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Blazons & Genealogy Notes

(Bowdich, co. Dorset). Ar. a fesse wavy betw. three bows paleways gu. stringed or. Crest—Seven arrows or, barbed and feathered ar. six in saltire and one in pale.

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

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Bowdich Coat of Arms Meaning

The two main devices (symbols) in the Bowdich blazon are the bow and fesse wavy. The two main tinctures (colors) are argent and gules.

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) 1Understanding Signs & Symbols – Heraldry, S. Oliver & G. Croton, Quantum, London, 2013, P53. In a sketch or drawing it is represented by plain, unmarked paper 2A Glossary of Terms used in British Heraldry, J.H. Parker, Oxford, 1847, P11.

The bold red colour on a heraldic shield is known as gules. It has a long history within heraldry, it is known that one of those who besieged the scottish castle of Carlaverock in 1300 was the French knight Euremions de la Brette who had as his arms a simple red shield.3The Siege of Carlaverock, N. Harris, Nichols & Son, London, 1828, P180. The word gules is thought to come from the Arabic gule, or “red rose” 4Boutell’s Heraldry, J.P. Brooke-Little, Warne, (revised Edition) London 1970, P 313. Later writers associated it with the precious stone ruby and the metal iron 5Understanding Signs & Symbols – Heraldry, S. Oliver & G. Croton, Quantum, London, 2013, P53, perhaps because of the red glow of iron in the heat of the blacksmith’s forge.

Given the martial nature of the origins of Heraldry, in the identification of knights and men-at-arms it can come as no surprise that mediaeval weaponry of all types are frequently to be found in a coat of arms 6Boutell’s Heraldry, J.P. Brooke-Little, Warne, (revised Edition) London 1970, P 89. The bow is an important symbol in heraldry, borne with pride on many a coat of arms. In addition to its military associations it may also be a reference to Diana the huntress. 7The Symbolisms of Heraldry, W. Cecil Wade, George Redway, London, 1898 P107

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 8A 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! The decorative edge pattern Wavy, sometimes written as undy is, for obvious reasons, associated with both water and the sea 9The Symbolisms of Heraldry, W. Cecil Wade, George Redway, London, 1898 P40. Indeed, a roundel with alternating bars of azure and argent (blue and white) is known by the shorthand term fountain, representing water at the bottom of a well 10A Glossary of Terms used in British Heraldry, J.H. Parker, Oxford, 1894, Entry:Water. Other colours have also been used and the result can be very pleasing to the eye.

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References   [ + ]

1. Understanding Signs & Symbols – Heraldry, S. Oliver & G. Croton, Quantum, London, 2013, P53
2. A Glossary of Terms used in British Heraldry, J.H. Parker, Oxford, 1847, P11
3. The Siege of Carlaverock, N. Harris, Nichols & Son, London, 1828, P180
4. Boutell’s Heraldry, J.P. Brooke-Little, Warne, (revised Edition) London 1970, P 313
5. Understanding Signs & Symbols – Heraldry, S. Oliver & G. Croton, Quantum, London, 2013, P53
6. Boutell’s Heraldry, J.P. Brooke-Little, Warne, (revised Edition) London 1970, P 89
7. The Symbolisms of Heraldry, W. Cecil Wade, George Redway, London, 1898 P107
8. A Complete Guide to Heraldry, A.C. Fox-Davies, Bonanza (re-print of 1909 Edition), New York, 1978, P117
9. The Symbolisms of Heraldry, W. Cecil Wade, George Redway, London, 1898 P40
10. A Glossary of Terms used in British Heraldry, J.H. Parker, Oxford, 1894, Entry:Water