oars in saltire Sable flagged Gules, 4th Argent, in chief two eagles’ heads respectant erased Gules beaked and eyed Azure, in base a salmon naiant Proper, overall a cross raguly Sable charged at the centre with a maple leaf and in chief and in base with two fleurs de lys Or and in the flanks with two salmon naiant Argent, a bordure indented Vert; debruised of a three point label Gules.

Crest : a beaver sejant erect holding in its dexter paw a Lochaber axe Proper


Matriculated : Grant and subsequent Matriculation February, 2005.

The original grant of arms was made to my great-great-grandfather Donald McLean, who was born on the Ross of Mull in 1786. He emigrated to Canada in 1829, settling with his wife Janet McCallum in Lochaber Township, Quebec. They were the second white family to settle in that part of Quebec. I “come off? of their seventh son, also Donald McLean, hence the green bordure. My father, The Rev’d Father John Sandford Fleming MacLean, Petitioned the Court of the Lord Lyon for a memorial grant to Donald senior, with a matriculation in his own name.

Donald Junior’s fourth son (indented bordure) was William Archibald MacLean, who was my great-grandfather. His second son was my grandfather, Angus Donald MacLean. My father is his eldest son. Lord Lyon saw fit not to add any further difference for Angus as the second son, for his elder brother Charles Stuart MacLean left no issue beyond his daughter. I, as the eldest son, use my father’s arms with the three point label.

The grant is very “West Highland? in style, as would be natural for one of the Clan Gillean. From the arms of our Chief, Sir Lachlan Maclean of Duart and Morvern, Bt., our grant contains the red rock, the red hand and blue cross-crosslet fitchee, the lymphad, eagles’ heads, and salmon.

To difference our grant from the Chief’s as that of an indeterminate cadet, Lord Lyon was pleased to change the colour of the second quarter from Argent to Or; place the lymphad on a sea undy; and give the eagles’ heads in the fourth quarter beaks and eyes Azure. This latter difference may be found in a grant to a Makelen from the Seton Armorial.

The addition of the cross raguly Sable overall not only is an allusion to my father’s Priesthood, but also to the lumber industry in which so many of my MacLean ancestors were engaged. The addition of the two fleurs de lys recognizes that Donald McLean emigrated to Quebec, as well as a nod to the later move by William Archibald MacLean to Louisville, Kentucky. They also represent my father’s devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary. The maple leaf is an obvious reference to Canada. The salmon have great importance to MacLeans and many others of the West Highlands, as well as being a noble gamefish for which we have spent many, many hours wetting a fly in Quebec and New Brunswick!

Lord Lyon granted as a crest to Donald McLean, “a Lochaber axe erect in pale between a branch of laurel and a branch of cypress all Proper.? This crest is used by many MacLeans, and we thought it best, as did Lord Lyon, that the grant to Donald should include this, as in the future other cousins may come forward to matriculate and prefer the distinctly clan-oriented crest. My father chose the beaver crest for several reasons. His great-grandfather Sir Sandford Fleming, KCMG, designed Canada’s first postage stamp in 1851, the “Three Penny Beaver.? Sir Sandford was a leading advocate to have the beaver declared as Canada’s “national beast.? The beaver also forms the crest for the Canadian Pacific Railway, of which Sir Sandford was not only a Director, but more importantly Chief Engineer during the construction of the transcontinental railway.

We had asked Lord Lyon to grant two mottos, but he declined to do so. Instead he suggested in the grant to Donald McLean the motto “Honestas altera merces,? in answer to the MacLean mottos of “Altera merces? and “Virtue mine honour.? Lord Lyon then suggested that in my father’s matriculation he take the motto “Seek honour by doing good.? HSS Member The Rev’d Denis Towner came up with this paraphrase of St. Paul the Apostle’s words in his Epistle to the Romans 2:7 : “To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and immortality, eternal life.? Not only is this appropriate for an Anglican priest, it again answers the Chief’s motto.

1. The Tower argent, fount in the arms of the Chief, surrmounted with a cardinal.

2. In honour of the Mackintosh heritage, as well as Kentucky, a wild cat issuant out of a tower, either proper or gules.

3. In honour of Sir Sandford Fleming, who among many accomplishments, designed Canada’s first postage stamp, the three penny beaver, and advocated the adoption of the beaver as the official “Canadian Animal”– a beaver in some form, perhaps holding a sprig of red whortleberry (the plant badge of the Mackintoshes).

4. The crest traditional in many, many MacLean arms: a lochaber axe in pale in front of a laurel and cypress branch in saltire, all proper ( laurel dexter, cypress sinister).



1. alex - April 21, 2008

me and my class are learning about fleming

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