Cornelius Coat of Arms
Click below to change main image
Which coat of arms or "family crest" is mine?
Choose the design you like best, just your ancestors did when they painted these symbols on the shields they carried into battle and displayed in their homes. These coats of arms are real, historical works of art/culture dating back as far as 1100AD. Most of these designs were compiled and documented by genealogists and heraldists in large books published in the nineteenth century. These arms were owned by individuals who bore your surname, and were passed down through the generations from father to son, earning the monicker "family crest".
Origin, Meaning and Family History of the Cornelius Name
Cornelius is a name who’s origin comes from the Roman Empire, specifically a name associated with the Roman Legions. The origin of the name in Latin is Cornu, meaning horn. The Romans developed a type of musical horn shaped like an upper case ‘G’ which they used to give specific orders, as in march, or move left. An officer in charge of translating written or verbal orders into music was called a Cornicern. It was a vital and dangerous job, as the Cornicern became a target for the opposition. From the root of Cornelius, we also derive the names Cornet-(musical instrument,) Cornice-(A quarried stone, used as an architectural element,) and it is the basis for the word ‘Corner.’
It is thought the original name stemmed from a Roman Legion Officer by the name of Castus Cornelio who had a son named Cornelius, who in turn became a famous prelate in the early Roman Catholic Church and one of the first Bishops of Rome-( Pope.) He was martyred because he would not conduct or be a part of a ceremony ordered by Emperor Diocletian for the worship of the God Mars. For his martyrdom he was later made into a saint for the miracles he performed in the day of his execution. On his way to his death, he healed a Roman Centurion’s wife who was ill, by laying his hands upon her body. Because of the persecution of Christians under Diocletian, after the woman had been healed, she and her husband had converted to Christianity, they were killed by the Praetorian Guard of the Emperor.
There are many legends surrounding St. Cornelius. His drinking horn was thought to be the front claw of a winged Griffin, given to him by the Griffin in exchange for the prayers the St Cornelius had said, which healed an injury. St Cornelius is not a well known Pope. However his belief no one was past redemption if they honestly confessed their sins, and were contrite has been a cornerstone of Christian theology every since his death in 251 AD.
The surname of Cornelius migrated to England as part of the Norman Invasion. It most certainly came with the Norman priests who followed shortly after William the Duke of Normandy made his conquest secure. As with most Latin based names when translated into the early form of English, there was little of no rules regarding the spelling of names, Cornelius has multiple spellings, such as Cornell, Cornel, Corneille, Cornielje, and Quernell. The earliest variation became de’ Cornell, which appears written in the mid 13th century as witness to an ecclesiastic contract where the Bishop of London’s chapter of St. Paul gave permission of a newly formed chapel dedicated to St. Mary allowing them to celebrate a high mass or divine service if they gave over a portion of the offerings to the parochial church dated in 1254.
St. Cornelius had a portion of his body, ( his skull, and a few finger bones) transported to a church in German built in his honor, named Kornelimunster. The town which sprang from the church still carries both the name of their beloved saint, but the civic arms of the city retain a golden horn as part of their arms. St. Cornelius became popular in the 10th and 11th centuries, as he was the patron saint of lovers. His fame as a healer and one who looked over wayward lovers spread all Germany and from there is traveled north into Holland and west in France. It is of interest to note the Corneille family of France were made nobles in the late 17th Century by King Louis XIV in October of 1669. During the French Revolution the French family moved to Holland to escape the persecution of the French nobility. With a change in location brought a change in spelling. Corneille became Cornielje in Dutch. The family became Barons within the Dutch peerage system and remain so to this day.
Royalty and other notable people associated with the surname Cornelius:
Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus, Roman General and Consul, who conquered Hannibal at the battle of Zamma in Carthage, later day North Africa. St. Cornelius, Pope and Patron Saint of Lovers. William the Conqueror, Henry III, King Louis XIV of France.
Places associated with the surname of Cornelius:
Rome, Italy, Germany, Holland, France, Normandy, England, India, Pakistan, United Stated of America, Australia, South Africa.
Notable people with the surname of Cornelius:
Peter von Cornelius-German painter of the latter half of the 18th and the early19th century.
HSH Gerard, Fürst von und zu Rheinbergen (Geradus Cornielje, Baron Cornielje)
Cornelius Coat of Arms Meaning
The three main devices (symbols) in the Cornelius blazon are the chevron, torteaux and cross pattee fitchee. The three main tinctures (colors) are ermine, sable and gules .
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 1A Complete Guide to Heraldry, A.C. Fox-Davies, Bonanza (re-print of 1909 Edition), New York, 1978, P69 It has a long association with royalty and the nobility in general and hence represents “Dignity” wherever it is found 2The Symbolisms of Heraldry, W. Cecil Wade, George Redway, London, 1898 P39. The ermine pattern is white with, typically, a three dots and a dart grouping representing the tail of the furred creature.3Boutell’s Heraldry, J.P. Brooke-Little, Warne, (revised Edition) London 1970, P 28. The ermine spot is sometimes found alone as a special charge on the shield.
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 4A Glossary of Terms used in British Heraldry, J.H. Parker, Oxford, 1894, Entry:Sable. 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 5Boutell’s Heraldry, J.P. Brooke-Little, Warne, (revised Edition) London 1970, P 26. Although it may seem a sombre tone, and does indeed sometimes denote grief, it is more commonly said to represent Constancy 6The Symbolisms of Heraldry, W. Cecil Wade, George Redway, London, 1898 P35.
Red in heraldry is given the name Gules, sometimes said to be the “martyr’s colour”7The Symbolisms of Heraldry, W. Cecil Wade, George Redway, London, 1898 P36. The colour is also associated with Mars, the red planet, and the zodiacal sign Aries 8Understanding Signs & Symbols – Heraldry, S. Oliver & G. Croton, Quantum, London, 2013, P53. Later heralds of a more poetical nature would sometimes refer to the colour as ruby, after the precious stone.9A Complete Guide to Heraldry, A.C. Fox-Davies, Bonanza (re-print of 1909 Edition), New York, 1978, P77.
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 10A Display of Heraldry, J. Guillim, Blome, London, 1679, (various), or additional cross-pieces used to strengthen the shield and painted a different colour.11The Pursuivant of Arms, J. R. Planche, Hardwicke, London 1859. It has also acquired the meaning of “Protection… granted… to one who has achieved some notable enterprise” 12The Symbolisms of Heraldry, W. Cecil Wade, George Redway, London, 1898 P45, possibly becuase of its resemblance to the roof truss of a house.
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 13A Complete Guide to Heraldry, A.C. Fox-Davies, Bonanza (re-print of 1909 Edition), New York, 1978, P146 One of the simplest such shapes is the plain circle, known to heralds as the roundle. 14A Glossary of Terms used in British Heraldry, J.H. Parker, Oxford, 1894, Entry:Roundle So popular is this charge that a shorthand has arisen for roundles of a particular colour and torteau is a roundle gules, or red. (We must be careful however not to confuse this with the word in French heraldry, in which torteau means roundle and must have the colour specified.) Most authorities agree that the English usage signifies the “Manchet cake” or communion wafer and thus is a symbol of religious allegiance.
No other symbol appearing in heraldry is subject to as much variation as the cross 15Boutell’s Heraldry, J.P. Brooke-Little, Warne, (revised Edition) London 1970, P 47. Mediaeval Europe was a deeply religious and Christian and many of the nobility wanted to show their devotion by adopting the symbol of the cross as part of the arms. Since no two arms could be identical there arose many variants of the cross, typically involving patterning along the edges 16Understanding Signs & Symbols – Heraldry, S. Oliver & G. Croton, Quantum, London, 2013, P67, or fanciful, decorative endings to the arms of the cross 17A Complete Guide to Heraldry, A.C. Fox-Davies, Bonanza (re-print of 1909 Edition), New York, 1978, P128. The cross pattee fitchee is typical of these, pattee indicating that the upper arms spread out at the ends, fitchee showing that the lower arm ends in a point as if is to planted in the ground.