Duke of Beaufort, Peerage of England, 1682
Arms: Quarterly; France and England, all within a bordure compony argent and azure.
Crest: A portcullis or, nailed azure, with chains pendant thereto of the first.
Supporters: Dexter, a panther argent, flames issuant from the mouth and ears proper, gorged with a plain collar and chained, or, and semée of torteaux, hurts, and pomels, alternately; Sinister, a wyvern wings endorsed bert, holding in the mouth a sinister hand couped at the wrist gules.
The Dukedom of Beaufort is one of the most highly revered in Britain. Sons descended from John of Gaunt and Katherine Swynford, born out of wedlock but later legitimized by the Pope, were given the surname of Beaufort. John of Gaunt was a son of King Edward III and are of Plantagenet origin. This family has a very strong position to make a claim to the throne of England, but illegitimacy would always stand in the way of pressing any such claim.
Because the Beauforts were legitimized by the Pope, their Arms do not bear the common "Baton Sinister" indicative of illegitimacy. Rather, their Arms bear the "Bordure Compony" indicating their descent from Royal Blood while, at the same time, differencing them from the present Monarchy.
It was the Beaufort's devotion to the Monarchy has distinguished this family throughout their history. During the British Civil Wars, Henry Beaufort (then 5th Earl of Worcester) supported Charles I financially with support of over a million Pounds (X). Henry also held Raglan Castle against the Parliamentarians for nearly four years, surrendering the castle only when it had been reduced to ruin. After the restoration of the monarchy, Charles II created the Beaufort Dukedom in 1682, recognizing their "having been eminently serviceable for the king since his most happy restoration, in consideration thereof and of his most moble descent from King Edward III by John de Beaufort, eldest son of John of Gaunt by Katherine Swynford."
The 5th Dukes youngest son, Lord FitzRoy, was quite a distinguished soldier. While serving as Aide-de-Camp to the Duke of Wellington, he lost an arm at Waterloo. Later, he commanded the British Army during the Crimean War (where he died) and is forever associated with the Charge of the Light Brigade.
There is a story that Henry Charles FitzRoy, 8th Duke of Beaufort, presented documents to Queen Victoria showing that John of Gaunt was actually married to Katherine Swynford. This could have proven that the present Royal Family was not entitled to the crown. Queen Victoria is said to have thanked the Duke for bringing the documents to her and immediately placed the them into the fire.
Additional titles held by the Duke of Beaufort: Marquess of Worcester (1642), Earl of Worcester (1514), Baron Herbert of Raglan, Chepstow, and Gower (1506), and Baron Botetourt (1305). All in the Peerage of England.
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