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Blazons & Genealogy Notes

1) (London). Sa. a fesse dancettee erm. betw. three doves ar.
2) (Ardonhall, Scotland). Motto—Patiens. Or, on a mullet sa. a pigeon ar. Crest—A dove ar.

Origin, Meaning, Family History and Dow Coat of Arms and Family Crest

DOW

The surname Dow is believed to have originated from one of three sources. It is thought to be an Anglicized version of the Scottish name McDow, or of Welsh origin from the nickname “Daw” which derived from the Hebrew name David which translates to “beloved”. It is also believed the name may derive from the jackdaw bird.

Surnames throughout history have found their origins in a variety of sources. Some of the earliest evolved from the addition of a parent’s name to a person’s given name. People were also known to add the location of the region, town, or village where they were born or lived. The addition of an occupation or defining physical or character trait also was put into use as well.

As with most surnames, there exists variations in the spelling including but not limited too; Dow; Dowe; Dowes; and McDow among others. The variations in spelling of surnames dating back to antiquity can be attributed to a high illiteracy rate among the general population as well as a lack of consistency regarding guidelines for spelling in use by those who were literate including the scribes charged with the task of record keeping. This was compounded by the fact that many of the scribes were in the habit of spelling phonetically, what may have sounded on way to one person may have sounded completely different to another.

The use of surnames in Europe prior to and into the middle ages was primarily a practice of the noble class. However, as the smaller villages and communities gave way to larger towns and cities, surnames were found to serve as more than just a distinction between classes, they served a more practical purpose. Surnames made it easier to distinguish one person from another and it also allowed for a more reliable method of tracking people for census, tax, and immigration records. One of the first recordings of any variation of the name, William Dowe, is found in the Northampton tax rolls dated 1194. The tax rolls, were a series of census and tax records kept by the English Treasury by order of King Richard I, some of which date back to the 12th century.

After the founding of the Americas and the addition of countries to the British Commonwealth such as Canada, Australia, and New Zealand immigration began occur in greater volume than ever before. One of the first immigrants to America were John Dow who landed and settled in Boston, Massachusetts in 1638. Robert Dowler arrived in Canada in 1784. David and Margaret Dow along with their son James arrived in Adelaide, Australia in 1838 and Andrew Dow arrived and settled in Wellington, New Zealand in 1888.

Worldwide, the highest concentration of people with the surname Dow are found in Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, and the United States. By state, the largest percentile of those with the surname Dow live in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire, New Mexico, and Vermont.

There are many persons of note who bear the surname Dow. Herbert Henry Dow was born in Canada and later became a naturalized citizen of the United States. Dow was a chemical industrialist who was a graduate of the Case School of Applied Science in Ohio, and the founder of the internationally known company, Dow Chemical. Dow was a prolific inventor of chemical products, processes and compounds personally holding over ninety patents.

Much of Dow Chemical’s success is owed to World War I. Some of Dow’s largest competitors were located in Germany, during the war many of these companies suffered financially due to blockades and embargoes o their products, this left Dow to fill the gap.

Dow’s home in Midland, Michigan is a National Historic Landmark which includes the Dow Gardens.

Dow Coat of Arms Meaning

The two main devices (symbols) in the Dow blazon are the dancettee and fesse dancettee. The three main tinctures (colors) are sable, argent and ermine .

Sable, the deep black so often found in Heraldry is believed to named from an animal of the marten family know in the middle ages as a Sabellinœ and noted for its very black fur 1A Glossary of Terms used in British Heraldry, J.H. Parker, Oxford, 1894, Entry:Sable. In engravings, when colors cannot be shown it is represented as closely spaced horizontal and vertical lines, and appropriately is thus the darkest form of hatching, as this method is known 2Boutell’s Heraldry, J.P. Brooke-Little, Warne, (revised Edition) London 1970, P 26. Although it may seem a sombre tone, and does indeed sometimes denote grief, it is more commonly said to represent Constancy 3The Symbolisms of Heraldry, W. Cecil Wade, George Redway, London, 1898 P35.

Argent is the heraldic metal Silver and is usually shown as very pure white. It is also known more poetically as pearl, moon (or luna) 4Understanding Signs & Symbols – Heraldry, S. Oliver & G. Croton, Quantum, London, 2013, P53. In a sketch or drawing it is represented by plain, unmarked paper 5A Glossary of Terms used in British Heraldry, J.H. Parker, Oxford, 1847, P11.

Ermine is a very ancient pattern, and distinctive to observe. It was borne alone by John de Monfort, the Earl of Richmond and Duke of Brittany in the late 14th century 6A Complete Guide to Heraldry, A.C. Fox-Davies, Bonanza (re-print of 1909 Edition), New York, 1978, P69 It has a long association with royalty and the nobility in general and hence represents “Dignity” wherever it is found 7The Symbolisms of Heraldry, W. Cecil Wade, George Redway, London, 1898 P39. The ermine pattern is white with, typically, a three dots and a dart grouping representing the tail of the furred creature.8Boutell’s Heraldry, J.P. Brooke-Little, Warne, (revised Edition) London 1970, P 28. The ermine spot is sometimes found alone as a special charge on the shield.

Dancettee (sometimes spelled dancetty or dancy) is a bold, zig-zag pattern, perhaps the most distinctive of the patterned edges. Purists might argue that the French variant denché Is not the same, being of larger size and with the points being 90º, but there is much variation in actual practice so the difference is perhaps not that meaningful. Wade, quoting Guillim suggests that dancettee be attributed to mean water, in the same fashion as undy or wavy, and one can understand this allusion.

The fesse is a broad horizontal band across the centre of the shield, in very ancient times it was said to occupy one third of the area height of the shield 9A Complete Guide to Heraldry, A.C. Fox-Davies, Bonanza (re-print of 1909 Edition), New York, 1978, P117, however it soon became somewhat narrower. This created an opportunity to add decorative edging to the band, of many forms, and to very pleasing artisitic effect, at least close up – it must be admitted that at distance some of the forms are hard to distinguish! Dancettee (sometimes spelled dancetty or dancy) is a bold, zig-zag pattern, perhaps the most distinctive of the patterned edges. Purists might argue that the French variant denché Is not the same, being of larger size and with the points being 90º, but there is much variation in actual practice so the difference is perhaps not that meaningful.

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References   [ + ]

1. A Glossary of Terms used in British Heraldry, J.H. Parker, Oxford, 1894, Entry:Sable
2. Boutell’s Heraldry, J.P. Brooke-Little, Warne, (revised Edition) London 1970, P 26
3. The Symbolisms of Heraldry, W. Cecil Wade, George Redway, London, 1898 P35
4. Understanding Signs & Symbols – Heraldry, S. Oliver & G. Croton, Quantum, London, 2013, P53
5. A Glossary of Terms used in British Heraldry, J.H. Parker, Oxford, 1847, P11
6. A Complete Guide to Heraldry, A.C. Fox-Davies, Bonanza (re-print of 1909 Edition), New York, 1978, P69
7. The Symbolisms of Heraldry, W. Cecil Wade, George Redway, London, 1898 P39
8. Boutell’s Heraldry, J.P. Brooke-Little, Warne, (revised Edition) London 1970, P 28
9. A Complete Guide to Heraldry, A.C. Fox-Davies, Bonanza (re-print of 1909 Edition), New York, 1978, P117