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Founded in 1856.

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Grey remains as one of the leading schools in the country, with a culture and value system that support its fine heritage.
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History of The Grey

Soon after the landing of the British Settlers in 1820, a small but flourishing settlement existed on the shores of Algoa Bay.

Any form of organised education, however, was sadly lacking until the arrival of a Scottish graduate named John Paterson, who must be given most of the credit for establishing a small state-aided school in Chapel Street shortly after his arrival in 1839. He got Sir George Grey interested, and Sir George, being the Governor of the Cape Colony, made land available for endowment and set up a Board of Enquiry in 1855.

From left to right: Grey Institute, Building of the school commences, An oblique view of the school

From left to right: Wagons at the entrance, The front of the school, A view from Wares Road

               Sir George Grey

John Paterson was a remarkably active man.  In addition to his own business interests, he became a member of Parliament and was responsible for the establishment of the Standard Bank of South Africa.  His big effort in getting Sir George Grey to take an interest in education led to the growth of the School to which Sir George gave his name, and the first headmaster was a Mr J. R. Macleish.

In 1862, after the death of Mr Macleish, the school committee decided to advertise overseas for a Rector, a status to which the school was entitled because the Institute had revenue for Crown Lands.  The Rev. H. I. Johnson became the first Rector and held the position from 1863 to 1872.  He was followed by Rev. J. Thurlow, Mr J. Vipan and Mr E. Noaks.

The arrival of Mr W. Chubb Meredith in 1892 was to be significant.  It was he who started the Old Greys\’ Union, established a Cadet Corps, introduced school colours and encouraged sport.  He actually started the Grey magazine and wrote the words of the School Song.

Mr Meredith died in 1910 and was succeeded by Mr William Archer Way, who during his 17 years, undertook the colossal task of moving to and firmly establishing the School on its present site.  He also encouraged the establishment of the boarding school.  Coming from Graaff-Reinet, where he had been a headmaster, Mr Way, who had obviously made a major impact in the Karoo, found several boys following him to Port Elizabeth and helping to make the boarding school a viable proposition.  In the 1920’s, the number of pupils increased to such an extent that plans had to be made for the erection of a new and separate Junior School on the estate.

Mr Way’s successor in 1928 was Mr James Lang who introduced the school house system to Grey, naming the houses after the six Rectors mentioned above – Johnson, Thurlow, Vipan, Noaks, Meredith and Way. In 1930, the Grey Junior school came into being under its first Headmaster, Mr E.G. Draycott. From this time, the name Grey Institute disappeared and the titles Grey High School and Grey Junior School came into existence. Mr Lang gave unsparingly of his time and energy for 14 years (1928-1942), the last three of which were the early and dark years of World War II. He left to his successor, Mr Bruce Gordon, a well-organised school, rich in tradition and highly respected throughout the land. When Mr Draycott died in 1945, he was succeeded as headmaster of the Junior School by Mr S.F. Edwards who had previously served on the staff of the High School since 1929.

In the post-war years, steady progress and development continued and in 1956, the Grey celebrated its centenary. Its first 100 years have been faithfully recorded in “Neath the Tower”, authored by J. Redgrave, A Pollock and J. Hattle. After a highly successful term of office, Mr Gordon was succeeded in 1958 by Mr O.B. Taylor whose term of office was cut short by illness. Since 1962 under Stan Edkins (1963-1976), Dieter Pakendorf (1977-1992) and Roy Simpson (1993-2001), tremendous development and growth in stature has continued and has been recorded in “Neath the Tower – Part II” authored by J. Hattle.


by Tennyson Smith Bodill

For a proper appreciation of the significance of the armorial bearings of The Right Honourable Sir George Grey, K.C.B., Governor of the Cape Colony and High Commissioner of British Kaffraria during the period 1854-1861, it is necessary to study the only remaining authentic impression of his Arms at the Grey High School, Port Elizabeth, in relation to its historical background.

The following information was extracted from the Records of the Provincial Administration’s School Board Office, Port Elizabeth:

Minutes of the Monthly Meeting of the Board, held at the Board Room on Tuesday, 16th July, 1929, at 8 p.m

Item: Grey High (page 3 of Minutes)

The School Committee wrote asking the Board’s authority to remove the Grey Coat-of-Arms from the Old Grey Building, Belmont Terrace, in view of the whole building shortly being taken over by the Pearson High School – they pointed out that the Pearson High School Committee had no objections.
This was agreed to, on the understanding that the Board was not put to any expense in the matter.

The masonry coat of arms, which was mounted above the main entrance ‘neath the towerof the Grey Institute building (Proclaimed National Monument: Government Notice No 2412, dated 10 December 1976), on the Donkin Reserve, was carefully removed, in November 1929, and remounted on a balustrade wall within the quadrangle of the Grey High School building in College Drive, Mill Park.

Sir George Grey, founder of the school, never properly established a Right to Arms with the College of Arms in London, and traditionally he claimed descent from the family Grey of Groby, alias Baron Ferrers of Groby (now represented by the Earl of Stamford), in spite of records that the lineage became extinct in 1554. The arms removed from the Grey Institute building are identical to the armorial bearings used by Sir George Grey and His progenitor, Edward, Lord Grey of Groby, whose Arms were blazoned ‘barry or six argent and azure, in chief three torteaux and a file (label) of three points ermine’.

In order to understand the implications of Sir Geroge Grey’s claim to male lineage from the family Grey of Groby, and the King of Arms’ reluctance to accept this claim and recognise the Arms used by Grey, it is necessary to record the genealogy of his unproven lineage.

Although Sir William Dugdale, Garter King of Arms, makes no mention of the Grey family before the time of King Richard I, it appears on good authority that the Grey family was of ancient descent, and great eminence, long prior to that era.

Rollo, or Fulbert, was chamberlain to Robert, Duke of Normandy, and of his gift had the Castle and Honour of Croy, in Picardy, from whence his posterity assumed their surname (afterwards written de Grey).

This Rollo, or Fulbert, was the father of Henry de Grey, who, towards the close of the twelfth century, was granted in the sixth year of the reign of King Richard I, 1194, the manor of T(h)urrock , in the County of Essex, a grant which was confirmed by King John who in a special charter allowed the said Henry de Grey to hunt the hare and the fox on any land belonging to the crown, except the King’s own demesne parks.

In the first year of the reign of King Henry III, Henry de Grey had a grant of the manor of Grimston, in the County of Nottingham.

In the muniments pertaining to Henry de Grey, it is recorded that his armorial bearings were emblazoned ‘barry of six argent and azure, in chief three torteaux’. However, because of the absence of any definite recording of Henry de Grey’s Arms, at the College of Arms, Heralds cannot be sure exactly how the torteaux were arranged on the shield.

Henry de Grey married Isolda, niece and heiress of Robert Bardolf of Condor, in the County of Derby, and shared in the inheritance of her lands, and by her hand issue, six sons.

The second son, John de Grey, was Sheriff of the Counties of Buckingham and Bedford, 1229, and of County Hereford, 1253.

In 1242, he was summoned to attend the King with horse and arms in Flanders, where he was much esteemed for his valour in the field.

John de Grey was a Justice of Chester and was appointed by King Henry III, Govener of Shrewsbury Castle, and afterwards, Constable of Dover Castle.

It is also recorded that the Arms of John de Grey were emblazoned ‘barry of sixargent and azure, in chief three torteaux and file of three points argent’.

According to Sir William Dugdale, Garter King of Arms, and antiquarians, John de Grey’s wife was the lady Joane Peyvre, widow of Pauline Peyvre (a great man in that era); but other authorities are of the opinion that his wife’s name was Kemara (Brydge’s Memoirs), or Emma, daughter and heiress of Ge(o)ffrey de Glanville. John de Grey, progenitor of the Grey’s of Wilton and Ruthyn died in 1265, leaving issue by his wife Joane, two sons.

Reginald, the first son and heir, was created 1st Baron Grey de Wilton, by writ and summons of Parliament, from 23 June 1295 to 26 August 1307. In the ninth year of the reign of King Edward I, he was appointed Justice of Chester, and merited so well, that for his manifold services, he had part of the honour of Monmouth given to him by the King, and in further consideration of his services, obtained the Castle of Ruthyn, and other lands.

Reginald de Grey married Maud, daughter and heiress of William, Lord Fitz-Hugh, by Hawes, daughter and heiress of Hugh de Longchamp, a great baron in Herefordshire.

Reginald de Grey died in 1308, leaving issue by his wife, Maud a son and a daughter.

John, the son and heir, was created 2nd Baron Grey de Wilton, by writ and summons of Parliament, from 8 January 1309 to 18 September 1322. John, Lord Grey de Wilton, was an active person in the King’s service. In the tenth year of the reign of King Edward II, he was appointed Justice of North Wales, and Governor of Caernarvon Castle, and served in the wars of Scotland during that reign.

John de Grey married, firstly, Anne, sister of the 1st Lord Ferrers of Groby, and secondly, Maud, daughter of Ralph, 1st Baron Bassett of Drayton. John, Lord Grey de Wilton, died on 28 October 1323, leaving issue by his second wife, Maud, a son.

This son, Roger, was created 1st Baron Grey de Ruthyn, by writ and summons of Parliament, from 30 December 1324 (anno. eighteenth year of the reign of King Edward II) to 15 November 1351 (anno. twenty-fifth year of the reign of King Edward III)

Roger de Grey married Elizabeth, daughter of John, 2nd Baron Hastings of Bergavenny, and died on 6 March 1552/53, being survived by his second son, Reginald, for his eldest son and heir, John had died without issue, before him.

Reginald was created 2nd Baron Grey de Ruthyn, aged 30 years at his father’s death, and was summoned to Parliament from 15 March 1354 to 20 March 1388. He married Eleanor, daughter of John, 2nd Lord Strange of Blackmere, and died in July 1388, being survived by his eldest son and heir, Reginald. This son, Reginald, was created 3rd Baron Grey de Ruthyn, aged 26 years at his father’s death, and was summoned to Parliament from 6 October 1389 to 26 September 1439.

Reginald, Lord Grey de Ruthyn, became known for his controversy with Sir Edward Hastings which engaged the attention of the Court of Chivalry. This controversy touched on the title of Lord Hasting, and the bearing of the Arms of Hastings.

John, 6th Lord Hastings and 3rd Earl of Pembroke, died as a result of an accident, and without issue, in 1389. Indeed, he was but sixteen years of age, full of life and high spirits when he rode into the lists to tilt with Sir John St, John, who dealt him the unlucky blow from which he died, and so launched a conflict which lasted almost a decade.

The 2nd Baron Hastings, who died in 1313, was the great-great-grandfather of the unfortunate youth and the common ancestor of both Reginald, Lord Grey de Ruthyn, whose grandfather, Roger, Lord Grey, had married Elizabeth, daughter of Lord Hastings by his first wife, Isobel de Valance, and Sir Edward Hastings, who was descended from Roger, Lord Grey’s eldest son by his second wife, Margery Foliot. Both of them assumed the title of Lord Hastings, and displayed the Arms ‘or, a maunch gules’, which had been differenced at one time (or for some other and more romantic reason changed) to ‘argent, a maunch sable’.

Such a state of affairs could not continue indefinitely, and a decision in law had to be reached – there could be but one Lord Hastings.
A contest ensued in the Court of Chivalry in which the Plaintiff contended for the right to bear the Arms of Hastings, as ‘heir-general’ of John, Earl of Pembroke and Baron Hastings (the last person seized of the Lordship, Lands and Arms of Hastings), being descended from Elizabeth, sister of the “whole-blood” of John, 3rd Lord Hastings. The Defendant asserted and maintained his right to the Arms as ‘heir-male’, he being the great-grandson of Sir Hugh Hastings, brother of the said John, 3rd Lord Hastings.

The decision of the Court was pronounced in the eleventh year of the reign of King Henry IV, 1410, against Sir Edward Hastings who, rather than relinquish his claim to Reginald, Lord Grey de Ruthyn, spent twenty-six years in the dreaded Marshalsea prison, where he languished in an unlighted, unventilated, plague-infested pit ‘boundyn in fetters of iron liker thief or traitor, than like a gentleman of birth’.

Sir Edward Hastings secured his release from prison under the shadow of the wings of the Angel of Death, and four lingering centuries later, in 1841 the title and Right to Arms were restored to the family when Sir Jacob Astley on 18 May of that year was summoned to Parliament by writ as Baron Hastings, bearing Arms emblazoned ‘or, a maunch gules’ undifferenced in his right as descendant of Sir Henry Hastings who had been similarly summoned in the forty-ninth year of the reign of King Henry III, 1265.

Reginald, Lord Grey de Ruthyn, married firstly, Margaret, daughter of the 7th Lord Roos of Hamlake, and secondly, about 1406, Joan(e), daughter and heiress of William, 4th Lord Astley, and widow of Thomas Raleigh of Farnborough, and by her had further issue, a son, Edward, ancestor in the male line of the Barons Grey of Groby, the Marquesses of Dorset, the Dukes of Suffolk and the Earls of Stamford.

Sir Edward Grey, Knight, married Elizabeth, daughter and heiress of Henry, son and heir of William Ferrers, 5th Baron Ferrers of Groby, who died in 1445, when the Barony of Ferrers of Groby devolved upon Elizabeth, his granddaughter, and Sir Edward Grey was summoned to Parliament, in her right as Baron Ferrers of Groby, in the twenty-fifth year of the reign of King Henry VI (1447) to the thirty-third year (1455) of the same King’s reign.

Edward, Lord Ferrers, died on 18 December 1457, leaving issue by his wife, Elizabeth, three sons and daughter.

John, the eldest son of Edward, Lord Ferrers, was a strong supporter of the House of Lancaster and should have succeeded to his father’s title in 1457 but, because of the unsettled state of affairs in England during that era, was never summoned to Parliament. Yet, he was commonly spoken of, by antiquarians, as Sir John Grey. Traditionally it is said that John Grey was knighted with twelve others by King Henry VI on the day of the Battle of St, Albans, during the Wars of the Roses (1455-1461), in which battle he was slain on 17 February 1461, whilst in command of the Lancastrian cavalry (Queen Margaret’s Cavalry) during a last furious assault on the enemy line – Sir John Grey was one of those commissioned in the County of Leicester, on 21 December 1459, to collect forces to resist the Duke of York and his adherents when they entered the realm. However, the inquisitions taken in 1458 after his father’s death style him a Knight.

Sir John Grey’s wife was Elizabeth, the eldest daughter and heiress of Richard Wydeville (Or Woodville, the 1st Baron Rivers, who was executed in 1469. When the White Rose (Yorkists) triumphed and Edward IV became King, he promptly confiscated the property of bradgate, the seat of the Grey family, leaving the widow, Elizabeth, with her two sons, Thomas and Richard, in a condition almost of penury, whereupon Elizabeth with her sons retired, as outcasts, to her old home at Grafton Regis, near Stony Stratford. Little did the sorrowing woman dream that she was to leave that home a Queen.

This young widow, the baroness Ferrers, who was described as being as accomplished and eloquent as she was beautiful, threw herself at the feet of the young and amorous sovereign, King Edward IV, imploring him to reverse the attainder of Sir John Grey, in favour of her innocent and helpless children, and it was Elizabeth’s mournful beauty and gracefulness which captivated the King’s attention and he became a suitor to her for her hand in marriage.

In those days it was customary for widows to marry again almost immediately after their husbands’ death, and Elizabeth was wedded to King Edward IV, in secret, at Grafton 1 May 14645.

Thomas Grey succeeded his father, Sir John Grey, as the 9th Lord Ferrers of Groby in 1461, and by his mother’s marriage to King Edward IV, in 1464 obtained a position of importance, and was created Early of Huntingdon on 14 August 1472. Three years later, on 18 April 1475, he was created Marquis of Dorset, and on Whitsunday, 14 May 1475, was made a Knight of the Bath. During that same year, Thomas served in King Edward VI’s expedition to France.

It is said that Thomas, Marquis of Dorset, was deemed the best general, in that era, for embattling an army. He always observed the number, strength and experience of his camp against the nature and extent of the battlefield, as well as the quality of his enemies. He ensured that his soldiers were at all times well quartered, fed and rewarded, thereby avoiding unnecessary mutiny or failure among his troops.

In 1476, he was made a Knight of the Garter, and shortly afterwards, was appointed a Privy Councillor. Thomas Grey was also appointed Constable of the Tower and it was in this capacity that he eventually took part in the murder of his half-brother, young Prince Edward V, and Richard, Duke of York, in 1483.

Thomas Grey married, firstly, in 1466, Anne, daughter and heiress of Henry Holland, Duke of Exeter, and after her death in 1467, married Cicely, daughter and heiress of William Bonville, Lord Harrington and Bonville in 1475.

By his second wife, Cicely, Thomas Grey had seven sons and eight daughters. He was also the great-grandfather of the unfortunate Lady Jane Grey (1537-1554) who, upon the death of King Edward VI on 6 July 1553, was proclaimed Queen of England, a dignity she fulfilled for ten days. Thomas Grey died on 20 September 1501.

Traditionally, it is said that Leonard, the sixth son of Thomas Grey, was the progenitor in the male line descent of Sir George Grey.

Leonard Grey was described as being a person on much consideration in his lifetime and it is said that in his youth, Leonard dabbled in the black arts of treasure seeking. He was for some time carver to the household of King Henry VIII.

It was during the Irish rebellion of ‘Silken Thomas’ (1534) that Sir William Skeffington, the sovereign’s newly appointed Lord-Deputy, took the field with an army of 500 regular troops, but, Skeffington was ill – so ill that he could do nothing to suppress the revels who wasted ad burned the English settlements in Ireland without opposition.

Consequently, because of Skeffington’s illness and inactivity, Leonard Grey was appointed Marshall and Lieutenant of the English army in Ireland which went in pursuit of the revel leader, Lord Thomas Fitzgerald, 10th Earl of Kildare. This Lord Thomas was the stepson of Elizabeth, sister of Leonard, and second wife of Gerald Fitzgerald, 9th Earl of Kildare.

Leonard Grey arrived in Ireland on 28 July 1535 and found the County of Kildare miserably wasted and depopulated, and Meath was scarcely in a better condition during the rebellion, and to add to the miseries of insurrection and civil war, all the towns of the south of Ireland were “sore infested with pestilence, and especially Dublin”. Plague was raging all over the country.

As King Henry VIII sent little or no money to his troops, they lived at large upon the unhappy country, plundering first and burning and destroying afterwards, wherever the troops went. Such being the circumstances, Leonard Grey made short work of rebellion; he bribed some of the rebels who agreed to betray their leader.

Thomas Fitzgerald was soon reduced to such straits that he offered to surrender, upon terms, to Grey. He wrote a letter to Grey to be “intercessor between him and the King, that he might have pardon for life and lands, which, if could not obtain, he had nothing to do but shift for himself the best that he could.

It appears pretty certain that Grey promised him a full pardon, for he voluntarily surrendered, and was not taken in combat. Upon surrendering, Lord Thomas was conveyed to England (1535) by Leonard Grey, and on his arrival was formally arrested on his way to Windsor and imprisoned in the Tower. Grey pleaded hard for Thomas Fitzgerald’s pardon, but gifts of land and money from King Henry VIII put an end to his advocacy. Leonard Grey was created a Viscount, in the Peerage of Ireland, in October 1535, taking his title from the dissolved convent of Grane in Leinster, which had been granted to him.

On 2 January 1536, Leonard Grey was elected by the Privy-Council at Dublin to fill the office of Deputy-Governor in Ireland, rendered vacant by the death of Sir William Skeffington. One of Grey’s main objectives was to secure the arrest of the five uncles of Lord Thomas who were still at large, and this had to be done before it became known in Ireland that Lord Thomas was arrested. The five uncles, having been invited to a banquet in Kilmainham by Grey, on their arrival, were seized, manacled, and marched prisoners to Dublin, from which place they were conveyed to London. After a long and cruel imprisonment in the Tower, the five “brethren”, with their nephew, the young earl, Thomas Fitzgerald, were all executed at Tayburn on 3 February 1537.

Notwithstanding the efforts of King Henry VIII to extirpate the ancient and powerful family of the Fitzgeralds, there remained but one claimant to the earldom of Kildare, namely a twelve year old boy, Gerald (or Garret), who was in exile in France.

Meanwhile, the disturbances created by the rebellion of Silken Thomas were still kept up in some parts of the country by the chiefs of the Geraldine league, which was established for restoration of the young Gerald Fitzgerald to the attainted earldom of Kildare.

This league, however, extended its aims and contemplated the overthrow of the English government in Ireland. They also planned the ultimate independence of Ireland.

Lord Leonard Grey, being an active and faithful servant of the King, resolved to break up this league, and likewise, subdue the two most powerful southern members, O’Brien of Thomond, and his ally, the Earl of Desmond. Grey entered the task with great energy.

Using the artillery which the Kildares and Skeffington had already shown to be so effective and the little army of seven hundred irregularly paid men, of which he had been Marshall in Skeffington’s time, and which now overawed all the King’s opponents, Grey campaigned in Limeric against the O’Briens and their supporters in the summer of 1536. He destroyed the crossing-place from Thomond to Tipperary at O’Brien’s on the Shannon. This bridge was fortified at both ends with large solid towers.

Although his operations meant no more than temporary local adjustments in a district interminably distracted by contentious Fitzgeralds (Earl of Desmond), Butlers and O’Briens, Grey in conducting them, demonstrated, if not the King’s continuing authority, at least his power.

Leonard Grey campaigned again in 1537 when he marched, with arms, against O’Conor of Offaly, capturing Dangan Castle and at the same time regaining the Castle of Athlone, which had been taken from the English some time before: a most important stronghold as it commanded the passage into Connaught, Grey invaded Offaly and Carlow again in 1538, and, still intent on the task of clearing the border of the Pale (that part in Ireland over which English jurisdiction was established), attacked the MacMahons in Farney. He made two longer journeys, one in 1538, when he went as far as Galway and was greeted by the Mayor and Town Council (proudly flaunting, so far afield, their scarlet robes of office), and one in the following year through Munster.

Grey reached Dungannon in the course of operations against Conn Bacach O’Neill in 1540, and plunged into the mountain fastness of Glenmalure in pursuit of the O’Byrnes. Such ubiquity of the King’s forces was portentous.

Grey’s campaigns of 1539 and during the early weeks of 1540 were his most ambitious ventures. He went as far as Armagh in May 1539 in an unsuccessful attempt, as he himself explained, to get O’Neill and O’Donnell, who were momentarily allied, to give up the exiled Gerald Fitzgerald. They burnt Navan and Ardee, destroyed the ripening corn and carried off great numbers of cattle.

Leonard Grey reacted at once. He pursued the raiders and overtook them at Lake Bellahoe in Monaghan, and inflicted on them, encumbered as they were with booty, a crushing defeat, killing many of the raiders and recovering all the spoils. The power of the northern chiefs was greatly broken by this disaster, and Grey was applauded for his gallantry by King Henry VIII.

Early in 1540 Grey applied for leave of absence on the grounds that he was about to marry. The request was granted, but before he could leave Dublin, the Geraldines, that is to say the supporters of the earls of Kildare, on the borders of the Pale began a series of attacks on the settlers within the Pale. Grey seems to have openly supported the Geraldine malefactors, and to have encouraged their raids.

In April 1840, Leonard Grey was summoned to London by the King to face a long list of treasonable charges that had been made against him by the Earl of Ormonde and other chiefs who were loyal to the crown. The Ormondes had long been enemies of the Kildares. On Grey’s arrival in London he was arrested and sent to the Tower. His fate, in that century of ruthless monarchs and self-abasing subjects, was typical. Grey was brought to trial, the chief accusation being his alleged partiality towards the Geraldines and allowing the young Gerald Fitzgerald to escape. Leonard Grey pleaded guilty to the charges against him, and was beheaded on Tower Hill, London, on 28 July 1541; the title which was bestowed upon him fell under forfeiture.

He is said to have had a son by his wife, the daughter of the revel Conn Bacach O’Neill, whose name for some reason or other did not appear in the Parish Register. This son was brought up by the O’Neill family in the north of Ireland and became a staunch supporter of the crown, receiving large grants of land, including Greyfield and Jamestown. From him it is claimed descended John Grey of Greyfield, County Roscommon, who was living in l719, and left a son, also named John, who was born in 1740, and was ordained a minister of religion.

Reverend John Grey, of Greyfield and Jamestown, County Roscommon, married the daughter of… …Wynne, of Hazelwood, and by her had issue, two sons~

Owen Wynne Grey, the elder son and heir, was a Captain in the 6th Dragoons. (Carbineers), and married Elizabeth, daughter of …..O’Neil(I), of County Wexford, and. by her had -issue several sons and daughters. (He appears to have married twice). His only two surviving sons by the first marriage were George and William O’Neil(l).

The eldest son, George,-was gazetted Lieutenant-Colonel in the army and was posted to the 30th Regiment of Foot, where he distinguished himself in the Egyptian Campaign and the peninsular War, in which war he was killed on 6 April 1812, at the storming of Badajoz.

Lieutenant-Colonel Grey, then in command of his regiment, which was attached to the fifth division during the Peninsular War, led a party of soldiers up to -the walls of the besieged town. On reaching their destination, the assaulting party of soldiers scaled the walls under heavy fire to fight through a ‘chevaux de frise’ of sharp swords at the top. The hand to hand fighting with swords and bayonets, resulted in frightful carnage in which the leader lost his life. In his despatch, dated 7 April 1812, the Duke of Wellington informed the imperial authorities that six officers and one hundred and thirty men were killed, and he specially mentioned Lieutenant-Colonel Grey, of the 30th Regiment of Foot, ‘1for his gallant conduct during the assault.” It was not the first occasion on which Colonel Grey had won the admiration of his superior officers for his “gallant conduct”, for he had proved his valour by leading his regiment in the great bayonet charge at Alexandria against the revolutionary troops of France.

Lieutenant-Colonel Grey married Elizabeth Anne, the eldest daughter of Reverend John Vignoles, of Portarlington, Queen’s County, and of Coruaher, near Tyrrell’s Pass, in the County of Westmeath, Ireland, and by her had Issue two daughters and a son.

Sir George Grey was born at Lisbon, eight days after the-death of his father, on 14 April 1812, and during his lifetime, had all the qualities and leadership of his father. Much of George Grey’s early youth was passed in Ireland and he was later educated at Guildford in Surrey. He entered the Royal Military College at Sandhurst, from which establishment he was gazetted Ensign in the 83rd Regiment in 1829 and from which regiment he retired as Captain in 1839.

On 2 November 1839, George Grey married Eliza Lucy, daughter of Admiral Sir Robert Spencer, R.N., K.C.H., and by her had issue a son, George who died on 25 July 1841, aged five months.

On 20 October 1840, Grey was appointed Governor of South Australia, and on 13 June 1845, he was appointed Lieutenant-Governor of New Zealand, and soon afterwards, on 29 April 1848, George Grey was created Knight Commander of The Most Honourable Order of the Bath, in the Civil Division.

The Armorial Bearings of The Right Honourable Sir George Grey, K.C.B., Governor of the Cape of Good Hope, and Her Majesty’s High Commission of British Kaffraria, 1854-1861
(The full achievement)

The armorial bearings of Sir George Grey were identical to the Arms used by his progenitors – Greys of Codnor, Greys of Wilton, Greys of Ruthyn and Greys of Groby – who from generation blazoned their Arms ‘barry of six argent and azure, in chief three torteaux and an ermine label of three points.’ However, the family Grey, Lord and Viscount L’Isle (created 1483-extinct 1512) differenced his armorial bearings by emblazoning the shield ‘barrule of six argent and azure, in chief three torteaux and a label argent.’

The achievement of Sir George Grey’s Arms is recorded as follows:



Barry of six Argent and Azure, in chief three Torteaux and an Ermine label of
three points. The shield is encircled by a circlet Gules edged Or and bears the motto ‘Tria Juncta In Uno’ Or; bearing allusion to the Insignia of The Most Honourable Order of the Bath.


Azure and Argent.


Issuant from a Knight’s Helm, open and affronté, upon a Wreath of the colours, an Unicorn passant Ermine, armed, maned, tufted and unglued Or,in front of a Sun in Splendour.


On a Scroll, the motto ‘STABILLIS’.

On 25 May 1854, Sir George Grey, K.C.B., was appointed Governor of the Cape of Good Hope and High Commissioner of British Kaffraria.

Of all Governors who have ruled over the Cape Colony there, undoubtedly, has not been one who has left, besides his name, such permanent memorials of his residence in this country as Sir George Grey. These memorials have not been, as in the cases of some other Governors, merely having had their names given to streets and districts after their departure, but he himself founded living institutions for which there was a pressing need and which had done much in promoting the higher and cultural development of the country.

Two of the institutions associated with his name are the Grey College in Bloemfontein, which was officially opened in January 1859 as a “Kweekskool”, and afterwards became known to the public, generally, as “Die Kollege van Sir George Grey.”

The second institution was the Grey Institute (boys’ school) in Port Elizabeth, which was formally declared open on 1 February 1859.

Regarding the latter institution, the town’s Board of Commissioners, who was responsible for the establishment of the school, addressed a letter, dated 31 March 1858, to His Excellency, Sir George Grey, requesting his permission to place his armorial bearings on the front of the Grey Institute building. It was also requested that the Board be furnished with an impression of the Arms. A similar letter from the first great rector, Dr. Johannes Brill, of the Grey College, Bloemfontein, was addressed to Sir George Grey in 1894, requesting his permission for the College to use his armorial bearings and motto, Stabilis; this permission was granted with pride by Grey.

Almost a year later, on 3 January 1859, the masonry impression of Sir George Grey’s armorial bearings, without the mantling and knight’s helm, arrived in Algoa Bay by the ship ALEXANDRINA. Mr Joseph Williams was instructed by the Board to see that the Arms were properly mounted on the wall above the main entrance of the school building before the opening ceremony which was fixed for Tuesday, 1 February 1859.

The masonry impression of Sir George Grey’s armorial bearings, which was removed from the Grey Institute building in 1929 and remounted in the quadrangle of the Grey High School building is, perhaps, the only remaining authentic impression of the Colonial Governor’s heraldic coat of arms.

In the South African Museum, Cape Town, can be found exhibited a silver shovel which Sir George Grey used at the ceremony for turning the first sod of the railway line from Cape Town to Wellington on 31 March 1859. On this shovel is engraved the armorial bearings, without the mantling and knight’s helm, of Sir George Grey. The shield is inscribed within the circlet, with motto, of the Order of the Bath, with Grey’s motto (Stabillis) on an escroll above the crest, and the Star of the Order (Military Division) is suspended beneath the circlet of the Order.

Several features about the engraving of the Arms are heraldically incorrect, when compared wit the Arms which were displayed above the entrance of the Grey Institute building.

Sir George Grey was created Knight Commander of The Most Honourable Order of the Bath, Civil Division, in 1848 while in New Zealand ; this being approximately eleven ;years before the engraving was made. The Star displayed in the engraving is not, however, as one would expect that of K.C.B., but as far as can be established, that of Companion of the Bath, Military Division.

Why the Star of a lower rank was used in the engraving is not known, yet, it may have been possible that the Order, Companion of the Bath, Military Division, was conferred on Sir George Grey in recognition of his serviced in Australia, before his retirement from the Army in 1839. No trace of this particular award can be found among the records housed in various archives to warrant its use by either Grey or the engraver. Perhaps, the designer and/or engraver in Cape Town was given an old embossed letterhead or die of seal impression to work from by mistake?

Another fault in the engraving of the Arms is that the shield has been blazoned ‘barry of seven, argent and azure’. Every Grey coat of arms, with the exception of Lord Grey, Viscount L’Isle, known to Heralds and Pursuivants (i.e. Grey de Condor, Grey de Wilton, Grey de Ruthyn, Grey de Rotherfield, Grey of Groby and Stamford Grey’s etc.) were blazoned ‘barry of six, argent and azure’.

The Armorial Bearings of Sir George Grey which are inscribed on a silver shovel.

Heralds are of the opinion that the blazoning of the Arms used by the Grey family was possibly derived from the shield of war of Henry de Grey, who, being a distinguished warrior, had his shield, which apparently was of wood, strengthened with three strips of plated metal, which were riveted horizontally and equidistant to each other, on the outside surface (heraldically termed “field”) of the shield to withstand the heavy blows of his opponent’s weaponry, especially the dreaded flail.

It was not uncommon among mediaeval knights to own shields which were manufactured of wood. These particular shields were made using a technique we are apt to consider modern – sticking together several layers of close grained wood, with the grain of each layer running at right angles to the one above and below it. This gave a shield which would not easily get out of shape and which it is almost impossible to split.

The tincture (or colour) azure (blue) was later introduced to the alternate bars on the shield for the purpose of identification during combat or at tournaments, and traditionally, this blazoning of Arms has been adopted by the various Grey families for many generations.

It is therefore difficult to believe that ‘barry of seven’ is correct and it is also difficult to believe that Sir George Grey would ever have had an incorrect representation of his armorial bearings, let alone passed it to anyone for copying. It can only be surmised that the engraver, in this instance, did not make the bars wide enough for six of them to fill the shield from top (chief) to bottom (base) and, possibly, not being a heraldry expert, simply left the space at the bottom of the shield, not thinking that there was any harm in doing so. In fact, of course, it is a major error.

The hatchings for the tinctures on the engraving of the Arms are also incorrect. The engraver has indicated argent, represented plain, and azure, represented by horizontal line, correctly, but has made the torteaux sable, representing black, and the label of three points gules, representing red, which is incorrect.

In ancient heraldry torteau(x) is the specific name given to the clear red circular device charged upon the escutcheon, or shield, of some armigerous family Arms and could represent a cherry, which the French term cerises, or a round reddish-coloured cake. The label, or file, naturally, is a mark of cadency used in heraldry to distinguish the eldest son in a family during his father’s lifetime.

The hatchings for the tinctures for the torteaux on the engraving should have been represented by perpendicular lines (being gules, representing red) and the label of three points should have been left quite plain with minute indentations and dots (being ermine, representing a white field with black spots).

It remains one of the many unsolved mysteries among heraldic authorities why the Arms used by Sir George Grey were so heavily differenced from those borne by the family Grey of Groby of whom Grey claims descent, by the addition of three torteaux and an ermine label of three points. In the event that such Arms had been granted, it would indicate almost certainly that the Kings of Arms were not satisfied that the make line relationship was proved beyond all reasonable doubt.

The alleged blazoning, “in chief three pellets and ermine label of three points”, recorded in the publication BURKE’s COLONIAL GENTRY, Volume 11 (1895) under the section dealing with Sir George Grey, is considered by the College of Heralds, London, to be rather ambiguous. The Kings of Arms, or Heralds, at the college have been, and still are, the only legal authorities in England who have mandate to difference the Arms of armigerous families. The differencing of Sir George Grey’s armorial bearings by charging the shield with three pellets sable  (black) certainly suggests that he never properly established a Right to Arms.

There are two errors on the engraving of the Crest, which, although minor, are heraldically incorrect. The first of these errors concerns the ‘unicorn passant’; passant being a heraldic term used to describe animals, or beasts, in a walking position, in which the right leg of the animal, or beast, is always shown raised. On the engraving, the left leg of the unicorn is raised, which is incorrect.

The unicorn represented on the Crest of the Grey Institute Arms shows the unicorn’s right leg raised, which is heraldically correct, and likewise identical to the ermine unicorn passant charged on the Crest of the armorial bearings of the family Grey of Groby.

The second error on the engraving of the Crest concerns the ‘sun in splendour’, which, although correctly charged, appears proportionally inconsistent with the unicorn passant; the unicorn passant, in front of the sun in splendour, is large and almost entirely conceals the sun, and the rays which issue from the sun. The Crest represented on the impression of the Grey Institute Arms, although correctly charged, is incorrectly sized against the shield of the Arms.

It would have been heraldically correct, in both representations of Arms, if the Crests were sized to the height, from middle chief point to middle base point, and width, from dexter chief point to sinister chief point, of their relevant shields. The sun, with issuant rays, upon a wreath of the colours, would, accordingly, be confined to the aforementioned size and comply with the rules of blazon. The ermine unicorn passant would be charged upon the Crest in such manner that the ‘sun in splendour’ is only partially concealed by the device. The Crest represented on the Arms presently used by the Grey High School, and their Junior School, is heraldically correct and complies with the rules of blazon.

  1. ‘sun in splendour’, charged upon the Crest of the Grey Arms, may have five, eight, sixteen or more rays. Some heraldic painters, engravers and chasers emblazon the rays alternately wavy and straight to represent the waves of heat and light which issue from the sun. The sun is always emblazoned with the features of eyes, nose and mouth, although some heraldic painters and engravers are of the opinion that there seems to be little point in following this tradition, as so little of the face would show from behind the device, namely, the unicorn erect (the Crest of the armorial bearings of the Grey family, of Cheshire, was charged with an ermine unicorn erect, armed crested and unglued or, in front of a sun in  splendour)

A minor point about the wreaths (or torses) represented on the Grey Institute Arms and the Arms engraved on the shovel is that the wreath on the Institute’s Arms display six folds, whereas the Arms on the shovel display only five folds. This latter representation of the wreath is, heraldically, incorrect.

The wreath, upon which the devices comprising the Crest is charged, represents silk, composed of two different tinctures twisted together, and showing six folds, three of each tincture, and the tinctures of the wreath are with a few exceptions, those first mentioned in the blazon of the coat of arms, for example, the wreath, and mantling, on Sir George Grey’s armorial bearings were emblazoned with the main colours of his Arms, that is to say azure and argent. The wreath is placed between the knight’s helm, which on Sir George Grey’s armorial bearings were emblazoned with the main colours of his Arms, that is to say azure and argent. The wreath is placed between the knight’s helm, which on Sir George Grey’s armorial bearings is open and affronté, and the Crest which are fastened together by it.

Traditionally, the Grey family used the motto ‘A ma puissance’ (which means – to the utmost of my power) on their armorial bearings. Sir George Grey used the motto ‘Stabilis’.
The motto is a subject of much confusion among those authorities concerned with heraldry, and it is of universal use among all nobility and gentry who consider the motto to be an invariable accompaniment to a coat of arms, but, in fact, there are many armorial bearings without mottoes.

In England no authority is required to use a motto, and it does not form part of a grant of armorial bearings, nor is it hereditary, but may be taken, varied or relinquished at the pleasure of the grantee. Naturally there is a tendency among grantees to retain or transmit a motto which has become traditional in a family, and more than one motto may be used by a grantee on his armorial bearings.

In Scotland, the position is different, since mottoes are registered, are granted as part of the arms and are hereditary.

Most family mottoes are of no antiquity and few undoubtedly originated as a war-cry of battle in the Middle Ages, and there is no doubt whatever that instances can be found, especially among some of the Highland families in Scotland, in which an ancient war-cry has become a family motto, particularly when it is commemorative of some deed of chivalry. Mottoes are for the most part either in Latin or French when applied to English heraldry.

The English College of Heralds exercise no control over the position in which the motto is carried or the manner in which it is displayed on armorial bearings; the motto is usually shown on a scroll below the whole shield, Occasionally, the motto encircles the shield, but where this is done, the scroll is not given the appearance of a garter or other form of insignia.

In Scotland, however, the motto is usually shown on an scroll above the Crest, or behind the Crest, which is appropriate where the motto alludes to the device forming the Crest.

Because of Sir George Grey’s entrance into the circle of Knight’s  Commanders of the Bath, with Waka Nene and Tu Puni as esquires, on 18 November 1848, he encircled the shield of his armorial bearings with the circlet of the Order of the Bath and had the insignia (or badge) of the Commanders of the Bath have no collar and cannot claim a grant of heraldic supporters, but they encircle their shields with the circlet of the Order, suspending their badge below the shield by a ribbon from which it is worn.

Sir George Grey, during his lifetime, was perhaps one of the youngest Knight’s Commanders of the Bath, Civil Division, ever nominate, being only thirty-six years old when he was honoured with this title. It hardly falls within the scope of this résumé to detail the various points concerning the full history or statures of the Orders of Knighthood, particularly the various divisions of the Order of the Bath, as this history alone would make a bulky volume but it is necessary to describe briefly the history of the Order of the Bath, the elaborate on the rarity of existing authentic impressions of Sir George Grey’s armorial bearings.

The origin of the ceremonial form of knighthood is lost in the mists of antiquity. However, in the available records of the ancient ceremony of making Knights of the Bath, the first specific mention of the actual use of the bath itself is to be found in the muniments pertaining to the coronation and reign of King Henry IV (1399-1413), although it is almost certain that the bath may have been used in ceremonies long before the coronation of Henry IV, possibly during the reign of King Edward III (1327-1377), when he introduced The Most Noble Order of the Garter in 1348. Indeed, we are told that in 1127 King Henry I (1100-1135) made Geoffrey of Anjou and five others “Knights of the Bath” at the marriage of his daughter, the Princess Matilda, whilst John Burke (1787-1848), author of several works of heraldry and genealogical subjects, cites that the 2nd Lord Willoughby de Eresby “received knighthood by bathing” from King Edward II (16307-1327).

Sir John Froissart, in his chronicles of King Henry IV, cites that on the Saturday before his coronation, in October 1399, Henry IV departed from Westminster, and rode to the Tower of London with a great number of followers, where he spent the night in the Tower, as so many of his predecessors had done, but he introduced a ceremony that was to be kept up for some centuries. He conferred the Order of the Bath on forty-six of his followers whom he had singled out for knighthood. Although the custom was not new, the ceremony was preceded on this occasion by the knights-elect actually being given a bath. It is thought that, in an age when baths were not common, some kings did not relish coming too close to the men they were about to knight.

The ceremony of the Bath was conducted in a hall adjoining the Chapel of St. John the Evangelist on the second floor of the White Tower (Tower of London), where forty-six bayne (or bath) tubs were set out for the occasion, each bayne fitted with a luxurious canopy above it and the sides hung with tapestry for defence against the night air.

According to Froissart, the knights-elect, op their arrival at the Tower, were all attired in long green coats, the sleeves whereof were cut straight and furred with miniver, and with great hoods or chaperons furred in the same manner and after the fashion used by prelates, and every one of these candidates on his left shoulder had a double cordon, or string of white silk, to which white tassels were pendent.

The knights-elect were led to their respective chambers where each of them was prepared for the ceremony by having his beard shaved  and head rounded, during which preparation, the senior knights wisely counselled and directed the candidates in the Laws of Knighthood. Meanwhile, the tubs were made ready for the ceremony by being filled with warm water.

Next, the knights-elect, with minstrels from the King’s household playing, were escorted to the ceremonial hall where, on the creasure of the minstrels singing and dancing, they were undressed and assisted into the tubs by the senior knights.

During this ritual, the senior knights bathed the shoulders of the candidates instructing them about the nature of the bath, and admonishing that they should thereafter keep their bodies and minds undefiled.

This done, the knights-elect were dried and warmly clothed by their attendant squires. The candidates were then escorted to their beds, each hung with costly draperies, and in these they rested for a time. At the sounding of the curfew bell in the Bell Tower, the knights-elect rose and donned the long brown robes of monks. So attired and without shoed, they walked in procession to the adjoining Chapel of St. John where a solemn oath was administered to them to “honour God and maintain true religion, love their Sovereign, serve their country, help maidens, widows, and orphans, and to the utmost of their power cause equity and justice to be observed.”

The knights-elect knelt and prayed before the high altar with the light of candles flickering on their helmets, shield and armour, hung up on the walls of the chapel. The candidates remained in meditation throughout the long cold October night until daybreak when matins were recited, and at the end of the vigil each knight-elect placed a lighted taper and a penny on the altar; the taper was for God, the penny for the King.

After this they were invested in crimson robes, with white gloves, white boots, white crosses, and white hats with white feathers, and they walked across the courtyard to the Palace, each knight-elect between two esquires, with a footman attending, and a page in front carrying the candidate’s sword and spurs. In this array the knights-elect entered the King’s Hall, and there individually (the highest in rank first) knelt before the Sovereign, to whom the sword and spurs of each candidate were handed.

The King then girded each of the candidates with a belt and lay the blade of the sword upon the candidates neck, saying: “be a good Knight”. and after kissing him, placed the sword under the new Knight’s left arm; this done, two of the senior Knights then put on the spurs. Thus the institution of The Most Honourable Order of the Bath was finalised on the morning of the coronation of King Henry IV.

Though, in those ancient times, it was unusual for a new knight, as part of the ceremony, to receive a robe and a sword, it was not until many years later that he was invested with a badge or any other insignia. Eventually the investiture with insignia took the place of the girding with a sword.

The first record of any insignia or badge of the ‘Bath’ being worn is to be found in the chronicles of the early part of the seventeenth century. in a work published in 1613, Mennenius wrote:

In the year 1605 the Knights of the Bath wore as their Badge ‘Three golden Crown within a golden circle and surrounded by the inscription TRIA IN UNUM.’

A hundred years or so later the motto became – perhaps somewhat more grammatically – TRIA JUNCTA IN UNO (Three joined in one; these words denote the union of the virtues of Faith, Hope, and Charity, in Charity the greatest of them all).

Andrew Favine writing in 1619, stated that Knights of the Bath were sometimes known as ‘Knights of the Crowns’. He thought that the three crowns were symbolical of the Union of England, France and Scotland. This may well have been the correct interpretation, though some years later writers have suggested that the motto referred to the Union of England, Scotland and Ireland, while others opine that it referred to the Holy Trinity.

In 1625, immediately after the coronation of King Charles I, the Earl Marshall of England published an ordinance stating that it was the will and pleasure of the King that all Knights of the Bath should continually wear the ensign of that order as a mark of honour. The badge appears to have been worn at that time round the neck and pendent from a red riband. A little later on, though exactly when is doubtful, Knights of the Bath imitated Knights of the Garter in wearing the riband belt-wise about the body, except that the Bath riband was worn over the right shoulder instead of the left.

The ancient forms of making Knights of the Bath gradually declined during the Cromwellian dictatorship and become obsolete at the post-Restoration period in England. It was revived by King George I in 1725, when he issued statutes which required of his Knights of the Bath, that they should observe the full ritual of preparation as in mediaeval times with all its crudities, and in addition, the knights-elect were compelled to spend the evening before their investiture in the Chapter Room ( or House) of the Order at Westminster Abbey.

Why these regulations in detail were inserted in the statutes will always remain a mystery, for from the very first they seem to have met with total disregard. This is scarcely surprising when considering the ordeal which ancient knights had to endure before investiture, and it is not to be wondered at that a sense of modesty plus the fear of pneumonia led to the statutes being defied.

However, several alterations have since been made to the Order of the Bath. In the year 1815, owing to the large number of Officers who had merited reward in the Peninsular Campaign, it was considered necessary to increase the extent and scope of the Order. For this purpose it was divided into the Military and Civil Divisions, each having three classes, differing in their ranks and degrees of dignity. The first class to consist of Knights Grand Crosses; the second of Knights Commanders; the third of Companions.

The then existing Knights of the Bath became Knights Grand Cross, and the existing collar served for all Knights Grand Cross, but the old badge and star were assigned for the Civil Division of the Order, a new pattern being designed for the Military Division.

On 14 April 1847, Queen Victoria extended the Order to include civil Knights and civil Companions.

The order was conferred upon the military as a reward for outstanding war service and on civilians as a reward for outstanding services in the Home Civil Service.

For generations, Knights of the Bath have displayed impressions of their armorial bearings in and about the Chapel of King Henry VII at Westminster Abbey. This has been the Chapel of the Knights of the Bath since 1725 and it is one of the most perfect building ever erected in England, forming the culminating triumph of English Medieval architecture. The banners of the Knights of the Bath hand in splendour beneath the magnificent fanvaulted roof of the Chapel and the richly carved canopied stalls which embellish the interior of the Chapel bear brass plates incised and painted with the Arms of the many past and present Knights, and the oldest plated are enamel on gilt or silvered copper. The

When a knight dies, his banner is removed, but a plated bearing his Arms remains fixed to the stall below. Because of the number of stalls in the Chapel of King Henry VII being limited, and for various other reasons, there were no installations ( and so no affixing of such armorial, furnishings) between the years  1725-1812 were continued in respect of Knights Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath (the equivalent Knights Companion between the years 1725-1812).

As a result, had Sir George Grey been entitled to a Stall, and so, a Stall Plate as a member of the Order, from the date of his appointment in 1848 until his death in 1898, he was unfortunately appointed during that period when no installations took place. Consequently, no Stall Plate exists in the Chapel of the Order of the Bath in respect of Sir George Grey’s armorial bearings. It is also unfortunate that stall plated and other armorial furnishings which enhance the Chapel never applied to Knights Commanders of the Bath (K.C.B.) but only to Knights Companions (K.B.) who were reconstituted in 1815 as Knights Grand Cross (G.C.B.).

A growing number of people have come to realise that here in Port Elizabeth we have a small but unique cultural legacy of buildings and relics of a bygone age. Because many of these possessions of long ago were handmade by dedicated craftsmen, they not only have a special charm of their own but also serve as a living record of the way of life our forefathers knew. It is therefore appropriate that the masonry impression of Sir George Grey’s armorial bearings, which has for so long been symbolic of the proud traditions of the Grey educational institutions, be preserved for future generation as a National Monument.

The Grey Shield


Tria Juncta in Uno. Every student at Grey knows what his school motto means. But how many know how it came to be chosen? And how many know how the Grey High School shield worn on blazer lapel badges came to take its present familiar form?

The school Arms are similar to those of Sir George Grey, Governor of the Cape from 1854 to 1861, and founder of our school. The Grey family is a very ancient one and there are records that Lord Grey of Wilton, who was summoned to Parliament in 1295 bore a shield which was described as “Barry of six argent and azure, a label argent in chief.” This means that the shield had six bars (barry of six) alternately silver (argent) and blue (azure). and that near the top of the shield (in chief) there was a thin horizontal bar with three short vertical tabs ( points) hanging downwards (a label). This makes the Grey shield among the oldest in the world. There still exists a signet ring owned by Richard, Lord Grey of Condor, and engraved in 1392 which shows the family shield with three silver bars and three blue bars. Also engraved on the ring, below the shield, was a gray, i.e. a badger.

The Meaning of the Parts

The Shield of plain silver field would be blazoned”Argent” (silver).
 The Ordinaries – here three azure (blue) bars – were added to strengthen and decorate the shield now blazoned “Barry of six argent and azure”
 The Sub-Ordinaries – here three torteaux (ie. three red roundels) – further decorate and may distinguish one family branch from another.
The Label – another sub-ordinary – stretching right across the field decorates and would be classed as a “charge”.
A Label couped (cut short) is a cadency mark indicating that the bearer of the Shield is a First Son. A Label may be any colour except white (silver) which is reserved for labels of the Royal Family.

The Arms of The Grey Boys’ High School, Port Elizabeth are blazoned:
Barry of six, arg. and az., three torteaux in chief and a label of as many points az.

In 1299 another member of the house of Grey was summoned to Parliament. His shield was also “Barry of six argent and azure” but in addition had “three red roundels in chief.” A roundel is a spherical device but is often represented as a flat coin-like disc. When roundels are red they are known as torteaux. Roundels, like the many other ordinaries, may be added to distinguish one shield from another similar or identical one – possibly one belonging to a member of another branch of the family. When the head of the house which descended from this branch was created Viscount Graney in 1535 the distinction of an ermine label was charged on the torteaux.

Several other branches of the large Grey family bore shields that were “Barry of six argent and azure” but they distinguished their shields by charging them with labels of different colours; e.g. Lord Grey of Groby, the Duke of Suffolk (summoned to Parliament in 1449) bore a label ermine; Lord L’Isle in 1483 used a label of three points argent while Grey of Whittington, Enver and Kinve, Co. Staffs., also differenced his arms whit a label ermine.

The Barons L’Isle (Grey) bore arms that were blazoned “Barruly of six (ie. twelve bars altogether) argent and azure, in chief three torteaux, a label argent.

The Rt. Hon. Sir George Grey, P.C., K.C.B., Governor of the Cape, bore arms that are blazoned:


Barry of six argent and azure, in chief three pellets label of three points ermine.


A unicorn passant ermine armed, maned, tufted and unglued or, in front of a sun in splendour.




Published Sources
Banks, T.C. The Dormant and Extinct Baronage of England (Pub. 1807)
Burke, A.P. Colonial Gentry (Pub. 1895)

Butters, L Fairbairn’s Crests

Cory, G.E. The Rise of South Africa, Volume VI, 1853-1856
Joyce, P.W. A Short History of Ireland (Pub. 1893)
Pine, L.G. New Extinct Peerage
Redgrave, J.J. Pollock. A.M., and Hattle, J. “Neath the Tower: The Story of the Grey School, Port Elizabeth, 1856-1956

Rees, W.L., and Rees, L. The Life and Times of Sir George Grey, K.C.B.
Rutherford, J. Sir George Grey, K.C.B., 1812-1898: A Study in Colonial Government

Williams, H.S. The Historians, History of the World, Volume XIX; England, 1485-1642 (Pub. 1907)

Author Unknown Pictorial History of England, 1399-1605, Volume II

2. Periodical Articles

The Cape Monthly Magazine, Volume V, January 1859, pp.1-14

The Illustrated London News, July 16, 1859, page 59
The Illustrated London News, December 17, 1859, pp. 586 and 568

3. Correspondence

De. Conrad Swan, M.V.O., Ph.D., F.S.A., York Herald of Arms, and Genealogist, Order of the Bath, College of Arms London.

P.L. Dickinson, Rouge Dragon Pursuivant, College of Arms, London
Major General Desmond H.G. Rice, C.B.E., Deputy Secretary, Chancery of the Order of the Bath, St. James’ Palace, London.

Major R.I. Radford, M.B.E., A.C.I.S., Assistant Receiver General (Admin), Chapter Office, Dean’s Yard, Westminster Abby, London.

Rowena Hallinan, Burke’s Peerage Limited, 55 Walton Street, London.

W.S. Robertson, Hon. Secretary, Hon. Secretary, Genealogical Society of South Africa, Cape Town.

Presumably these arms derive from Grey of Groby (Barry of six argent and azure, three torteaux, and a label of three points ermine) from whom Sir George Grey claimed descent, in spite of records that the line became extinct in 1554! It was claimed that Groby’s wife had a son whose name for some reason or other did not appear in the Parish Register.

The Grey High School arms differ from those of Sir George firstly in their being charged with three torteaux (red roundels) whereas Sir George’s shield was charged with three pellets (black roundels): the second difference is that the label used by the school is commonly tinctured azure (though some versions show a black label) whereas Sir George’s was ermine. There were some versions of the school shield; notably in the hall, that had silver labels until corrected; the silver label has in fairly recent times come to be used only by Royalty!

The crest used by the school appears in a number of forms which differ from one another in several ways: a Sun in splendour may have five, eight, sixteen or more rays;  some heralds emblazon the rays alternately wavy and straight to represent the waves of heat and light which issue form the sun; the face of the sun is always emblazoned with the features of eyes, nose and mouth though there seems little point in following this tradition, as so little of the face would show from behind the unicorn which has been charged upon the sun. The unicorn depicted upon the crest in the school hall is “armed (i.e. horned), maned, tufted (i.e bearded) and unglued (i.e. hoofed) gules (red)” in contrast to Sir George’s  crest on which the unicorn was armed, maned, tufted and unglued or (“o” is the heraldic word meaning gold) – which could hardly have shown up very well against the sun in splendour.

The wreath upon which the crest is surmounted in most versions of the crest used by the School and the Old Greys’ Union is argent and gules (silver and red). This is not heraldically correct but as the error has been copied so often that it has become accepted, changing it now would hardly be worthwhile. Usually the colours of the wreath are the same as the main colours of the shield, i.e. first the metal (usually the field) and then the ordinary, in this case argent and azure respectively.

The motto used by Sir George Grey was Stabilis, which is the motto used by Grey College, Bloemfontein. Whence then did Grey High School in Port Elizabeth derive the motto Tria Juncta in Uno? The most likely explanation is that Tria Juncta in Uno is the motto of the Knights Order of the Bath, one of whom Sir George was (in the Civil Division), and the school recalled this distinction by adopting the Motto of the Order.

Mottoes, by the way, derive from war cries. A motto is not inherited and individuals are free to change their family or personal mottoes when and as often as the wish.

The question is often asked: “What do the colours on our shield mean?” The answer is that they do not really “mean” anything. The colours on the shield were chosen by its bearer to decorate the shield in a way that he thought pleasant and to distinguish the bearer; the colours and symbols on the shield showed whose it was and were the only means of identification in the days when hardly anybody could read; the shield also identified the man concealed within his suit of armour. The colours of the shield were not, as is commonly believed, intended to symbolise traits in the bearer’s character.

The choice or silver and blue for the Grey shield may have been made in an attempt to represent the colour of a gray or badger. The colours grey and brown never appear in the field or on the ordinaries in English heraldry.

But the virtues that, according to some authorities, find representation in the silver, blue and red of the Grey shield are virtues worth cultivating – Hope, Justice and Charity – virtues which, woven into the fabric of one’s character, would indeed be a worthy Tria Juncta in Uno.

Founder of the

Grey Institute

John Paterson

Patron of the Grey Institute

and Old Grey Union

Sir George Grey

Grey Institute Headmasters

JR Macleish


 J Samuel



Rev Henry Isaac Johnson


 John Thurlow


Edward Noaks


 William Chubb Meredith


William Archer Way


Grey High School Rectors

James Lang


 Bruce C Gordon


Owen Burnet Taylor


Stanford Edward Edkins


Gustav Dieter Pakendorf


Roy Lawrence Simpson


Neil Russell Crawford


Christian Erasmus