Heraldry

Title-Heraldry“Without tradition, art is a flock of sheep without a shepherd.
Without innovation, it is a corpse.”
– Winston Churchill

Heraldry is easily one of the most interesting and complicated topics searched for on the internet.  It’s an ancient and historical reference that almost every family has a part of, but it is also strictly regimented and has many rules that have helped it to survive. Heraldry moves beyond the written word, when the general populace could not read or write and pictures influences the understanding of the masses.  Images and colours were easily identified and understood during war, marriage or mass.

None of us, by any means, are master heraldic artists.  The crest and arms displayed on our website have been reproduced from original family crests using a clipart collection courtesy of heraldicclipart.com, Wiki Source, Wikipedia and our own artistic design.  We’ve incorporated historical and cultural knowledge to complete these designs to form a statement of artistic impression honouring the families we descend from.  We are as historically accurate as we can be in our creations, but arms were traditionally owned by individuals verses families.  Technically no two family members should use the same arms, as each family member would add onto their family’s arms to make their own impression on the ancient original.

Arms are granted to an individual after they prove their lineage, and after they’ve had someone design an acceptable crest for them and they’ve paid the appropriate fees.
To see about getting personal arms granted in Canada, please link to the Governor General of Canada.  For more information you can also visit the Royal Heraldry Society of Canada.

The arms on this website follow traditional creation, but are for entertainment value only, they are not registered to any one individual through any branch of government of Armoury.  Although we may post more than one set of arms for each line, we attempt to collect the arms from the line we’re directly connected to via our research.  We’ve used the Canadian Coat of Arms to demonstrate the various parts of a coat of arms to educate those new to heraldry, for more information on the Canadian Coat of Arms please link to the Government of Canada: Canadian Heritage Website.

Each Cost of Arms is made up of individual parts that make a symbolic statement of those it represents.  Even the smallest change can denote a difference between generation or kin.

Heraldry

Heraldry Explained: The Canadian Coat of Arms

The symbolism behind a Shield is that of protection and the power to uphold defense against attack. To create Arms, the most important aspects are the Shield and the Mantling, followed by the Crest, the Motto and the Supporters. Note that the Motto can be in any language, although traditional Arms bare the languages of their times and Artists.

The styling and shape of the Shield will also give indication of the age of an original Coat of Arms. In modern Heraldry there is little to no significance as to meaning of Shield shape, it seems to be more artistic or cultural preference. Shields are divided with a grid system to accept Charges, each Charge being powered with special significance and allowing the Shield to stand as a sort of visual testament to the bearer’s lineage and merits. This grid is especially helpful in determining a heraldic design that is written, verses a visual display.

Shield

Heraldry Shield

Dividing a Shield is termed as ‘Partitioning’ and can be used for a variety of reasons, including the joining of two familial crests in order to create one Shield. The lines which create this division are all titled differently, and can be seen below. Partitioning is especially important when deciphering a Shield from written terms or from their ‘Blazon’ terms which is a verbal description of the image. When Arms have been Emblazoned, it means they have been drawn or translated by a Heraldic Artist. Although no two artists will produce the same works, after translating a Blazon the image should reflect a similar design.

Partition

Shield Diagram: Partition

The symbols below are also Charges that can be placed on Shields to denote birth placement in a family. They are called Marks of Cadency, suggesting the rank of ‘cadets’ in a family on family line. Royalty only uses the File, or Label Mark for First Born on it’s Heraldry.

Marks of Cadency

Heraldry Marks of Cadency


 

Heraldic Tinctures are colours based on symbolism and used in Arms. Traditionally there were four colours, the use of Sable or Black, and two metals. Followed were the use of Stains, including Tawny, Murrey and Sanguine.

Later in the Renaissance period Heraldic Tinctures became further conveyed in planetary symbols and gemstones, as well as various other elemental and astrological correspondence. Although it’s argued that this could have possibly been an earlier practice, it was written down and observed specifically after the 15th century. This practice is called Blazoning, and evolved due to the verbal practice of relaying heraldic terms. In modern times it’s been completely done away with, mostly due to it’s lack of real usefulness. We’ve included the chart below to convey the most basic of correspondence, mostly because gems could be used somewhat reliably in Arms if someone could ever bare the outrageous expense to use them.

Colour Meaning

Heraldic Tincture Modern Colour Meaning Planetary Correlation Gemstone
Or Gold Generous, Nobility, Wealthy Sun Topaz
Argent Silver Peaceful, Purity, Serenity Moon Pearl
Sable Black Consistency, Grief, Secrecy Saturn Diamond
Gules Red Martyr, Passion, Strength, Warrior Mars Ruby
Azure Blue Truth, Power Jupiter Sapphire
Vert Green Hope, Loyalty, Wisdom Venus Green
Purpure Purple Dignified, Just, Regal, Royal Mercury Amethyst
Tawny Orange Ambitious Lunar Mode: Dragon’s Head Jacinth
Murrey Maroon Unpredictable Lunar Mode:
Dragon’s Tail
Sardonyx
Sanguine Crimson Patient, Victorious Lunar Mode:
Dragon’s Tail
Sardonyx
*Note:  These are a collective beginning of Heraldic Colours, depending on Culture or Age, other means of Heraldic Colours could be employed in Arms.**Note: Under Planetary Correlation, Lunar Mode: Parts of the Dragon, According to Heraldic Author Rudolphi the Head of the Dragon was seen as extreme good luck, the tail, not so lucky.

When used on a crest as seen in black and white printing, the use of Hatching or series of multi directional lines denoted different colours.  Dots, shapes and various patterns also conveyed different colours, tints and shades.

Heraldry

Heraldic Shield Diagram of Metals, Tinctures and Furs

The use of Fur was conveyed primarily through the use of Ermine, of which there are various different methods to print. Below are a few examples of Ermine print, which when seen in reverse (Correct: Black on White, Reverse: White on Black) is called Ermines.

Ermine is also known as the short-tailed weasel, it’s winter coat is pure white and was harvested because of it’s soft and delicate fur. It took several of the small pelts to make any matter of cloak or clothing, so it was usually reserved for the very rich or royal.

Ermine can also be displayed on a Field of Or, or Gold verses Silver as shown above. Ermine on a Field of Or is titled Erminois, it’s reverse of Or Ermine on a Sable or Black Field is referred to as Pean.

Heraldry

Examples of Ermine Symbols for Print


 

Animals, Fish, Birds and Mythical creatures play a huge part in the meaning of Heraldry. Each position is important in conveying a message. Aggression can be seen in a Combatant pose, Royalty in Statand Guardant where a creature looks directly out at it’s views. Heraldry is a very romantic art, and is often given as a unique wedding gift to two families joining their lives and their names. Women, in the past have been granted the right to bare Arms, if not carry a shield, so it makes it one of the few universal historical pleasures that men and women can share in historically.

Traditionally there are two types of Charges, either Couped or Cooped, and Erased. The Scottish traditionally displayed closely cropped couped heads, showing little to no throat. The English displayed a considerable amount of throat whether couped or erased. Caboshed is another Heraldic term that heads are displayed in, it suggests a frontal view of the head and face with no throat such as the Lions on the McKenna Family Crest.

Heraldry

Heraldic Diagram of Couped and Erased Charges.


 

As stated above, there is a vast amount of Arms available to families of almost every ethnicity. This is possible because of root names, suggesting that every family is somehow connected to an original point of origin. It is also possible through Shields created in various cultures across the world. Although not every Shield was ever made into traditional European Arms, it conceivably could be.

Each of our family pages is followed up with a reference from the Dictionary of American Family Names by Oxford Press, followed with our research into each family line, and the name’s farthest traces in time. Some names will have mass history and cultural significance, and some will be lost among the ages. For us, the most important task is to preserve what we can, while we can. The more people who stop and learn about their family heraldry and history, the more likelihood of it being passed on to younger generations, and not filed away and lost in some remote room never again to see the light of day.

Although we understand the significance of heraldic study and the importance of standing tradition, none of our Society feels there’s anything wrong with good old family pride. Know your roots, celebrate them. The more of an interest, the more people will work to preserve our historical past. Many hands make light work, or so they say, and we’d like to encourage as many people as we can to get involved, so we might find out roots together.

 


Books:

Heraldic Designs for Artists and Craftspeople by John M. Bergling, Dover Publications Inc. ISBN 0-486-29663-6.

An Heraldic Alphabet by J.P. Brooke-Little, Clarenceux King of Arms, Robson Books, ISBN 1-86105-077-1.


Links:

Heraldry Sites – Crests, Mottos and Badges
Free Heraldry Clipart
http://heraldicclipart.com
Acadian Genealogy Homepage
http://www.acadian.org
Irish Family Mottos
http://users.winshop.com.au/merv/mottos.htm
Coats of Arms from Ireland and around the World by Eddie Geoghegan
http://www.heraldry.ws/
Armorial Gold
http://www.heraldryclipart.com/
The Royal Heraldry Society of Canada
http://www.heraldry.ca/
My Irish and Polish Genealogy Page
http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~jkmacmul/index.html
The Weeb Site
http://www.theweebsite.com
House of Names – Coat of Arms and Surname Histories Online Shop
http://www.houseofnames.com/
Wikipedia on Heraldry
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heraldry
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