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What Does It All Mean

A common question that I often get asked about the Coats of Arms is what a surname means.

What is in a Surname History ?

A family name history is a narrative of a name over time, not the genealogy of a specific member of a familiy. The products provided compliment the type of information found through a genealogical research. The Crests and Coat of Arms provided are normally the earliest known version of the arms.

What is the difference between Family Crests and a Coat of Arms ?

There is a technical difference between a "Family Crest" and a "Coat of Arms", but people have often used both terms. A "Coat of Arms" generally refers to the shield, crest, helmet, mantling and supporters (if any),while the "Crest" technically only refers to the small image that lies on the helm (on top of the helmet). A "Coat of Arms" that bears a name was originally bestowed on an individual.

Are there Family Crests ?

Strictly speaking there is no "Familiy Crest" nor "Family Coat of Arms" but these terms have come into common usage and are therefore used. The more correct terms are "Coat of Arms" and "Armorial Bearing".

Why have I seen a different Coat of Arms for my Surname ?

There are often several different "Coat of Arms" for any given Surname. "Coat of Arms" were originally granted to individuals, who then passed them down through direct descendants. The "Coat of Arms" provided are the earliest on record associated with a Surname or one of its spelling variations according to heraldic standards.

Even the colours can have special meaning in a "family crest" or coat of arms:

Gold - generosity and elevation of the mind

White or Silver - peace and sincerity

Red - warrior or martyr - military strength and magnaminity

Blue - Truth and loyalty

Green - Hope, joy and loyalty in love

Black - consistency of grief

Purple - Royal majesty, sovereignty and justice

Orange - worth ambition

Maroon - Patient in battle and yet victorious

Acacia Branch or Leaves: Eternal and affectionate remembrance.

Acorn: Antiquity and strength.

Agricultural Tools: Labouring in the earth and depending upon providence; see also Scythe and Sickle.

Alisaunder (Similar to laurel): Peace and/or triumph.

Allerion (Mythical creature, similar to an eagle, but without the beak or claws): Strength of will and authority of mind.

Anchor: Hope, religious steadfastness.

Angel: Dignity, glory, and honour; missionary; bearer of joyful news.

Annulet (finger ring): Fidelity.

Ant: Great labour, wisdom, and providence in one's affairs.

Antelope (heraldic): A mythical animal with the body of a stag, the tail of a unicorn, a tusk at the tip of the nose, tufts down the back of the neck, chest, and thighs (usually represented with two straight horns serrated on one side). One who will not fight unless provoked; peace and harmony.

Antlers: Strength and fortitude.

Anvil: Honour; emblem of the smith's trade.

Apple: Liberality, felicity and peace.

Arm (or Hand) in Armour or Embowed: A person with qualities of leadership.

Arm (Hand), Naked: An industrious person. Red hand also indicates a baronet in Ireland.

Arrow/Dart: Readiness (for battle); if depicted with a cross, represents an affliction.

There are a lot more meanings for the specific symbols, animals, plants or figures that appear on various surname Coat of Arms - and I will give further information on them in future blogs.

What is on your surname Coat of Arms ?? - Come and ask me about yours today.  If you don't see yours, please ask as I slowly put up more surnames in my store.

There are many nationalities to choose from:  English, Scottish, Welsh, Irish, Dutch, Belgian, German, Italian, French, Luxembourg, Russian, Ukrainian, Swiss, Swedish, Polish, Spanish, Portuguese just to name a few.

Please note that the following descriptions and meanings are gleaned from a variety of sources, some people may disagree on those meanings. The most commonly accepted meanings are given, but scholars vary in the their opinions concerning the reliability of any "commonly held" historic meanings for coats of arms and crests.



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Reader Comments  (7)

Paws4Critters Pet Stuff
Paws4Critters Pet Stuff | September 13th 2011 at 1315950000

I've got 2 of my family names' coat of arms. I did learn a long time ago just what you say here... a coat of arms was given to an individual not a family name. We've been doing our family genealogy a long time. When Dad was stationed in England, we searched England & Scotland for info. They told us the same thing in addition to being treated like our family's name is the black sheep of the entire isle of Great Britain. LOL! Very cool blog.
Brian J Wood
Brian J Wood | September 13th 2011 at 1315959113

You rock Jules. I learn something from you every time you write. I'm proud of you for writing this
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Wild Rags Crew | September 13th 2011 at 1315977794

You did wonderful work for us a few years ago. It framed up beautifully and he was really impressed and grateful for the heartfelt Christmas gift given by our purchase from you. :).
Fredrick Nijm
Fredrick Nijm | September 14th 2011 at 1316021742

I definitely learned a lot today. :) Thank you for sharing with us.
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BeewitchingItems | September 14th 2011 at 1316030448

Very informative, you did good!! Thank you
Donna's Stuff & More
Donna's Stuff & More | September 14th 2011 at 1316041912

Fascinating!
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leila   | January 30th 2015 at 1422602303

can you tell me the meanings on the barahona coat of arms please

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