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.