Archive for the ‘Heraldry’ Category

Genealogy and Heraldry

Wednesday, June 17th, 2009

Ignore Coat of Arms Rules at Your Own Risk

Heraldry, as a science, is almost totally ignored by most of our educated classes in the United States. Many family history researchers dig into heraldry to some extent, but even they are not as versed in it as they should be. If a genealogist is asked to do some research for a client or friend, many times the question of "Do I have a coat of arms?" will arise. Family history researchers should learn some background of heraldry in order to tackle such questions.

heraldryThe Coat-of-Arms business is very popular and there is a lot of interest among family history researchers in knowing various Coats of Arms. But there is not a lot of information propagated around dealing with the regulations of Coat of Arms. United States laws do not recognize heraldic emblems and so they are not regulated in the United States, and many have been allowed to do as they please with a traditional family coat-of-arms that they falsely claim.

Some authorities might declare that heraldry is an essential aid to the student of medieval history and medieval architecture. As a science, therefore, it should have a certain place in our systems of education. But beyond this necessity, there is a more urgent reason for a greater familiarity with the subject. Our social relations with Europe are important. It is well known abroad that we have no titles of nobility in the United States, and there is, consequently, no inducement for any American to claim such a distinction.

heraldic symbolsBut, in all parts of Europe, there is still in existence a system of honorary insignia which is supposed to bestow upon the possessors a certain social position. These decorations are usually coat-of-arms, and the rules regulating their use are defined by well-known authorities. In fact, arms are the remaining traces of the old social division of gentle and ignoble birth. Every one who uses a coat-of-arms proclaims his involvement among the gentlemen of the land, and is supposed to be able to furnish satisfactory proof of his right to the position. This right may be obtained by grant from the sovereign through the duly constituted officials, a process that is expensive, or it may be acquired by inheritance. Inherited arms are usually most prized, and their value is estimated by their antiquity. Theoretically, however, they are all of equal value.

Family history researchers should be aware that the use of heraldic emblems as a system cannot be traced much earlier than A. D. 1200. Probably at that date and for around two centuries following, every knight adopted such a design, always in accordance with a certain design plan, to his choosing. But soon after A. D. 1400, in England, the right to grant arms was reserved to the Crown, and then a way was adopted to determine or record the names of all persons entitled to a coat-of-arms.

The College of Heralds was to become the repository of heraldry proof, and with physical
visits to the different counties of England, they were to figure out who were the gentlemen at that time. While doing this, all grants of arms were to be recorded, and any one falsely pretending to arms was to be severely punished. The plan was successfully carried out in Scotland, but in England it failed. Many visitations were made, and many coat-of-arms recorded, but the lack of power to enforce the punishment for false arms prevented recording a complete or fully accurate register. Many people just simply refused to comply.

Even today in England grants are made to families of education and wealth based many times on assumptions, but no arms is recognized by Heralds unless it is recorded in the Herald’s college. Still, family history researchers may recognize any coat-of-arms in use before the sixteenth century, even if not recorded, but they should be aware of rules of heraldry.

Officially, the right to use a coat-of-arms by inheritance is dependent entirely upon a well documented pedigree which can be researched by a genealogist. A coat-of-arms, whether obtained by grant or officially recognized by the Heralds is actually property, with some value. It is inherited by the descendants of the first true and verified possessor only. When someone seeks to establish a claim on the grounds of inheritance, they must prove descent precisely as they would in claiming a piece of land.In the United States there is a common mistake among some novice family history researchers that certain coats-of-arms belong to certain families. It is supposed that all of the same surname constitute one family, and are hence entitled to the arms. This is simply not true since we know matching surnames does not mean matching origin. It is very important for family history researchers just starting out to be aware of these heraldry issues.

heraldry

If you would like to learn more about heraldry and find out if your family has a cpoat of arms, why not come along to the genealogical conference in Nottingham later this year. There will be a specific workshop on heraldry led by Derek Palgrave who is a trustee of the Halsted Trust and President of the Guild of One-Name Studies

Article Source: http://www.articlesbase.com/history-articles/genealogy-and-heraldryignore-coat-of-arms-rules-at-your-own-risk-625335.html

Author: Mark Jordan

About the Author:

Mark D. Jordan is a writer and researcher living in Pennsylvania. More heraldry and genealogy material can be read at Family Genealogy Blog and Medieval Time Line

Technorati Tags: , , , ,

Coat of Arms – Heraldry Classifications

Wednesday, March 25th, 2009

Family history researches may at some point get involved in examining a coat of arms to determine the history of a family or simply for the pleasure of finding a heraldic connection to their family lines. Many  family history researchers  believe that a coat of arms is only granted to families or individuals. In fact heraldic symbols extend to corporations, communities, societies and cities as well. There are several major classifications of heraldic arms, some of which fall outside of the family or individual type. Such classifications are Arms of Succession, Community, Dominion, Pretension, Concession, Family, Alliance, Patronage and Office.

heraldic shields

 One unusual category of arms was ‘Arms of Attribution.’ These are fictitious arms invented by heralds in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries for royalty that actually died before coats of arms were in use.
 The below classifications are the most generally valid categories in use from the past and today.
 Succession – These are arms that are taken up by those who inherit certain estates by bequest, entail, or donation.
 Community – These are arms that are associated with bishoprics, cities, universities, academies, societies, guilds and corporate bodies. Many of these go back to a very early period.
 Dominion (or Sovereignty) – These are the arms of the kings or sovereigns of the territories they govern, which are also regarded as the arms of the State. Thus the Lions of England and the Russian Eagle are the arms of the Kings of England and the Emperors of Russia, and cannot be altered by a change of dynasty. In America several states have official arms of Dominion that derive from old rulers of the colony, such as in Maryland which bears the arms of Cecililus Calvert, second Lord Baltimore, who was the proprietor of the colony.
 Pretension – These are arms of kingdoms, provinces, or territories to which a prince or lord has some claim, and which he adds to his own, though the kingdoms or territories are governed by a foreign king or lord: thus the Kings of England for many ages quartered the arms of France in their escutcheon as the descendants of Edward III., who claimed that kingdom, in right of his mother, a French princess. Nearly all early sovereigns bore arms of this type as they constantly disputed territories.
 Concession – These are arms granted by sovereigns as the reward of virtue, valor, or extraordinary service and deeds. All arms granted to subjects were originally conceded by the Sovereign.

heraldry

 Family (or paternal arms) – These arms are such as are hereditary and belong to one particular family, which none others have a right to assume, nor can they do so without rendering themselves guilty of a breach of the laws of honor punishable by the Earl Marshal and the Kings at Arms. The assumption of arms has however become so common that little notice is taken of it at the present time. These types of arms sometimes are modified over time by various family members.
 Alliance – These are arms gained by marriage.
 Patronage – These arms are such as the lesser gentry bore as subjects to governors of provinces, lords of manors or feudal lords. They usually derive from the coat of arms of the lord and indicate a level of dependence on such, as well as the connection to that manor.
 Office – These are arms born by those holding certain offices such as the King of Arms in England or the Butlers of Ireland, ancestors of the Dukes of Ormond.

Article Source: http://www.articlesbase.com/genealogy-articles/coat-of-arms-heraldry-classifications-558484.html

Author: Mark Jordan

There will be a heraldry workshop at the forthcoming  genealogy conference in Nottingham, England in 2009. This four day family history conference will be an ideal opprtunity to meet other heraldic researchers and at under $500 ALL inclusive of ensuite accommodation, meals and refreshments there has never been a better time to attend a genealogical conference

Technorati Tags: , , ,

The Historic Heraldic Dering Roll

Friday, January 16th, 2009

This week I have been fortunate enough to attend a private view of the heraldic Dering Roll. This valuable document  was until recently in private hands when it was sold to an overseas buyer at auction for £192,500. But under current legislation export was held up to see if the British Library could raise the money to keep the historic roll in England. The Halsted Trust along with many other organisations and individuals offered a contribution and the auction price was raised.

The Dering Roll is a very important document in heraldry. It is the oldest surviving roll of arms dating from around 1275 and a vital document for students of the knighthood of medieval England. It contains the heraldic coats of arms of 324 shields which represents about a quarter of the English baronage during the reign of King Edward 1.

Each shield has the name of the knight that it represents except for five shields wh ere the name was either omitted or erased.

The document is no doubt the work of a specialist herald and as it mainly shows the heraldry of knights from Sussex and Kent was probably made in the south east of England. Those that have studied the document have determined that it is a list of the knights owing feudal service to the Constable of Dover Castle and was most likely therefore commissioned by Stephen of Penchester who was the Constable at that time.

The roll is called the Dering Roll after Sir Edward Dering of Pluckley in Kent who acquired it during the early part of the 17th Century and then proceeded to alter the document for his own purposes! The sixty-first shield on the roll bore the heraldic coat of arms of Nicholas de Crioll and this has been carefully changed and the arms of a fictitious Richard fitz Dering inserted! Fortunately a number of copies had been made before this date showing the original.

The Roll was in the estate of Sir Anthony Wagner,Garter Principal King of Arms (died 1995) and was sold at Sotheby’s in 2007 and subsequently saved for the nation by public donation.

It was quite fascinating to see this ancient document close up without glass and to be able to study it first hand and once again reiterates the importance of Heraldry to genealogists in family history.

Coat of arms

There will be a workshop on Heraldry at the forthcoming 2009 International Family History Conference in Nottingham, England.

Technorati Tags: , , , , ,

Is Heraldry important

Wednesday, December 10th, 2008

Many family historians and indeed many local historians tend to avoid heraldry on the grounds that it is largely irrelevant. The prevailing view seems to be that, as the majority of our ancestors came from very humble origins, there is little to be gained from a knowledge of heraldry. Furthermore its obscure terminology is often seen as totally incomprehensible to all but a few misguided enthusiasts.

Whatever view one takes there is no denying that Heraldry exists and the tangible evidence is abundantly visible. It may be in the form of decoration on buildings, monuments, household objects, weapons, buttons, livery, flags, military and civic uniforms, badges and symbols of office, trade marks and tokens, etc. Important documents often bear armorial devices and seals which, in themselves, can provide valuable historical information.

I inherited a selection of military buttons and badges which confirmed my grandfather’s service as a Bombardier in the Royal Garrison Artillery over a century ago.  Some of us in the course of our research may come across school or regimental neck-ties bearing heraldic devices which we need to be able to identify. Many especially those living in rural communities who were in the service of the local squire or rector may well have worn liveries with buttons, shoulder knots or cockades displaying the devices and colours from the master’s shield.

heraldic shield

Skilled craftsmen in London and other major cities would have been obliged to join the appropriate Livery Company to gain the right to practise their trade where they lived. This was likely to involve their displaying the distinctive symbols at their place of work and wearing the company livery on special occasions.  Mayors and other Civic dignitaries have always flown flags and worn specific livery and chains of office featuring the Armorial Bearings of their Borough.  In London, each Ward had its own characteristic symbols usually manifested in the form of the ceremonial maces carried by the Beadles. The advent of police forces and other public service bodies, which needed specialist uniforms continued the tradition of distinctive liveries and civic symbols. This was further developed within municipal transport services, fire brigades, etc.

genealogy conference

Technorati Tags: , , , ,