Liston Family Crest, Coat of Arms and Name History

Liston Family Coat of Arms

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Liston Coat of Arms Meaning

Liston Name Origin & History

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Liston Coat of Arms Meaning

The four main devices (symbols) in the Liston blazon are the gillyflower, cross raguly, bend dancettee and bezant. The three main tinctures (colors) are gules, argent and vert .

Red in heraldry is given the name Gules, sometimes said to be the “martyr’s colour”1The Symbolisms of Heraldry, W. Cecil Wade, George Redway, London, 1898 P36. The colour is also associated with Mars, the red planet, and the zodiacal sign Aries 2Understanding Signs & Symbols – Heraldry, S. Oliver & G. Croton, Quantum, London, 2013, P53. Later heralds of a more poetical nature would sometimes refer to the colour as ruby, after the precious stone.3A Complete Guide to Heraldry, A.C. Fox-Davies, Bonanza (re-print of 1909 Edition), New York, 1978, P77.

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.

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” 6The 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 7A 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 8Boutell’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!

Although little known today, the gillyflower or July flower occurs quite often in heraldry. 9A Glossary of Terms used in British Heraldry, J.H. Parker, Oxford, 1894, Entry:Gilly-flower It is a pretty flower with bright crimson petals and looks a little like a carnation. 10A Complete Guide to Heraldry, A.C. Fox-Davies, Bonanza (re-print of 1909 Edition), New York, 1978, P271

No other symbol appearing in heraldry is subject to as much variation as the cross 11Boutell’s Heraldry, J.P. Brooke-Little, Warne, (revised Edition) London 1970, P 47. Mediaeval Europe was a deeply religious and Christian and many of the nobility wanted to show their devotion by adopting the symbol of the cross as part of the arms. Since no two arms could be identical there arose many variants of the cross, typically involving patterning along the edges 12Understanding Signs & Symbols – Heraldry, S. Oliver & G. Croton, Quantum, London, 2013, P67, or fanciful, decorative endings to the arms of the cross 13A Complete Guide to Heraldry, A.C. Fox-Davies, Bonanza (re-print of 1909 Edition), New York, 1978, P128. Of the decorative edges raguly can be at first hard to identify, but once we understand that it arises from an old word raggguled meaning ”chopped off”. 14A Glossary of Terms used in British Heraldry, J.H. Parker, Oxford, 1894, Entry:Raguly we can see that the curious shapes are intended to represent boughs lopped off a tree trunk. (This is also the origin of the term “ragged staff” see so frequently with a bear in Heraldry). Wade suggests that the use of this decoration represents “difficulties that have been encountered” 15The Symbolisms of Heraldry, W. Cecil Wade, George Redway, London, 1898 P41, and we can perhaps understand that the “hacked path” resulting shows that these difficulties have been overcome.

The bend is such a bold and clear shape, clearly visible on the shield, that its popularity should not be a surprise. One of the Heralds primary roles is ensure that each coat of arms be distinct from all others 16Boutell’s Heraldry, J.P. Brooke-Little, Warne, (revised Edition) London 1970, P 258 and one way to accomodate the demand for the use of the bend was to draw them with a variety of decorative edges, thus distinguishing, at least from close up, one set of arms from another. One example of this isDancettee (sometimes spelled dancetty or dancy) , a bold, zig-zag pattern, perhaps the most distinctive of these patterned edges. Wade, quoting Guillim suggests that dancettee be attributed to mean water, in the same fashion as undy or wavy, and one can understand this allusion.

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Origin, Meaning and Family History of the Liston Name

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Blazons & Genealogy Notes

1) (Scotland). Gu. two gillyflowers in pale slipped ppr. a chief raguly ar. Crest—Two hands conjoined and couped ppr.
2) (Sir Robert Liston, G.C.B., 1817). Motto—Poco a poco. Gu. on a cross raguly ar. two gillyflowers slipped ppr. Crest—An antique plough ppr.
3) Gu. a cross raguly or.
4) Ar. a bend dancettée sa.
5) Vert six (another, ten) bezants.

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References   [ + ]

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. The Symbolisms of Heraldry, W. Cecil Wade, George Redway, London, 1898 P36
7. A Glossary of Terms used in British Heraldry, J.H. Parker, Oxford, 1894, Entry:Vert
8. Boutell’s Heraldry, J.P. Brooke-Little, Warne, (revised Edition) London 1970, P 27
9. A Glossary of Terms used in British Heraldry, J.H. Parker, Oxford, 1894, Entry:Gilly-flower
10. A Complete Guide to Heraldry, A.C. Fox-Davies, Bonanza (re-print of 1909 Edition), New York, 1978, P271
11. Boutell’s Heraldry, J.P. Brooke-Little, Warne, (revised Edition) London 1970, P 47
12. Understanding Signs & Symbols – Heraldry, S. Oliver & G. Croton, Quantum, London, 2013, P67
13. A Complete Guide to Heraldry, A.C. Fox-Davies, Bonanza (re-print of 1909 Edition), New York, 1978, P128
14. A Glossary of Terms used in British Heraldry, J.H. Parker, Oxford, 1894, Entry:Raguly
15. The Symbolisms of Heraldry, W. Cecil Wade, George Redway, London, 1898 P41
16. Boutell’s Heraldry, J.P. Brooke-Little, Warne, (revised Edition) London 1970, P 258