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Duke Coat of Arms Meaning

The four main devices (symbols) in the Duke blazon are the chaplet, coney, garb and bird. The three main tinctures (colors) are azure, argent and or .

The bright, strong blue color in Heraldry is known in English as azure, and similarly in other European languages – azul in Spanish, azurro in Italian and azur in French. The word has its roots in the Arabic word lazura, also the source of the name of the precious stone lapis lazuli 1. Despite this, those heralds who liked to associate colours with jewels chose instead to describe blue as Sapphire. According to Wade, the use of this colour symbolises “Loyalty and Truth” 2.

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) 3. In a sketch or drawing it is represented by plain, unmarked paper 4.

The bright yellow colour frequently found in coats of arms is known to heralds as Or, or sometimes simply as Gold.5. Along with, argent, or silver it forms the two “metals” of heraldry – one of the guidelines of heraldic design is that silver objects should not be placed upon gold fields and vice versa 6. The yellow colour is often associated with the Sun, and the zodiacal sign of Leo.7.

Laurel appears in several forms in heraldry, beginning with the whole bush. through branches, sprigs and leaves. Wade, the noted heraldic author, reckons that the leaves represent “tokens of peace and quietness”, whilst branches, especially in pairs are in memory of some great triumph. 8 The other major appearance of the laurel is in the form of the laurel wreath, also known as a chaplet. 9. This was worn as a token of victory by Roman emporers, and Wade futher suggests that a similar purpose is adopted in heraldic art.

The coney, which is an old word for rabbit and also used for hare is intended to perhaps represent “one who enjoys a peaceable and retired life”. 10 They can be found in a variety of poses, but most often sejant or seated in a pleasing fashion. 11

Europe in the middle ages was still a largely agrarian society, and the wealth of the nobility resided in their estates and land. Since most people still lived and worked on the land they would find farm implements instantly recognisable, (an important feature for a coat of arms), even if they seem obscure to us today. 12 The garb for example is an ancient word for wheatsheaf, something now more frequently seen in Inn signs than in the field! 13

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

Duke Origin:

England, France

Origins of Name:

The surname of Duke has possible origins in both Middle English and Irish derivatives. The first possible origin for the surname of Duke derives from the Middle English words “duke” “doke” “duc” “douk,”. These words would actually evolve from Old French. The Old French “duc” which means to be a captain or an army leader. The Old French word “duc” derives from the Latin word “ducis” or “dux” which means leader or captain. The surname would have then been a nickname for a leader, or for someone who acted like a leader in any situation. This surname also could have been an occupational surname for someone who was employed in a ducal household. The second possible origin of the Duke surname is of an Irish origin, deriving from the word “Marmaduke” which comes from a given name of Irish thought. This name comes from the Gaelic “mael Maedoc”. Mael Maedoc was used by early Irish saints as a personal name used to bear as devotees to Maedoc. In the possible Irish origin, the surname Duke is thought to be a shortened version of “Marmaduke.” In the Irish origin, the name “Dukes” is the patronymic version of this shortened name, where “s” is a shortened form of “the son of Duke” or “the son of Marmaduke.” There is a wide variety of different spellings of this surname, not only because of the literacy and location of the people who bear it and have recorded it, but also because of the languages it is translated from. The original translation of the surname Duke from Middle English, Latin, Gaelic, and Old French accounts for the possible variable spellings with the same pronunciation, or with different pronunciations.


More common variations are:

Dukes, Ducke, Deuke, Dhuke, Dukke, Dukhe, Dauke, Dyuke, Dukie, Douke, Dukey,



The first recorded spelling of someone bearing the surname Duke, although under an alternate spelling, was Herbert le Duc, who was named in the Records of the Templars in England (Shropshire) in the year 1185, under the reign of King Henry II. He was also called “The Builder of Churches” and ruled from the year 1154 to the year 1189. During The Great Migration, the first person to land in the United States of America who bore the modern surname of Duke, was one man named Richard Duke, who sailed to the United States of America in the year 1633, and landed in the state of Maryland. Shortly after, Edward Duke sailed to New England in 1634, and then John Duke, who was an early emigrant from London, England, and boarded the ship named the Elizabeth” that was bound for New England in April of the year 1635. Six years later, Mary Duke sailed from London, England to the state of Virginia in the year 1641. In the 18th century, John Duke sailed to the commonwealth of Pennsylvania in the year 1772, while Elizabeth Duke landed in the state of Virginia in the year 1178.


John and Robert Duke were soldiers who served under Oliver Cromwell. They were granted land in Sligo named the Newpark estate. All the way until the 19th century, their descendants owned land in Sligo and Roscommon.


In the early part of the 15th century, Humphrey Duke emigrated to Barbados. He is thought to be the ancestor of many Dukes on the island today.

The Dukes in Barbados could also have Irish blood. Mansergh Duke who was a doctor from Sligo emigrated to Barbados in the 1890s.

United States

The famous Duke tobacco dynasty started with Washington Duke. During the Civil War he was a poor farmer in Orange county, South Carolina. By the turn of the 20th century, his son James Duke would be the president of the American Tobacco Company. Eventually the entire fortune would be passed to James’ daughter, Doris Duke.

Duke Today:

United States 43,073

Nigeria 34,999

England 6,426

Bangladesh 5,156

Ghana 3,994

Togo 3,199

Canada 3,022

Australia 2,523

Mozambique 2,063

South Africa 1,717

Notable People:

Anne Marie “Patty” Duke (1946-2016) who was an actress from America. She would go on to win the Best Supporting Actress Award at the Oscars at the young age of 16 in the year 1960. She was also ranked on TV Guides Greatest Stars of All Time as number 40 on their list

Robin Chandler Duke (1923-2016) who was a women’s rights advocate and diplomat and American socialite, and from the year 2000 to the year 2001 served as the U.S. Ambassador to Norway

James Henry “Red” Duke (1928-2015) professor at The University of Texas Health Science Center, professor at the Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center, remembered best for “Dr. Red Duke’s Health Reports” a popular television program for 15 years, American trauma surgeon

Mike Duke (born in 1950) was a President of Walmart, and also served as CEO at Walmart, was an American businessman

Brigadier-General James Thomas Duke (1893-1970) who was a Commanding General at the Charleston Port of Embarkation from the years 1942 to 1945, and was a serviceman from America

Ken Duke (born in 1969) PGA (Professional Golfer’s Association) golfer from America

John Woods Duke (1899-1984) composer and pianist from America

James Buchanan Duke (1856-1925) tobacco and electric power industrialist from America, Duke University is named after him

Charles Moss Duke Jr. (born 1935) NASA (National Aeronautics Space Administration) Astronaut with over 256 hours in space

Vernon Duke (1903-1969) composer from America

Blazons & Genealogy Notes

1) (cos. Bedford and Devon). Per fesse indented ar. and az. three chaplets counterchanged.
2) (Otterton and Power Hayes, co. Devon; Cosenton, and Maidstone, co. Kent; and Richmond, co. Surrey). (Lake, co. Wilts, representative of a branch of the family of Duke, of Power Hayes, co. Devon. Visit, by St. George in 1623). (Appleshaw, co. Hants). 3) Per fesse ar. and az. three chaplets counterchanged. Crest—A demi griffin or, holding a chaplet az.
4) (Pinne, co. Devon; Richard Duke, son of John Duke, who was second son of Henry Duke, of Otterton. Visit. 1620). Per fess or and az. three chaplets counterchanged.
5) (Castle Jordan, co. Meath; Fun. Ent. of Sir Henry Duke, of that place, d. 12 Feb. 1595). (London; confirmed 1620, by Camden, Clarenceux, to Peter Duke, of that place, son of John, son of Peter Duke, of France). Same Arms, quartering, per pale wavy az. and or, for Power. Crest—A demi griffin segreant ar. holding between the claws a chaplet.
6) (Benhall Lodge and Brompton, co. Suffolk, bart., extinct 1732). Az. a chev. betw. three birds close ar. membered gu. Crest—A sword ar. hilt or, stuck in a plume of five feathers, three az. two ar.
7) (co. Suffolk). Az. a chev. betw. three bucks’ heads ar. attired gu.
8) Az. a coney sejant ar.
9) (city of Chester, 1740). Paly of nine az. and or, on a bend gu. three garbs ar.
10) (bart.). Motto—Gradatim vincimus. Per chev. erm. and az. in chief three feathers erect ar. betw. two chaplets az., in base a mace within a collar ppr., representing the mace and collar of the Lord Mayor of the city of London. Crest—A demi gryphon ar. winged az. in the beak a peacock’s feather ppr. supporting a sword also ppr. representing that of the said city of London.

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Todd Charles Juchau commented on 09-Oct-2018
Horus Pendragon Peaceful Juchau hidden knowledge


  • 1 A Glossary of Terms used in British Heraldry, J.H. Parker, Oxford, 1894, Entry:Azure
  • 2 The Symbolisms of Heraldry, W. Cecil Wade, George Redway, London, 1898 P36
  • 3 Understanding Signs & Symbols – Heraldry, S. Oliver & G. Croton, Quantum, London, 2013, P53
  • 4 A Glossary of Terms used in British Heraldry, J.H. Parker, Oxford, 1847, P11
  • 5 Boutell’s Heraldry, J.P. Brooke-Little, Warne, (revised Edition) London 1970, P 27
  • 6 A Complete Guide to Heraldry, A.C. Fox-Davies, Bonanza (re-print of 1909 Edition), New York, 1978, P85
  • 7 Understanding Signs & Symbols – Heraldry, S. Oliver & G. Croton, Quantum, London, 2013, P53
  • 8 The Symbolisms of Heraldry, W. Cecil Wade, George Redway, London, 1898 P125.
  • 9 A Glossary of Terms used in British Heraldry, J.H. Parker, Oxford, 1894, Entry:Laurel
  • 10 The Symbolisms of Heraldry, W. Cecil Wade, George Redway, London, 1898 P67
  • 11 A Glossary of Terms used in British Heraldry, J.H. Parker, Oxford, 1894, Entry:Hare
  • 12 Boutell’s Heraldry, J.P. Brooke-Little, Warne, (revised Edition) London 1970, P 86
  • 13 A Glossary of Terms used in British Heraldry, J.H. Parker, Oxford, 1894, Entry:Garbe