Object Title




about 1850

Object Number



Purchased from Weller and Dufty 18/19 July 1978, lot 1238.

Physical Description

Angular, leaf-shaped top spike with a medial ridge, separate fluke and blade, attached to the shaft of the top spike by a ring mounting, the fluke of flat section and leaf shape, the axe blade small and with notches one third of the way down each side. The head screws into a large gilt brass pierced roundel, the centre cast with an armorial seated cat (leopard) resting its dexter fore-paw on a pheon, the raised circumference embossed SEMPER PARATUS [always ready]. This roundel in turn screws into the top of the ring moulded iron socket.

Wooden haft, with considerable cloth covering surviving, together with three tassels now faded to a green/brown colour. The haft was broken in transit to the Armouries and has been repaired.


Dimensions: length overall: 2540 mm (8 ft 4 3/4 in), lenght, head and roundel: 443 mm (17 15/16 in)

Inscriptions and Marks

No visible marks.



Several halberds of the same 'pattern' and therefore probably from the same set have appeared on the market. Two were in Kent Sales (Dartford), 16 August 1991 (sale no. 175), lots 412, 413 - ill. on last plate (of plates gathering bound in centre pages); two more heads (only, without hafts) were sold at Bonhams (Oxford), 2 August 2011, lot 98 (part) (not illus. in publ. cat. but illus. on Bonham's web site only). What appears to be a variation on this design with two 'axe-blades' and a different crest in the roundel appears in the centre of a display case of weapons by Robert Mole & Sons, which was at Harrods in 1910 and later moved to Wilkinson's shop at 53 Pall Mall (see R Wilkinson-Latham, Mr Wilkinson of Pall Mall ..., 2 vols, privately published, 2007, II, chapter 9, illus. on p. 3). In July 2012 Garth Vincent (dealer in Antique Arms and Armour; proprietor Dominic Vincent - seen on a visit by PJL) had a staff weapon which looked to be very similar to the one in the Mole display case but it lacked a crest in the centre of the circle, though there were small holes which were presumably for attaching one. The circle was, like the rest of the head, of iron rather than copper alloy.
According to Fairbairn's Book of Crests, 4th edn, 1905, repr. Heraldry Today, Ramsbury, 1984, 1996, I, p. 483, II, Pl. 290 no. 10 and pp. 73, 138, this crest ('a leopard sejant proper, bezentÚe, gorged with a collar argent, resting the dexter fore-paw on a pheon') and motto was used by the family of Royds of Falinge, near Rochdale (see also Burke's Landed Gentry, 17th edn, ed. L G Pine, 1952, pp. 2213-14). The set of weapons to which VII.1716 belongs was probably made to be carried by the High Sheriff's escort, known as 'javelin men' (but who frequently carried halberds rather than javelins). The Royal Armouries has part of a set of such halberds made for Beriah Botfield as High Sheriff of Northamptonshire, etched or engraved with his crest (see entry for VII.1415, list under Notes). At least one member of the Royds of Falinge family was High Sheriff of Lancashire: Clement Royds (b. 1785, d. 1853, High Sheriff in 1850) - see Burke's Landed Gentry (op. cit.), p. 2214(b).
The Typed Inventory Entry (IBE) has the following note: 'the motto SEMPER PARATUS was used by at least one volunteer artillery regiment (a sabretache of the London Artillery Volunteers sold at Christies as lot 22 on 19 July 1978) is decorated with the Royal Arms, the badge of the Royal Artillery and the motto SEMPER PARATUS)'. However, in view of the identification of the crest as belonging to the Royds family, the use of the same motto as a regimental motto (without the seated leopard crest) is surely purely coincidental (PJL).