Heralds [in the past] … blazoned [the arms they granted] so fully and aptly, that no man could be at a loss to draw them with accuracy and exactness.
Modern heralds, however, … the descriptions which they give us of those very arms are so loose and defective, that such arms cannot with certainty and exactness be drawn from their blazon, as they stand worded in the grants.
Joseph Edmonson, A Complete Body of Heraldry, Vol. 1, 1780, p. 171
I'm an Academic Herald. I'm not a "real" herald; I don't design and register people's coats of arms (though I can certainly suggest designs for those who might be interested). What I do is study, research, teach, and write about heraldry. (You can find some of my books about heraldry and a list of my articles and presentations about heraldry at "Our Website" below.) And I like to share what I have learned about heraldry, hence this blog. I hope that you'll find it informative, interesting at least occasionally, and worth your time to come back. Got a question? Comments? Feel free to ask or let me know. I'd love to hear from you. You can find my contact information in my Profile.
A long-awaited development in on-line heraldry has finally occurred. The Committee on Heraldry of the New England Historic Genealogical Society has created an on-line presence.
The Committee's website discusses its history, has an index to its full Roll of Arms, and has links to: the NEHGS' pictures from the Gore Roll of Arms (you have to be a member to access these pictures); Harold Bowditch's survey of the Gore Roll; to the one-volume book recently published containing all ten parts of the Committee's Roll of Arms, with a forward by Chairman Henry L.P. Beckwith; and downloadable .pdfs of The Heraldic Journal, a short-lived journal on heraldry in America which was published for four years in the 1860s. These downloadable copies come in two parts: Volumes 1 and 2, and Volumes 3 and 4. (And for the record, I am no relation to Samuel Appleton, one of the editors of The Heraldic Journal.)
& Brewer, the publishers of the first three volumes of the Dictionary of British Arms: Medieval
Ordinary, the “new Papworth,” have announced the upcoming publication of
Volume IV, Fetterlock – Wreaths.
publication of this fourth volume finishes out a massive undertaking that
resulted in the publication of the first volume way back in 1992, volumes II
and III following in 1996 and 2009, respectively.
can preorder this volume here in the States from the website of Boydell &
Brewer (and get more information on this final volume of the four-volume set)
at http://www.boydellandbrewer.com/store/viewItem.asp?idProduct=14643 The price listed there is US$165. (Though the publication date listed there is
August 1, 2014, that probably refers to the publication date in Britain. It may take a little while for copies to make
it over to this side of the Atlantic; my copy of Volume III had a similar
publication date, but didn’t ship to me until late November or early December
as I recall.)
you live overseas, you might look at the UK website of Boydell, www.boydell.co.uk, where they are
offering this volume for a prepublication price (until December 31) of £71.25
(plus £4.00 shipping to the UK, £7.50 shipping to Europe, or £13.50 shipping
worldwide). The flyer I picked up at the
recent International Congress of Genealogical and Heraldic Sciences says to use
reference 14201 when ordering.
& Brewer will also be selling the four-volume set (at a 5% discount, I
believe, but too late for me; I’ve bought each volume as it became available),
if you don’t have any of them yet and want all four volumes.
plan to be ordering my copy sometime next week.
You might think about when to order yours!
I apologize for the lack of a post last Thursday. We have been out of town (out of town? out of the country!) for the past two weeks, attending the XXXI International Congress of Genealogical and Heraldic Sciences in Oslo, Norway ...
and visiting with old friends and making new ones there, here with our friends from Pro Heraldica, along with David Rencher (second from right) of FamilySearch.org ...
followed by a week in England sightseeing, hunting down ancestors (or at least, their places of worship) and, once again, visiting with friends Richard and Jenny Baker. (You can always tell a really good friend, because she'll drive you all over Kent on what I now think of as "Chasing Chiltons Tuesday." And I have now successfully "bookended" my 10th great-grandmother, Mary Chilton, by visiting the church where she was christened in Sandwich, Kent, having already been to her table tomb in Boston, Massachusetts.)
I know I must have had a good time in Europe, because my suitcase coming home weighed a good fifteen or twenty pounds heavier than it did on the way there, from the weight of the heraldry books I got there!
Pictures of heraldry, and stories about some of it, will follow as I can sort through the roughly 1,500 pictures I took. [Edit: Just got them all copied over onto my computer. I took 2,316 photos.] (No, I probably won't bore you too much with the four churches we visited where some of my ancestors attended, except for some of the heraldry in them!)
Silver in England has posted a nice short article by Rachel O’Keefe over on
their website about the difference between “crests” and “coats” (of arms).
a great little article that covers one of the confabulations that tend to annoy
heralds and heraldry enthusiasts like me: the use of the term “crest” to refer
to either crests or coats of arms.
tell you a lot more about the article, but I really can’t afford to spend very
much time at AC Silver’s website, because they sell a lot of antique silver,
and a bunch of that antique silver is engraved with coats of arms and/or
crests, and frankly, I don’t have the money to buy it all (or a place to put it
if I did). So it’s better for me to just
avoid the temptation as much as possible.
recent (July 29, 2014) article on the website of the College of Arms in London speaks
of pedigree rolls and a project to locate, rehouse and list comprehensively the
large collection of rolled material held at the College, of which pedigree
rolls comprise the largest portion.
a part of this project to preserve and conserve these materials, the
newly-appointed Pigott Library at the College has been fitted out with archival
shelving and environmental controls, and the rolls housed in custom-made
acid-free boxes. Over 1,100 rolls have now been entered into a searchable
more to the article of course, but I’m not going to repeat it all here for
you. Feel free to go to the website of
the College of Arms, or click this link http://www.college-of-arms.gov.uk/news-grants/news/item/100-pedigree-rolls to not only see
what the College is doing with this project, but to see some of the pictures
that they have included of some of these one-of-a-kind pedigree rolls. (I especially like how the reverse side of
one roll was used to draw out some chess problems!)
College of Arms is to be congratulated on this massive undertaking, which will
preserve and make more accessible these unique materials.
recent (July 23, 2014) article in the Wells Journal gives some of the ancient
background behind the symbolism of the seal and coat of arms for the city of
Wells, England, used since 1867, though only authorized by the College of Arms
in 1951. The coat of arms portrays a
large tree, reputed to be an ash, surrounded by three of the wells that give
the city its name, and is based on a 13th Century seal used by the city.
Dr. Stephen Yeates, an expert on life in the area before the Roman conquest,
notes that one of these ancient peoples, the Dobunni, used an image of a Mother
Goddess who is always depicted accompanied by a large bucket or round vessel. Over the ensuing centuries elements were
added to this Mother Goddess myth, one of which is that she usually inhabited
the roots of a large tree. The 13th Century seal and 19th unofficial and 20th Century
granted coats (this last shown immediately below) of arms use the image of the
tree and three vessels (representing the three wells of the City of Wells) and
can be seen as a direct descendant of these far earlier images.