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Provincial Grand Master Thomas Dunckerley FitzGeorge’s Armorial Silver Salver, 1777
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Provincial Grand Master Thomas Dunckerley FitzGeorge’s Armorial Silver Salver, 1777

Measurements: Diameter: 17.78cm (7in)



A George III silver salver or waiter with pierced and bead border and piecrust edge, on talon and ball feet. Engraved with the central armorial device used by Dunckerley after successfully petitioning King George III in a claim for kinship. Maker’s mark of Robert Jones. Hallmarked London 1777.

The present armorial waiter can be considered statement of identity created by the City of London silversmith Robert Jones (d.1783) of Bartholomew Close, to the order of the noted Freemason Thomas Dunckerley. In its function as a tray laid before visitors, the arms engraved upon it served as an effective biography of its extraordinary owner. The Royal Arms allude directly to Dunckerley’s claim to be the half brother of George III who, accepting the claim, provided an annuity of £100, which quickly rose to £800 to the chagrin of many. To further emphasise the claim that Dunckerley was the natural son of Frederick, Prince of Wales (afterwards George II), a ‘baton sinister’ - the heraldic indicator of an illegitimate birth - is laid across the whole. A heraldically literate observer would recognise similar usage in the arms of the Duke of Grafton as descended from an illegitimate son of Charles II. The chosen crest of a Cap of Maintenance (known heraldically as a chapeau gules) would have been read by those in the know as a substitute for the torse in the heraldic achievement of a person of special honour granted the privilege by the monarch. Dunckereley’s armorial supporters in the form of a sailor and soldier tell the story of his adventures in the Royal Navy and on the far side of the Atlantic during Seven Years War - these, of course, encompassing his involvelment with ship lodges, his roving commission from the Premier Grand Lodge of England and participation in the amphibious operations to capture Quebec. Interestingly the sailor holds a linstock, identifying him specifically as a Gunner, the Warrant Officer position that Dunckelerly was first appointed to in 1746. Lastly, Dunckerley’s motto Fato Non Merito (Fate not Merit) remains, as The Freemason’s Quarterly Review commented in his obituary of 1795, ‘peculiarly applicable to his uncertain fortunes’.

Arms: Quarterly, First quarter, Per pale, dexter, Gules three lions passant guardant in pale Or armed and langued Azure (for England), sinister, Or a lion rampant within a double tressure flory counter-flory Gules (for Scotland), Second quarter Azure three fleurs de lys Or (For France), Third quarter Azure a harp Or stringed Argent (for Ireland), Fourth quarter, Tierced per pale and per chevron, First Gules two lions passant guardant Or (for Brunswick), Second Or semée of hearts Gules a lion rampant Azure (For Luneburg), Third Gules a horse courant Argent (For Hanover), an inescutcheon over all three, Gules the Crown of Charlemagne Proper (As Archtreasurer of the Holy Roman Empire), the whole debruised by a Baton sinister; for a Crest, a chapeau Gules Proper, thereon a lion statant guardant Or imperially crowned Proper; for Supporters, dexter a Sailor, sinister a Soldier. Motto. Fato Non Merito (Fate not Merit).