Dillingham Family Crest, Coat of Arms and Name History

Dillingham Family Coat of Arms

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Dillingham Coat of Arms Meaning

Dillingham Name Origin & History

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Dillingham Coat of Arms Meaning

The two main devices (symbols) in the Dillingham blazon are the crescent and marlet. The two main tinctures (colors) are gules and azure.

Red in heraldry is given the name Gules, sometimes said to be the “martyr’s colour”1The 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 2Understanding 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.3A Complete Guide to Heraldry, A.C. Fox-Davies, Bonanza (re-print of 1909 Edition), New York, 1978, P77.

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” 4Boutell’s Heraldry, J.P. Brooke-Little, Warne, (revised Edition) London 1970, P 26. 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 5The Symbolisms of Heraldry, W. Cecil Wade, George Redway, London, 1898 P150.

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 6A Complete Guide to Heraldry, A.C. Fox-Davies, Bonanza (re-print of 1909 Edition), New York, 1978, P146xz`, and the crescent Is a typical example of this, and can appear in any of the main heraldic tinctures. Some common is this device that there are special names for its appearance in various orientations – whilst it lies normally with points upward, the decrescent points to the sinister side, and the increscent to the dexter 7A Glossary of Terms used in British Heraldry, J.H. Parker, Oxford, 1894, Entry:Moon. The allusion, obviously is to the shape of the moon in the sky (indeed, the French have a version “figuré” which includes a face!) and has been said to signify both “honour by the sovereign” and “hope of greater glory” 8The Symbolisms of Heraldry, W. Cecil Wade, George Redway, London, 1898 P106.

The martlett is by far the most common bird to appear in British Heraldry, perhaps only equalled by the eagle, however it is not a species ever to be found in an ornithologists handbook! The word itself is though to have come from the French word merlette, the female blackbird and itself a similar type of charge used in French Heraldry. 9A Glossary of Terms used in British Heraldry, J.H. Parker, Oxford, 1894, Entry:Martlet. Over time the image has become quite stylised, without visible legs or distinctive feathers. Wade suggests that this representation arises from “the appearance of the bird of paradise to ancient travellers” 10The Symbolisms of Heraldry, W. Cecil Wade, George Redway, London, 1898 P79. Other bird species may be named in coats of arms (cornish chough is a frequent example) but in actual execution their appearance is often indistinguishable from the martlet.

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Origin, Meaning and Family History of the Dillingham Name

This interesting surname, with the variant spelling Dillingham, is of Anglo-Saxon origin and is locational from one of the estimated seven to ten thousand villages and hamlets that have now disappeared from the maps in Britain.  The prime cause of these “disappearances” was the enforced “clearing” and dispersal of the former residents to make way for sheep pastures at the height of the wool trade in the 15th Century. More common variations are: Dilingham, Dillngham, Dillingam, Dillinghamw, Wdillingham, Tillingham, Dullingham, Dollingham, Dellingham

The surname Dillingham was first found in Dorset, Norfolk, and in Kent. The Hundredorum Rolls of 1273 list: Gild de Gillingham in Dorset and Robert de Gyllingham in Norfolk. During the reign of Edward I., Hugh de Gillingham found in Kent, and Robert de Gillingham found in Norfolk. The very first recording spelling of the family was shown to be that of Esdra Dyllingham, dated about 1567,  in the “Burwell”, Cambridgeshire.  It was during the time of Queen Elizabeth 1, who was known to be the “Good Queen Bess”, dated 1558 – 1567.  The origin of surnames during this period became a necessity with the introduction of personal taxation.  It came to be known as Poll Tax in England.  Surnames all over the country began to develop, with unique and shocking spelling varieties of the original one.

Some of the people with the name Dillingham who arrived in the United States in the 17th century included John Dillingham, who arrived in Ipswich, Massachusetts in 1631.Edward Dillingham, who arrived in Lynn, Massachusetts in 1636. Some of the people with the surname Dillingham who arrived in the United States in the 19th century included H H Dillingham, who landed in San Francisco, California in 1851.

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Blazons & Genealogy Notes

Notes: (monument of Thomas Dillingham, M.A., Bector of Barnwell, son of William Dillingham, D.D., Master of Emanuel College, Camb., and Vice-Chancellor, ob. 1704) Blazon: A fess between three martlets within a bordure a crescent for difference.

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References   [ + ]

1. The Symbolisms of Heraldry, W. Cecil Wade, George Redway, London, 1898 P36
2. Understanding Signs & Symbols – Heraldry, S. Oliver & G. Croton, Quantum, London, 2013, P53
3. A Complete Guide to Heraldry, A.C. Fox-Davies, Bonanza (re-print of 1909 Edition), New York, 1978, P77
4. Boutell’s Heraldry, J.P. Brooke-Little, Warne, (revised Edition) London 1970, P 26
5. The Symbolisms of Heraldry, W. Cecil Wade, George Redway, London, 1898 P150
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:Moon
8. The Symbolisms of Heraldry, W. Cecil Wade, George Redway, London, 1898 P106
9. A Glossary of Terms used in British Heraldry, J.H. Parker, Oxford, 1894, Entry:Martlet
10. The Symbolisms of Heraldry, W. Cecil Wade, George Redway, London, 1898 P79