Ham Coat of Arms
Click below to change main image
Which coat of arms or "family crest" is mine?
Choose the design you like best, just your ancestors did when they painted these symbols on the shields they carried into battle and displayed in their homes. These coats of arms are real, historical works of art/culture dating back as far as 1100AD. Most of these designs were compiled and documented by genealogists and heraldists in large books published in the nineteenth century. These arms were owned by individuals who bore your surname, and were passed down through the generations from father to son, earning the monicker "family crest".
Origin, Meaning and Family History of the Ham Name
The surname Ham has its origins in Germany and France. The Germanic stylizing of the name, Hamme, translates to mean “a pastoral area at a bend or meander in a river” or a “flood plane”. The Norman/French version, Hamm, is geographical as it is derived from various places located in the northern regions of France. The surname, Ham, is also found in the United Kingdom. It is thought to be an Anglicized version or the Germanic or French name, which is thought to have found its way to Britain after the Norman invasion or it derived its origins from an extinct region of the Scottish highlands called Hami from the ancient Norse word for settlement, manor, or estate.
In the county of Worcestershire there exists the remains of Ham Castle which is believed to have belonged to the owners of Ham Manor. The first documentation of the castle was in 1207, other than this reference and a few others in and around 1275, there is little historical information regarding the structure. It is known the building was partially destroyed by fire in 1650. The house which was built to replace the castle was burned in 1887.
There are multiple variations in the names spelling; Ham, Hamm, and Hamme. The variation in spelling can be attributed to a lack of continuity of guidelines for spelling during this time or it may be attributed to the fact that many scribes charged with the responsibility of record keeping, spelled phonetically.
The use of surnames in Britain was a custom introduced by the Norman/French aristocracy. 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. Aside from making it easier to distinguish one individual from another, surnames gave the government a reliable way to track people for tax and census purposes. In many instances, some of the earliest recordings of surnames are found in tax or census records as is the case with the surname Ham in Britain. One of the first appearances of the name can be found in the tax rolls from Sussex dated 1275 showing a listing for Robert de la Hamme. The tax rolls, were a series of census and tax records kept by the English Treasury by order of King Edward I, with the oldest dating back to the 12th century.
The use of surnames also made it easier to track immigrants to the Americas and other countries of the British Commonwealth; Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. One of the first recorded immigrants to America bearing the surname Ham is Joseph Ham who arrived in 1621 and settled in Virginia. Jonathan Ham was one of the first immigrants to Canada landing in Nova Scotia in 1750.
Edward Ham landed in southern Australia in 1849 and Job Ham landed in Wellington, New Zealand in 1879.
Currently, worldwide, the highest concentration of people with the surname Ham are found in the Netherlands, Australia, New Zealand, the United States, and Slovenia. State by state, the largest percentile of those with the surname Ham is in South Carolina.
There are many persons of note who bear the surname Ham. Captain Kenneth Todd “Hock” Ham was born in Plainfield, New Jersey. Captain Ham is an officer in the United States Navy and is a retired astronaut.
Ham received his education at the United States Naval Academy earning his bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering in 1987, he went on to earn a master’s degree in aeronautical engineering in 1996 from the Naval Postgraduate School. Ham also attended the United States Naval Test Pilot School where as a Distinguished Graduate he became a member of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots, in 1998 he was selected for NASA’s astronaut program.
During his service as an astronaut, he served as Capsule Communicator (CAPCOM) on several missions including space shuttle flights, as well as flights to the International Space Station. In this capacity he was responsible for relaying all communications from the Mission Control Center to the crew.
Captain Ham currently resides in Annapolis, Maryland where he holds the position of Chair of the Aerospace Engineering Department at the U.S. Naval Academy, a position he has held since 2013.
Ham Coat of Arms Meaning
The three main devices (symbols) in the Ham blazon are the salmon, lion and unicorn. The three main tinctures (colors) are vert, argent and azure .
The deep green colour that is so often observed in heraldry is more properly known as vert. According to Wade, the use of this colour signifies “Hope and Joy”, but may also represent, rather delightfully, “Loyalty in Love” 1The Symbolisms of Heraldry, W. Cecil Wade, George Redway, London, 1898 P36. It has other names also, the French call it sinople, perhaps after a town in Asia Minor from where the best green die materials could be found 2A Glossary of Terms used in British Heraldry, J.H. Parker, Oxford, 1894, Entry:Vert. More fanciful heralds liked to associate it with the planet venus and the precious stone emerald 3Boutell’s Heraldry, J.P. Brooke-Little, Warne, (revised Edition) London 1970, P 27. More strangely, there is some evidence that the term prasin was anciently used, being the Greek for the vegetable we call the Leek!
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) 4Understanding Signs & Symbols – Heraldry, S. Oliver & G. Croton, Quantum, London, 2013, P53. In a sketch or drawing it is represented by plain, unmarked paper 5A Glossary of Terms used in British Heraldry, J.H. Parker, Oxford, 1847, P11.
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” 6Boutell’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 7The Symbolisms of Heraldry, W. Cecil Wade, George Redway, London, 1898 P150.
Fish in great variety abound in Heraldry, many different species inhabit coats of arms 8Understanding Signs & Symbols – Heraldry, S. Oliver & G. Croton, Quantum, London, 2013, P150, although truth be told many of the actual images are sometimes indistinguishable, being shown as a stylised, and easily recognised salmon shape 9A Glossary of Terms used in British Heraldry, J.H. Parker, Oxford, 1847, P137 that a child might draw. The actual name used in the coat of arms may be some play-on-words or allusion to the family name, as in the famous arms of the de Lucy family, being “Gules, three lucies or”, 10Boutell’s Heraldry, J.P. Brooke-Little, Warne, (revised Edition) London 1970, P 79 this being an ancient name for the fish we call today a “pike”. It is possible that the salmon has been used in this fashion, or it may simply relate to some fishing activity in the history of the family.
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 11A Complete Guide to Heraldry, A.C. Fox-Davies, Bonanza (re-print of 1909 Edition), New York, 1978, P172 12Boutell’s Heraldry, J.P. Brooke-Little, Warne, (revised Edition) London 1970, P 63 13Understanding Signs & Symbols – Heraldry, S. Oliver & G. Croton, Quantum, London, 2013, P140. 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 14A Treatise on Heraldry, J. Woodward, W & A.K Johnston, Edinburgh & London, 1896, P45 .The great authority on heraldic symbology, Wade, points out the high place that the lion holds in heraldry, “as the emblem of deathless courage” 15The Symbolisms of Heraldry, W. Cecil Wade, George Redway, London, 1898 P60, a sentiment echoed equally today.
In the mediaeval period there was no real percieved difference between real and mythical animals, after all, much of the world remained unknown and who was to say what strange and magical creatures existed in distant lands? As heraldry developed a whole menagerie of imagined creatures 16Understanding Signs & Symbols – Heraldry, S. Oliver & G. Croton, Quantum, London, 2013, P164 came into being, and their various representations became more or less standardised in form and appearance. The unicorn is an intresting example that is still part of our own mythology today. The unicorn as illustrated on even the most ancient coat of arms is still instantly recognisable to us today, and shares many of the same poses that both lions and horses can be found in. 17A Glossary of Terms used in British Heraldry, J.H. Parker, Oxford, 1894, Entry:Unicorn. Wade, the 18th century heraldic writer suggested that were adopted as symbols because of “its virtue, courage and strength”. 18The Symbolisms of Heraldry, W. Cecil Wade, George Redway, London, 1898 P85