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Dobson Coat of Arms Meaning

The three main devices (symbols) in the Dobson blazon are the fleur-de-lis, lion’s gamb and fesse nebulee. 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.

The fleur-de-lys (“flower of the lily”) has a long and noble history and was a symbol associated with the royalty of France even before heraldry became widespread. 6. The Lily flower is said to represent “Purity, or whiteness of soul”7 and sometimes associated with the Virgin Mary. The fleur-de-lys is also used as a small “badge”, known as a mark of cadency to show that the holder is the sixth son of the present holder of the arms 8

The art of heraldry would be significantly poorer if we were without the lion in all its forms. Most general works on Heraldry devote at least one chapter solely to this magnificent creature and its multifarious depictions 9 10 11. Some of the earliest known examples of heraldry, dating right back to the knighting of Geoffrey of Anjou in 1127, where he is shown with six such beasts upon his shield 12 .The great authority on heraldic symbology, Wade, points out the high place that the lion holds in heraldry, “as the emblem of deathless courage” 13, a sentiment echoed equally today.The variant lion’s gamb is another word for leg, and its significance remains the same as its parent animal

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 14, 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! Nebulee (sometimes nebuly is a very pleasing pattern of interlocking curves, the name refers to “clouds” as it is reminscent of their soft abstract edges.

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


The name Dobson is an Anglo-Saxon name of German origins and considered patronymic, as it is derived from the nickname for Robert or more specifically the medieval Germanic form of the name, Hrodebert. This name is a compound of two medieval German words, “hrod” which translates to “acclaimed” or “illustrious” and “berht” which translates to “brilliant” or “grand”.

Surnames in Britain prior to the Norman conquest were largely unheard of. In the small settlements and villages which existed during earlier times, residents found little need for surnames as everyone in these communities new each other and a given name would usually suffice. However, with the passage of time, population growth and expansions of communities as villages gave way to towns and cities, it became necessary to add a qualifier to a people’s names to distinguish them, one from another. Therefore one person may have been identified by their given name plus their occupation while another may have been identified by their given name and one of their parent’s names. The introduction of surnames by the Norman aristocracy after the invasion seemed to be the next logical step in this evolution. There was a boundless supply from which surnames could be formed, in addition to the use of patriarchal/matriarchal names or reference to the individuals occupation, there were things such as defining physical traits, a familiar geographical location or a topographical landmark found near the individuals home or birthplace, the name of the village in which the person lived, and so much more. Soon, surnames would come not just to represent an individual but whole families.

There often exists variations in spelling of many surnames, as with many given names which date back to the early centuries. The variation in spelling of both given and surnames during this time period can be attributed to a lack of continuity regarding guidelines for spelling which was compounded by the diversity of languages in use in European countries at this time. The variations in the spelling of the surname Dobeson include but not limited to; Dobeson; Dobbson; Dobeson; Dobbins; Dobbings; Dobbinson; Dobbison; and Dobbieson. among others.

The earliest record of any variation of this surname is that of Henry Dobbesone which appear in the Worcestershire tax rolls from 1327. These rolls, were a series of census and tax records kept by the English Treasury by order of King Edward III, with the oldest dating back to the 12th century. They hold the distinction of being the oldest consecutive set of records detailing English governance in the United Kingdom. These records span a period of over 700 years and have proven invaluable to researches over the years. Additional tax rolls show records of Roger Dobbessone from Cheshire in 1349 and George Dobeson who lived in Westminster in 1743.

The first recorded immigrant to America bearing the surname or any variation of the spelling was Judah Dobson who arrived in 1635 and settled in Virginia. William Dobeson landed and settled in Virginia in 1663 and George Dobeson arrived and settled in Massachusetts in 1672.

There were also many immigrants to the British Common Wealth countries of Canada and Australia bearing the surname Dobeson. Brothers, Aaron and Peter Dobeson landed in 1732 and settled in Canada as did John Dobeson in 1756. Robert and Anna Dobeson and their children Charles and Isabella landed in 1872 and settled in Adelaide, Australia.

Worldwide, the highest concentration of people with the surname Dobeson are found in United Kingdom, Spain, Germany, Australia, and Canada. By state, the largest percentile of those with the surname Dobeson live in Virginia.

There are many persons of note who bear the surname Dobeson. One such person is Sir David Dobeson is a retired British Royal Naval officer and former Naval Secretary. He attended the Royal Naval College at Dartmouth University. In 1975, Dobeson was appointed Commanding Officer of the HMS Amazon, a frigate in the Royal Navy because of his experience in naval aviation, in the same year, he was promoted to be the diplomatic naval and air attache to Athens. He received a promoted to Senior Naval Officer in 1982, during his time stationed in the Falkland Islands. In 1983, he was assigned as Captain to the HMS Southampton a destroyer in the Royal Navy and was also promoted to Captain of the Fleet in the same year. In 1988, he was made Naval Secretary and promoted to Rear Admiral. He would received his final appoint in 1991, being that of Chief of Staff for the Allied Naval Forces in Southern Europe. He retired as a Vice Admiral and for his service he was awarded Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire.

Blazons & Genealogy Notes

(Lynn, co. Norfolk). Ar. a fesse nebulee betw. six fleurs-de-lis gu. Crest—Two lions’ gambs erased in saltire gu.

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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 Boutell’s Heraldry, J.P. Brooke-Little, Warne, (revised Edition) London 1970, P 3
  • 7 The Symbolisms of Heraldry, W. Cecil Wade, George Redway, London, 1898 P134
  • 8 A Complete Guide to Heraldry, A.C. Fox-Davies, Bonanza (re-print of 1909 Edition), New York, 1978, P489
  • 9 A Complete Guide to Heraldry, A.C. Fox-Davies, Bonanza (re-print of 1909 Edition), New York, 1978, P172
  • 10 Boutell’s Heraldry, J.P. Brooke-Little, Warne, (revised Edition) London 1970, P 63
  • 11 Understanding Signs & Symbols – Heraldry, S. Oliver & G. Croton, Quantum, London, 2013, P140
  • 12 A Treatise on Heraldry, J. Woodward, W & A.K Johnston, Edinburgh & London, 1896, P45
  • 13 The Symbolisms of Heraldry, W. Cecil Wade, George Redway, London, 1898 P60
  • 14 A Complete Guide to Heraldry, A.C. Fox-Davies, Bonanza (re-print of 1909 Edition), New York, 1978, P117