Seal matrix of Ralph Blanchard

Photo: Lincolnshire County Council CC By SA2.0
Object type: Seal Matrix
Period: Medieval
Primary material: Copper alloy
Date found: 20/12/2023
Location: West Lindsey, Lincolnshire


A copper alloy seal matrix which has been dated to 1200 – 1400. The matrix depicts a tonsured male head in a monk’s cowl with a hand in a gesture of benediction above; all pointing to this being a seal of a monk. The inscription reads S’RADVLFI BLANCHARD for Ralph Blanchard.

Blanchard family

Variations of the name include Blaunchard, Blauncherde and Blanshard. It is probably derived from the Old French word blanchart, meaning white and could refer to being of whitish appearance or possibly an exceptionally pure character. The earliest reference to a Blanchard is in relation to Battle Abbey shortly after William’s invasion. The Domesday Book of 1086 records a Blancard (who is described as Roger of Poitou’s man) being given land in Laughton, Audleby and Nettleton in Lincolnshire. This is close to the find spot.

In 1177 Richard Blaunchard of Nettleton gives land to Sixle Priory. In one of the Charters of the local priories, a witness for a Richard Blanchard is referred to as “Mabilia uxore Radulfi“, Mabilia, wife of Ralph. The PAS record also notes that “Several members of the family were also priests, such as Robert Blanchard whose tombstone is visible in Clixby Chapel in Caistor, Lincolnshire