FAMILY CREST SYMBOLS


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Symbolisms of Heraldry

The following coat of arms symbols have been excerpted from W. Cecil Wade’s “The Symbolisms of Heraldry or A Treatise on the Meanings and Derivations of Armorial Bearings”. Published in London in 1898.

Colors and Metals
Or, yellow or gold – Generosity.

Argent, white or silver – Peace and sincerity.

Sable or black – Constancy, sometimes grief.

Azure or blue – Loyalty and truth.

Gules or red – Military fortitude and magnanimity.

Vert or green – Hope, joy and sometimes loyalty in love.

Purpure, purple – Royal majesty, sovereignty and justice.

Tenne or tawney – Worthy ambition.

Murray or sanguine – Not hasty in battle, and yet a victor.

Heraldic Lines
Nebulee or Nebuly – The sea or water.

Engrailed and Invected – Earth or land.

Indented – Fire.

Dancette – Water.

Ragulee or Raguly – Difficulties which have been encountered.

Embattled – Fire or the walls of a fortress or town.

Ordinaries
Chief – Dominion and authority.

Cross – Chevron – Protection.

Fess – Military belt or girdle of honor.

Bar – For “one who sets the bar of conscience, religion and honor against angry passions.

Pale – Military strength and fortitude.

Palet – Same as Pale.

Pile – Same as Pale.

Canton – Bearing of honor. When borne charged, it often contains some special symbols granted by the sovereign in reward for the performance of eminent service.

Quarter – Bearing of honor. Similar to the Canton.

Bend – Defense or protection.

Battune Sinister – Marks a royal descent that is barred by illegitimacy from succession to the throne.

Orle or Tressure – Preservation or protection.

Flasques – Given by a king for virtue and learning, and especially for service in embassage.

Voiders – Given to gentlewomen who have deserved highly.

Bordure or Border – Frequently adopted as a “difference” between relatives bearing the same arms.

Gyron – Unity.

Common Charges
Lion – Deathless courage.

Tiger – Great fierceness and valor when enraged to combat; one whose resentment will be dangerous if aroused.

Bear – Ferocity in the protection of kindred.

Wolf – Denotes valiant captains that do in the end gain their attempts after long sieges and hard enterprises. One whom it is dangerous to assail or thwart.

Rhinoceros – Great ferocity when aroused.

Elephant – Courage and strength.

Heraldic Tiger – Same as Tiger.

Leopard – Valiant and hardy warrior.

Panther – As a lion may be said to signify a brave man, so may a panther a beautiful woman, which, though fierce, is very tender and loving to her young, and will defend it with the hazard of her life.

Horse – Readiness for all employments for king and country.

Bull or Ox – Valor and magnanimity.

Boar – A fierce combatant when at bay, and ceases fighting only with its life, and therefore may be properly applied as the armorial bearing of a warrior.

Goat – Emblem of that martial man who wins a victory by the employment rather of policy than valor.

Lamb – Gentleness and patience under suffering.

Ram – Authority.

Hares and Rabbits – One who enjoys a peaceable and retired life.

Squirrel – Sylvan retirement being the delight of its bearer.

Hedgehog – Provident provider.

Beaver – Industry and perseverance.

Fox – One who will use all that he may posses of sagacity, wit or wisdom in his own defense.

Talbot, Mastiff and Greyhound – Courage, vigilancy and loyal fidelity.

Cat or Cat-A-Mountain – Liberty, vigilance, forecast and courage.

Camel – Docility, patience and indefatigable perseverance.

Bee – Well-governed industry.

Ant – Symbolizes a man of great labor, wisdom and providence.

Spider – Wisdom, labor and providence in all affairs.

Grasshopper – Wisdom and nobility.

House Snail – Deliberation and perseverance.

Double Eagle and Eagle – Signifies a man of action, ever more occupied in high and weighty affairs, and one of lofty spirit, ingenious, speedy in apprehension and judicious in matters of ambiguity.

Alerion – Signifies one who having been maimed and lamed in war, was thus prevented from fully asserting his power.

Wings – Celebrity, sometimes protection or coverture.

Feathers (usually ostrich) – Willing obedience and serenity.

Falcon or Hawk – One eager or hot in the pursuit of an object much desired.

Hawks or Falcons Bells – One who feared not to signal his approach in either peace or war.

Owl – One who is vigilant and of acute wit.

Peacock – Beauty and pride of carriage.

Pelican – Devoted and self-sacrificing charity.

Stork – Filial duty, emblem of a grateful man.

Swan – A lover of poetry and harmony.

Goose and Duck – A man of many resources.

Gannet – To subsist by the wings of his virtue and merit, having little land to rest upon.

Swallow – One who is prompt and ready in the dispatch of his business.

Cock – Courage, always ready for battle, ready to fight to the death.

Dove – Loving constancy and peace.

Raven – One who, having derived little from his ancestors, has through Providence become the architect of his own fortunes or one of an enduring constancy of nature.

Crow – Signifies a settled habitation and a quiet life.

Dolphin – Charity and a kind affection towards children.

Tortoise – Invulnerability to attack.

Unicorn – Extreme courage.

Griffin – Sets forth the property of a valorous soldier whose magnanimity is such that he will dare all dangers, and even death itself, rather than become captive.

Dragon – A most valiant defender of treasure.

Cockatrice – Terror to all beholders.

Sphinx – Omniscience and secrecy.

Pegasus – Exceeding activity and energy of mind whereby one may mount to honour.

Harpy – Ferocity under provocation.

Mermaid – Eloquence.

Centuar – For those who have been eminent in the field.

Hydra – The conquest of a very powerful enemy.

Phoenix – Resurrection.

Stag, Hart, Buck and Deer – Policy, Peace and Harmony.

Horns and Antlers – Strength and Fortitude.

Escallop Shell – One who has made long journeys or voyages to far countries, who had borne considerable naval command or who had gained great victories.

Other Shells – Protection of Providence.

Heart – Charity, sincerity.

Flaming Heart – Ardent affection.

Hand – Faith, sincerity and justice.

Red Hand – Usual mark for a baronet if borne on a small escutcheon.

Arm – A laborious and industrious person.

Gauntlet – Signify a man armed for the performance of martial enterprise.

Leg – Strength, stability and expedition.

Shoe – Same as Leg.

Foot – Same as leg.

Human Head – Honor.

Blackamoor Head – Deeds of prowess in the Crusades.

Skulls – Mortality.

Crossed Thigh-bones – Mortality.

Eye – Providence in Government.

Millstones – The mutual converse of human society.

Sceptre – Justice.

Trident – Maritime dominion.

Crown – Royal or seigniorial authority.

Celestial Crown – Heavenly reward.

Pastoral Crosier – The emblem of a shepherd’s watchfulness over his flock, and denotes episcopal jurisdiction and authority.

Annulet or Finger Ring – Fidelity.

Lozenge – Honesty and constancy, also held to be a token of noble birth.

Billets – Their first bearer was a man who obtained credence, knowledge and faith in his words and deeds, and who was secret in his affairs.

Pen – Emblematic of the liberal art of writing and of learned employments.

Inkhorn – Same as pen.

Harp – Contemplation.

Lyre – Same as harp.

Scythe – Hope of a fruitful harvest of things hoped for.

Sickle – Same as Scythe.

Anchor – Succor in extremity and the Christian symbol of hope.

Ship, Lumphiad or Galley – All such symbols would point to some notable expedition by sea, by which, perhaps, the first bearers had become famous.

Cubes, squares or dice – Constancy, wisdom, verity probity, and equity.

Lozenge – Same as Cubes.

Axe — Execution of military duty.

Purse – A frank and liberal steward of the blessings that God has bestowed .

Tower or Castle – Grandeur and solidity. Sometimes granted to one who has held one for his king, or who has captured one by force or stratagem.

Bridge – Signifies a governor or magistrate.

Pillar or Column – Fortitude and constancy.

Snake – Wisdom.

Scaling Ladder – One who was fearless in attacking.

Crosses – Symbolic of some Christian experience or sentiment.

Trestles and stools – Hospitality.

Cushions – Marks of authority.

Angels, Cherubs and Seraphs – Dignity, glory and honor.

Estoiles – Emblems of God’s goodness or of some eminence in the first bearer above the ruder sort of men.

Mullet – Denotes some Divine quality bestowed from above.

Gold Spur – Dignity of knighthood.

Silver Spur – An esquire.

Sun – Glory and splendor.

Crescent – Signifies one who has been enlightened and honored by the gracious aspect of his sovereign.

Moon – Serene power over mundane actions.

Fire – Zeal.

Lightning – The effecting of some weighty business with great clarity and force.

Rocks – Safety, refuge and protection.

Portcullis – Effectual protection in emergency.

Hunting Horn – One who is fond of high pursuits.

Trumpet – Ready for the fray.

Cannon, Mortars, Cannon Balls and Grenades – Well bestowed on those who have dared their terrors in sieges and battles.

Sword – Indicates the bearer to a just and generous pursuit of honor and virtue in warlike deeds.

Arrows and Arrowheads – Martial readiness.

Spear or Lance – Knightly service and devotion to honor.

Spear Heads or Pheons – Dexterity and nimbleness of wit to penetrate and understand matters of highest consequence.

Shield – A defender.

Saddles, Stirrups and Spurs – Preparedness for active service.

Horse Shoe – Good luck.

Trunk of a Tree – An object of veneration.

Fusil – Travel and labour.

Shacklebolt – Victory in war.

Water Bougets – Conferred on those who had brought water to an army or besieged place.

Catharine Wheel – Emblem of one who is prepared to undergo great trials for the Christian faith.

Escarbuncle – Supremacy.

Buckles – Victorious fidelity in authority.

Clarion or Rest – Same as Trumpet.

Beacons or Cressets – One who is watchful for the commonwealth or who gave the signal in time of danger.

Chains – A reward for acceptable or weighty service.

Fusil of Yarn – Negotiation.

Fret – Persuasion

Gold Roundles – One who has been found worthy of trust and treasure.

White Roundles – Generosity.

Wheel – Fortune.

Cornucopia – Bounty of Nature’s gifts.

Chaplets and Wreaths – Granted for special service

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