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Dexter Coat of Arms Meaning

The four main devices (symbols) in the Dexter blazon are the chevron, canton, parroquet and cross moline. The three main tinctures (colors) are vert, argent and azure .

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” 1. 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 2. More fanciful heralds liked to associate it with the planet venus and the precious stone emerald 3. More strangely, there is some evidence that the term prasin was anciently used, being the Greek for the vegetable we call the Leek!

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.

Azure is the heraldic colour blue, usually quite a deep, dark shade of the colour (there is a lighter blue that sometimes occurs, known as celestial azure). If colour printing is not available then it can be represented by closely spaced horizontal lines in a scheme known as “hatching” 6. The word is thought to originate from the Arabic lazura and it represents the colour of the eastern sky. It is also said to be the colour associated by the Catholic Church with the Virgin Mary and hence of particular significance 7.

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 8, or additional cross-pieces used to strengthen the shield and painted a different colour.9. It has also acquired the meaning of “Protection… granted… to one who has achieved some notable enterprise” 10, possibly becuase of its resemblance to the roof truss of a house.

“The canton stands very high among honourable bearings”, according to Wade, a noted symbologist 11. The canton is a square shape, normally occupying the dexter chief of the shield. An early example is SUTTON, Bishop of Lincoln in the 13th century, who bore “argent a canton sable”. It occupies less space than a quarter and hence is sometimes added to an existing shield to difference branches of the same family, or, when a charge is added to it, to indicate some honour has been recieved 12. Wade remarks, that, in common with all square features can be associated with the virtue of“constancy”.

The parrot is a fairly recent usage, but the ancient form of popinjay was more common 13. Commonly coloured vert (green) with beak and legs gules (red) it is usually depicted with a high degree of realism. 14

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

Dexter Origin:


Origins of Dexter:

The surname of Dexter is of an occupational origin. This means that the original bearer of the surname of Dexter most likely was a dryer of cloth, meaning that he actually carried out this job. Occupational surnames were not originally hereditary surnames. They only became hereditary if the son followed in his father’s footsteps for a career; then the surname became hereditary and was used by the children and spouse of the son. In the case of the surname of Dexter derives from the Old English Pre 7th Century word of “dighester,” which itself is a derivative of the word of “deag” which can be translated to mean “dye.”


More common variations are: Dexeter, Dextere, Dexcter, Dextor, Texter, Dixter, Daxter, Dextre, Dextra, Duxtra, Dester



The first recorded spelling of the surname of Dexter hails from the country of England. One person by the name of Robert le Dighestre was mentioned in the Somerset County Registers in the year of 1260. This document was ordered, decreed, and written under the reign of one King Henry III, who was known throughout the ages as “The Frenchman.” King Henry III ruled from the year of 1216 to the year 1272. Other mentions of the surname of Dexter within the country of England include one John Dexter and one Ralf Dexter, who were both mentioned in the Friary Rolls of Leicester in the year 1262. One Robert le Digester was mentioned in the Subsidy Rolls of Worcestershire in the year of 1275. Another mention of the surname of Dexter was one William Dexter, who was mentioned in the Assize Rolls of Warwick in the year of 1378. Those who are known to bear the surname of Dexter in the country of England can be found throughout the region in high concentrations. The areas that have a larger population of those who are known by the surname of Dexter are within the counties of Sussex, Worcestershire, and Somerset. There is also a large population of people who bear the surname of Dexter in the areas in and around the city of London.

United States:

Throughout the 1600’s, it became common for European citizens to migrate to the United States of America, which was at that time known as the New World, or the Colonies. These European citizens were in search for a better life for them and their families, and trying to escape the tyrannical rule of their homelands, as well as the poor living conditions in these areas. This large migration of people was known as the European Migration. Among those who migrated to the New World were those who bore the surname of Dexter. The first recorded person to bear the surname of Dexter in the United States of America was one Thomas Dexter, who arrived in the city of Lynn, Massachusetts in the year of 1630. Shortly after he arrived in the country, one Francis Dexter, who was only 13 years old, arrived in the United States aboard the ship named “The Planter” in the year of 1635.

Here is the population distribution of the last name Dexter: United States 12,545; England 3,856; Canada 977; South Africa 913; Philippines 902; Algeria 625; Australia 594; Germany 471; Brazil 318; Mexico 288

Notable People:

Pete Dexter (born in 1943) who was a novelist from America, and who was awarded the U.S. National Book Award for his novel titled Paris Trout in the year of 1988.

Elliot Dexter (1870-1941) who was a film and stage actor from America.

Samuel Dexter (1761-1816) who was a statesman from America who served on the Presidential Cabinet and who also served in Congress.

Al Dexter (1905-1984) who was a country musician and songwriter from America.

Brad Dexter (1917-2002) who was born with the name Boris Malanovich, and who is most notably recognized for his roles in The Magnificent Seven (1960) and Run Silent Run Deep (1958).

Timothy Dexter (1747-1806) who was a merchant and eccentric from America, and who, upon becoming wealthy, changed his name to Lord Timothy Dexter, and built himself a mansion in Newburyport, Massachusetts, and who also wrote A Pickle for the Knowing Ones, or Plain Truth in a Homespun Dress in the year 1802.

John Dexter (1925-1990) who was a two-time Tony Award winning director, who directed opera, theatre, and film.

Norman Colin Dexter OBE (born in 1930) who was a crime writer from England, and who is most notably recognized for his Inspector Morse novels.

Blazons & Genealogy Notes

1) Ar. two chev. az. a canton gu. Crest—A tree, pendent therefrom two weights.
2) (Reg. Ulster’s Office, 1712). Ar. a cross moline betw. four parroquets vert. Crest—A naked arm embowed holding a scimitar all ppr.

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  • 1 The Symbolisms of Heraldry, W. Cecil Wade, George Redway, London, 1898 P36
  • 2 A Glossary of Terms used in British Heraldry, J.H. Parker, Oxford, 1894, Entry:Vert
  • 3 Boutell’s Heraldry, J.P. Brooke-Little, Warne, (revised Edition) London 1970, P 27
  • 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 Boutell’s Heraldry, J.P. Brooke-Little, Warne, (revised Edition) London 1970, P 26
  • 7 The Symbolisms of Heraldry, W. Cecil Wade, George Redway, London, 1898 P150
  • 8 A Display of Heraldry, J. Guillim, Blome, London, 1679, (various)
  • 9 The Pursuivant of Arms, J. R. Planche, Hardwicke, London 1859
  • 10 The Symbolisms of Heraldry, W. Cecil Wade, George Redway, London, 1898 P45
  • 11 The Symbolisms of Heraldry, W. Cecil Wade, George Redway, London, 1898 P48
  • 12 A Glossary of Terms used in British Heraldry, J.H. Parker, Oxford, 1894, Entry:Canton
  • 13 A Glossary of Terms used in British Heraldry, J.H. Parker, Oxford, 1894, Entry:Parrot
  • 14 A Complete Guide to Heraldry, A.C. Fox-Davies, Bonanza (re-print of 1909 Edition), New York, 1978, P249