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Acton Coat of Arms Meaning

The four main devices (symbols) in the Acton blazon are the lion, chevron, mullet and cross crosslet. The three main tinctures (colors) are gules, ermine and or .

Gules, the heraldic colour red is very popular, sometimes said to represent “Military Fortitude and Magnanimity”1. It is usually abbreviated as gu and in the days before colour printing was shown in a system known as hatching by vertical lines 2. Although it may look like a French word it is normally pronounced with a hard “g” and may be derived either from the Latin gula (throat) or Arabic gule (rose).3

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 4 It has a long association with royalty and the nobility in general and hence represents “Dignity” wherever it is found 5. The ermine pattern is white with, typically, a three dots and a dart grouping representing the tail of the furred creature.6. The ermine spot is sometimes found alone as a special charge on the shield.

Or is the heraldic metal Gold, often shown as a bold, bright yellow colour. It is said to show “Generosity and elevation of the mind” 7. Later heralds, of a more poetic nature liked to refer to it as Topaz, after the gemstone, and, for obvious reasons associated it with the Sun 8. In drawings without colour it is usually represented by many small dots, or by the letter ‘O’ 9.

The art of heraldry would be significantly poorer if we were without the lion in all its forms. Most general works on Heraldry devote at least one chapter solely to this magnificent creature and its multifarious depictions 10 11 12. Some of the earliest known examples of heraldry, dating right back to the knighting of Geoffrey of Anjou in 1127, where he is shown with six such beasts upon his shield 13 .The great authority on heraldic symbology, Wade, points out the high place that the lion holds in heraldry, “as the emblem of deathless courage” 14, a sentiment echoed equally today.

The chevron is one the major shapes used upon a shield, known as ordinaries. The inverted ‘V’ of the chevron is perhaps thought to have originated to represent a military scarf folded on the shield 15, or additional cross-pieces used to strengthen the shield and painted a different colour.16. It has also acquired the meaning of “Protection… granted… to one who has achieved some notable enterprise” 17, possibly becuase of its resemblance to the roof truss of a house.

The heraldic mullet, not to be confused with the fish of that name, is shown as a regular, five pointed star. This was originally, not an astronomical object, but represented the spur on a horseman’s boot, especially when peirced, with a small circular hole in the centre it represents a type of spur known as a “rowel” 18. A clear example can be found in the arms of Harpendene, argent, a mullet pierced gules. The ancient writer Guillim associated such spurs in gold as belonging to the Knight, and the silver to their esquires 19. In later years, Wade linked this five pointed star with the true celestial object, the estoile and termed it a “falling star”, symbolising a “divine quality bestowed from above” 20.

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

This interesting surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin and is a locational name from one of the many places thus called for example in Cheshire, Gloucestershire, Herefordshire, Middlesex, Shropshire and Suffolk. More common variations are: Ackton, Achton, Aecton, Eacton, Actton, Accton, Achtoun, Acatono, Whacton, Octon.

The surname Acton was first found in Cheshire, Shropshire, and Worcestershire.  Sometime before the Norman Invasion in 1066 they held a family seat at Ombersley in their mansion Castle known as Acton Hall, in Worcestershire.  "Engelard de Acton, of Acton-Pigot and Acton-Burnell, admitted on the Roll of Guild Merchants of Shrewsbury in 1209. The very first recorded spelling of the family was shown to be that of Hugh de Acton, dated 1194, in the “Pipe Rolls of Shropshire”. It was during the reign of King Richard I, who was known as “Richard the Lionheart”, dated 1189-1199.  Surname all over the country became a necessity with the introduction of personal taxation.

Some of the people with the name Acton who arrived in the United States in the 17th century included John Acton, who settled in Virginia in 1642.  Jon Acton arrived in Virginia in 1642.  People with the surname Acton who landed in the United States in the 18th century included James Acton, who settled in New England in 1718. The following century saw much more Acton surnames arrive.  Some of the people with the surname Acton who arrived in the United States in the 19th century included Thomas Acton, who arrived in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1854.

Some of the people with the surname Acton who arrived in the Canada in the 19th century included Mr. John Acton, aged 26 who emigrated to Canada, arriving at the Grosse Isle Quarantine Station in Quebec aboard the ship "Erin's Queen" from the port of Liverpool, England but died on Grosse Isle in August 1847.  Some of the population with the surname Acton who arrived in New Zealand in the 19th century included Edward Acton, who arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "New Era" in 1855.

Blazons & Genealogy Notes

(Aldenham, co. Salop). Gu. two lions pass. ar. betw. nine crosses crosslet fitchee or. Crest—Within a wreath ar. and gu. a human leg and thigh in armour ppr. garnished or. couped and dropping blood.
(Bockleton, co. Worcester). Same as preceding with a mullet for difference.
(Acton Hall, Ombersley). Visit. 1634, has the chev. or. Gu. a chev. betw. three cinquefoils ar.
(Worcester). Gu. a fesse and bordure both engr. erm. in chief a chaplet ppr.
Gu. a bordure engr. erm.
Per fesse indented ar. and az. Crest—A pine tree leaved vert fructed or.
Quarterly, per fesse indented ar. and gu. on a bend az. three crosses formee fitchtee or.
Gu. a cross or, within a bordure engr. erm.
Or, three bars vair.
(Cheshire, two distinct male branches of Hellesley). Az. a chev. between three mullets or (another without the chev.).
Ar. three piles wavy gu.
(Cheshire). Gu. a fesse erm. in chief and in base a lion pass. ar. betw. two crosses crosslet or. Crest—A demi lion ramp. guard. ar. grasping a spear or, enfiled with a boar's head sa. couped gu.
(Gloucester). Gyronny of eight ar. and gu.
The same; adding in the second quarter a cross pattee ar. charged with five escallops gu.
Gu. crusilee of crosses crosslet fitchee or, two lions pass. ar.
Quarterly, ar. and gu. in chief an annulet counterchanged, on a bend az. three crosses pattee fitchtee or.
(Cheshire). Ar. a chev. gu.
(Leicestershire). Quarterly, per fesse indented ar. and az.
(London). Quarterly, per fesse indented ar. and gu. in the first quarter a Cornish chough aa.
(Ripford). Ar. a fesse within a bord. engr. erm.
(Shropshire). Quarterly, per fesse indented ar. and gu. in the first a bordure sa.
(Warwickshire). Gu. a fesse within a bordure erm.
(Worcestershire. The Sutton branch terminated with an heiress, Joice Acton, m. to Sir Thomas Lucy, of Charlecote, but its male representation vested in William Joseph Acton, of Wolverton, Esq.). Motto—Vaillance avance l’homme. Gu. a fesse erm. within a bordure engr. of the second. Crest—An arm in armour embowed ppr. holding in the hand a sword ar. hilt or, thereon a boar’s head couped sa. the neck distilling blood.

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References

  • 1 The Symbolisms of Heraldry, W. Cecil Wade, George Redway, London, 1898 P36
  • 2 Understanding Signs & Symbols – Heraldry, S. Oliver & G. Croton, Quantum, London, 2013, P52
  • 3 A Glossary of Terms used in British Heraldry, J.H. Parker, Oxford, 1847, P154
  • 4 A Complete Guide to Heraldry, A.C. Fox-Davies, Bonanza (re-print of 1909 Edition), New York, 1978, P69
  • 5 The Symbolisms of Heraldry, W. Cecil Wade, George Redway, London, 1898 P39
  • 6 Boutell’s Heraldry, J.P. Brooke-Little, Warne, (revised Edition) London 1970, P 28
  • 7 The Symbolisms of Heraldry, W. Cecil Wade, George Redway, London, 1898 P35
  • 8 Understanding Signs & Symbols – Heraldry, S. Oliver & G. Croton, Quantum, London, 2013, P53
  • 9 A Complete Guide to Heraldry, A.C. Fox-Davies, Bonanza (re-print of 1909 Edition), New York, 1978, P76-77
  • 10 A Complete Guide to Heraldry, A.C. Fox-Davies, Bonanza (re-print of 1909 Edition), New York, 1978, P172
  • 11 Boutell’s Heraldry, J.P. Brooke-Little, Warne, (revised Edition) London 1970, P 63
  • 12 Understanding Signs & Symbols – Heraldry, S. Oliver & G. Croton, Quantum, London, 2013, P140
  • 13 A Treatise on Heraldry, J. Woodward, W & A.K Johnston, Edinburgh & London, 1896, P45
  • 14 The Symbolisms of Heraldry, W. Cecil Wade, George Redway, London, 1898 P60
  • 15 A Display of Heraldry, J. Guillim, Blome, London, 1679, (various)
  • 16 The Pursuivant of Arms, J. R. Planche, Hardwicke, London 1859
  • 17 The Symbolisms of Heraldry, W. Cecil Wade, George Redway, London, 1898 P45
  • 18 Boutell’s Heraldry, J.P. Brooke-Little, Warne, (revised Edition) London 1970, P 97
  • 19 A Display of Heraldry, J. Guillim, Blome, London, 1679, P107
  • 20 The Symbolisms of Heraldry, W. Cecil Wade, George Redway, London, 1898 P105
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