Family Crest Symbols

Family Crest Symbols | Image of Coat of Arms

Family Crest Symbols - Heraldry Symbols - Crest - Coat of Arms - Symbols

A useful guide to a selection of Family Crest Symbols. Discover the symbols origin and meaning as well as a selection of interesting facts! Individual symbols included in heraldry include plants, mythical beings, animals, birds, people, shapes and colors. Coats of arms usually also include inscriptions, often in Latin and countries, sports teams, counties, states and families all have their own unique coat of arms.

Symbols have been used since medieval times to identify knights who were difficult to recognise going into battle in their coats of armour. Specific symbols were displayed on the knights shield and armour as well as their weapons to identify them. The term heraldry was adopted in medieval times. In order to establish a system where symbols were assigned to individual knights, the heralds (Kings messengers) developed a system of assigning specific symbols to each knight.

 
Knights Shields - Examples of Crest Symbols

Family Crest Symbols - Genealogy & Ancestry
The first use of symbols to identify members of a family is unknown,  as early as In Predynastic Egypt (3100 BC) Serekh symbols were found in Egyptian hieroglyphs. The 'serekh' symbol was used to indicate that the text enclosed within it was a royal name. Is this the first real evidence of heraldry? The Bayeux Tapestry which was created to record the battle of Hastings in 1066 shows many different emblems on the shields of the Norman knights and the pennons and standards carried by the Duke of Normandy's army. Early symbols included lions, chevrons and simple geometric patterns.

Family Crest Symbols - Blazon
  • The term supporter is used to explain the figures on the side of the knights shield

  • The term 'Blazon' is used in heraldry. It is a language where terms such as supporter, charge and shield are used

  • Charge is the term used to describe a particular symbol on a heraldic device

  • The term 'Coat of Arms' comes from the garment worn by knights over their armour, 'Surcoat'

  • Cadency marks are used in English coats of arms to represent the rank of sons in a family. Other countries, for example Canada include cadency marks for daughters

Family Crest Symbols | Image of a selection of knights shields

Family Crest Symbols - Badge
  • In medieval Britain, the servants and employees of noble families would wear a badge to identify their allegiance to a particular family or person, their 'Masters' badge

  • The badge would often be a single charge taken from the families coat of arms

  • Henry VIII's badge featured the Tudor rose and the portcullis

  • Catherine of Aragon had a pomegranate on her badge!

  • Although traditionally a medieval item, heralds in Britian began granting badges again in 1906, mainly to schools and educational institutions

Family Crest Symbols - Surname

  • The term 'surname' is commonly referred to as 'last name' and is the name given to a person to identify them with a particular family group

  • In the past a 'byname' was assigned to a family in a particular area to distinguish them from others in the same area who also shared the same name

  • Often bynames were given to identify their trade, eg Smith, Farmer, Thatcher or their location.

  • In Japan for example the names Ishikawa meaning "stone river" or Yamamoto which translates to "the base of the mountain" are commonly used

Family Surnames | Coat of Arms

Family Coat of Arms Symbols - Crest Components
The coat of arms consists of several individual symbols and components, many also include a motto. A motto is a short sentence and many mottos were actual war cries. In Irish heraldry for example, the Butler family rallied their army with the cries 'Butler a Boo'. 'A Boo' was the Erse cry to victory. Other popular mottos were written in Latin or conveyed the families Christian beliefs. The following symbols are all items with make up a coat of arms and are unique to an individual family:
  • Supporter (Figures which support the shield of arms)
  • Wreath (A twisted piece of material found below the crest on the top of the helmet)
  • Crest (A 3-d object found on the top of the helmet)
  • Badge (A heraldic device which belongs to a armiger)
  • Banner (An oblong shaped flag displaying a knights arms)
  • Compartment (The place where the motto, shield and supporters stand)
  • Roll of Arms (A catalogue of different coat of arms belonging to a herald)
  • Crown or Coronet
  • Pavilion or Mantle

Family Crest Symbols  - Family Tree
Producing a family tree is something that many families do in an effort to discover their ancestors and find out more about their life. Some people like to name their children after a distant family member whilst others just wish to know where their family originally came from whether it be another state or country. Others wish to discover more about their family background for health reasons. Is there a family history of a particular condition? Some members of estranged or adopted families know little about their medical background and tracing their family tree can help to answer many questions. In Ireland and Scotland the word 'Clan' is used to describe family descendants. The Gaelic word 'Clann' means family and kinship in Ireland is recognised up to the seventeenth generation!

Family Crest Symbols | Knight on Horseback

Image of a Knight on Horseback showing examples of symbols

Family Crest Symbols - Family Names
For anyone interested in their own family history, finding their own family crest or coat of arms is a must! Many museums and gift shops sell crest trinkets and gifts containing family emblems including key rings, fridge magnets and framed pictures of family crests which are popular as gifts and ideal for that hard to buy for family member! A family coat of arms is symbolic of that feeling of belonging to a particular group of people and many people all over the world enjoy the task of tracing their ancestors.

Family Crest Symbols - Heraldry Animals
Lions are just one of the beasts which are commonly seen on family crests. The earliest evidence of a lion used as a symbol on a family crest was by the Geoffrey, the Count of Anjou in 1127. He was knighted by his father in law, King Henry I and presented with a crest shield decorated with several golden lions. The lion is symbolic of power and was an obvious choice for medieval knights. Family crests show heraldic beasts in a variety of different poses, these poses are better known as 'attitudes' and there can be up to sixty different attitudes for lions on a family crest! Other popular heraldic beasts include Wolves, Elephants, Tigers, Bears, Boars and Leopards. Some domestic animals are also included on a family crest including cats and dogs. Griffins are also popular animals used in heraldry, they are mythical animals consisting of the head of an eagle and the body of a lion!

Family Crest Symbols

Family Crest Symbols

  • Interesting information about Family Crest Symbols

  • Meaning of specific family Crest Symbols

  • Origin and history of heraldry

  • Facts about iconic Family Crest Symbols

  • Pictures and Description of individual Family Crest Symbols

Coat of Arms of Normay | Family Crest Symbols

 

Pictures and Videos of Family Crest Symbols
Discover the vast selection of pictures which relate to family crest symbols and different coats of arms. Each individual coat of arms illustrates the different emblems, symbols, icons and signs that we associate with heraldry and ancestry. All of the articles and pages can be accessed via the Signology Index - a great educational resource for everyone! Find out about different Family Crest Symbols and their significance to your own family name. Discover your own family crest symbols. Does your family have its own coat of arms? What do the individual symbols mean? Find out more about the genealogy of your own family name.

 

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