Emblematically Speaking - Bootle

Tue 8th August 2017 | Bootle
By Stewart Taylor

Bootle FC

In contrast to the new emblem featured last week, we move to the other end of the scale this week and feature a town coat of arms, granted in 1869, which has been adopted as the club emblem of Bootle FC.

Perhaps the most unusual feature of the emblem is the lighthouse. The use of a lighthouse in these circumstances is very rare and, in this case, is probably a reflection of the location of Bootle at the mouth of the river Mersey.

The arms demonstrate a regular feature in heraldry which is the appearance of the same motif three times. In this case there are three examples.

The three stag’s heads on a chevron come from the arms of the Earls of Derby. The Earl of Derby is a title in the English Peerage which goes back to the year 1139.

As with most long established earldoms, this one has seen its fair share of ups and downs during the years. In sporting terms, perhaps the most interesting reference is to the 16th Earl of Derby who presented the Stanley Cup to the Dominion of Canada during his time as Governor General.

Followers of the sport of ice hockey will recognise the Stanley Cup as the major trophy played for in the National Hockey League (USA + Canada).

The relevance for Merseyside is that the current seat of the Earls of Derby is Knowsley Hall; home to the 19th Earl, Edward Stanley.

The three mural crowns come from the arms of the Bootle family. This is a reference to the surname “Bootle” in that the name is said to have come to England at the time of the Norman Conquest.

The original Bootle family had its origins in Poitou in France and, after the Norman invasion, Count Poitou held the Lordship of Bootle (then known as Boltelai) along with other Lordships in Lancashire and West Yorkshire.

It is perhaps likely that the well known Liverpool born author and songwriter Stan Kelly-Bootle (aka Stanley Bootle) could trace his origins back to those early Bootles. Many will recall his most famous song “Liverpool Lullaby” which was also known as “The Mucky Kid”. Stan, who died in 2014, held the honour of being the first university postgraduate in Computer Studies awarded by Downing College, Cambridge in 1954.

Fewer people may be aware of the economist Roger Bootle but his published books on economic matters are well worth reading having the merit of putting a complex subject into understandable language.

The fleur-de-lis is one of the most popular of heraldic devices and has its origins in the heraldry of the French Monarchy. According to the French historian Georges Duby, the three petals represent the medieval social classes; those who worked, those who fought and those who prayed.

The presence of three fleurs-de-lis on the badge of Bootle could readily be a reference to the Norman times as above but suggestions have been made linking these fleurs-de-lis with those of the Linacre Family arms. There are a number of Linacre families including one in Yorkshire which may be a reference to the Lordships held in West Yorkshire by Count Poitou.

Regular readers may be expecting a small digression here to see if we can link these Linacres with a well known former England football with the forename Gary, now more famous for advertising potato crisps from Leicestershire. Sorry to disappoint you all but which ever way we look at it, Lineacre is not the same as Lineker. I do like the Cheese and Onion flavour though.

Back to Linacre and folk familiar with Bootle will know of Linacre Road in the town and may also know that what we now know as Bootle was known as Bootle cum Linacre in the 18th century. The village of Linacre was described as “a pretty rural village” and was sited on the present day Lineacre Road adjacent to Lineacre Lane and the Litherland border.

As is sometimes the case in studies of the origins of coats of arms more than one interpretation is possible. I’ll leave this one with you to reach your own conclusion.

The motto of the town reads Respice Aspice Prospice (Latin). This can be translated as “reflect on the past, consider the present, provide for the future”. Wise words indeed.

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