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Blazons & Genealogy Notes

Per pale azure and or, three boars’ heads in bend counterchanged. Crest—A tower or.

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


The English surname Maples is a derivative of the word maple. It would have been used in reference to someone who lived in or near a maple tree grove. In this context the name would have been geographical.

Surnames had various sources of origins. Some people may have been 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 an endless supply from which surnames were culled, 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 individuals home or birthplace, the name of the village in which the person lived, and much more. Soon, surnames would come not just to represent an individual but whole families.

The use of surnames was not a common practice in Europe, except among the noble classes, until the mid-sixteenth century. The popularity in the use of surnames developed out of necessity, clarity, and practicality. As populations in European cities grew, it became necessary for clarity's sake to add a qualifier to a person's given name to distinguish them from another who may share the same common name. For practical purposes, governments found the use of surnames made the recording and tracking of people for census, taxation, and immigration purposes easier, as well.

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. Even so, there often existed multiple variations of names which was attributed to a number of factors; the origins of the surname, the lack of guidelines which existed for spelling, and the fact that many scribes and clergy members who were charged with record keeping spelled phonetically, among other things. Some of the early variations of this surname include; Maples; Maple; Mapele; Mapples; Maiples; and Marples, among others.

The earliest record of any variation of this surname is that of Robert de Maples which appears in the Devonshire tax rolls from 1273. These rolls, were a series of census and tax records kept by the English Treasury by order of King Henry II, with the oldest dating back seven hundred years to the 12th century. They hold the distinction of being the oldest consecutive set of records detailing English governance in the United Kingdom.

Some of the first recorded immigrants to America bearing the surname were Theodore Maples who arrived in 1662 and settled in Virginia and George Maples who arrived and settled in 1665 in Virginia.

There were also immigrants to the British Commonwealth countries of Canada, Australia, and New Zealand bearing the surname. Joseph Maples was one of the first immigrants to Autralia arriving in 1834. Charles Maples arrived and settled in Adelaide, Australia in 1849 and George Maples arrived and settled in Adelaide in 1849 as well.

Worldwide, the highest concentration of people with the surname Maples are found in the United States, Ireland, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and Canada. By state, the largest percentile of those with the surname Maples live in Alabama, Missouri, Tennessee, Oklahoma, and Texas.

There are many notable people who bear the surname such as British born politician, John Cradock Maples. Maples was educated at Downing College, Cambridge and Harvard Business School. He was also a Member of Parliament and was made a life peer in July 2010, when he was created Lord Maples of Stratford-upon-Avon in the County of Warwickshire.

American born, Michael D. Maples is a Lieutenant General in the Unites States Army. He is a veteran of Operation Desert Storm. During his military career he has been awarded the Legion of Merit with two Oak Leaf Clusters, the Bronze Star, the Meritorious Service Medal with three Oak Leaf Clusters, and the Army Commendation Medal among others. Maples also served as the 16th Director of the Gefense Intelligence Agency.

American born William R. Maples was a forensic anthropologist who worked at the Florida

Museum of Natural History, his specialty was in the study of bones. Dr. Maples noted talents were tapped for use in a number of high profile cases, some were to assist with criminal investigation, such as the Romanov Family, Joseph Merrick, and Medgar Evers.

Maples Coat of Arms Meaning

The two main devices (symbols) in the Maples blazon are the tower and boar. The two main tinctures (colors) are azure 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.

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.

Architectural items, from individual components to entire buildings 6 feature frequently as charges In a coat of arms. Not surprisingly, considering the times from which many arms date, fortifications are common. The tower Is a typical example of an object from the world of architecture adopted, albeit in a stylised form, for use in heraldry. It can be placed alone, or frequently with three turrets on the top, known as a tower triple towered, and can have doors and windows of a different colour. 7 In continental European heraldry they are often accompanied by pictorial effects such as armoured knights scaling them on ladders.

In the middle ages, the wild boar, a far more fearsome creature than its domesticated relative, the pig was a much more commonly seen animal than today. It was also known as a sanglier. 8 It can appear in many of the same poses that we see for the lion, but has its own (easily imagined!) position known as enraged! 9 We should not be surprised then that this “fierce combatant” is said to be associated with the warrior. 10

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  • 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 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 Boutell’s Heraldry, J.P. Brooke-Little, Warne, (revised Edition) London 1970, P 92
  • 7 A Glossary of Terms used in British Heraldry, J.H. Parker, Oxford, 1894, Entry:Tower
  • 8 Boutell’s Heraldry, J.P. Brooke-Little, Warne, (revised Edition) London 1970, P 72
  • 9 A Glossary of Terms used in British Heraldry, J.H. Parker, Oxford, 1894, Entry:Boar
  • 10 The Symbolisms of Heraldry, W. Cecil Wade, George Redway, London, 1898 P67