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Dorn Coat of Arms Meaning

The two main devices (symbols) in the Dorn blazon are the eagle and bar wavy. The three main tinctures (colors) are gules, purpure and argent .

Red in heraldry is given the name Gules, sometimes said to be the “martyr’s colour”1. The colour is also associated with Mars, the red planet, and the zodiacal sign Aries 2. Later heralds of a more poetical nature would sometimes refer to the colour as ruby, after the precious stone.3.

The pattern engrailed is a series of scalloped indentations with the points facing outwards – and should not be confused with invected, which has the points facing inwards! Wade believes that both of these indented forms represent “earth or land”, and one perhaps can indeed see the furrowed earth embodied in them.

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.

Where the lion is undisputed king of the animals, the eagle undoubtedly plays the same role in the realm of the birds, its use in this form dating back to at least the Roman period 6. They tend to be illustrated in quite some detail, especially in continental European arms, and have almost as wide variety of postures and accessories as the lion, well illustrated in the reference 7 as well as being just the eagle’s head or eagle’s leg. The symbology of the eagle is deep and complex, Wade devotes several pages to the subject 8, but suffice it say that it has long been associated with Empire and those held in high honour – any armiger would be pleased to have any form of Eagle upon their arms!

The bar is a thin, horizontal stripe across the centre of the shield, usually in groups of two or three (any more and there would be confusion with barry, a treatment of horizontal lines of alternating colours). It is also possible to place decorative edges along bars, typically these are smaller than those found on the major ordinaries like the fess and pale, but have the same design and share the same meanings. The decorative edge pattern Wavy, is a typical example of this. For obvious reasons it is associated with both water and the sea 9. Indeed, a roundel with alternating bars of azure and argent (blue and white) is known by the shorthand term fountain, representing water at the bottom of a well 10. Other colours have also been used and the result can be very pleasing to the eye.

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


The name Dorn is Germanic in origin. It is derived from the medieval German “dorn” which translates to thorn, it would have been applied to someone who lived near a thorn bush or hedge. In this context it would have been considered geographical. There are also several place which were located in Germany that were called Dorn, it is believed the name may have also been applied to residents of these locations, as well.

The variations in the spelling of the surname includes; Dorn; Dorns; Dorne; Doorn; Doern; Dorner; and Dornes among others. The variations in spelling of surnames dating back to ancient times can be attributed to a lack of consistency regarding guidelines for spelling in use by the scribes who recorded such information, many of which were in the habit of spelling phonetically. The issue of multiple spellings of names in records was compounded by the diversity of languages in use in European countries at this time.

Surnames were rarely if ever used in ancient Europe. In the small settlements and villages which existed during earlier times in most of Europe, residents found little need for surnames as everyone in these communities knew each other and a given name would usually suffice. However, as communities grew and people began to migrate on a larger scale, along with the need of the government having a reliable way to track people for tax and census purposes, the aristocracy’s penchant for using surnames seemed the appropriate evolution to this problem. In most instances to distinguish themselves, one from another, those not of the noble class would often be identified by their given name plus their occupation while others may have been identified by their given name and one of their parent’s names.

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 individual’s home or birthplace, the name of the village in which the person lived, and so much more. Over the course or time, surnames would come not just to represent an individual but whole families.

One of the earliest record of any variation of this surname is that of William Thorn which appears in the Sussex tax rolls from 1206. The tax rolls, were a series of census and tax records kept by the English Treasury by order of King John. These documents, the oldest dating back seven hundred years to the 12th century, are considered the oldest continuous set of records detailing English governance in the United Kingdom.

The task of record keeping was primarily the responsibility of the churches, priories, and government as literacy was often a skill found only among the wealthy, the clergy, and those in government. For practical purposes, governments found the use of surnames made the recording and tracking of people for census, taxation, and immigration purposes easier.

One of the first recorded immigrants to America bearing the surname was William Dorn who arrived in 1635 and settled in Virginia. Lazarus Dorn arrived in 1710 and settled in New York, NY.

There were also immigrants to the British Commonwealth countries of Canada, Australia, and New Zealand bearing the surname Dorn. William Dorn landed in 1784 and settled in Saint John, New Brunswick.

Worldwide, the highest concentration of people with the surname Dorn are found in Germany, Austria, the United Stated, Slovenia, and Canada. By state, the largest percentile of those with the surname Dorn live in Michigan, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Minnesota.

There are many persons of note who bear the surname such as German born Friedrich Ernst Dorn. He was a noted physicist and was the first person to discover the element radium emitted the radioactive substance radon.

Canadian born, Walter A. Dorn, is a scientist researcher, educator, and author. He is an instructor at the Canadian Forces College and the Royal Military College of Canada where he teaches military officers and civilians.

Belgian born, Gerhard Dorn was a philosopher, physician, translator, alchemist, and bibliophile. Dorn was an often quoted inspiration to psychologist, Carl Jung.

Blazons & Genealogy Notes

(London). Ar. two bars wavy gu. on a chief purp. as many eagles’ heads erased ppr. Crest—A stag’s head erased ppr.

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  • 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 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 Glossary of Terms used in British Heraldry, J.H. Parker, Oxford, 1894, Entry:Eagle
  • 7 A Complete Guide to Heraldry, A.C. Fox-Davies, Bonanza (re-print of 1909 Edition), New York, 1978, P235-238
  • 8 The Symbolisms of Heraldry, W. Cecil Wade, George Redway, London, 1898 P72-74
  • 9 The Symbolisms of Heraldry, W. Cecil Wade, George Redway, London, 1898 P40
  • 10 A Glossary of Terms used in British Heraldry, J.H. Parker, Oxford, 1894, Entry:Water