In 2019 I contacted the College of Arms to see what I could learn about the Faber family. I had been told that the Faber family appeared in Burke’s peerage, my dad recalled that in the dining room at his aunt Dorothy’s home there was a full set of dining table china with the Faber coat of arms on each item and I had also found images online relating to a sword belonging to a Henry Grey Faber which I wanted to learn more about.
The College of Arms
The College of Arms is the official heraldic authority for England, Wales, Northern Ireland and much of the Commonwealth including Australia and New Zealand. As well as being responsible for the granting of new coats of arms, the College maintains registers of arms, pedigrees, genealogies, Royal Licences, changes of name, and flags. The heralds, besides having ceremonial duties, advise on all matters relating to the peerage and baronetage, precedence, honours and ceremonial as well as national and community symbols including flags. Christopher Vane, Chester Herald at the College of Arms, explained as follows.
Arms belong to lines of descent and not surnames. Two branches of the same family may have quite different arms while others branches may not be entitled to arms at all. At all times significant numbers of people have just assumed “arms” irregularly and without lawful authority. This may be a matter of regret to the heralds but it is a fact of life. The heralds have always had difficulty controlling the irregular use of arms. Such irregular use of arms is often of historical interest. In practice where “arms” are just assumed it is not uncommon for a family to assume “arms” which are similar or even identical to the arms of another family with the same or a similar surname.
We have at the College of Arms an extensive pedigree for the Faber family which was recorded in 1902 by Hamilton S Faber, the man whom you mentioned in your email of 28th February. He was the first cousin of Henry Grey Faber’s father.
There were two branches of the Faber family with different coats of arms and crests. The arms to which Henry Grey Faber was entitled were granted in 1928. They were granted on the application of Hamilton S Faber’s widowed mother to the descendants of her late husband’s father, Thomas Henry Faber. Henry Grey Faber was the grandson of Thomas Henry Faber and thus he became entitled to the arms by descent.
The arms were thus granted sometime after the sword was manufactured. The crest could have been engraved on the sword at a later date. Alternatively it may be that the relevant branch of the Faber family had been using the arms informally prior to the grant in 1928: see paragraph 2 above.
The arms and crest so granted in 1928 can be blazoned as follows: coat of arms Or a Rose Gules barbed and seeded proper on a Chief Azure two Mullets Argent and crest Issuant out of a Coronet composed of three Roses Or a dexter Cubit Arm in armour the hand proper grasping a Rose Gules barbed seeded and slipped and encircling the wrist a Wreath of Oak also proper fructed Gold.
There was another branch of the family, which had rather different arms. This branch of the family included two peers, the first and last Lord Faber and the first and last Lord Wittenham. The pedigree recorded at the College of Arms is headed by William Faber of Leeds (d.1775). He had a son, Rev. Thomas Faber (1729-1821), Vicar of Calverley, Yorkshire, who is shown as having four sons. Henry Grey Faber was descended from the third son, Thomas Henry Faber of Bishop Auckland. This Thomas Henry Faber was the father of the Thomas Henry Faber to whom I referred earlier. Lords Faber and Wittenham were descended from Rev. Thomas Faber’s second son, Charles David Faber.
Pedigrees for the family can be found in the 1952 and 1972 editions of Burke’s Landed Gentry, but I think that these entries will still be in copyright. Your great aunt appears in the entry in the 1972 edition.
Frederick William Faber (1814-1863), the hymn writer, was the fourth son of the elder Thomas Henry Faber.
The sword of Captain H G Faber of the 5th Battalion
While searching for information about Henry Grey Faber I found images online showing a sword described as ‘The sword of Captain H G Faber of the 5th Battalion, who departed for France in 1915. He was present at the Second Battle of Ypres in 1915, The Somme 1916, Arras and Passchendaele in 1917. Became a Major in 1918. Blade of 32 1/4 inches engraved with Family Crest and H.G.F., Royal Arms, Crowned ER VII, foliage and retailer – Samuel Brothers, and back edge with – London Made and numbered 1115. Plated hilt with Crowned ER VII and wire bound fishskin grip complete. Sword bag marked with H.G. Faber, Norton-On-Tees, 10th Oct 1906.’
The seller of the sword explained the reference to 1897 is the pattern of the sword, which is when this style of sword and hilt started to be used and is still used today. The images of the sword on this website, are used with the permission of Jemswords. I have also located an image on the My Family Silver website, which shows the same crest that appears on the sword. Written under the image it says ‘Hamilton S., Esquire, M.R.C.S., L.R.C.S., of St. George’s Hospital, Hyde Park Corner, London, S.W.’