In Search of The Lamb

The Paschal Lamb of The Queen’s Regiment

Comments of The Master of The Garter Principal King of Arms


Copy of a letter sent to Colonel W E McConnell TD DL (then Chairman of The Queen's Royal Surrey Regiment Museum Trustees) from Sir Colin Cole K C V O, TD FSA Garter Principal King of Arms, The College of Arms, London.

Many thanks for your letter of 10 February. I regret that this is a rather tardy answer. If it can be regarded as such, to the question you raise of the origin of the Regimental Badge of the Queen’s Surreys, now incorporated with The Queen’s Regiment.

Some years ago, in 1971, there was received here a similar enquiry from the Honourable Society of The Middle Temple which ancient Inn of Court has, as part of its Shield of Arms, a Paschal Lamb. Sir Anthony Wagner, the Inspector of Regimental Colours, replied as follows:

“… my impression is that the West Surrey Regiment was formerly the Queen’s Royal Regiment and had a historical connection with Queen Catherine of Braganza and the Paschal Lamb is thought to have been a device of her family.”

I have put in a certain amount of research and have had to come, regrettably, to the conclusion that it is difficult to be more precise than this.

Let me outline my thoughts on this intriguing as well as vexing matter of the origin of the Paschal Lamb as a Regimental Badge.

Against the background of the seventeenth century as one of terrible upsets and disruptions caused by Civil War and rebellions the precise motivation for the adoption of any particular device is hard to discern, the Court of King Charles, it is to be remembered, spent a whole generation in France before the Restoration in 1600.

Charles II was crowned on St George’s Day 1661 and there seems no particular reason why a non-English device should find its way into the insignia of any Regiment associated with the King or his Queen, Catherine of Braganza, whom he married a year later.

However it is known the Earl of Peterborough, Governor of Tangier, raised the Regiment that concerns us, and Tangier formed part of the Dowry of Queen Catherine daughter of John IV King of Portugal.

That it was known as the Tangier Regiment and given the title of “Queen’s” in honour of Queen’s Catherine seems to be beyond dispute.

The Paschal Lamb however does not relate to the Royal House of Portugal, the Armorial Bearings thereof remained unchanged for many years, from the time of John of Gaunt and during this period there is no indication of the Agnus Dei or Paschal Lamb comprising part of the Royal Insignia of Portugal. The Agnus Dei, as its name implies, was a Christian symbol, and as such a favourite device, of wide provenance, and incidence. It may, as an “impresa” or Badge with a moral meaning, have been used by a Catholic Queen, such as Catherine, but there is no hard evidence of this.

That which is available, which is for the above mentioned reasons slight, nevertheless suggests that the links with the Queen are rather stronger the with General Kirke although, of course, he commanded the Regiment of which the Paschal Lamb became the Badge. No Coat of Arms for Kirke contains a Paschal Lamb, indeed what his Arms were is not know, so that source as the possible origin of the Regimental Badge has to be discounted.

If the Regiment wore the Lamb Badge at the time of the Bloody Assizes – and the design and adoption of Badges then was haphazard, the stark contrast between the gentle lamb, a figure of Christ, and the reputed ruthlessness of Kirke and his troops may well have aroused public comment, even a lampoon or other sighting broadside in the propaganda war of the time, which was quite intense; but of such, no report exists. The interesting article that you have referred to, citing Macauley bears this out in my opinion. As to Macauley’s observations, he was a Whig historian and, perhaps, some bias can be forgiven or his imagination reckoned to be too acute in its desire to find a rational explanation for everything – in fact, life just isn’t like that!

The sea-green facings wore for so long, supposedly the Queen’s favourite colour, add a little strength to the conjectured connection with Queen Catherine and it is possible that the nickname of “Kirks’s Lambs” was an allusion to a Badge which was attributed to her, but I must say that I doubt whether this allusion was a contemporary one, it sounds rather like nice historical post hoc propter hoc rationalisation.

I am far more drawn to the suggestion that the Paschal Lamb originates in the representation of a lamb in a portrait of Queen Catherine some time after 1686, loth though I am to abandon a good heraldic device which the Paschal Lamb is as the inspiration of the 1st Tangier, or Queen Catherine’s Regiment’s Badge.


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