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Adair Coat of Arms Meaning

The two main devices (symbols) in the Adair blazon are the hand and man’s head. The three main tinctures (colors) are azure, gules and argent .

The bright, strong blue color in Heraldry is known in English as azure, and similarly in other European languages – azul in Spanish, azurro in Italian and azur in French. The word has its roots in the Arabic word lazura, also the source of the name of the precious stone lapis lazuli 1. Despite this, those heralds who liked to associate colours with jewels chose instead to describe blue as Sapphire. According to Wade, the use of this colour symbolises “Loyalty and Truth” 2.

Red in heraldry is given the name Gules, sometimes said to be the “martyr’s colour”3. The colour is also associated with Mars, the red planet, and the zodiacal sign Aries 4. Later heralds of a more poetical nature would sometimes refer to the colour as ruby, after the precious stone.5.

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) 6. In a sketch or drawing it is represented by plain, unmarked paper 7.

The hand, unless we are told otherwise is a dexter (right) hand shown palm outwards and fingers upwards.8. It demonstrates faith, sincerity and justice, and in the form of two right hands clasped can mean union or alliance9. There is a special form called the “Hand of Ulster” which is a sinister hand gules on an argent background (a left hand, red upon white). Originally the Badge of Ulster, the Province of Northern Ireland, it has come to be used as an addition to existing arms, in an escutcheon (small shield) or canton (small square) to indicate that the holder is also a Baronet.10

Heraldry is a human art, by and for people and it is not surprising that people themselves are frequently depicted in arms 11. Often these are images of knights and men-at-arms, or individual limbs, such as the “three armoured right arms argent” shown in the arms of Armstrong 12. As well as the nobility however, we also see both the mundane, ploughmen, fishermen and reapers; and the exotic in the form of club wielding savages and the Moorish or Saracen gentleman with his decorative wreathed turban 13.

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


The name Adair is of Anglo-Saxon is thought to have come from the medieval English given name Edgar which may also have appeared as Adger or Agar. Edgar is a compound of two medieval English words, “ead” which translates to “good fortune” or “happiness” and “ger” which translates to “ “steep” or “abrupt”.

Surnames in Britain prior to the Norman conquest were largely unheard of. In the small settlements and villages which existed during earlier times, residents found little need for surnames as everyone in these communities knew each other and a given name would usually suffice. However, with the passage of time, population growth and expansions of communities as villages gave way to towns and cities, it became necessary to add a qualifier to a people's names to distinguish them, one from another. Therefore one person may have been identified by their given name plus their occupation while another may have been identified by their given name and one of their parent's names. Introduction of surnames by the Norman aristocracy after the invasion seemed was the next logical step in this evolution. There was a boundless supply from which surnames could be formed, in addition to usages of patriarchal/matriarchal names or reference to the individuals occupation, there were things such as defining physical traits, a familiar geographical location or a topographical landmark found near the individuals home or birthplace, the name of the village in which the person lived, and so much more. Soon, surnames would come not just to represent an individual but whole families.

There often exists variations in spelling of many surnames, as with many given names which date back to the early centuries. The variation in spelling of both given and surnames during this time period can be attributed to a lack of continuity regarding guidelines for spelling which was compounded by the diversity of languages in use in European countries at this time. The variations in the spelling of the surname Adair include but not limited to; Adair; Odeir; Edzear; Edgar; and Adare among others.

The earliest record of any variation of this surname is that of Thomas Edgar which appears in the Surrey tax rolls from 1250. These rolls, were a series of census and tax records

kept by the English Treasury by order of King Henry II, with the oldest dating back to the 12th century. They hold the distinction of being the oldest consecutive set of records detailing English governance in the United Kingdom. These records span a period of over 700 years and have proven invaluable to researches over the years. Additional the marriage of William Adair and Margaret Johnstown appear in church records found in Edinburgh dated 1606. The records also show Alisone Adair was christened in there in 1610.

The first recorded immigrant to America bearing the surname or any variation of the spelling was Thomas Adair who arrived in 1730 and settled in Pennsylvania. William Adair landed and settled in Virginia in 1754. James Adair landed and settled in Pennsylvania in 1771 and Ann and Agnes Adair landed and settled in New York in 1774.

There were also many immigrants to the British Commonwealth countries of Canada and New Zealand bearing the surname Adair. Brothers, John Adair landed in 1783 and settled in St. John, New Brunswick, Canada. Henry Adair landed in 1866 and settled in Auckland, New Zealand and Walter Adair landed in 1875 and settled in Auckland, New Zealand also.

Worldwide, the highest concentration of people with the surname Adair are found in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, and Australia. By state, the largest percentile of those with the surname Adair live in Alabama, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Utah.

There are many persons of note who bear the surname Adair. Robert Adair, his two sons, and their progeny are examples. In 1838, Robert Adair was given the title of Baronet. Additionally, Adair was given a second title in 1873, that of Baron of Waveney. This title became extinct when Robert Adair died in 1886, however, the title of Baronet was passed on to his eldest son who was named Robert as well. Unfortunately, he died without any children, therefore the Baronetcy was inherited by his younger brother, Hugh. Hugh's descendants held the title until 1988 when the last eligible descendant, Sir Allan Adair, the 5th Baronet, passed away. Allan did have a son, Desmond. who was the heir apparent, however, Desmond perished in World War II without having any children.

Blazons & Genealogy Notes

1) (Kinhilt, co. Wigton). Per bend or and sa. three dexter hands appaumee couped and erect gu. Crest—A man's head couped and bloody ppr. Motto—Loyal au mort.
2) (Genoch, 1772). Mottoes—Arte et marte; and Fortitudine. Ar. a lion rampant az. between three dexter hands appaumee erected and couped gu. Crest—A man’s head affrontee couped ppr. distilling drops of blood, and fixed on the point of a sword erected in pale, also ppr. hilted and pommeled or.

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  • 1 A Glossary of Terms used in British Heraldry, J.H. Parker, Oxford, 1894, Entry:Azure
  • 2 The Symbolisms of Heraldry, W. Cecil Wade, George Redway, London, 1898 P36
  • 3 The Symbolisms of Heraldry, W. Cecil Wade, George Redway, London, 1898 P36
  • 4 Understanding Signs & Symbols – Heraldry, S. Oliver & G. Croton, Quantum, London, 2013, P53
  • 5 A Complete Guide to Heraldry, A.C. Fox-Davies, Bonanza (re-print of 1909 Edition), New York, 1978, P77
  • 6 Understanding Signs & Symbols – Heraldry, S. Oliver & G. Croton, Quantum, London, 2013, P53
  • 7 A Glossary of Terms used in British Heraldry, J.H. Parker, Oxford, 1847, P11
  • 8 A Glossary of Terms used in Heraldry, J.B. Parker, 1894 P305
  • 9 The Symbolisms of Heraldry, W Cecil Wade 1898 P92
  • 10 Heraldry Historical and Popular, Charles Boutell, 1864 P56
  • 11 Understanding Signs & Symbols – Heraldry, S. Oliver & G. Croton, Quantum, London, 2013, P174
  • 12 Boutell’s Heraldry, J.P. Brooke-Little, Warne, (revised Edition) London 1970, P 60
  • 13 A Complete Guide to Heraldry, A.C. Fox-Davies, Bonanza (re-print of 1909 Edition), New York, 1978, P168