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This would have marked him out as a man of noble birth. It would also identify him to anybody who could read the heraldry.

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Coats-of-arms began in the 12th century as a way to recognize combatants and followers in tournament and battle. Knights wanted to broadcast their membership of an elite and increasingly exclusive caste. They needed to ensure recognition for any deeds that they performed and also to identify themselves as somebody you would capture to hold for ransom, rather than slay out of hand. However, by the 15th century, coat-of-arms were becoming too complicated for this purpose. In this case, the heart and stars top left indicates connection to the Douglas family, but there were several branches of the family and they did not always fight on the same side!

For this reason, powerful lords tended to pick a distinctive element of their personal coat-of-arms and use it as a badge with which to identify themselves, and their friends and followers.

Free Coat of Arms Search for Your Last Name and Family History

In adopting simple badges, lords were returning heraldry to its roots in knightly combat. What might you learn with 30 days of expert genealogy research tips delivered straight to your inbox? Subscribe below and you'll receive one helpful genealogy tip every day for thirty days.

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Easily discover new research techniques, record collections and resources. You'll also receive our free weekly newsletter so that you can stay up-to-date on our newest articles. Unsubscribe at any time. You're almost ready to start receiving tips! Simply confirm your email address to complete your subscription. Quarterly, 1st, Douglas, as above; 2nd, sa.


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Crest—A wolf sejant ppr. Supporters—Two savages with clubs in their exterior hands ppr.

Though many of them seem abstract, most have a well-known meaning. It can also indicate that the bearer of the coat-of-arms is the sixth son. We can see this, for example, in Medieval bestiaries which devote most of their space to proverbs about particular animals and also in Medieval fencing treatises such as Flos Duellatorum, which urges the swordsman to have the courage of the fox and the stability of the elephant.


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The first part of the heraldic description shown above describes the shield which is broken into quarters , numbered typewriter-style, top left to right, bottom left to right:. Prior to that, the heads of the Douglas family probably bore a simple white shield with a blue bar displaying three stars technically: argent, on a chief azure, three stars of the first. This was a good example of a basic, and thus easily recognizable, coat-of-arms from a much earlier period.

It had probably passed from father to son since the mid 12th century. This choice would have been a fitting one for a bellicose Douglas. Thus, the first quarter of the shield enables Sir James, 9 th Earl of Douglas to tell the world: that he is a Douglas; that he is related to the legendary Sir James the Good; that he speaks his mind; and that God is on his side.

The list is divided in half alphabetically, and the site can be challenging to use. However, the free information is worth the effort. Heraldry features free coat of arms for more than 8, surnames. No membership is required. If you have a common surname , finding your coat of arms on one of the above sites will be easy.

Can You Claim a Coat of Arms Based on Your Last Name?

However, less common surnames may be a little more challenging. Use these tips to help you find and use your coat of arms:.


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  8. You will most likely find a family crest for the original spelling of your family name. If you have traced the records back to an ancestor who had the original spelling, then it is still your coat of arms, even though the name may be spelled differently in your line today. Check several different variations if you are having trouble. Remember that most coats of arms were assigned to one particular family and not to the surname in general. This is an important thing to remember because unless you trace your lineage directly to the individual or specific family who obtained the coat of arms, it is possible you may not legally have right to claim it.

    In laying claim to a particular coat of arms or title, every ancestor must be fully documented back to the source, the individual who received the coveted title Duke, Lord, Knight, Count or coat of arms. Not every family had a coat of arms.

    Find your family crest

    Black in England often takes the form of Blake in early times and is found in the person of Hamo le Blake who is recorded in the 'Hundred Rolls' in the year In Ireland Black is also sometimes used as a variant of the names Duff and Kilduff as, when these names are rendered in Gaelic they have the Gaelic word 'dubh' within them, the translation of which is 'black'.

    The Black family crest or coat of arms came into existence many centuries ago. The process of creating these coats of arms began as early as the eleventh century although a form of Proto-Heraldry may have existed in some countries prior to this, including Ireland. The new more formalized art of Heraldry made it possible for families and even individual family members to have their very own family crest, coat of arms, including Black descendants.

    Parchment Prints.