We Three Loggerheads


Early 17th-century oil painting; oils on wood; two jesters, one holding a staff carved with a jester's head. A inscription painted onto a banner at the bottom of the painting reads 'Wee Three Logerhds' (loggerheads). The sitters are thought to be Tom Derry (left) and either Archibald Armstrong or Muckle John.

Derry was the ‘fool’ employed by Queen Anne of Denmark, the wife of King James VI and I. Armstrong was a court jester and favourite of King James VI and I. He continued in post under Charles I after 1625 until his dismissal in 1637 over comments he made to Archbishop Laud. Muckle John was a jester associated with Charles I.

Loggerhead is a word that meant ‘stupid person’ and ‘heavy block of wood’ in the late 1500s and early 1600s. The inscription is a play on words and could refer to the wooden stick carved with a face in the painting or, more likely, to the viewer of the painting as the third loggerhead.

  • Measurements

  • Width

    406 mm
    550 mm (frame)

  • Height

    610 mm
    750 mm (frame)

  • Credit line

    CC-BY-NC-ND Image Courtesy of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust