Tracing Your Coat Of Arms
Tracing Your Coat Of Arms
Peter O'Donoghue (Bluemantle Pursuivant ) gives expert video advice on: How do I trace my Coat of Arms?; Can I trace my Coat of Arms by using my surname alone?; I'm Scottish, how can I trace my Clan badge? and more...
Can I trace my Coat of Arms by using my surname alone?
Coats of arms are honors or dignities granted to specific individuals and belonging to particular families, and there can be no such thing, therefore, as a coat of arms for a family name. It's important to know some details about the specific family from which you're descended, not just the surname, Smith, Jones, Boggs, or anything else.
Do I have to register my Coat of Arms?
Coats of Arms aren't exactly registered in the United Kingdom. They're granted by the Kings of Arms, who are Heralds at the College of Arms and who are officials appointed by the Crown. Coats of Arms can't be used in the United Kingdom unless they have that authorization.
Is there a Heraldic regulating body?
The College of Arms is the regulating body for heraldry in England, Wales, Northern Ireland, and countries oversees where the Queen is the head of state with a couple of exceptions, particularly Canada and Scotland. In all of those areas, the College of Arms is the regulating body. Within Scotland, the Court of the Lord Lyon regulates heraldry, and in Canada it's the Office of the Chief Herald of Canada.
What is Burkes Landed Gentry?
Burke's Landed Gentry is a publication started by the Burke family in the 19th century. Sir Bernard Burke was a very distinguished herald in Ireland, not of the College of Arms, and he and his family published for many years a series of volumes on heraldry, the peerage, landed gentry, and genealogy in general. Burke's Landed Gentry is one of those volumes. It's an immensely useful guide to genealogy for gentry families, although it does have one or two inaccuracies.
How will it help me to find my Coat of Arms?
Burke's Landed Gentry is the useful guide to Coats of Arms, specifically for those gentry families which are in it. But as a relatively small number of families are included, it's of not great use.
What is Burke's general armoury?
Burke's general armoury is a vast compendium in the form of a published book of coats of arms from all ages. It was published in the 19th century, first published in 1842, and it's a very useful guide to heraldic usage. It lists coats of arms by surname, but it provides no sources and there's a lot of duplication, a lot of errors, and it's of no official authority. Therefore, it's very useful as a guide to which coats of arms would be used by rich families, but it cannot be relied upon to show which families have a right to a coat of arms.
What is an Achievement of Arms?
We use the phrase 'an Achievement of Arms' to refer to the whole heraldic display, which means shield, helmet, crest, wreath around the top of the helmet, and mantling, which is a cloth that falls from either side of the helmet. Often, that includes the motto, and possibly supporters as well.
What metals are most commonly used in Heraldry and why?
The metals in Heraldry are gold and silver. No other metals are found in Heraldry. They're used because they're the precious metals, they're the noble metals which show wealth and esteem, and they've been known throughout the ages of man.
Can a Coat of Arms determine ones social status?
A Coat of Arms can't determine social status, although in the past they were used as indicators of nobility and the gentry. These days they're used and owned by people from all walks of life, and so they don't determine or denote social status in themselves today.
Who were Coats Of Arms granted to?
In medieval times, Coats of Arms were granted to nobles, knights, esquires (people who were slightly below the rank of knights), and gentlemen who were essentially anybody else who owned a bit of land and had a reasonable income. That was the case until the early modern period when the concept of a gentleman was expanded so you get more and more professionals, administrators, civil servants, successful merchants rising up and being counted as a gentleman, and therefore eligible for a coat of arms. Today, new coats of arms are granted to those regarded as being of prominence in the community. This essentially refers to those who have served in any public capacity who have achieved something with their life, who have done something with their life, and/or who are successful people who are respected in the community.
Who would grant a Coat of Arms?
Coats of Arms are granted by the Kings of Arms who are three officials, and the members of the College of Arms appointed by the crown to do that task.