No coat-of-arms appears here for Nicholas Frost
simply because he was once a poor tenant farmer so literally not entitled to one – not that it has ever bothered him.
So to celebrate him, the seal of Tiverton in Devon, the town where he was born is depicted. Nicholas was brought up at Lemon
Green near the Bear Garden, from which one of the unfortunate tormented furry captives, having snapped his shackles is shown
making a furious bid for freedom, charging past the refuge of Tiverton’s aged needy, the Greenway Almshouses.
The almshouses, built
by the town’s greatest benefactor John Greenway, still exists today, not only as a reminder of his charitable generosity
but, together with Tiverton’s ornately carved parish church St Peter’s, bears eloquent testament to his life and
Greenway lived years before Nicholas Frost was born but, like him, was of humble origin. Unlike Frost however he made
a remarkable rise to wealth as one of London’s Merchant Venturers and a member of the Draper’s Company. He lavished
his wealth on St Peter’s, erecting a chantry chapel and then, with friends built and adorned the south aisle and the
porch. The Greenway Chapel inside the church is an amazing encyclopaedia of English maritime history for the lower frieze
shows a sea of wavy lines bearing every kind of ship employed by the Merchant Adventurers. All different, the vessels bristle
with cannon and there are archers stationed in the crows’ nests ready to ward off pirates. Between the ships are carved
the tools of the trade, anchors and ropes, bales of wool and animals from the lands overseas with which Greenway traded. The
maritime theme also extends outside on the walls of St Peter’s, making it an object lesson in stone of how the rise
of the Guilds, then the Livery and Merchant Adventurers Companies led eventually to backing settlement attempts in Virginia.
Frost however, is very
different to sound citizen Greenway. From being a troublesome rogue in England, this ‘poacher turns
gamekeeper’ as soon as he emigrates to Massachusetts in 1636 by conning the Saco Magistrates and Maine’s Deputy
Governor Thomas Gorges (Sir Ferdinando Gorges’ nephew) into appointing him as Constable of Pascataqua. Now armed to
the teeth, he’s the perfect hard man law enforcer.