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Why is the Coat of Arms so called?

In the Middle Ages the metal armour of the knights and noblemen had to be protected from the heat , so the metal armour was covered by a padded linen coat called a surcoat. The charges of armorial devices were embodied on these surcoats, hence the name 'coat of arms'.

 

What is an achievement?

In Heraldry the word achievement does not mean that something has been accomplished, it is the name given to a completed display of arms.

The achievement is composed of firstly The Shield, this is the most important item as the special design called a charge is painted upon it. Some achievements or coats of arms only consist of the shield. The Helmet rests on the shield, the type of helmet denotes the rank of the owner. The Mantling is the swirling drapery around the helmet, this material protected the knights head and neck from the sun and was particularly popular in Palestine during the Crusades. The Wreath or Torso was usually made of a twist of material often silk which kept both the mantling and The Crest in position, these Crests were particularly popular at the time with the knights during tournaments. The Supporters generally belonged to Royal or ducal coats of arms, they can be both animals and people. The Compartment where the supporters stand is usually earth or water. The Motto Not all achievements have a motto, if they do it is usually in the form of a scroll.

 

Can the coats of arms bearing family names be used by anyone with the same name?

Unless you can prove direct descent in the mail line from the original bearer of the arms you are not entitled and therefore permitted by the Law of Arms to use such arms. There are many companies that provide for a fee a design of arms that may well be associated with the same surname as yours, however it is not always the case that you may be entitled to use them.

There is no effective way of preventing anyone from designing and using a coat of arms of some other person with the same name. Any such arms are called 'usurping arms', or if you have not received a grant 'bogus arms'.

 

How can you have a coat of arms that you know you are entitled to use?

Anyone may apply to the College of Arms and provided they are worthy persons and have no criminal record, they are rarely refused. There will obviously be a fee charged for their services. Many coats of arms have belonged to the same family , being handed down from father to son for generations, Kings and princess were the first to have heraldic coats of arms. Today arms are still used as a means of identification many Companies and public concerns such as Banks and Insurance companies ,sporting clubs, town and County Councils have applied for and been granted arms.

 

 

For tracing your family tree,

in England and Wales :-

The College of Arms

Queen Victoria Street

London

EC4
 
Telephone : 020 7248 2762  Fax 020 7248 6448

  www.college-of-arms.gov.uk

 

Office of Population Censuses and Surveys

General Register Office

St Catherine's House

10 Kingsway

London WC2B 6YT

UK

In Scotland

The Register General

New Register House

Edinburgh EH1 3 YT

UK

In Northern Ireland

The Register General

Oxford House

49/55 Chichester Street

Belfast BT1 4HL

UK

In the Republic of Ireland

The Register General

Joyce House

8/11 Lombard Street East

Dublin.

Artist Information    Order of the Garter   Order of the Bath    Garter Crests    Bath Crests

    Crest  / Arms Enquiries    Heraldry    Phoenix Rising     Home Page     Realistic Sculpture     Short TV Films      FAQs