The Arms of Tetbury
There have been many suggestions for this but all is lost in prehistory.
Some of the current folk stories around the origin are detailed below:-
A captain of a ship or even a member of the de Braose family who came from Tetbury had his life saved in the Irish Sea when his ship was holed but 2 dolphins blocked the hole and saved his life.
That a ship with all the wealth of the town invested in it (Tetbury was a VERY affluent wool town) was holed off the coast of America and again 2 dolphins blocked the hole and saved the ship.
That the dolphins were in fact based on the emblem of the Berkeley family who owned the town – they are said to have had pikes (the fish) as a family emblem but there is no real evidence of this currently available.*
On a visit to Charlecote Manor near Stratford on Avon it was noted that the Lucy family had taken over the manor in Tudor times. The family had come over with William the Conqueror. A Roger de Lucy (various spellings!) was given the manor of Tetbury by the Conqueror according to Hodgson as a gift**.
All over Charlecote Manor are found the insignia of the Lucy family – pikes.(Lurci/Lucy means pike in old English)
Before the de Braose family acquired the manor it was held by the de Valery family from St Valery en Caux in Normandy.
Below are the arms of St Valery and they look familiar!
The arms of Saint-Valery-en-Caux are blazoned : Azure, 2 dolphins addorsed argent.
The above is also the coat of arms of Walter (Gauthier) de ST. VALERY whose family held Tetbury pre de Braose. He came over with William the Conqueror.
Could they be the origin of the Tetbury Dolphins?
These Dolphins have 6 or 7 ridges on their backs which is a peculiar configuration also found in the Tetbury Dolphins!
* Berkeley Castle archives have no record of fish or dolphins being associated with the family although mermaids were associated with them at one time.
** The archaeological survey of Tetbury used Hodgson as a reference and so also came up with de Lurci as the Manor holder under William I – so they are 1 reference only and not 2. This was confirmed with Cotswold Archaeology by phone. . Thus it would appear that Hodgson made a mistake as Domesday states unequivocally that the manor was given to a Roger d’Ivry. Hodgson is thus the only source for a de Lurci ownership of the manor.
*** The Garter King of Arms in London suggests that the origin must lie in an historical coat of arms of an important family in Tetbury.