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Monday, October 15, 2012

Next FTF Post is up: is your heraldry correct?

File:900-158 Ahnentafel Herzog Ludwig.jpg
Ahnentafel von Herzog Ludwig
(1568-1593) Holzschnitt
W├╝rttembergisches Landesmuseum, Stuttgart
This post will most likely not make me any friends, but I had to put it out there none the less.  It is all about heraldry and you can read it here.

The problem of people slapping up coats of arms all over their tress is, well, everywhere.  Now, I will admit, that if the researcher has done the proper leg work and knows for certain that what they have posted is the correct arms then kudos to them!  Most people, however, don’t.

Heraldic display is awesome.  I love the banners, wood carving, stained glass, and well… everything about a good heraldic display.  I have read books, taken classes, and studied heraldry in person all over the place.  A highlight of mine was going to The Institute of Heraldry a few years ago.  I didn’t want to leave their research library and was amazed by what I saw.

For several months I have been thinking about putting together a heraldic primer for genealogists.  With descriptions of how arms were used, why they were used, who could use them, how they were passed down and etc.  Perhaps I should put pen to paper and get cracking on that.


  1. Wow, I would love a heraldic primer! Our maternal family years ago "slapped up" coats of arms for both the Irish side (Kirven) and the Scots side (Fraser), but all I know about them is that they are probably wrong. You have been to the Institute of Heraldry? Please "dish" about what you know! I would love to know what the proper "leg work" is. We can trace our Fraser side to Europe, incidentally, but can't get the Kirven side across the pond to where they came from.

    Why do you say this post won't make you any friends? I'm puzzled. Made me feel friendly.

  2. Just clicked on "read it here." So if a coat of arms belongs to a person and not a family, does that mean if you find your ancestor's actual coat of arms, you can just "adopt" it? Or does the coat of arms change through the generations? Material for a heraldic primer, maybe . . .

  3. Some people don't understand and take personal offence when it is pointed out to them that what they have been doing is... wrong. I don't have any delusions that I upset someone by posting out that the image of their family crest is not really theirs. That’s what I meant by "won't make any friends."

    Let’s take England as an example. Coats of arms belong to people or the title, not the whole family. Each person would have a specific device that denotes them. It they inherited a tile; they would then be allowed to use the titles device upon inheritance. If you found that an ancestor had a registered title, you could put that image on their information because it belonged to them. However, no one else in the family would have right to use it. If you look at the image above, or the link for the manuscript in the FTF post, you can see how there is a clear inheritance pattern of elements of the parent’s arms passed down; but not the actual arms.

    The Institute of Heraldry is amazing. They have an unbelievable collection of rare books on heraldry from all over Europe. I attended a presentation by the director on what the Institute does along with the how’s and why’s. This is where the presidential seal is made as well as the designs for all the heraldic displays, medals, and mottos for the armed forces. Even better, they are an hour from my house.