Why It Is Important to Research a Family Coat of Arms Carefully Posted By : Mark White | Brick Mansions

Why It Is Important to Research a Family Coat of Arms Carefully Posted By : Mark White

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Why It Is Important to Research a Family Coat of Arms Carefully Posted By : Mark White

If you are planning on displaying a family crest or coat of arms in your home you need to be careful of how you research it. If you came from an English or Scottish family the main coat of arms was transferred down through the family. This exchange usually occurred between a father and his eldest son.

Other family members could not display the coat of arms in its original form. Instead, according to English and Scottish heraldic traditions, specific charges (the images of animals and other objects) would differ depending on a person's relationship to the holder of the coat of arms. There were also coats of arms called undifferenced arms that could only be used by a single person at any given time.

If wives, daughters or sons other than the first born wanted to use a family coat of arms it was important for them to place certain marks on that coat of arms. This meant that a person who was viewing a crest, seal or coat of arms could tell what a person's birth rank or position in the family was. These marks were called cadency marks although they were also known as differences, distinctions or marks of cadency.

Cadency marks were used most often in English, Scottish, Irish or Welsh coats of arms. The first through ninth sons had specific cadency marks. A label was used to denote the eldest son. The second son would have a crescent on his coat of arms and a molet (a specific type of star) was used to denote a third son.

Fourth sons used the martlet on their coat of arms. The martlet was also used on coats of arms or crests to denote that a person had been dispossessed and no longer owned property. An annulet (a solid ring) was used for fifth sons and a fleur-de-lis (or fleur de lys) was used for a sixth son. A fleur-de-lis had other meanings depending on which country a coat of arms or crest was designed in.

Roses were used to denote seventh sons. A cross Moline was used to indicate that someone was an eight son and a double-quatrefoil was used to show that someone was a ninth son. Women could have their own coats of arms. They often had a shape other than a shield as women did not take part in combat as a general rule.

If you are looking at a coat of arms and trying to determine what the meaning is you need to remember that different images had different meanings depending on where the coat of arms was designed. For example, a fleur-de-lis was an important symbol that related to religion. The three petals of the fleur-de-lis were intended to represent the Holy Trinity. The band at the bottom of the three petals was supposed to represent the Virgin Mary. In French coats of arms the image represents faith, chivalry and wisdom.

As you can see, finding a coat of arms is not as simple as you might think. You should try and find out which position in the family an ancestor had so that it becomes possible to accurately recreate a heraldic coat of arms.

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