Origin of Arms Resolved
When this manuscript was initially completed in 1982, and no proof of confirmation of arms to John Breakey of Drumskelt House existed, this author proposed the theory that Dr. John Breakey, Inspector General of Hospitals and Fleets of the Royal Navy, had designed the Arms for his personal use. The author now has in her possession copies of old correspondence dating from 1897 that refute that proposed theory. It is this correspondence that necessitates the revision of this manuscript.
In March of 1971 Dr. Edward P. Breakey compiled a portfolio of Breakey family letters sent to him by Ian and Hazel Breakey of Breakeyville, Province of Quebec, Canada. The letters are typewritten facsimiles of 1897 correspondence between Ian’s grandfather, John Breakey, President of the Quebec Bank, (born 9 April 1846) and Dr. John Breakey recently retired from the Royal Navy.
25th August 1897
Copy of letter to
John Breakey, M.D., R.N.
58 Carlisle Mansions,
Victoria St. S.W.
My parents both died while I was quite young therefore I cannot tell you anything very reliable or explicit about our crest or arms. My Grandfather’s, I understand, was a “Crossed Daggers”. Canadians, as you doubtless know, are loyal but demoncratic (sic) and perhaps do not preserve Heraldic Emblems with the care they should. If you can help me in this I would be very grateful indeed.
(Signed) John Breakey
58 Carlisle Mansions
(No date given)
Copy of letter to
John Breakey, Esq.
The Bank of Quebec
My Dear Sir:
Your very welcome and satisfactory letter of the 25th August duly reached me when we were away for our summer holidays in North Wales.
I apologize for my delay in replying. Clearly you and we come of the same stock, and with one exception you are our nearest relative.
I enclose our arms and crest which I had engraved some years since from an old signet seal which my oldest brother bought for me from one of the family who had inherited it. You may see that it is the coat of a younger son; the Mullits (sic) show this. The Fleur de Lis shows the French origin.
(Signed) John Breakey
Due to the importance unwittingly played by Dr. John Breakey’s 1897 correspondence, his connection to the Breakey Arms, and out of respect for his honorable admission as to how he came by the armorial achievement, I wish to tender a brief biographical sketch. I feel this information is important for other members of the Breakey family to include when discussing the Breakey Arms
Dr. John Breakey: Biographical Sketch
Dr. John Breakey was born 15 April 1827 to John and Elizabeth Small Breakey of Drumskelt House. He was baptized 17 June 1827 by Rev. Thomas Cathcart (Breakey, E. P. 1968). Young John Breakey was one of thirteen children, as had been his father.
Thomas C. Breakey (Book I, n.d., pp.6-7) writes in the first book of his memoirs of brother John:
“John left his house early in life to learn the Medical profession, learned the compounding of medicines in Dr. Wheeler’s, Belfast.
After that got appointed as Dr. in the General Hospital Belfast. After living there some years he got an appointment as assistant Dr. in one of Her Majestie’s (sic) Naval Ships. Some time after he was appointed as head Surgeon in another ship.
By merrit & foreign service he succeeded in getting to the head of the wheel in the Navy, His last appointment being Inspr. General of Royal Naval Hospitals.
After retiring from active service he took a house in Carlisle Mansions London, where he still lives. During his life in Belfast, he made the acquaintance of a young lady of fortune, Jane Miller, whom he married on his getting a three year appointment to Plymouth Royal Naval Hospital.
By her he had 5 children two of which lived, Arthur & Mary. She died on giving birth to her last child. Mary was married in Jamacia (sic) to a Dr. White in the Navy during the time of John’s having an appointment there. She died early in life. Left one child a boy.
Some time after that, John was married the second time to a widow, Jeanie Harris, a Plymouth woman who had three sons & one daughter. One of her sons is Chaplin (sic) in the Navy. Another is an Officer. The third is a banker. Her daughter is married in Plymouth. She is alive. Has no family by John.
…John & Mary Gillespie [brother and sister to Thomas C. Breakey] have been the most useful member of this family. Being blessed with good means & having a giving hand & generous heart have been always forward in helping those of the connection who may require assistance.
John is over 6ft. high Has a very military appearance, had dark fair hair I have John to thank for showing me London & so much of England.
For a long term of years he has mad it a rule to write to me every week & I now look out for his letter as a loved one would for a letter from the object of her affections.”
We know that Dr. John Breakey attended Queen’s University in Ireland for his great granddaughter, Mabel Breakey Preston of Birmingham, Alabama (personal communication to author, 1980), has in her possession Dr. Breakey’s diploma:
The Queen’s University in Ireland
THIS IS TO CERTIFY
That John Breakey obtained the
Degree of Doctor of Medicine
In this University at the annual examination
For the same in September, 1853
In his second book of memoirs, Thomas C. Breakey (Book II, n.d., p. 57) further tells of Dr. Breakey’s career:
“He had a very prosperous career. First he was assistant surgeon in Lisburn Infirmary. Some time after he was appointed Head Surgeon in the General Hospital, Belfast. He then became a surgeon in the Navy in 1854, Staff Surgeon in 1876, and Inspector General of Hospitals in 1886, retired in 1889. He served during the Russian War in the Baltic in 1854 and was present at the bombardment of Bomarsuna. He also served in the China War 1857 and 1858. He had both the Baltic and China Medals. With the consent of the Admiralty lent himself to go with the lines-men to the Crimea and then had both red and blue uniform and from that his promotion in the Navy had no bounds.”
Mrs. Ivy Yeomans provides further insight into the life and times of her grandfather (personal communication, 15 1980): He was a very fine man indeed second to only one in the whole of the Naval Medical Services. He was one of the last officers to be in sail. I have a gold watch with a gold nugget on the chain which was only allowed to those officers who were in sail; he knew what it was to amputate legs without anesthetic in the battles of the Baltic, etc.
I had my grandfather’s sword (may be the one handed to him by Queen Victoria when she wished to honor him). I enquired (sic) for a good up and coming young doctor in the Navy and handed it to him. I think these things are best in their own surroundings and not hanging on a wall.
…my father and his father were very excellent men, in the best tradition of duty given wholeheartedly in their services.”
Dr. John Breakey died 21 October 1911. A copy of his will was sent to the author by his great granddaughter, Mabel Breakey Preston (personal communication, 1980), and concludes this brief biographical sketch.
Will dated 16th August 1910
THIS IS THE LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT of me JOHN BREAKEY of 58 Carlisle Mansions Victoria Street in the City of Westminster M.D. Inspector General of Hospitals and Fleets of the Royal Navy Retired.
1. WHEREAS by an Indenture dated the 8th day of April 1861 and made between myself of the 1st part Jane Kennedy Breakey my first wife by her then name of Jane Kennedy Miller Spinster of the 2nd part and John Harvey, Barnett Harvey and The Reverend James Breakey (all since deceased) of the 3rd part (being a Settlement made in contemplation of my marriage with the said Jane Kennedy Breakey) It was agreed that all the trust properties comprised in and settled by the said Indenture should be held by the Trustees for the time being of the said Indenture Upon Trust to pay to the said Jane Kennedy Breakey £ 200 per annum out of the annual income thereof and subject thereto Upon trust to pay the annual income to me during my life and after my death to the said Jane Kennedy Breakey during her life and after the death of the survivor of us as to the capital of the said trust properties In trust for all or any one or more of the children of the said Jane Kennedy Breakey in such shares and at such times and in such manner as we the said John Breakey and Jane Kennedy Breakey should jointly by any deed or deeds direct or appoint and subject to any exercise of such joint power of appointment In trust for all or any one or more of the children of the said Jane Kennedy Breakey in such shares and at such times and in such manner as the survivor of us the said John Breakey and Jane Kennedy Breakey should by any deed or deeds or by will direct or appoint and subject thereto Upon the trust in the said Indenture mentioned AND WHEREAS the said Jane Kennedy Breakey died on the 20th day of February 1868 without having joined with me in any exercise of the joint power of appointment given to us by the said Indenture or Settlement as aforesaid AND WHEREAS the said Jane Kennedy Breakey had issue two children only who survived early infancy namely Arthur John Breakey Major in the Royal Garrison Artillery Retired and Mary Breakey who intermarried with William Rogerson White a Staff Surgeon of the Royal Navy on the 18th day of December 1884 and who died on the 20th day of May(?) 1892 leaving surviving one child only namely Reginald James White AND WHEREAS by a Deed Poll under my hand and seal dated the 18th day of June 1887 (which I hereby confirm) In exercise the power for that purpose given to me by the said Settlement as aforesaid I appointed that from and after my decease FIRST the investments set forth in the 2nd Schedule to the said Deed Poll should be held In trust for the said Arthur John Breakey absolutely and Secondly the investments set forth in the 3rd Schedule to the said Deed Poll should be held In trust for the said Mary White absolutely.
Now in further exercise of the power for this purpose given to me by the said Settlement of the 8th day of April 1861 and of all other powers (if any) hereunto enabling me I DO HEREBY APPOINT that all and singular the estate investments properties and premises comprised in or subject to the trust of the said Settlement of the 8th day of April 1861 other than and except the investments or properties by the said recited Deed Poll of the 18th day of June 1887 appointed to or in favor of the said Arthur John Breakey and Mary White respectively shall from and after my decease be held In trust for my said son Arthur John Breakey absolutely.
2. I APPOINT THE LONDON COUNTY & WESTMINSTER BANK LIMITED to be EXECUTOR and TRUSTEE of this my will with power to act by its proper officers who may exercise and perform the powers and duties given to or imposed on the Bank as such Executor and Trustee (the said Bank or other the Trustee or Trustees for the time being hereof being hereinafter included in the expression “my Trustee”).
3. I DECLARE that my Trustee may employ a Solicitor Broker or any other agent to transact all or any business whatsoever nature required to be done hereunder (including the receipt and payment of money) but not including the exercise of any discretion and shall be entitled to be allowed and paid all charges and expenses so incurred.
4. I DECLARE that the said Bank shall be entitled to remuneration including the customary share of brokerage in accordance with the Bank’s scale of fees now in force free from duties and in priority to all other payments.
5. I DECLARE that the said Bank may without being liable to account for any profit made thereby act as Banker and transact any Banking business on behalf of my Estate or the Trusts of my Will and may retain on current or deposit account or may advance any moneys it may be necessary or convenient so to retain or advance on the same terms as would be made with a customer in the ordinary course of business.
6. I GIVE to my son the said Arthur John Breakey free of duty all the jewels, trinkets, plate and plated articles, linen, china, glass, books, pictures, prints, furniture, wines, liquors and consumable stores and all other articles of household or personal use or ornament which shall belong to me at my death.
7. I GIVE the following legacies free of duty:
a. To my nephew Claude Herbert Morton…………………………..£ 500.
b. To my brother Thomas Cathcart Breakey………………………...£ 300.
c. To Eliza Nicholson, my faithful servant and trained attendant
whether in my service or not a sum equal to one year’s wages
and also the further sum of………………………………………..£ 200.
8. I GIVE to my Trustee the sum of £ 4,000 free of duty to be invested and held Upon trust to pay the income thereof to my Grandson Arthur Walter Carew Breakey during his life and from and after his death Upon trust to pay such income to the widow, if any, of the said Arthur Walter Carew Breakey during her life And subject thereto I give the said sum of £ 4,000 and the income thereof upon trust for the child or children of the said Arthur Walter Carew Breakey, who being male attain the age of 21 years or being female attain that age or marry and if more than one in equal shares as tenants in common. And if there shall be no such child of the said Arthur Walter Carew Breakey then I give the said sum of £ 4,000 and the income thereof In trust for the said Arthur Walter Carew Breakey absolutely.
9. I GIVE to my Trustee the sum of £ 4,000 free of duty to be invested and held Upon trust to pay the income thereof to my Grandson Jaspar Otho John Carew Breakey during his life and from and after his death upon trust to pay such income to the widow, if any, of the said Jaspar Otho John Carew Breakey during her life And subject thereto I give the said sum of £ 4,000 and the income thereof upon trust for the child or children of the said Jaspar Otho John Carew Breakey who being male attain the age of 21 years or being female attain that age or marry and if more than one in equal shares as tenants in common. And if there shall be no such child of the said Jaspar Otho John Carew Breakey then I give the said sum of £ 4,000 and the income there of In trust for the said Jaspar Otho John Carew Breakey absolutely.
10. I GIVE all the estate and property real and personal whatsoever and wheresoever which shall belong to me or which I shall be competent by Will to dispose of absolutely at my death (and not hereby otherwise disposed of) unto the Trustee herein before named UPON TRUST to get in sell and convert the same or such parts thereof as shall not consist of investments herein after authorised And after payment of my debts and funeral and testamentary expenses and the legacies left by this my Will or which may be left by any Codicil and the duty on all legacies bequeathed free of duty my Trustees shall hold the said estate and property and the proceeds and investments thereof (all herein after referred to as my residuary estate) Upon the trust and subject to the provisions herein after contained respecting the same.
11. My Trustee shall pay the income of my residuary estate to my said son Arthur John Breakey during his life.
12. AFTER the death of the said Arthur John Breakey my trustee shall hold my residuary estate and the income thereof In trust for such of them the said Arthur Walter Carew Breakey the said Jaspar Otho John Carew Breakey and Iris Marie Carew Breakey (all children of the said Arthur John Breakey) as shall survive me and if more than one in equal shares.
13. I DECLARE that the statutory power to apply income for the maintenance education or benefit of infants shall apply to the income of any property to which any infant shall or if of full age would be entitled in possession under this my Will whether the gift of the property does or does not carry the intermediate income and in like manner as if the power applied to all such income.
14. I EMPOWER my Trustee (but not during the life of any person having a prior life or other interest without his or her consent in writing) to raise any part of parts not exceeding in the whole one half of the expectant presumptive or vested share of any person under this my Will and to pay or apply the same to or for the advancement of benefit of such person as my Trustee thinks proper.
15. IN addition to investments for the time being authorised by law for Trustees I empower my Trustee to invest any money from time to time requiring investment under this my Will in or upon any of the investments herein after specified namely,
(a). Government stocks or funds or securities of any Colony or Dependency of the United Kingdom.
(b). Loans funds or securities of any Municipal Corporation Board of Works County Council or Local Authority or other Public Body in the United Kingdom or any Colony or Dependency of the United Kingdom.
(c). Bonds mortgages debentures or debenture stock or securities or guaranteed of preference shares or stock of any Company incorporated by Act of Parliament or Royal Charter or under the Limited Liability Acts in or carrying on business in the United Kingdom or any Colony or Dependency of the United Kingdom.
(d). The Ordinary shares or stock of any Railway Canal Water Gas or Electric Lighting Co. incorporated as aforesaid in or carrying on business in the United Kingdom or any Colony or Dependency of the United Kingdom.
(e). Any Investment forming part of my personal estate at my death (not being shares or stock in a limited liability or other Company having an unpaid liability thereon). AND I empower my Trustee at any time and from time to time to vary all investments including any which may belong to me at my death and which may be retained by my Trustee unconverted.
16. I EMPOWER my Trustee to retain or to postpone the sale and conversion of my residuary estate or any part thereof (whether of a wasting kind or not) for such period however long as my Trustee thinks proper and in particular (but without imposing any limit on the discretion of my Trustee) I desire that any reversionary interest shall not be sold until it falls into possession unless my Trustee sees special reason for sale and I declare that no reversion or other property not actually producing income shall be treated as producing income for the purposes of this my Will and that any real estate belonging to me at my death and for the time being (the print on the next two lines has faded and is illegible) while any real or leasehold estate shall remain unsold I empower my Trustee to demise or let the same for such period and on such terms and conditions in all respects as my Trustee thinks fit and I declare that the net rents profits and income arising from any property whether real or personal and whether of a wasting kind or no shall until sale or conversion and as well during the first year after my death as afterwards be applied as if the same were income arising from the proceeds of the sale or conversion thereof or the investments of such proceeds.
17. I EMPOWER my Trustee to appropriate and allot any part or parts of my estate whether real or personal in its actual state of investment at the time or appropriation in or towards satisfaction of any legacy share or interest of any person under this my will and to determine what articles pass under any specific bequest and what money or property represents income and what represents capital and out of what part of my estate any and what expenses or outgoings ought to be met and to apportion blended trust funds and to ascertain and fix values and generally to determine all matters as to which any doubt difficulty or question may arise in or in relation to the execution of the trusts and powers of this my Will.
18. I EMPOWER my Trustee instead of acting personally to employ and pay any person to transact any business or do any act in relation to my estate including the receipt and payment of money and any Trustee hereunder being a person engaged in any profession or business may be employed or act and shall be entitled to charge and be paid all professional or other charges including acts which a Trustee could have done personally.
19. My Executor and my Trustee shall not be liable for errors or neglect in management nor for the acts defaults or intromissions of any Factor or Agent whom they may appoint to act for or under them in the management of the trust or any matter relating thereto And generally they shall not be liable for any act matter or thing done or omitted by them in relation to the premises unless it shall be shown that they have acted otherwise than in good faith and (in addition to the ordinary indemnity given by law to Trustees) they shall have the fullest powers and privileges and immunities conferred by the law of England or the law of Scotland on Trustees.
20. I REVOKE all testamentary dispositions heretofore made by me.
AS WITNESS my hand this 16th day of August 1910.
SIGNED by the above named John Breakey
As his last Will in the presence of us
Together and thereupon attested and John Breakey
Subscribed by us together in his presence
And in presence of each other
William C. Murray
11 Birchin Lane
London, E. C.
A. J. Hurrell,
Comments and Questions
In this section I wish to repeat, piecemeal, Dr. John Breakey’s 1897 reference to his acquisition of the Arms sharing with the reader questions and comments that are foremost in my mind.
1. “I enclose our arms and crest which I had engraved some years since from an old signet seal …”
See correspondence of Ivy Yeomans in Chapter One.
2. "...my oldest brother bought for me..."
Robert Breakey, son of John and Elizabeth (Small) Breakey was the oldest brother of Dr. John Breakey. In the first book of his memoirs (n.d., p 3) Thomas C. Breakey has this to say of Robert, also his oldest brother: “He learned business in Grandfather Small’s. Went early in life to live in Dublin. Was clever as a bookkeeper.”
3.“…from one of the family who had inherited it.”
i. Of what family are we speaking? The Breakeys of Drumskelt? The Breakeys of Balladian?
ii. Who in the family inherited the seal and sold it to Robert?
I wish to note the absence of any such reference to the Breakey shield in either Book I or Book II of the Memoirs of Thomas C. Breakey of Drumskelt House. T. C. Breakey notes several times throughout his memoirs that his father (John Breakey of Drumskelt House), he and some of the other children were antiquarians, meaning they were interested in things dating from and earlier time, yet at no time is any information recorded about the arms that were supposedly confirmed to his father in 1812. To my best observation, only one reference to a coat of arms is found in the memoirs and it is this: “In speaking of a coat of arms it reminds me of my fathers. ‘Keep up your stall if you should sell but one pigs foot in a day’.”(Book I, p.81).
In fact, the first and only reference to any confirmation of arms to John Breakey of Drumskelt House is found in some correspondence dated 1958. It is taken from a letter written by Robert Breakey (1885-1959), son of Thomas Cathcart Breakey (author of the memoirs), to a Mrs. Havenhill and is dated 7-3-58: “…The coat of arms was taken out by my grandfather John Breakey (1782-1878). He married a lady with land and money, hence the coat of arms. When he passed away, her portion went to her people” (E. P. Breakey to author).
However, Thomas C. Breakey also noted in his memoirs that Frank Breakey, son of Obadiah Breakey, "lived in opulence in Dublin and died on the turn of life." This, possibly, is documented by the death certificate of one Francis Breakey, Gentleman, who died 20 May 1869 at age 65 in Dublin. Is it possible that Robert Breakey purchased the arms from another branch of the family?
4. “You may see that is the coat of a younger son; the Mullits show this.”
I disagree. If the mullets were indeed a mark of cadency, only one would occur on the shield, not three, and its presence would be distinguishable from the charges (see Franklyn’s quote at the close of Chapter Two). However, the mark of cadency for the sixth son is a fleur-de-lis, and Dr. John Breakey was the sixth son of John and Elizabeth (Small) Breakey. Did the arms originally belong to another sixth son?
Confusion apparently exists in reference to the symbolic meaning of the fleur-de-lis. Some authorities question whether it represents the iris, while the most popular theory is the fleur-de-lis symbolizes the lily. Neubecker (page 32) reports:
“The fleur-de-lis as symbol of the Virgin Mary was the chief emblem of the kings of France. The first to use it on his coat of arms was probably King Louis VII (reigned 1137-1180). The use of the three Fleur-de-lis, since the fourteenth century, had no special meaning…later in the fourteenth century, three fleur-de-lis were identified with the Holy Trinity.”
Neubecker (page 105) continues:
The lily, the symbol of the Virgin Mary, became a symbol as the fleur-de-lis, of state sovereignty in France. A thing of beauty, it was also an emblem of political power and was carried by French princes as far as Hungary.”
Julian Franklyn, however, is rather forthright in discussing its symbolism (Franklyn, p.28): “The fleur-de-lis, concerning the origin and meaning of which much learned nonsense has been written, is, in origin, simply a triple curved element of design: it does not represent a lily or an iris; any meaning can be attached to it, but it really has no meaning: anyone who wishes can write a monograph to prove that its real meaning is Father Bear, Mother Bear and Baby Bear.”
To me it is rather incomprehensible that a descendant of the de Brequet Huguenots would elect to use as an heraldic symbol a design representative of a king and country from which one’s ancestors had to flee because of religious persecution. It is therefore my belief that the fleur-de-lis found on the Breakey shield is a mark of cadency or difference.
A New Interpretation
Since it is most likely we will never know the thought behind the choice of symbols used in the Breakey Arms we can only, at best, turn to the early history of our ancestors and hopefully find a relevant meaning in the heraldic symbolism used upon the shield. With this in mind I propose a new interpretation of the Breakey achievement.
ARMS - Argent a chevron azure thereon a fleur-de-lis or between three stars of eight points or.
I wish to share with the reader what I see and ponder upon, and treasure, as I gaze at the Arms of Breakey:
I see an azure chevron – blue – perhaps indicative of a river, more especially, the River Boyne.
I see three stars representing the three Breakey men, two brothers and a cousin, who left France to fight for William or Orange at the Battle of the Boyne.
I see one star “fallen beneath the bend of the river.” I like to think this represents the Breakey ancestor, felled in battle, for whom no descendants exist.
And, then I see the fleur-de-lis and wonder: Was the fallen comrade and kinsman a ‘sixth son'?
MOTTO – “Aime Dieu” (“Love God”)
Arms are a matter of honor and honor is a matter of family pride. Whether mistakenly attributed, wrongfully designed, or unethically borne, the Breakey Arms exist. They most surely depict our early family history and, if for no other reason than this, the arms can be a source of honor and pride for each family member.
Celtic customs and traditions are best preserved in Scotland where “the Celtic concept holds that the family has neither beginning nor ending. It always has been and always will be. Each member is a part of the larger entity and to that extent is responsible for the reputation and welfare of the whole” (Breakey, E. P., 1963b, p. 2). To this end my purpose in undertaking this work has been fulfilled.
 These typewritten letters were found amongst Ian’s father’s papers; it is not known who transcribed them on the typewriter.
 Only that portion of the letters pertaining to this discussion will be included here.
 The author will address this further along in the chapter.
 Upon further inquiry Mrs. Yeomans stated she did not know for what service Queen Victoria honored Dr. Breakey, and that the sword handed to the young naval doctor was Dr. Breakey’s dress sword and not that given him by the Queen.