Bishop Juxon

Bishop Juxon was Bishop of London from 1633 until the interregnum in 1646.

Portrait of William Juxon, after Unknown Artist, c. 1640. © National Portrait Gallery, London

William Juxon, Bishop of London 1633 – 1646 

Bishop Juxon was Bishop of London from 1633 until the interregnum in 1646.  Following the restoration of the monarchy in 1660, Juxon became Archbishop of Canterbury, a position he held until his death in 1663.

The coat of arms of Bishop/Archbishop Juxon was granted to the Juxon family in 1630 and features four African heads.   Research into the Juxon coat of arms was undertaken by Kent University in 2022 as part of a project entitled ‘Figuring Juxon’s Arms: Power, Place and Empire’.  A number of ideas have been put forward by Kent University and its partners to explain the use of the African heads on the coat of arms, and Fulham Palace Trust has also undertaken its own research.

Family links 

Juxon family members had their own personal connections to the early trade in sugar, trading cloth for sugar within Europe/Africa. Later there were connections with Virginia and the Caribbean.

The Juxon family were very involved with the Merchant Taylors – Both Bishop Juxon and his brother Thomas Juxon went to the Merchant Taylors School. The Bishop’s cousin, John, was a Citizen of London free of the Merchant Taylors and he was a sugar baker / refiner. In 1619 he bought the Manor of East Sheen and Westhall.

In 1585 Queen Elizabeth I established the Barbary Company and an agreement with Morocco meant English ships could pass safely through Ottoman seas and ports. This gave trading privileges to the English, especially with sugar – at this point most sugar was coming from North Africa and notably Morocco.

Camels first appear on the Merchant Taylors heraldic symbol in 1586 which is clearly a reference to eastern trade. English cloth was traded for Moroccan sugar.  Do the African heads on the Juxon shield represent Moroccans?

The African heads on the coat of arms might also represent an involvement of the Juxon family in the re-taking of Spain and Portugal from Muslim rulers (the Iberian Crusades of the 8th century up to 1492).

There are later links with the Juxons in the Caribbean and Virginia.  Bishop Juxon’s cousin Thomas Juxon left money in his will for his son William, who was in Barbados at the time, following a period in Virginia. As William had mental health problems Thomas was entrusted with the money.   There are also Jacksons in Jamaica who claim to have been related to Bishop Juxon.

The Bishop’s other nephew John acquired 400 acres and a brick house in the area between Queen’s Creek and Carter’s Creek in Virginia. His mother had inherited it as a result of a debt from the landowner Robert Spring.   In 1685 John sold the land to Reverend Rowland Jones (the great-grandfather of Martha Washington). When he died he left the land to his children – but they are recorded as plantations and he left 6,000lbs of tobacco to his daughter.

Divine nobility? 

The official description of Juxon’s heraldic arms is:

“Or, a cross Gules between four blackamoors’ heads affrontee, couped at the shoulders, proper, wreathed about the temples Gules.”

A translation of this might read:

“Gold colour background, a red cross between four Blacks’/Moors’ heads facing the viewer, cut off at the shoulders, in their natural colour, wearing red circlets around their heads.”

The colour of the cropped African heads is described as ‘proper’ – this indicates a natural colour understood by artists or designers of the time.

Although there is the suggestion that the African heads represent the Juxon family’s links with slavery, it is also possible that the heads represent nobility and courage (traits the Juxon family presumably aspired to), at a time when the African continent and Blackness were not necessarily viewed negatively in Europe. This is something that Dr Onyeka Nubia* of Nottingham University talks about in a blog for Kent University as part of the above project.

*Dr Onyeka is a leading historian on the status and origins of Africans in pre-colonial England from antiquity to 1603.


Thanks to Professor Kenneth Fincham and Dr Ben Marsh at Kent University.


For further information about William Juxon and his time as Bishop of London, see this article by Alexis Haslam, Fulham Palace community archaeologist.