Coats of Arms

The first heraldic shields showing the owners' coats of arms were hung in medieval halls for decoration. Today, the tradition has continued, although the shields are smaller in proportion to modern homes.

Just about every family name has its own coat of arms. It is true that the coat of arms was awarded to an individual and then passed down to the first born son and, in the event that there was no male offspring in a family, the coat of arms was not passed down the female line; so a family's right to bear the arms often died out. Consequently, some peopleinsist that it is wrong to display a coat of arms, even though it was awarded to that family name.

But this is taking things rather too seriously! I have a splendid shield hanging in my house and it is always much admired by visitors. OK, so I may not have won the right to display the arms in battle, but I am not doing anyone any harm.

There are two or three companies producing coats of arms as prints or shields, the largest by far is Swyrich who have been building a huge database of coats of arms and surname histories over more than 30 years.They have licencees throughout the world. Prices for identical products seem to vary a great deal, the cheapest online source is www.allaboutnames.co.uk, or, for prices in US dollars, try www.homeofnames.com. An image of your coat of arms on the front of your family history book would add a nice finishing touch.