“a photo-engraved copy of the crumbling old Spencer Coat-of-Arms in the possession of Mr. Tom C. Brown, of East Greenwich, R.I., and said to have belonged to the first John Spencer, of Rhode Island Colony, who was the first named of forty persons who received a grant of 5,000 acres of land in that place about 1678, where he was one of the first settlers and prominent.”
Robert C. Spencer’s “Spencer Family History and Genealogy” is a twenty-six page booklet published August 1, 1889 with information on the “The Spencer Pedigree and Coat-of-Arms”. Historicans are definite that the first John Spencer in East Greenwich came from this Spencer Pedigree, but their research differs when it comes to whether John Spencer is a nephew or the son of Michael Spencer or John Spencer of Massachusetts. Robert Spencer’s latest conclusion is that the first John Spencer in East Greenwich, R.I. is the nephew of John Spencer of Newbury, Essex County, Mass., and when the uncle returned to England, his nephew inherited the Spencer House in Newbury, Essex County. The following pages from Robert Spencer’s booklet:
According to their hand writing on the cover page, E. Amanda Spencer Briggs was in possession or was the original owner of the booklet on October 11, 1889. Her great grand-nephew’s wife, Mary Jane (née Vaughn) Spencer (aka Mae)–wife of William Joseph Briggs (aka J.B.) Spencer–had next possession of the booklet in 1927. Mary Jane and William’s younger daughter, Audrey Mae (née Spencer) MacDonald, had possession on February 11, 1955. The last signature on the booklet cover was Audrey Mae’s older sister, Edith Anna (née Spencer) Evarone.
Another reference to the Spencer coat-of-arms and to the ancestry of John is found in Martha McPartland’s book published in 1960:
“Rhode Island Colonial Conditions: In none of the American colonies was the democratic sentiment so intense as in Rhode Island, where all marks of rank and distinction were early repudiated and persistently ignored with a popular unanimity and vigor that has imbued the descendants of Rhode Island families with a deep seated repugnance to every form of hereditary pretension, a feeling that in some instances is carried to rediculous (sic) extremes. … The general indifference to the subject accounts doubtless for the inattention and neglect with which the Spencer coat of arms has been treated, which tradition says belonged to him and which are now time stained and crumbling.” page 24, Robert C. Spencer’s Spencer Family History and Genealogy.
Historians and Spencer descendants, if you have any additional information on the Spencer coat-of-arms, please add a comment to this to this web site and the web site editor will add this to the site. Thanks!
Additional information: The Diana Chronicles by Tina Brown, © 2007 mentions information on the funeral service of Princess Diana’s father who died in 1992. The service was held at the Church of St. Mary the Virgin in Great Brington, near Althorp, England. “Her father’s ashes, placed in the family vault, represented the twentieth generation to lie there beneath 400 Spencer coats of arms and a ceiling resplendent with banners.” More research is needed to distinguish between the 400 Spencer coats of arms found on the internet and the coat of arms above believed to be in Audrey Mae’s, Edith Anna’s and John Edward (“Ed’s”) Spencer’s and their descendants’ line. (The direct line between the three children and Princess Diana’s direct line ended in the fifteenth century when we descend from Henry’s and Isabel’s son, Thomas, and Diana descends from their son, John.)