I canít find a Coat of Arms for my Family? Why not?

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One thing that surprises many people when they search for their family coat of arms is that they may not actually have one. While we would all like to think that there is a crest or coat of arms that our family had the right to bear in the past, the fact is that only a select group of individuals was allowed to create and wear a crest or coat of arms to represent their family.

In the past, only someone who had been designated as an ďarmigerĒ was able to bear a coat of arms. The name itself means ďarmor bearerĒ. In England during the medieval period it meant that the individual was usually a squire who was attending a knight but who had been given the right to display their own armorial device. This device was usually unique and coats of arms or shields could be read by someone who was familiar in heraldry. That individual was usually able to identify the individual or their family just from the shape, color and decorations that were present on a coat of arms.

Was every family allowed to bear a coat of arms?

Not every family was given the right to bear arms or to have a coat of arms created for them. In many cases, the sovereign or nobility of a country needed to grant permission to an individual in order for them to be able to have a coat of arms created for their family. There are many cases of individuals who were granted the right to bear arms by distinguishing themselves in battle or by some other extraordinary service to a monarch.

Because the average individual did not need a way to identify themselves on a field of battle, they often did not bother to get a coat of arms. It was a designation of noble status or birth and because the vast majority of individuals did not belong to the nobility they usually did not have a coat of arms.

Clans and Coats of Arms

In areas such as Scotland and Ireland, there were extensive ties of blood and marriage between different families. Several families would often join to become a clan and fight under the crest and colors of the clan leader. They would often lay claim to a crest or coat of arms being theirs although it often was only used to represent the head of the clan. If you are of British, Scottish or Irish descent and are looking for information on your familyís coat of arms, it can be helpful to find out which clan your family was allied with. Then it may be easier to find the right coat of arms or crest for your family.

How to display a coat of arms once you have located it

If you are interested in displaying a coat of arms that represents your family or the clan that they belonged to there are many options to choose from. If you are interested in decorating your home with a coat of arms you may want to consider getting a wall plaque or other ornamental representation. Some individuals may be more interested in wearable items instead. These can include signet rings or embroidered clothing that displays your coat of arms.

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