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Family Coat of Arms

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Family Coat of Arms

Postby Sir Smittens » Sun Mar 28, 2004 6:20 am

All of the places I've looked at require that you buy something with your coat of arms before they show it to you. Is that what you (who know yours) did? Or is there a website that will show it to you for free.

Also, I don't really care, but isn't it probable that places make up a coat of arms for your family? Some of them have a lot of names, and I doubt each is real.
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Postby catena » Sun Mar 28, 2004 7:04 am

Here's my take on this: If someone solicits you to purchase "your own (or your family's) coat of arms", it is almost always bogus. If ever a blazon (the text description of the coat of arms) was granted to someone with your last name, this has nothing to do with you and you have no rights to this blazon unless you are the direct-line male heir of the person granted the arms.

Real arms are filed with governments which recognize arms and have a heraldry office. This includes Britain and maybe British Commonwealth countries. In this case, only if one of your direct-line male ancestors was granted a blazon will you have rights to this blazon-perhaps modified in some form depending on whether you're the first son, second son, etc. This is rare, so you probably do not actually have any official "coat of arms." You may register your own blazon with these governments if you are admitted to the peerage (the list of recognized "knights" of some kind). The peerage today is basically the Royal armed forces, and the Order of the British Empire (an honorary group, those celebrities you hear of with "Sir" in their names).

However, the United States and most other countries do not have a government-sanctioned heraldic office, which means there are no arms recognized by the state, and so there is no such thing as "your coat of arms". In this case, you can make up whatever "coat of arms" you want, but it will be governed by trademark and copyright laws, and you won't be called upon to fight your country's wars.

The U.S. and many other militaries do still use heraldry and have heraldic offices, but these symbols are for groups within the armed forces, and you have no personal rights to display or use these arms if you are not in active service.
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Postby LEGOFREAK » Sun Mar 28, 2004 9:21 am

Just a couple of add-ons to catena's post.

There are still many countries that grant and recognize arms. Here is something from the College of Arms of England

"In 2001, 120 grants and transfers of armorial bearings were made by the English Kings of Arms, of which 15 were to corporate bodies and 105 to individuals (including 15 life peers and 11 knights). Of the 120 grantees, 102 were in England, Wales or Northern Ireland, 9 in the U.S.A., 3 in Australia, 2 in Hong Kong, 1 in the Bahamas, 1 in Guernsey, 1 in the Isle of Man, and 1 in Scotland. "

and further down

"From 1 January 2003 the fees payable upon a personal grant of arms and crest have been £3,275, a similar grant to an impersonal but non-profit making body, £7,200, and to a commercial company, £10,800. "

So if you seriously want a coat of arms for YOUR family, go ahead and cough up the dough and follow the steps.

If you are interested in the art of heraldry and all the things that go with it I suggest you start here : and work your way through the articles. There are some good works written here.

I did read an article awhile back that suggested that many a knight in the middle ages assumed their own arms, and it wasnt until the 1300 - 1400's that it became as rigidly controlled as it is today.

I think the toughest country for 'arms control' (pun intended) is Scotland, where if you use someone elses coat of arms I think they are legally entitled to either kill you or put a rabid weasel down your underpants. I am not too sure which.

for those interested in US presidents arms...

Have fun.


(PS - I really recommend the baronoges homepage if you are researching genealogy)
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Postby Blasterman » Mon Mar 29, 2004 1:48 pm

Although I cannot "claim" the BYRD arms for myself personally,
I can claim it as the arms of my family name.

If it weren't for Hugo le Byrd(Norman) settling in southern England
after the Battle of Hastings, I wouldn't be here.
I've done the research, as much of a pain it was, and can
honestly say that I exist from his lineage.

So I will continue to display my Byrd arms proudly.
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