Subject: What's a Hatchment?
From: Jeffrey Johnstone <>
Date: 5/11/2021, 8:49 PM

What's a Hatchment?

Why was a Hatchment in the Church for Robert Johnstone of Raecleuch, Elder.

Dryfe Sands

A Novel of Scotland's Bitterest Clan Feud

Now available as hardcover, e- book and paperback on Amazon

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     Welcome to my latest newsletter! You can read prior newsletters here.

     In the novel Dryfe Sands, a hatchment of Robert Johnstone's father is hanging in the Lochmaben Parish Church. What is this curious object?

     Hatchment is derived from the term achievement, meaning a complete coat of arms - shield, torse, mantle, helm, crest., motto, and sometimes other components.  It usually refers to a funerary hatchment, a memorial in honor of a deceased person, consisting of a diamond-shaped wooden tablet on which is depicted the complete coat of arms of the decedent. If the decedent is a man survived by an armigerous wife, the hatchment customarily depicts the arms of the deceased husband impaling the arms of the surviving wife. The dexter half of the background is sable (black) for the deceased husband and the sinister half of the background is argent (white) for the surviving wife. See the example below.

In the case of the hatchment of Robert Johnstone of Raecleuch, elder, his Johnstone arms would impale the Maxwell arms of his wife, Marion Maxwell.

      Funerary hatchments are not unique to Scotland, and may be found in England, Holland, Belgium, Germany and some other countries. 

      In Scotland funerary hatchments are still employed. Samples of hatchments for the former Lord Lyon, David Sellar, and my friend, the late Romilly Squire, can be seen HERE on a page from the website of the Court of the Lord Lyon.


Hatchment - Court of the Lord Lyon

Hatchment - The Heraldry Society

Hatchment - International Heraldry



Jeffrey Johnstone | 62 Babcock Drive, Rochester, NY 14610
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