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Cannon Coat of Arms Meaning

The four main devices (symbols) in the Cannon blazon are the pellet, bend, mullet and sword. The two main tinctures (colors) are gules and argent.

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.1. The word gules is thought to come from the Arabic gule, or “red rose” 2. Later writers associated it with the precious stone ruby and the metal iron 3, perhaps because of the red glow of iron in the heat of the blacksmith’s forge.

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) 4. In a sketch or drawing it is represented by plain, unmarked paper 5.

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 6 One of the simplest such shapes is the plain circle, known to heralds as the roundle. 7 So popular is this charge that a shorthand has arisen for roundles of a particular colour and pellet is a roundle sable, or black. It is also known as an ogress or gunstone. Most authorities agree that the English usage signifies the “Manchet cake” or communion wafer and thus is a symbol of religious allegiance.

The bend is a distinctive part of the shield, frequently occuring and clearly visible from a distance – it is a broad band running from top left to bottom right 8. Indeed, so important is the bend that it was the subject of one of the earliest cases before the English Court of Chivalry; the famous case of 1390, Scrope vs Grosvenor had to decide which family were the rightful owners of Azure, a bend or (A blue shield, with yellow bend). 9. The bend is held in high honour and may signify “defence or protection” and often borne by those of high military rank 10.

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” 11. 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 12. 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” 13.

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

Cannon Origin:

England, Ireland

Origins of Name:

The surname of Cannon comes from an early medieval English origin, and surprisingly, has nothing to do with firearms. This surname of Cannon is believed to have been given as a nickname for someone who worked at a clergy house, or someone who gained the name from their dignified or clerical mannerisms, or by simply working for “The Canon” himself. Since the actual “Canon” was thought to have been celibate, thus this name cannot be patronymic, and can only be passed down through a nickname, occupational name, or the behaviors and mannerisms of someone else. This surname of Cannon originated from the word “canun” which comes from the Old French words of “canonie” and “canoine” the words were introduced following the Norman Conquest of the year 1066. This word merely absorbed the Old English Pre 7th Century form of “canonic,” which at finally the words all have derived from the Old Greek “kanon” which is translated as meaning to “measure” to to “rule.” In Latin “canon” can be translated to mean “rule” or to “discipline” meaning that the source of the Old English word is “canonicus.”


More common variations are:

Cannone, Cannion, Coannon, Cannoun, Cannony, Canon, Cuannon, Cannoni, Cannonn, Cannona, Caannon, Cannan



The first known recorded spelling of the Cannon surname was found to be in the country of England and in the year of 1177. This person, who was recorded as being named as one Reginald Canun, who was mentioned and appeared in the document referred to as the Cambridgeshire Pipe Rolls. This document was ordered, decreed, and written under the reign of one King Henry II, who was known as and commonly referred to as “The Builder of Churches.” King Henry II, King of England, ruled from the year 1154 to the year 1189. Other mentions of the surname of Cannon appear in early church documents. One person by the name of John Cannon was christened at St. Giles, in Cripplegate, London, in the year 1569. Those who bear this surname and live in the country of England can be found in the counties of , Essex, Herefordshire, Yorkshire and Lancashire and the city of London.


In some cases, this surname of Cannon may have been Anglicized from the Irish Old Gaelic “O’Canain.” This surname derived from the Gaelic “cana” which can be translated as meaning “wolf cub.” This surname in Ireland could also have originated from the surname “MacCanannain” where “cana” again can be translated to mean “wolf cub.” In Ireland the family line of Cannon is mainly centered in Tirconnell.


Those who bear the surname of Cannon can also be found throughout the country of Scotland. Those who carry this surname can be found in large populations and high concentrations in the counties of Midlothian, Kirkcudbrightshire, Renfrewshire and Lanarkshire.

United States:

The 1600’s brought settlers to the United States of America during the European Migration. The first of these settlers to bear the surname of Cannon were Edward Cannon and Ann Cannon. They both arrived in the state of Virginia and settled there in the year 1646. Those who bear this surname can be found in the states South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, Illinois, New York, Texas, and Pennsylvania in a higher concentration.

Cannon Today:

United States 80,413

England 10,287

Australia 3,758

Canada 2,515

South Africa 2,393

Ireland 1,540

Scotland 1,313

Germany 1,009

Philippines 580

Wales 564

Notable People:

Mrs. P Von Cannon, who was a Delegate to the Republican National Convention from Idaho in the year 1924 and the year 1936, and who was a Republican politician from America

General John Kenneth Cannon (1892-1955) who was a Commanding General of the Tactical Air Command from Langley, AFB, Virginia from the year 1951 to the year 1954, and was from America

Major-General Peter Leo Cannon (1897-1962) who was an Adjutant General of Rhode Island from the year 1941 to the year 1945, and was from America

Lieutenant-General Robert Milchrist Cannon (1901-1976) who was a Deputy Commander in Chief of the US Army Pacific from the year 1959 to the year 1961, and was from America

Dyan Cannon (born in 1937) who was a film and TV actress, director, screenwriter, editor and producer, and was from America

Sarah Opehlia Colley Cannon (1912-1996) who was born with the name Minnie Pearl, and appeared at the Grand Ole Opry for more than fifty years as a country comedienne, from the year 1940 to the year 1991, and was from America

Blazons & Genealogy Notes

1) (co. Pembroke; granted February 1614). Gu. on a bend ar. double cottised or, a pellet. Crest—A cannon sa. mounted on a carriage or.
2) (Scotland). Gu. a two-handed sword in bend sinister, betw. three mullets ar. Crest—Out of a crescent ar. a buckle az.

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  • 1 The Siege of Carlaverock, N. Harris, Nichols & Son, London, 1828, P180
  • 2 Boutell’s Heraldry, J.P. Brooke-Little, Warne, (revised Edition) London 1970, P 313
  • 3 Understanding Signs & Symbols – Heraldry, S. Oliver & G. Croton, Quantum, London, 2013, P53
  • 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, P146
  • 7 A Glossary of Terms used in British Heraldry, J.H. Parker, Oxford, 1894, Entry:Roundle
  • 8 Boutell’s Heraldry, J.P. Brooke-Little, Warne, (revised Edition) London 1970, P 39-40
  • 9 A Complete Guide to Heraldry, A.C. Fox-Davies, Bonanza (re-print of 1909 Edition), New York, 1978, P22
  • 10 The Symbolisms of Heraldry, W. Cecil Wade, George Redway, London, 1898 P49
  • 11 Boutell’s Heraldry, J.P. Brooke-Little, Warne, (revised Edition) London 1970, P 97
  • 12 A Display of Heraldry, J. Guillim, Blome, London, 1679, P107
  • 13 The Symbolisms of Heraldry, W. Cecil Wade, George Redway, London, 1898 P105