The history of how the seal of a French Canon (Cleric), came to be associated with Maidenhead is unclear. The Gentleman’s Magazine of 1839 is the best source uncovered so far.
“The seal is undoubtedly, as remarked in Collectanea, that of a private individual (John Godayn), who assumed the head of St. John for his device by a natural reference to his own Christian name. The individual was an ecclesiastic, as appears by the contracted word CAN’, i.e. CANONICI, the terms Canonicus and Clericus being often used indiscriminately for a clerk or secular priest, of which Du Cange has given many examples. The only doubtful word in the legend is the final one, which (on close examination of the matrix) admits of being read either THIERN’, or THEERN’, or possibly THIERR.
Now it appears that there was a Benedictine Monastery on the Vesle, about three miles north from Rheims, dedicated to St. Theoderic, or, as it was expressed in French St. Thierrii. Lying upon the great road, the regular clergy were dispersed by the ravages of war, and for a long period up to about the 11th century their place was supplied by six secular priests called the “Canons of Thierri,” or Clerks of St. Theoderic.” When the monks were re-established, it was not improbable that some Canons still continued to make that their place of abode.
The author conjectures, therefore, that the seal in question was that of one of those ecclesiastics, and that the legend is to be translated – The Seal of John Godayn, Canon of Thierri. If this appears improbable, the seal may have been that of one of the priests of the Church of Chateau Thierri, on the Marne, at no great distance from the Monastery just mentioned.
Or, if the reading, Thiern, be preferred, the seal may have belonged to a priest of the parish of Thierny, a village about one league and a quarter from Laon, in the department of Aisne and community of Presles.” End of article
“S’IOHIS GODAYN CAN THIERN” simply put is “The Seal of John Godayn, Canon of Thiern”.
As for the question of - Who is the mysterious person in the centre? It is believed to be that of St. John
If anyone has additional information or something completely different, please do get in contact with Chad, as it would be great to have our history correctly understood…
Updated 11:13 - 15 Feb 2017 by Maidenhead Hockey Club