Coats of Arms - A Special Report



Coats of Arms
A Special Report

In March of 2002, I asked this question of my fellow Derry family researchers, on the Genforum message board, located on the net at:

"...Searching the net using the surname databases for DERRY, DERY, DIERY, DIER, DERRIE, DAIRY, DARRY, DARR, and more I cannot remember, I have found nothing in Ireland for DERRY. I find that most surprising. DIERY'S or DERRY'S. Though, there is a DARR. Is that an ancient spelling variation for DIERY, or DERRY? Don't know. here's my question for feedback. The Derry surname, is it of Irish, German, or English origin? Or, all three?

I eagerly await your thoughts and ideas.

An answer from Joan Brown Derry, family member and Derry family researcher....

"...Now you and I both know about our strong German Derry line, but I agree with your question. Did Irish Derry men marry German women prior to emigrating? Hmmmmm

The only information I have on the DERRY surname is as follows, and it sides with the Irish

The county of Derry is located in the northern province of Ulster, bounded by the Atlantic Ocean, Lough Foyle and the counties of Antrim, Donegal and Tyrone. The name DERRY, adopted from the name of the city is derived from the Irish word "doire" meaning "oak grove". There is evidence of prehistoric settlement in the county with a Mesolithic site at Toome Bay on Lough Neagh and Neolithic burial chambers scattered over the county. In the 6th century, St. Columba established a monastery on the site of the town, but it was destroyed on numerous occasions by Norse invaders. The area was relatively unaffected by the Anglo-Norman invasion of the late 12th century.

The shiring of the county was undertaken by the English in 1585, when the area was described as the county of Coleraine. Following the decisive defeat of the Irish earls and the confiscation of their land, intensive English colonization of the county was undertaken by livery companies of the City of London and the Honourable Irish Society. A charter of 1613, during the reign of James I, established the city and county of Londonderry.

Plans were laid out for the development for the new city, strong walls and fortifications were constructed and English and Scottish settlers were brought over as part of an ambitious Plantation scheme. New towns were established and populated with these new settlers.

However, these towns suffered badly during the 1641 Rebellion while the city of Londonderry was unsuccessfully besieged on a number of occasions, most notably by the forces of James II in 1688-89. The growth of the modern city dtes from the mid-19th centure, when the linen industry became important. Other major towns include Coleraine, Newtownlimavady, Dungiven, Magherafelt and Maghera.

Per chevron, first, gules, a rose argent, buttoned or between two garbs of the third, second, or, the Red Hand of Ulster.

CREST: The Red Hand of Ulster

ORIGIN: Ireland

Our German DERRY line had arrived in the new colonies by the 1750's -- so who knows -- maybe the men had to flee Ireland from the above destruction/invasions and settled in Germany, married, and the following generation began the trip across the ocean. Just speculation.

Joan Brown Derry"

A response from Derry family researcher, Judy Derry Mahoney....

"As Joan noted, the Galic word DOIRE means "grove of oaks", which translates or has been anglicized to DERRIE or DERRY. The beginnings of the city of Derry can be traced to pre-Christian days. In the early 1600s, the English, rebuilt the medieval town and thus, the English name of Londonderry. Today the city continues to be commonly referred to as Derry.

The city of Derry is in County Derry, one of nine counties in the province of Ulster. County Derry is in Northern Ireland (political division), a member of the United Kingdom.

Be that as it may, the National Library of Ireland (Dublin) references state the DERRY surname began in County Donegal, another of the nine counties in Ulster Province. County Donegal is in the Republic of Ireland. About three years ago, I was fortunate to spend some time in Ireland. It was surprising to find many of the surname reference resources in the National Library did not mention the DERRY surname, those that did gave County Donegal as the place of origin. The Irish form is O Doirighe.

True, the DERRY surname was and is rare in Ireland. In a property survey (1848-1864) there were a total of 29 DERRY families in the whole of Ireland. In 1999, I checked phone books at every opportunity: in Dublin (about 1/2 million people) there were only 4 DERRY listings; in Cork, Kilkenny, Killarney, Shannon, Limerick, and Tipperary there were only 1 or 2 families each, if any.

IMMIGRATION or ship records are very inaccurate before 1820 when the US began requiring incoming passenger lists. Library immigration reference book include several DERRYS from both England and Ireland in the 1700s and early 1800s.

Most of my DERRY research in the 1700s has been in PA. Early records include: 1729, Jane DERRY born to James DERRY, Philadelphia; PA Colonial Records, 1776, appointed John DERRY (and 3 others) to visit each house in Philadelphia and collect lead "to be employed in the defense of this country".

DERRY, PA. In the early settlement of the PA Colony the name DERRY was frequently used for such places as Derry Church, Derry Twp. (in several counties), Derry Station, Derry Town, and Derry's Run. This usage of DERRY has nothing to do with anyone named DERRY, it simply reflects the homeland area of many of the early immigrants.

PA GERMAN DERR/Y: Upper Milford Twp. (part of the original Bucks Co.) was settled by German immigrants, including several with the surname DERR, later changed by some to DERRY. A 1737 petition requestion the formation of a new twp. was signed by Jacob DERRY.

So, yes, apparently the DERRY surname is Irish and English. It also seems surnames from other countries (e.g. Germany) have been altered to DERRY. Probably some of those modifications occurred because of inaccurate or spelling choices by the immigrants or others such as immigration officials or ships captains. Possibly there were immigrants that chose to drop their surnames and adopt a variation of their birth place name.

Gosh, I did not intend to write a paper! (grin)
-Judy Derry Mahoney"

Another response from Joan Brown Derry...

"Great guns, Judy!!! That was magnificent!!! How amazing that you found so few DERRY surnames in Ireland. I found that absolutely fascinating.

I appreciated the very early DERR/Y names you shared from PA. They were all new to me. Here are a few more early names to that I had to add to your list:

1738 - JACOB DERRIE, Ship Friendship, Port of Philadelphia

1738 - JACOB DERRIE, Phila Co.,PA (PA Early Census Index)

1764 - JACOB DERRY and wife MARY ULRICH witnessed baptism at the Hill Church in Lebanon Co., PA on Sep 1st for KUPPER family. (Church a/k/a Quitopahilla Church).

1771 - JACOB DERRY, Lancaster Co., Rapho Town Returns and Assessments, Tax 2.0 (PA Archives 3rd Series: Vol 27 p.131

1776 - JACOB DERRY, Return of Cpt. JACOB FINDLAY of 4th Batt. of Lancaster Co., 27 May 1776, Private (PA Archives 5th Series: Vol 7 p.350)

1779 - JACOB DERRY, Lancaster Co, Humblestown, 2 acres, effective supply tax (PA Archives 3rd Series: Vol 17 p.131)

1778-1783 - JACOB DERRY, Westmoreland Co. Frontier Rangers, Cpt. ANDREW RABB (Robb?). Military card certificate #7676, issued 8 Dec 1785, owed 15 pounds "Militia Loan of 1 April 1784 and 30 March 1785 "Public Debt". (PA Colonial Archive Series) -- (courtesy of previous notes from you to me).

Joan Brown Derry"

A few words from Doc...

"...The names Deery and Derry, which are generally synonymous, has no connection with the county and city of Derry. It is Ó Daighre in Irish. Properly O'Deery, but is sometimes corrupted to Derry. Derry is the correct anglicization of another name . (Ó Doireidh.) Confusion has arisen between these two families because both were crenagh families located in north-west Ulster, Ó Daighre of Derry church and Ó Doireidh of Donaghmore in the nearby diocese of Raphoe.

As late as 1609 the Derry Visitation reports Ó Doireidh as erenagh of Columbkil in that diocese where Maeliosa Ó Doireidh was bishop in the 13th century. Two other bishops of the same name - Denis O'Diera (Mayo 1574 to 1576) and John Derry (Clonfert 1847-1870).

Nearly all the references to the name relate to Ulster and north Connacht. Father Patrick O'Derry was hanged at Lifford in 1609; Father Patrick O'Deery (who is also called O'Deary and O'Dyry), a friar of Derry Abbey, was specially mentioned by St Oliver Plunket in 1671 as an exceptionally good man and a great preacher; and in the Hearth Money Rolls for Armagh and Monaghan (1663~1666) O'Deery and O'Deary occurred often, one entry as MacDeery is possibly a clerical error: this substitution of Mac for 0 was not unusual in seventeenth century records. Edmund Derry was Bishop of Dromore from 1801 to 1820. An exception is Donough O'Derry, the rapparee, who in 1655 was described as the "tory governor of Leinster." It is probable that he was of Ulster stock. Today birth registrations indicate that Deery is seldom found outside Ulster and Co. Louth and that the forms Deary and Derry are relatively rare.

D. Doc Derry"

What's the point of all of this? First, to clear up some confusion about the surname Derry, its' origins, and the different variations of the spelling of the surname.
Second, I have always been interested in Heraldry and mid-evil times. Hoping to find an ancient Coat of Arms that one of my ancestors may have carried into battle, I've searched the internet for a "Derry Family Coat of Arms". While one may exist, I have not found it. I have found, however, many places on the web that sell reproductions of "Family Coats of Arms". For a modest fee (usually, $20.00), they will send you a beautiful color reproduction of "Your Family COA". Indeed, they are beautiful!

This is what I found for the name "derry", as I entered it in their search box at this web site

"The derry Family Coat of Arms can traces its roots back to ancient times where it was carried onto the battlefield with honor and chivalry to defend family, allies, King and country. The derry Family Coat of Arms is available in Full Heraldic Color, both Framed or ready for custom framing."

"You can find more information about the Derry Coat of Arms and the Derry Family Name History in the The Family History Scroll."

"...carried onto the battlefield with honor and chivalry..."? I would expect nothing less from my ancestors. "Family History Scroll"? Imagine my surprise! I've been searching for my family history, actively, for more than five years, along with the massive help of Derry family members and researchers, and here, they already have it. Wow! (Insert sarcasm)
These "Family History Scrolls", are usually 1,000 or 1,500 word documents printed on parchment. It sounds very nice, but I couldn't put our family history in a barrel without a bottom. There's more...., it further said;

"Origin: German

Spelling variations include: Darr, Darre, Dare, Dar, Dahr, Dahre, Darret, Darry and many more.

First found in Germany, where Darr emerged as a notable family name within the territory of Saxony in the early Middle Ages.

Some of the first settlers of this name or some of its variants were: Josua Dary settled in Virginia with his wife in 1622; Edward Darry also settled in Virginia in 1657; William Dary settled in Maryland in 1671; Lawrence Dehr arrived in Philadelphia in 1749; George D and others. "

Indeed, I believe our family name has its' origins in Germany, however, even this is not absolutely clear as to exactly where...yet. As I searched other similar web sites, I also found the following at this web site,

Search for the Derry family history
has returned one country of origin.

Historical information for your family name
name was found in IRELAND

Family Name History

"This is a Free preview of part of the data in your Family Name History. The excerpt is given Free, with our compliments, for you to view so you may be aware that much information of this nature is available from The Historical Research Center. Please bear in mind that it is just a small portion of your complete history and is intended to give you a Free sampling of a detailed, and thoroughly researched, document which contains a wealth of significant information.

Authentic information extracted from the Derry Family Name History.

The Derry history has been located in the archives of the Historical Research Center and this renowned resource has authenticated the following information:

Derry is a surname found primarily in Ireland.

In studying our archives we found that one of the earliest references to the family name Derry dates back in history to the year 1170.

There is documentation related to many Derry family members and we mention here County Derry by way of example.

The colour Argent (Silver) in the coat of arms of the family Derry symbolizes Peace and Sincerity. It also reflects the hopes, ambitions and aspirations of its original bearer.

It is interesting to note that the Center's research historians have discovered that Darree is a variant spelling form of this surname."

Interesting!..... So, I entered the surname of "Darr" at the same web site....

"Authentic information extracted from the Darr Family Name History.

The Darr history has been located in the archives of the Historical Research Center and this renowned resource has authenticated the following information:

Darr is a surname found primarily in Germany.

The surname Darr comes from the first name of the original bearer.

In studying our archives we found that in the year 1578 there is a reference to the surname Darr.

There is documentation related to many Darr family members and we mention here Kilian Darr by way of example.

The colour Argent (Silver) in the coat of arms of the family Darr symbolizes Peace and Sincerity. It also reflects the hopes, ambitions and aspirations of its original bearer.

It is interesting to note that the Center's research historians have discovered various spelling forms for the family name Darr and among them we find Dähre and Dahr."

Again, I find this all very interesting! The description for the coat of arms for Derry and Darr are identical. "How can this be?", I thought. Unless, the name Derry has it's origins in Ireland, and an ancient family member of the original bearer of the arms, migrated to Germany from Ireland....Hmmm... Sounds logical...
Time for more checking!
I Found the below article at this web site,
(a link from
The Association of Amateur Heralds)

Coats of Arms and Generic Surname Products

Several sites have been identified which offer family surname histories and family coats of arms.  They claim to have unique databases of family name histories built over the last 20-25 years, ranging in size from 250,000 to 900,000 names.  Most offer a range of "heraldic giftware" which include maps, mugs, glasses, swords, baseball caps, clocks, watches, rings, and pendants, in addition to the computer-printed family name histories and various styles of coats of arms.  Some make reference in their pages to family histories and genealogies which are clearly neither.  Many of the sites are actually dealers or licensees of the owners of the databases.  For example, The Hall of Names, Ltd., based in London, is reported to have 20 domestic franchised outlets and overseas outlets in Canada, USA, Australia, Germany, Greece, and New Zealand. TheHistorical Research Center (HRC) International, Inc., headquartered in Deerfield Beach, Florida, was reported in the January 1995 issue of Entrepreneur magazine as #7 in the top 30 fastest growing franchises.  While their products are attractive and certainly are appealing to some, understand what you are getting if you decide to buy.

First, the family surname histories are not family histories and rarely are they true surname histories. Generally they are generic geographical area histories with a surname woven into the story.  Some producers of family name histories follow this practice, not necessarily the vendor discussed below. For example, one committee member searched for the Lookup family in Saudi Arabia on the HRC Web site and one line read:  "In 1517, bearers of the illustrious family name Lookup were to see Arabia subdued by the Ottoman Turks and to remain a province of the Ottoman Empire until the 20th century." Frankly, anyone around in 1517 would have seen Arabia subdued by the Turks and it is unlikely that they would have lived into the 20th century.  The top of the page had the caveat that, "Here is a historical outline from ancient times -- when ancestors of the Lookup Family lived -- which shows how they related to events in the history of your country-of-origin", but the paragraph still was titled "The Lookup Family History."

Second, the family coats of arms (sometimes imprecisely called "crests," which properly are the devices that appear above shields).  A coat of arms does not belong to a "family name." It belongs to an individual who is acknowledged as its owner, or who receives a grant for it.  Under the laws of most countries, other than the U.S., the unbroken male line descendants (and in some cases the females) of any person who has a legally recognized right to bear heraldic arms, may use the progenitor's arms, inheriting them in the same way that anything else is inherited.  [Genealogical Research:  Methods and Sources, vol. I (New Orleans, La.:  Polyanthos, Inc., 1980), 547.]  If you purchase one of these products, you are simply buying a colorful conversation piece, unless you can prove an uninterrupted male line to an ancestor who was entitled to a coat of arms.

An AltaVista search on 14 May 1998 found 354 hits on "Hall of Names," 157 hits on "Hall of Names International" and 307 hits on "Family Coat of Arms," so be cautious.

Some Hall of Names Web sites to be aware of: in Kingston, Ontario, Canada) page from Hall of Names is called "Family History Archive Library") another page from Kingston and a duplicate of the page above) franchise of Hall of Names in Washington state) franchise of Hall of Names in Arizona) 

One other site with Surname Coats of Arms (apparently not connected with any of the above organizations):

Now it all makes sense. No wonder all the descriptions are the same. Undiscouraged, I kept searching and I e-mailed this gentleman at the following web site in Germany, to inquire of the name Derry:

I received this regarding my query...

From:M. Waas Herald. Gem. Westf.
Date: Sunday, March 17, 2002 11:40:49 PM
To:Doc and JudySubject: Re: Coat of Arms for Derry

Dear Mr. Derry,

find attached the arms your are searching for. Blazon as follows:

Shield: Argent, on a hill vert, an acorn of 3 stalks, fruited of 3 and leaved ppr.Mantling: vert and argentCrest: on a hill vert, an acorn of 3 stalks, fruited of 3 ans leaved ppr.

Yours faithfully

The Westphalian Heraldry Society
M. Waas


This is a wonderful Coat of Arms. Thank you for sending this to me, Mr. Waas. I will translate the description (Blazon) for the arms:
"Shield: Argent, on a hill vert, an acorn of 3 stalks, fruited of 3 and leaved ppr.Mantling: vert and argent""Crest: on a hill vert, an acorn of 3 stalks, fruited of 3 ans leaved ppr."

Shield: Silver (or white), on a green hill, three acorns on a leaved stalk proper. Mantling: Green and Silver (or white).
Crest: On a green hill, three acorns on a leaved stalk proper.

NOTE: The Coat of Arms above may, or may not be for me, and is only displayed for the purpose of this article/report.

Since it is unlikely that I will ever find a direct link from me, to ancient Derry relatives that had a Coat of Arms registered in Ireland or Germany, or anywhere else for that matter, I will design my own Coat of Arms... Of my own liking, for which my descendants may use in the future... Who knows, there may be one who bears my Coat of Arms a millennia from now.

The United States has its' own Coat of Arms, though there is no governmental office in this country for which one may register, and be granted his or her own Coat of Arms. One can register a Trademark and/or Copyright for their own, however.

My personal Coat of Arms is Trademarked and Copyrighted here in the United States. I will be registering the Arms with an Heraldic Authority in another country, for a grant of a Coat of Arms.


(Click here to view my Coat of Arms)
(be aware, there are stiff penalties for Copyright and Trademark infringements)

Why have your own Coat of Arms?

I can think of a number of reasons.
Personal Coats of Arms, are not only a great way to show family unity, but also identifies an individual. As a Coat of Arms is the personal property of the originator. They are a great way in which to help keep accurate family history records. Passing the Arms down to your descendants, and they add their mark to the Arms, and so on...
An added plus is that youngsters love to play with art, and helps make genealogy fun and interesting for them.
Here is a link for Free software for kids to make their own shields (coats of arms). Learn about the Middle Ages, feudalism, knights and chivalry while making a coat of arms.
What a grand way to educate your children about their family history and ancestors.
Start a family tradition -- Design your own Coat of Arms.

Here are three blank shields that you can copy and use to create your own Coat of Arms.

(Just click on the one or ones you like for a full size arms. You will need a graphics editing program such as Paint Shop Pro or, Photo Impact).

There are a number of places on the internet that will design or help design a Coat of Arms.The Association of Amateur Heralds, is a great place to begin. They are a nonprofit association, and offer help with Heraldry, terminology and everything you want to know about designing (free of charge), and registering your own Coat of Arms.
A note about the
Association. From a standpoint of being an amateur, these guys are good. If you do not have any knowledge and skill as a graphics designer, call upon theAssociation. They will help you.

My main point of all this is, buyer beware!You get what you pay for. In my view, these commercial companies that offer Heraldic giftware, are nothing more than vultures, waiting for an unknowing, and an unsuspecting amateur genealogist (me included), in search of his or her heritage. While what they do may be legal, they are, in my opinion, unscrupulous at best.
Remember, just because you have found a Coat of Arms with your family surname on it, does not mean it belongs to you, unless you can prove an unbroken male blood line from the original owner of the Arms. In Scotland, one can be jailed and fined for using a Coat of Arms that does not belong to him or her. So, if you buy a "Family Coat of Arms" from one of these commercial vendors, be sure you are able to prove an unbroken male blood line from the individual to whom it was first granted or allowed. Otherwise, it is just an attractive conversation piece. Below is from the
Society of Genealogists:

The right to arms

Surprisingly few people who use a coat of arms and crest today have any actual right to do so. Armorial bearings do not appertain to all persons of a given surname but belong to and identify members of one particular family. Coats of arms and crests are a form of property and may rightfully be used only by the male-line descendants of the individual to whom they were first granted or allowed. Such grants were and are made by the appropriate heraldic authority acting under the sovereign. These authorities are: (for England, Wales and Northern Ireland) the College of Arms, Queen Victoria Street, London EC4V 4BT, and (for Scotland) the Lyon Office, New Register House, Edinburgh EH1 3YT. In the Republic of Eire, the relevant official is the Chief Herald of Ireland, Genealogical Office, 2 Kildare Street, Dublin 2, Eire. In order to discover whether an inherited right to arms exists, it is necessary to trace one’s male-line ancestry back as far as possible and then to examine the official records of the heraldic authority concerned.

Unfortunately, over the centuries, many families have simply assumed arms and crests belonging to other families of the same name, usually without authority and without demonstrating any relationship between the families. It follows that mere usage of a coat of arms, even over a long period, does not necessarily indicate a descent from the family for whom it was first recorded. Indeed, more often than not, there is no such connection. Even in the days when a tax was levied on the use of armorial bearings, those paying the tax by no means always had an established right to arms.

The erroneous and widespread practice of adopting the arms of a family of the same surname (extracted in most cases from one of the printed armorials listing the arms of families alphabetically) is much to be deplored. It detracts from the basic purpose of coats of arms and crests, which is to provide hereditary symbols by which particular families may be identified.

Grants of new arms have been made to worthy applicants, on payment of fees, since the fifteenth century. The practice continues to this day, and in addition grants of honorary arms are occasionally made to foreign citizens of British male-line descent. There is no complete printed list of families granted arms in England prior to 1687 but an index of many surviving grants from that early period will be found in Grantees of Arms (Harleian Society, vol. 66, 1915). For the period 1687-1898 the great majority of persons to whom grants of arms were made are listed in Grantees of Arms II (Harleian Society, vols. 67 & 68, 1916-17). These do not describe the arms granted. Records of original grants are kept at the College of Arms, though the reason for a particular grant and the rationale behind a design of arms are not normally recorded.

The majority of families using arms in the period 1530-1687 established their heraldic rights at the Visitations made by heralds from the College of Arms who toured the country at intervals for that purpose. The office copies of pedigrees recorded at Visitations are at the College of Arms. Many of them have been printed, often from unofficial (and sometimes inaccurate) copies in the Harleian Manuscripts preserved at the British Library. References to printed pedigrees of Visitation families will be found in G W Marshall, The Genealogist’s Guide (1903), J B Whitmore, A Genealogical Guide (1953), and G B Barrow, The Genealogist’s Guide (1977). All three works need to be consulted. In the years since 1687, many pedigrees have been officially registered at the College of Arms, sometimes in order to establish a right to arms by descent and sometimes for purely genealogical interest.

The best known published armorial is Sir Bernard Burke’s General Armory (last edition 1884), which lists families in alphabetical order and describes the arms they used. It is unofficial, incomplete and often inaccurate; though a useful general guide it should be used with the greatest care. A W Morant’s additions and corrections to Burke’s list are to be found, edited and augmented by C R Humphery-Smith, in General Armory Two (1973). It may also be instructive to consult earlier works such as William Berry, Encyclopaedia Heraldica (4 vols. 1828-40), and the armory in Joseph Edmondson, A Complete Body of Heraldry (1780), vol. 2. Many families with an established right to arms in the period 1890-1929 are detailed in the various editions of A C Fox-Davies, Armorial Families (last edition 1929).

The formal description or ‘blazoning’ of a coat of arms proceeds along certain well defined lines, and an unknown coat of arms on a signet ring or monument, for example, may be identified by using an ‘ordinary’, which indexes arms by design and gives the names of families to whom they have been attributed. The best known of these is J W Papworth, Ordinary of British Armorials (1874), but a knowledge of heraldic terminology is needed to consult it, and it is not in any case a complete index of British coats of arms. Many crests may be similarly identified from the series of plates in James Fairbairn, Book of Crests (4th edition, 2 vols. 1905). A more extensive collection of manuscript volumes at the College of Arms, known as Garter’s Ordinaries, enables the heralds to check whether any coat of arms or crest is to be found in their official records. The Dictionary of British Arms - Medieval Ordinary (Vol.1 1992, Vol.2 1996) edited by T Woodcock et al. are the first volumes of a project to revise Papworth’s Ordinary by concentrating on pre-visitation arms recorded prior to 1530, and with the addition of sources and name index; thus acting as a combined ordinary and armorial.

Mottoes are often associated with heraldic devices and may provide a useful clue in the identification of arms. However, there is no monopoly on the use of a particular motto, and the same motto may therefore be used by many different families. Numerous mottoes are listed and identified (and foreign ones translated) in C N Elvin, A Handbook of Mottoes (1860, revised edition 1971). Indexes of mottoes also appear in the Burke and Fairbairn volumes mentioned above.

The regulation of Scottish heraldry differs considerably from the system in England, and all persons using arms are required to register or ‘matriculate’ their right to arms in the Court of Lord Lyon King of Arms. No Visitations were made in Scotland, and the records of grants and matriculations of arms commence only in 1672. The shields of arms (but not the crests) are all listed for the period 1672-1973 in Sir James Balfour Paul, An Ordinary of Arms contained in the Public Register of all Arms and Bearings in Scotland (2 vols. 1903 and 1977). The wrongful assumption of arms in Scotland is punishable by fine and imprisonment.

An Ulster King of Arms was first appointed in 1552, and records of grants in Ireland exist from that date. Heraldic jurisdiction over Northern Ireland was transferred to the College of Arms in 1943, the office of Ulster King of Arms being joined to that of Norroy King of Arms. In the Republic of Ireland, an official Genealogical Office was established in Dublin, with the Chief Herald of Ireland at its head, and his authority is the primary one in Eire. Photocopies of the old records of Ulster King of Arms are deposited in the College of Arms, the originals being retained by the Chief Herald.

Those of Scottish and Irish origin living abroad should apply to the appropriate office for information about grants and registrations. In Edinburgh and Dublin the records are open for public inspection, and personal searches can be made.

In England, the College of Arms is unsupported from public funds and access to its records (described in A R Wagner, The Records and Collections of the College of Arms, 1952) is therefore limited. However, the heralds do undertake searches in the records on payment of professional fees, and if an enquirer wishes to consult a particular manuscript appropriate arrangements can be made. Enquiries should be addressed in the first instance to any individual herald or to the Officer in Waiting, College of Arms, Queen Victoria Street, London EC4V 4BT. The College of Arms is open for enquiries between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., Monday to Friday.

Further reading

Basic facts about heraldry for family historians, I Swinnerton (1995)
Heraldry: for the local historian and genealogist, S Friar (1996)
The Oxford guide to heraldry, T Woodcock & J Martin Robinson (1990)

D. Doc Derry - Webmaster - Amateur Genealogist.... and maybe, ....maybe, a notch above novice in the World of Heraldry.


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