The Heraldry of the House of Pringle

The Heraldry of the House of Pringle

The Clan Pringle Crest Badge on a Gala Water Tartan backing.
The Clan Pringle Crest Badge for non-armigerous members of a clan.

The Clan Pringle Crest Badge

In Scots law a coat of arms is the personal property of the person to whom it was granted to, and there is no such thing a clan or family coat of arms. It is illegal in Scotland for someone to appropriate and use a coat of arms belonging to another or to use a fake unofficial coat of arms, one needs to be granted the use of a coat of arms by the Court of the Lord Lyon, the King of Arms in Scotland.
It is traditional for ordinary non-armigerous members of a clan to wear the clan chiefs crest badge in a belt and buckle with the chiefs motto upon it, as a symbol of their allegiance to the clan chief.
Further reference:
Wikipedia – Scottish Crest Badge
Wikipedia – Scottish Heraldry
Heraldry in Scots law:
Heraldry in English law:
A guide to understanding heraldic terminology:

The Heraldry of the House of Pringle

The Seal of Elias de Hoppringill from the 1296 Ragman Rolls, described "Oval, a hunting horn. S. [Sigillum] Helias de  Hoppri’gkill."


The earliest Pringle to use a heraldic device was Elias De Hoppringill [Elys de Obrinkel in the text] (Tenant of the bishop of St Andrews), who in 1296 attached his seal to the Ragman Roll. It was described “Oval, a hunting horn. S. [Sigillum] Helias de  Hoppri’gkill.” – Source: Ragman Rolls, page 147 and in the Calendar of Documents, page 205 and seal page 544.
After the Scottish War of Independence was won by King Robert the Bruce, he sent his friend and lieutenant, the ‘Good’ Sir James Douglas to bury his heart in Jerusalem. Sir James died fighting the Moors in Spain at the battle of Teba. The Pringles were the squires and men-at-arms to the Douglases, and would have accompanied Sir James to the pilgrim site of Saint James of Compostela in northern Spain. However, only the knights were named, so it is impossible to be sure. It is believed that ever since this time the Pringles have used the badge of St James (a scallop shell) as their principal heraldic device.
The chiefs of the clan, the Hoppringles of that ilk traditionally used three golden scallop shells on a black bend (a diagonal stripe), all upon a white/silver shield. This can be seen on the seal of Thomas Hoppringill of that Ilk, who’s seal dating from 1555 is described as “On the shield a bend charged with 3 escallops, legend round the circumference ‘S. Thome Hoppryngill.’ (Cosmo Innes Transcripts).  The earliest cadet branch, the Hoppringles of Smailholm differenced these arms by having an engrailed bend. This can be seen in Sir David Lindsay of the Mount’s Armorial of 1542 (who was the Lord Lyon) which shows both the Arms of Pringle of Burnhouse and of that Ilk and Pringle of Smailholm (see pictures below). The Armorials of Sir Robert Forman of Luthrie (another Lord Lyon) that date from 1563-65, also show the Arms of Pringle of Burnhouse.
Lindsey - Pringill of Burnhouss
The Arms of Pringle of Burnhouse (that Ilk)
Lindsey - Pryngille of [Smailholm]
The Arms of Pringle of [Smailholm]

The 1537 Seal of John Hoppringill of Smailholm and Gala, the 5th Laird (picture below from Laings Seals) also shows an engrailed bend. Howeever, in 1583, his son Andrew Pringle of Smailholm and Gala, the 6th Laird, had his arms carved on a stone block above the door of his new residence (what is now called ‘Old Gala House’) and these arms show five scallop shells upon a saltier (St Andrews Cross). His son Sir James Pringle of Gala, the 7th Laird, built an extention to the house in 1611 and had another panel or fire place lintel carved with the same arms, which can still be seen in the house. The reason why the Pringles of Smailholm changed their arms from three scallop shells on an engrailed bend to five scallop shells on an engrailed saltier, is not recorded. These arms were later matriculated in the Lyon Register by the Pringles of Whytbank as representors of the Pringles of Smailholm and Gala.

The 1537 Seal of John Hoppringill of Smailholm and Gala, the 5th Laird.
The 1583 Arms of Andrew Pringle of Smailholm and Gala, 6th Laird, on the wall of his house, Old Gala House.
The 1611 fireplace lintel from Old Gala House, with the Arms of Sir James Pringle of Smailholm and Gala, 7th Laird.
The Workman’s Manuscript (Lyon Office, compiled about 1565-66) has the Pringle of Burnhouse Arms illustrated with a Buck and a Greyhound as supporters. This is because when William Hoppringle of that ilk died in 1458, he had no sons, so his nephew Adam Hoppringle of Burnhouse became the next Hoppringle of that ilk and head or chief of the name.
In 1672 the Scots Parliament passed a law requiring armigerous individuals to register their Arms within a year. In 1673 the Pringles of Stitchell, Greenknowe, Whytbank and Torwoodlee all duly registered their arms in the Public Register of the Lord LyonNone of these four branches of the clan matriculated supporters to their arms. George Hoppringle of Torsonce (and that ilk) was a soldier and was away with the army so did not matriculate his coat of arms.
In 1722 Alexander Nisbet published his book ‘A System of Heraldry’ and he included the arms of the Pringles. He describes and illustrates the arms of Hoppringle of that ilk (as chiefs of the clan or heads of the name) as having supporters, a deer on the right and a greyhound on the left. His description and illustration of the arms of Stitchell and Whytbank do not include supporters.
John Hoppringle of that ilk (and Torsonce) died in 1737 without a male heir. His daughter had married Gilbert, a younger son of Pringle of Stitchell, after their deaths the lands passed into the Pringle of Stitchell family.
The Arms of John Hoppringle of that ilk (and Torsonce), who died in 1737 - from Nisbet's System of Heraldry.

In 1828 the Lord Lyon granted Alexander Pringle of Whytbank, as the representative of the Pringles of Smailholm and Gala, two Pilgrims as supporters. The Lord Lyon must have assumed that the Whytbank Pringles were now the heads of the name, since it has long been assumed that the Pringles of Stitchell were a cadet branch of the Smailholm Pringles. This is not the case, the Pringles of Stichell are cadets of the Pringles of that ilk.

The Arms of Alexander Pringle of Whytbank - from the Lyon Register
John Burke in 1844 recorded in his ‘Encyclopaedia of Heraldry’ that the Pringles of Stitchell bore two greyhounds as supporters, along with the crest of Pringle of that ilk and their own crest. The 1893 version of Debretts shows the Pringles of Stitchell as bearing a buck and a greyhound as supporters, along with the double crests of that ilk and their own. The Pringles of Stitchell continued to use the crest and supporters of the Pringles of that ilk in correspondence at least until 1919. The last Pringle laird of Whytbank died in 2003, ending the rivalry between the Pringles of that ilk (and their cadets the Pringles of Stitchell) and the Pringles of Smailholm (and their representatives the Pringles of Whytbank).
According to the laws of Scottish heraldry only clan chiefs and nobles are entitled to use supporters.
Arms now belonging to Sir Norman Murray Pringle, 10th Baronet of Stichill - from Debretts
Now that the Lord Lyon has found that Sir Murray Pringle of Stichill is the rightful clan chief, who is entitled to bear the undifferenced arms of the house of Pringle with supporters, a new version of the arms of Pringle of that Ilk and Stitchill will be matriculated in the Lyon Register. See Lord Lyons decision: Lord Lyon’s Pringle Findings and Reasons 18th February 2020 and  Interlocutor from the Lord Lyon 28th May 2020.
The newly granted Arms of our new Clan Chief, Sir Norman Murray Pringle of that Ilk, 10th Baronet of Stichill, are:
Ensigns Armorial: Argent, on a bend Sable, three Escallops, Or; Above the Shield, which is environed of the badge pendent by its proper ribband of a Baronet of Nova Scotia, is placed an Helm befitting his degree with a mantling Sable doubled Argent, and a Wreath of the Liveries is set for Crest an Escallop as the former, and in an Escrol over the same this motto “AMICITIA REDDIT HONORES”. On a compartment semee sprigs of elder leaves bearing the words “PRESSA EST INSIGNIS GLORIA FACTI” are set for Supporters dexter a deer proper, and sinister a Grey-Hound Argent and collared Sable charged with Escallops Or, and upon a standard of four and a half yards in length parted in two Argent and Sable with the St Andrew’s Cross in the hoist is depicted the Petitioner’s said Crest three times in the fly with the motto “AMICITIA REDDIT HONORES” in Sable upon the transverse bands Or; and for Pinsel, four and a half feet long by two feet in height, Argent, upon a Wreath of Liveries Argent and Sable, bearing the Petitioner’s said Crest within a strap Sable buckled and embellished Or, inscribed with the motto “AMICITIA REDDIT HONORES” Or, all within a circlet Or bearing the Petitioner’s title “Pringle of that Ilk” Sable and in the fly an Escrol Sable bearing the slogan “Hoppryngill” Or with the clan plant badge a sprig of elder leaves.
The Lord Lyon King of Arms also recognised separately, the Petitioner is entitled to the name and arms of Pringle of Stichill and that the said ensigns armorial of Pringle of Stichill as recorded in Volume 1 of the Public Register of All Arms and Bearings in Scotland.