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Barnes Coat of Arms Meaning

The four main devices (symbols) in the Barnes blazon are the mascle, bezant, bar embattled and estoile. The three main tinctures (colors) are sable, or and vert .

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 1. 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 2. Although it may seem a sombre tone, and does indeed sometimes denote grief, it is more commonly said to represent Constancy 3.

The bright yellow colour frequently found in coats of arms is known to heralds as Or, or sometimes simply as Gold.4. Along with, argent, or silver it forms the two “metals” of heraldry – one of the guidelines of heraldic design is that silver objects should not be placed upon gold fields and vice versa 5. The yellow colour is often associated with the Sun, and the zodiacal sign of Leo.6.

The deep green colour that is so often observed in heraldry is more properly known as vert. According to Wade, the use of this colour signifies “Hope and Joy”, but may also represent, rather delightfully, “Loyalty in Love” 7. It has other names also, the French call it sinople, perhaps after a town in Asia Minor from where the best green die materials could be found 8. More fanciful heralds liked to associate it with the planet venus and the precious stone emerald 9. More strangely, there is some evidence that the term prasin was anciently used, being the Greek for the vegetable we call the Leek!

The mascle is a close relative of the lozenge or diamond shape, but with the centre cut away revealing the background underneath. 10. Guillim, writing in the 17th century reckoned the mascle to represent the mesh of a net, being the biblical symbol for “persuasion, whereby men are induced to virtue and verity”. 11

For easy recognition of the items on a coat of arms, and hence the quick identification of the owner, bold simple shapes are best. Hence, simple geometric shapes are often used for this purpose 12xz`, and the bezant Is a typical example of this, and in British Heraldry always takes the tincture or. It shares the same root as the name Byzantium, being associated with the gold coin of that city and indeed, in some heraldic traditions is represented as a coin-like disk in perspective. Wade suggests that the use of this device refers to ” one who had been found worthy of trust and treasure.” 13

The bar is a thin, horizontal stripe across the centre of the shield, usually in groups of two or three (any more and there would be confusion with barry, a treatment of horizontal lines of alternating colours). It is also possible to place decorative edges along bars, typically these are smaller than those found on the major ordinaries like the fess and pale, but have the same design and share the same meanings. An edge which is decorated like the top of a castle wall is said to be embattled, or sometimes crenelle, from the original French. (In castle building terminology the parts of the wall that stick up are known as merlons, and the resulting gaps as crenels). A whole sub-section of heraldic terminology has sprung up to describe whether these crennellations appear on which edges, whether they line up or alternate, have additional steps or rounded tops. The interested reader is directed to the reference for the full set! 14 For obvious reasons, use of this decoration is to be associated with castles and fortified towns, an early authority, Guillim suggest also some association with fire, but with out clear reason 15. In all, this is one of the more common, and most effective and appropriate of the decorative edges.

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

Barnes Origin:

England, France

Origins of Name:

The surname of Barnes is said to have three possible origins of the surname. The first possible origin of the surname of Barnes is of the Anglo-Saxon variety, and is a topographical surname, or possibly even an occupational surname. A topographical surname was given to someone who lived on or near a prominent structure within the area from which the person hailed. This means that everyone within this area could distinguish the man-made or natural structure that was being used to describe a person. In this case, the surname of Barnes was used to describe someone who lived in or near a barn, coming from the Old English Pre 7th Century word of “bern” which can be translated to mean “barn” or “granary.” Similarly, the second possible origin for the surname of Barnes also has to do with the Old English Pre 7th Century of “bern” but in this case was an occupational surname. This means that the surname was given to someone who actually performed the task after which they are named. This surname only became hereditary after the son followed the father into the same career. In this case the term was used in the Middle ages for someone who was a young warrior. The third possible derivation of the surname of Barnes is that it was of Irish origin, and was an Anglicized form of the surname of “O’Bearain” which can be translated to mean “spear.”


More common variations are: Barness, Barns, Barne, Barn, Bearnes, Baranes, Biarnes, Bar-Nes, Baarnes, Barnese, Barnesi



The first recorded spelling of the surname of Barnes was found in the country of England. One person by the name of Philip de Bernes was notated in the Sir Christopher Hatton’s Book of Seals of Surrey in the year of 1250. This document was written under the reign of one King Henry III of England, who throughout history was known as and commonly referred to as one “The Frenchman.” King Henry III ruled from the year 1216 to the year 1272. Other mentions of the surname of Barnes include one John Barnes, who was married to Joane Bowes at St. Mary Woolnoth in the year 1539, and mentioned in the London Church Records. Those who bear the surname of Barnes can be found throughout the country of England in large concentrations. The areas that have the highest population of people who are known by the surname of Barnes are within the counties of Dorset, Lancashire, Cumberland, Norfolk, Hampshire, and Wiltshire.


Those who carry the surname of Barnes can be found throughout the country of Scotland. The areas with the larger population of people who carry the surname of Barnes can be found in the southern counties of the country of Scotland, and can be found especially within the county of Lanarkshire.

United States of America:

Within the United States of America, there are many people who bear the surname of Barnes. The first recorded person to carry this surname to the New World was one Philip Barnes, who landed in the state of Virginia in the year of 1608. Those who carry the surname of Barnes can be found within the states of California, North Carolina, and Georgia. The eastern half of the country is heavily populated with those who bear the surname of Barnes.

Here is the population distribution of the last name Barnes: United States 233,827; England 44,967; Australia 18,973; South Africa 18,501; Canada 12,986; Ghana 11,822; Jamaica 3,659; New Zealand 2,963; Liberia 2,525; Scotland 2,369

Notable People:

Henson Perrymoore Barnes (1934-2015) who was a politician from America, who was also a lawyer, and businessman, served as a Member of the North Carolina Senate from the year 1977 to the year 1992

Craig Barnes (1936-2015) who was a political author from America, and was also a journalist, and who is most notably recognized for his work with NPR and The Rocky Mountain News

Billy Barnes (1927-2012) who was a lyricist and composer from Los Angeles, California

Brigadier-General Harold Arthur Barnes (1887-1953) who was a Deputy Quartermaster General from the year 1943 to the year 1946

Priscilla Barnes (born in 1955) who is an actress from America, who is most notably recognized for her portrayal of nurse Terri Alden on Three’s Company, which was an American TV sitcom

Robert F. Barnes, who was a Republican politician from America who also served as a Delegate to the Republican National Convention from Texas in the year 1960, and who served as the Mayor of McAllen, Texas from the year 1961 to the year 1963

William Henry Barnes (1840-1866) who was a soldier for the Union Army during the American Civil War, and received the Medal of Honor for his service and actions in the Battle of Chaffin’s Farm

Blazons & Genealogy Notes

1) (Berkshire). Ar. two bars betw. six mascles, three two, and one, sa. Crest—A demi unicorn erm. horned, collared and lined or.
2) (Cambridgeshire). Sa. two bars embattled or, in chief three bezants. Crest—A leopard pass, ar. spotted sa. collared and lined or.
3) (Durham). Quarterly, or and vert on a fesse sa. three estoiles ar.
4) (John Barnes, Esq., of Bunker’s Hill, Cumberland). Motto—Nec timide nee temere. Quarterly, or and vert, on a fesse sa. three estoiles of the field. Crest—An estoile pierced or.
5) (Lancashire, 1584). The same as of Durham with the estoiles of the first. Crest—An estoile pierced or.
6) (Lord Mayor of London, 1370 and 1371). Quarterly, az. and gu. a cross ar. in the first and second a cross bottonee or.
7) (London). Quarterly, az. and gu. a cross betw. four crosses crosslet or.
8) (London, 1614). Az. two lions pass. guard. ar. Crest—Out of clouds ppr. issuing rays paleways or, an arm erect habited of the last holding in the hand ppr. a broken sword ar. hilt gold.
9) (Katherine dau. of Anthony Barnes m. John Barrington, co. Essex, living in 1400). Quarterly, or and vert in first quarter a crescent gu.
10) Az. a pheon ar. betw. three leopards’ faces or. Crest—A demi savage wreathed about the head and middle holding a club in pale all ppr.
11) Paly of six erm. and ar. on a chief gu. a lion pass. or. Crest—A demi lion or.
12) Az. three leopards’ heads ar. Crest—On a mount vert a falcon wings expanded ar. ducally gorged beaked and legged or.
13) Az. on a bend ar. betw. two estoiles or, a bear pass, sa. estoiled or, seizing a man ppr. on a chief ar. three roses gu. radiated or.
14) Az. on a fesse betw. three sheldrakes ar. as many roses gu.
15) Ar. two bars crenelle sa. in chief three pellets.
16) (granted to Richard Knowles Barnes, Esq., Captain R.N.). Gu. a tower surmounting two swords in saltire points downwards ar. pomels and hilts or, betw. two horses’ heads erased in fesse of the second on a chief of the last upon a mural crown az. a bezant thereon perched a vulture rising betw. two elephants statant ppr. Crest—On an embattlement gu. a wivern az. gorged with a collar gemel or, the wings elevated of the last guttee de sang.
17) (Pemberton-Barnes, Haveringham at Bower, co. Essex). Motto—Mutare vel timere sperno. Quarterly, 1st and 4th, ar. a bear in bend sa. betw. two bendlets ar. on a chief of the last a rose of the first barbed and seeded ppr. betw. two estoiles or, a canton erm. for diff., for Barnes; 2nd and 3rd, az. on a chev. erm. betw. in chief two earsof wheat slipped or, and in base a dove rising ppr. three griffins’ heads erased of the third, for Pemberton. Crests—1st: Upon a rock a leopard pass. ppr. semee of estoiles and a cross crosslet sa. for diff., Barnes; 2nd; Upon the trunk of an oak tree eradicated and sprouting towards the dexter ppr. a griffin pass, or, guttee de poix.
18) Az. two lions pass. ar.
19) (Brookside, Manchester). Motto—Deus noster refugium. Per fesse or and az. a millrind fesseways betw. two lions pass. all counterchanged. Crest—A cubit arm issuant from rocks ppr. habited checky ar and az. cuff ar. the hand grasping a broken sword ppr. and issuant from the rock behind the arm rays of the sun or.

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  • 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 Boutell’s Heraldry, J.P. Brooke-Little, Warne, (revised Edition) London 1970, P 27
  • 5 A Complete Guide to Heraldry, A.C. Fox-Davies, Bonanza (re-print of 1909 Edition), New York, 1978, P85
  • 6 Understanding Signs & Symbols – Heraldry, S. Oliver & G. Croton, Quantum, London, 2013, P53
  • 7 The Symbolisms of Heraldry, W. Cecil Wade, George Redway, London, 1898 P36
  • 8 A Glossary of Terms used in British Heraldry, J.H. Parker, Oxford, 1894, Entry:Vert
  • 9 Boutell’s Heraldry, J.P. Brooke-Little, Warne, (revised Edition) London 1970, P 27
  • 10 A Glossary of Terms used in British Heraldry, J.H. Parker, Oxford, 1894, Entry:Mascle
  • 11 A Display of Heraldry, J. Guillim, Blome, London, 1679, P234
  • 12 A Complete Guide to Heraldry, A.C. Fox-Davies, Bonanza (re-print of 1909 Edition), New York, 1978, P146
  • 13 The Symbolisms of Heraldry, W. Cecil Wade, George Redway, London, 1898 P122
  • 14 A Glossary of Terms used in British Heraldry, J.H. Parker, Oxford, 1894, Entry:Embattled
  • 15 The Symbolisms of Heraldry, W. Cecil Wade, George Redway, London, 1898 P41