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Title: Jessant-de-lys  
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Subject: Leopards, 807th Medical Command (Deployment Support), Purleigh, Pucklechurch
Collection: Heraldic Charges, Leopards, Lilium in Culture
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A leopard's face jessant-de-lys, showing the standard form with fleur-de-lys erect

Jessant-de-lys is a heraldic term denoting a fleur-de-lys issuing out of any object.[1] It is most frequently seen in conjunction with a leopard's face, meaning in heraldic language the face of a lion.


  • Description 1
  • Origin 2
  • Earliest use 3
  • Modern usage 4
  • Sources 5
  • References 6


A leopard's face jessant-de-lys, shown in the unusual form with the fleur-de-lys reversed

Charles Boutell op.cit. [2] has described the charge thus: "a leopard's face affrontée, resting upon a fleur-de-lys, and having the lower part of the flower issuing from the animal's mouth". This appears to describe a fleur-de-lis erect. The fleur-de-lys is on occasion shown reversed, perhaps as an heraldic difference, or simply in error.[3]


Seal of William I de Cantilupe (died 1239) showing on an escutcheon 3 fleurs de lys

The earliest use of a leopard's face jessant-de-lys was in the last quarter of the 13th century, by the Norman family of Cantilupe, borne as a group of three ("Cantilupe modern"). (

  1. ^ Boutell (1863), p.81
  2. ^ Boutell (1863), p.61
  3. ^ Although Boutell describes it with the fleur-de-lys erect, he depicts it reversed, without comment
  4. ^ Planché J.R., The Pursuivant of Arms, or, Heraldry Founded upon Facts, 1852, p.103-4
  5. ^ Boutell, op. cit. p.177
  6. ^ Charles's Roll, part 2, no. 60, drawn by Planche, p.134
  7. ^ St George's Roll, part 3, E246
  8. ^ Camden Roll, D107
  9. ^ Glover's Roll, part 1, B27
  10. ^ Nichols, John. The History and Antiquities of the County of Leicester, 4 vols. c.1800, quoted by
  11. ^ Roll of Caerlaverock, K69
  12. ^ Victoria County History, Warks., vol.3, 1945, pp.123-126
  13. ^ [1]
  14. ^ Clark G.T. Limbus Patrum Morganiae et Glamorganiae: Being the Genealogies of the Older Families of the Lordship of Morgan and Glamorgan; The Advenae, Dennis, pp.381-2
  15. ^ Debrett's Peerage 1968, pp.333-334


  • Boutell, Charles. Heraldry Modern and Popular, London, 1863
  • Planché J.R., The Pursuivant of Arms, or, Heraldry Founded upon Facts, London, 1873, (first published 1852) p. 103-4


The true Cantilupe modern arms are borne today only by the See of Hereford and the Earl De La Warr, whose lesser title is Viscount Cantelupe, both titles created in 1761 for the West family, distant descendants of the ancient Cantilupe family. The second quarter of the De La Warr coat of arms is blazoned thus: Azure, 3 leopard's faces reversed jessant-de-lys or[15]

Modern usage

Candleston Castle.[14] From the latter family the arms were apparently borrowed by the unrelated family of Thomas Tenison, Archbishop of Canterbury, from whom the unrelated family of Alfred Lord Tennyson, poet laureate, again borrowed, probably as their family names signify "Dennis's son".

Arms of the See of Hereford: Gules, 3 leopard's faces jessant-de-lys or reversed
Seal of Bishop Thomas de Cantilupe. Legend: TOMAS DEI GRATIA HEREFORDENSIS EP(ISCOPU)S (Thomas by the grace of God Bishop of Hereford). The arms of Cantilupe ancient are displayed on each side of the bishop: 3 fleurs-de-lys. Hereford Cathedral Archives 6460

Earliest use

. three fleurs-de-lys circumscribed, Leicestershire, on which the seal is Brentingby's manor of William I de Cantilupe records a deed dated 1215 relating to [10]History and Antiquities of the County of Leicester in his John Nichols (died 1239). William I de Cantilupe The earliest record of the arms of "Cantilupe ancient" is in the seal of [9]Gules, 3 fleurs de lys or. (died 1254) are listed even earlier in the Glover's Roll as: William II de Cantilupe The arms of [8] and in the Camden Roll.[7]

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