Coat Of Arms

The intriguing story of the arms of Alliston which link the taking of Cyprus by Richard I in 1165 with the battle of Evesham in 1265 and the battle of Bosworth in 1485. How the complexity of families shared arms both through male and female lines.

The Alliston coat of arms is given as an Eagle displayed Argent, the official view from the College of Arms is that this was not acquired until after the battle of Bosworth in 1485.  The arms themselves however were first recorded in 1295 on the Collins roll which was a list of the knights that fought in Scotland.  The Allistons seem to have changed their arms from Azure. ten estoiles or, four, three, two, and one. Why and what are the links ?

The Alliston Coat Of Arms

In the Collins Roll I ‘Erdeswickes version’ (lost original from circa 1295) the Arms of Mane de Eglestone are given as Per pale Gules and Vert an Eagle displayed Argent

In Collins Roll II ‘Dethick’s version’ ( lost original, 15th century additions to above only), the Arms of Malg’ de Eyleston are again given as Per Pale Gules and vert an Eagle displayed Argent.

It was then recorded in the Essex visitation of 1634

Arms-Per pale gules and vert an eagle displayed argent,membered or.
Crest-Out of a ducal coronet an eagles head gules, beaked or.

Mathew Elliston of Castell Hedingham in com. Essex ==
Mathew Elliston of castell==Anne d. Will’m Harrington of maplestead
Joseph Elliston 2 sonn of Tillingham==Mary d. Geffrey Binks of Tillingham==
Joesph Elliston 4 years old

Again in the Visitation 1664-1668
Arms – Per pale gules and vert, an eagle displayed argent charged on breast with a crescent for difference.
Crest – An eagles head argent, erased gules, murally gorged azure.

John Elliston of Black Notley==Alice Pilgrim
Mathew eldest sonn mar. Mary Champion ———— Isaac Elliston Of little Coxall alias Cogeshall
Mathew Mary

Further details can be found here page 401

Other references can be found in St Mary’s church at Gestingthorpe where John Elliston of Gestingthorpe has his memorial.

John Elliston Gestingthorpe

John Alliston Gestingthorpe

The arms were also in use by James Elliston of Clare on Merchant Tokens he issued.
quarterly, 1-4 eagle displayed, 2-3 fess between two helmets “James Elliston 1659” Clare, Suffolk (Corder col. 119, 324)

James Elliston of Clare Suffolk Farthing
Farthing of James Elliston

John of Gestingthorpe and Jospeh Elliston of Tillingham and Issac Elliston of Little Cogeshall are distant cousins. The common ancestor seems to be William Alliston of Castle Hedingham c1480 to 1556 or his Father John. The college of arms was formally incorporated in 1484 so the Alliston coat of arms probably pre-dates the formation.

The coat of arms came into use by the Ellistons shortly after the battle of Bosworth about 13 miles from Ayleston in Leicestershire. William Elliston was left 40s by John De Vere the 13th Earl of Oxford who was commander at the Battle. He was called a Yeoman and as such was probably one of De Veres Guards.  He may have fought as well.

Another reference to the seal of the Allistons can be found at

Lawrence Alliston is also referred to as Lawrence Alston the Manor documents of Castle Hedingham.

Eyleston is an area in Leicestershire, Bosworth itself is part of Ayleston.

The Ayleston family from Ayleston in Leicestershire may be connected to the Alliston/Liston family.   A letter of protection from Scotland in 1306 lists members of the Zouche family including Alan, with John De Liston and Thomas Earl of Lancaster.   ( calendar of documents relating to Scotland p438/9 part II protections ).

William De Harcourt Lord of Ayleston was married to Alice De Zouche sister of Alan De Zouche before 1278.   William De Harcourt took the side of his relative Simon De Montfort who took Windsor Castle from Godfrey De Liston.  They lost the bloody battle of Evesham in 1265.  William De Harcourt forfeited his estates however his brother in law Alan De Zouche had sided with the King and managed to get William pardoned.  William De Harcourt died in 1270.  The manor then descended through his daughters to the Pembrugge family as Arabella one of two daughters of William De Harcourt and Alice De Zouch had married Henry De Pembrugge.  The estate then passed down through the Pembrugge family until Robert De Pembrugge inherited in 1346.  He married another Zouche, Julianna and they had a daughter Juliana who married Richard De Vernon of Haydon. It was Juliannas grandson Richard Vernon who eventually inherited in 1447.

It was this family who would give their name to Minshull Vernon.  The Minshull family also use the Star and Crescent , they take their name from Minshull Vernon a village in Cheshire.

In Hungerford where there are numerous examples of the star and crescent around the town they are linked to the Ayliston family by a 1324 record in the National Archives SC 8/204/10159, Robert De Ayliston and Robert De Hungerford hear an Inquisition concerning William Beaumond (Beaumont).  Robert Ayliston is probably the same Robert Ayliston Archdeacon of Berkshire who was put forward by King Edward III asking the Pope if he could be made made Arch Bishop of St Andrews.

There is a claim on the Hungerford page that the star and crescent was acquired when King Richard I took Cyprus from Isaac the Emporer of Cyprus.  But this has been disproven by the 1189 Seal of King Richard I which shows the Star and Crescent before they left for Cyprus.  Ranulph son of Godfrey the Chamberlain was with King Richard in Cyprus and was the jailer of Isaac.  Godfrey the Chamberlain was married to Avicia De Liston and their descendents became the De Listons.

The star and crescent appears on the seals of the early Bishops of St Andrews.

In the 1290’s Bishop William Fraser of St Andrews granted land to Simon De Liston.  The seal of Bishop William Fraser show arms very similar to the Zouches/ Liston one and also the star and crescent. On the left is the moon and on the right is the star. Below are 6 estoiles 3,2,1 rather than the 10 on the Listons arms ( 4,3,2,1 )   The arms of Zouche are the same. 4,3,2,1.  The Fraser arms use 3,2,1 and the Dury family  give Listons as the same as Fraser.  ( see below )

The arms of Alston are given as 10 stars 4,3,2,1 with a star and crescent on top.

The earlier Liston coat of arms can be seen on the seal of Eleanor De Lyston 1335 at

Alston Coat Of Arms
Alston Coat Of Arms

The original Alston coat of arms can be found at

Original blazon: Az. ten estoiles or, four, three, two, and one.
Crest: Out of a crescent ar. an etoile or.
Supporters: –
Motto: Immotus.
(Saxham Hall, Suffolk, and Odell, co. Beds, Extinct Baronet).

Source: Burke’s General Armory (1884)

A similar coat of arms can be found on the Drewry arms quartered with the Listons The difference being that the stars are actually flowers. The church at Liston from whence the Alliston surname originates contains on the North Wall Lintel flowers of a similar style to the ones shown here.

The family history book by McCall shows their arms quartered with those of the  Scottish Liston family as his mother was a Liston.  Note the Crescent and Star.   The church door in the village of Liston, Essex  is very similar if you take the arch to be the crescent, two stars appear underneath and the chevrons are on the Lintel.

There is another coat of arms described by Revd. Edmund Farrer F.S.A in his work Early Suffolk Heraldry by The Suffolk Institute of Archeology and Natural History, this was used by Johannes De Lyston in 1334 as a seal on some land transactions.  It is likely that it is not his.  The closest match I can find is the Lisle family  at Wooten on the Isle of Wight.


A John De Insular Knight of Essex in the time of Edward II is mentioned here ….

Also Calendar of Close Rolls, Edward III: Volume 2, 1330-1333. pages 37-43
To the sheriff of Norfolk and Suffolk. Order to deliver to William de Claydon, knight, his lands, goods and chattels, which were taken into the king’s hands by reason of his indictment for adhering to Edmund, late earl of Kent, the king’s enemy, before John de Loudham, Thomas de Hindringham, and Robert Houel, whom the king appointed to enquire the names of those who adhered to the earl and to take and imprison them, as William has rendered himself to prison in co. Essex prepared to stand to right concerning the premises at the king’s will, and he has found mainpernors before the king in chancery to answer for his lands, goods and chattels, to wit John de Insula, knight, of co. Northampton, John de Liston, knight, Henry Gernet, Robert son of William de Roukeswell, William le Yonge of Wenyngton, and Richard de Norton of co. Essex.

In Westminster Abbey we have the Lyston arms showing on the Tomb of Lewis Robessart who was standard bearer to Henry V.

A description of the arms including Listons are given here courtesy of Foundation of Medieval Genealogy 

The arms of Liston on this tomb are a recent restoration and although similar do not quite match.  I suspect they may have had a crescent on top like the Alston arms rather than the extra bezants.

Another version can be seen on the arms of the Drewry family

The stars are replaced by cinquefoils. 3,2,1 instead of 4,3,2,1 much like the Frasers.  From  The History of the Family Drury in the Counties of Suffolk and Norfolk from the Conquest as commissioned by F. S. E. Drury and published by Arthur Campling in England, 1937

The seal Bishop William Fraser of St Andrews shows very similar symbolism combining the cinquefoils with th3 crescent and star.

Further research shows that there is a link between the Habsburgs and the Listons.  Apart from the fact that I am DF90, a mutation shared with some who claim descent from the Hapsburgs (FTDNA DF90 project).  It looks like there is another connection. In 1272 Joan of Acre was born in Acre, Palestine.  Her father Edward I looked for a suitable marriage for her, he chose Hartmann son of King Rudolph I of Germany.  The emblem of the Hapsburgs was the Eagle displayed.  As it happened the marriage did not go through as  Hartman died on the 12th December 1281 falling through the ice on a frozen lake.  Edwards second choice was Gilbert De Clare who owned Clare Castle a short distance from the village of Liston in Essex.   Gilbert was 30 years older than Joan and  they married on 30th April 1290 at Westminster Abbey.  They went on to have four children, Gilbert De Clare ( 8th Earl of Gloucester ), Eleanor De Clare, Margaret De Clare and Elizabeth De Clare.   When Gilbert her husband died she secretly married secondly Ralph De Monthermer a squire in the service of her first husband.  The arms of Monthermer are  Or, an eagle displayed vert beaked and membered gules. These are similar colours to the Ayleston Eagle.  Joan died in 1307 aged 35 at Clare Castle, Suffolk near Liston. By Joan he four children; Mary De Monthermer, Joan De Monthermer , Thomas second Lord Monthermer and Edward De Monthermer.  His second wife was Isabel le Despencer daughter of Hugh Le Despencer the Elder who he married in 1313 seven years after his step daughter married her brother.

Joans daughter Eleanor married Hugh Despenser The Younger in 1306 , she co-inherited her fathers estates on the death of her brother Gilbert De Clare. Hugh Despenser became chamberlain and  a close confident of Eleanors Uncle Edward II until his execution in 1326 when he was hung drawn and quartered.  Hugh and Eleanor had nine children that survived infancy.  Edward II was executed the following year.  After his death Eleanor went on to marry  William La Zouche 1st Baron Zouch of Mortimer against the wishes of Edward II who had her arrested for stealing and imprisoned her at Devizes castle. He eventually released her when she agreed to hand over to him much of the land she had inherited from her father.  By William La Zouch she had one son William La Zouch who was bornin 1330.

William La Zouch was the son of Robert Mortimer of Richard Castle and Joyce La Zouche possibly daughter of Alan La Zouch.  William took the surname of his mother and purchased Ashby-de-la-Zouche  becoming Baron Zouche of Mortimer.  Alan La Zouch was married to Eleanor De Seagrave and it was a member of the Seagrave family who was granted the Manor of Liston after the death of Richard Lyons in 1381.  Alan died before 1314, his father was Roger la Zouch  who died before 1284.  Rogers father was another  Alan la Zouche who married Ellen De Quincy.  He was killed in the battle of London on 12th August 1270.  A sister of this Alan called Alice married William De Harcourt (d. 1271), Lord of Aylestone.  He forfeited his lands when he fought for Simon De Montifort.  Alan La Zouche intervened as he was in favour with the King and managed to get his lands returned to his two daughters Oribillis and Margery.  William also had a son Richard De Harcourt who died before 1293. William married firstly Margaret Beke and then Joan daughter of ?.  William and Margaret had two children; John died before 1330, whose first wife was his cousin Eleanor La Zouche  daughter of Eon La Zouche ( another son of Roger La Zouche ) and his wife  and as his second wife Alice Corbet. The other son was Henry

The letter of protection lists Philip la Zusche, John de Chidiok, Amauri la Zusche,
William la Zusche, John de Lyston, all with Alan la Zusche in company of Thomas, earl of Lancaster; 2nd June 1306  John De Chidiok went on to acquire lands of Hugh Despenser.
Calendar of documents relating to Scotland preserved in Her Majesty’s Public Record Office, London (

page 438 , 2605

The charter of 1335 in which Eleanor De Lyston is mentioned could be Eleanor La Zouche, she uses teh arms of the Zouche family also later taken to be the Liston arms.

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Origins of the surname Liston and Alliston