I recently had the pleasure of visiting with some of my relatives in Bolton, England. The weather was a bit gloomy as the English weather can sometimes be, but Bolton is a city rich in history, and with a formidable industrial past, that couldn’t help but warm my heart. It’s a blue-collar city, and the inhabitants reflect that hearty down to earth character that makes it a pleasure to tuck unto a rich beef stew or share a few glasses, well pints (excuse my French), of ale with them. And that I did – more ale than stew I have to say. Now after admitting my fondness for the English brew, I feel I may have some trouble convincing you of the worthiness of my next observation. I won’t beat around the bush, I’ll come right out and say it – I saw elephants everywhere I went!
Category: Coat of Arms/Heraldry
Often when genealogists are researching their family history they become interested in their family’s Coat of Arms. We’ve all seen the gorgeously varnished plaques emblazoned with colourful crests featuring lions, weapons and other medieval type decorations, and one can’t help but be drawn by their romantic allure. Coats of Arms are a means of identification used to verify official documents and ascertain ownership of property. The unique design painted on a family’s Coat of Arms identifies a particular family or individual, and can be very useful to genealogists researching their family history. Finding your family Coat of Arms on a document can lead you to as yet unidentified ancestors.
What are Coats of Arms?
Coats of arms were initially used to identify individuals who had a right to bear arms. Eventually these rights were transferred from generation to generation and finally became a means of identifying a family or clan, depending on the geographical location. Original designs were sometimes altered slightly to distinguish particular branches of a family, consequently increasing its genealogical worth.
What is Heraldry?
The study and identification of Coats of Arms is known as Heraldry. Family historians are often mesmerized by its splendour and charm, and possibly a bit by the promise of being part of an aristocratic blood line. The particular design of each heraldic symbol tells a story in itself, and can lead you to a deeper understanding and knowledge of your genealogical roots.
FREE Coats of Arms and Heraldry Resources
Following is a list of FREE Heraldry resources for the genealogist who wants to dig a little deeper into their family history. As with our list of the Top 40+ FREE Online Genealogy Websites, the same care has been taken to ensure these resources are absolutely free. If you want to order a plaque or other item decorated with your family crest, you will have to purchase it and pay a shipping fee, but the research oriented info and searches on these sites are absolutely FREE. Some even offer free downloads so that you can print off your family tree at home. Whether you’re interested in your Coat of Arms for genealogical or aesthetic reasons, here are our selected sites containing FREE Heraldry and Coats of Arms resources.