Blazons & Genealogy Notes

(Earnslaw, co. Berwick; heiress, in the 17th century m. James Douglas). Motto—Ad escam et usum. Ar. on a chev. az. betw. three otters sa. each devouring a salmon of the second, as many pheons or. Crest—A demi otter erect sa. devouring a salmon, as in the arms.

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

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Graden Coat of Arms Meaning

The three main devices (symbols) in the Graden blazon are the otter, pheon and chevron. The three main tinctures (colors) are azure, or and sable .

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” 1. 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 2.

The bright yellow colour frequently found in coats of arms is known to heralds as Or, or sometimes simply as Gold.3. 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 4. The yellow colour is often associated with the Sun, and the zodiacal sign of Leo.5.

Sable, the deep black so often found in Heraldry is believed to named from an animal of the marten family know in the middle ages as a Sabellinœ and noted for its very black fur 6. In engravings, when colors cannot be shown it is represented as closely spaced horizontal and vertical lines, and appropriately is thus the darkest form of hatching, as this method is known 7. Although it may seem a sombre tone, and does indeed sometimes denote grief, it is more commonly said to represent Constancy 8.

Otters were more common in the middle ages and were a favourite prey for hunting, so we should not be surprised to find them depicted on coats of arms. They appear in quite realistic form and may be collared and shown eating fish. 9

Given the martial nature of the origins of Heraldry, in the identification of knights and men-at-arms it can come as no surprise that mediaeval weaponry of all types are frequently to be found in a coat of arms 10. The pheon is a specific type of arrow head with barbs and darts and hence quite distinctive in appearance. 11 Like the other symbols related to arrows, Wade suggests the symbolism is that of “readiness for military service”. 12

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 13, or additional cross-pieces used to strengthen the shield and painted a different colour.14. It has also acquired the meaning of “Protection… granted… to one who has achieved some notable enterprise” 15, possibly becuase of its resemblance to the roof truss of a house.

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References

  • 1 Boutell’s Heraldry, J.P. Brooke-Little, Warne, (revised Edition) London 1970, P 26
  • 2 The Symbolisms of Heraldry, W. Cecil Wade, George Redway, London, 1898 P150
  • 3 Boutell’s Heraldry, J.P. Brooke-Little, Warne, (revised Edition) London 1970, P 27
  • 4 A Complete Guide to Heraldry, A.C. Fox-Davies, Bonanza (re-print of 1909 Edition), New York, 1978, P85
  • 5 Understanding Signs & Symbols – Heraldry, S. Oliver & G. Croton, Quantum, London, 2013, P53
  • 6 A Glossary of Terms used in British Heraldry, J.H. Parker, Oxford, 1894, Entry:Sable
  • 7 Boutell’s Heraldry, J.P. Brooke-Little, Warne, (revised Edition) London 1970, P 26
  • 8 The Symbolisms of Heraldry, W. Cecil Wade, George Redway, London, 1898 P35
  • 9 A Glossary of Terms used in British Heraldry, J.H. Parker, Oxford, 1894, Entry:Otter
  • 10 Boutell’s Heraldry, J.P. Brooke-Little, Warne, (revised Edition) London 1970, P 89
  • 11 A Glossary of Terms used in British Heraldry, J.H. Parker, Oxford, 1894, Entry:Pheon
  • 12 The Symbolisms of Heraldry, W. Cecil Wade, George Redway, London, 1898 P111
  • 13 A Display of Heraldry, J. Guillim, Blome, London, 1679, (various)
  • 14 The Pursuivant of Arms, J. R. Planche, Hardwicke, London 1859
  • 15 The Symbolisms of Heraldry, W. Cecil Wade, George Redway, London, 1898 P45