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Quatremain – Family History

Dr John Blair of Queen’s College, Oxford writing in the English Historical Review in February 2001 on the government of the see of Dorchester on Thames and the town of Thame immediately following the Norman conquest in 1066 notes that William Quatremain was one of the Bishop of Lincoln’s men at arms.

The Quatremain family remained prominent landowners in and around Thame until the death of Richard Quatremain in 1478.

“Quatre Mains” means four hands in French and Dr Blair suggests that it was a nickname given to a knight who was given the job of carrying money. What is indisputable is that the shield of the Quatremains’ has contained a fess between four dexter hands couped at the wrist from the earliest heraldic times.

Although spellings of the name have varied over time and, although not numerous, different branches of the family have differentiated themselves by colouring the shield differently the structure has remained constant.

Arms are recorded for Quatremayne of North Weston and Rycot (died out in 1477), Dr William Quatremain, Physician to Charles II and Robert Quatremain, Gent. of Langley Hall Chalgrove.

The Bodleian Library possesses “The Quatremains of Oxfordshire” by William Carter (OUP 1936) and the family has been associated with the county since the conquest.

Burkes General Armory records a William Quatremains, a merchant of Dublin in 1599 and the Quatremains of Weston, co Oxford, whose heiress married John Braley and their joint arms are shown in a window in Waterstoke Church, co. Oxford and are recorded in the visitation of Oxford in 1566. The Quartermains of Weston are also the only branch of the family who appear to have borne a crest as part of their arms.

The visitation of Devon 1620 records that the heiress of Quartermain married Sir Thomas de Luttleton of Frankley and was thus the ancestor of the Lords Lyttleton.

Further genealogical records for the family appear sketchy.

 Click to hear the correct pronunciation of Quatre-main
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