Melford Coat of Arms

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Blazons & Genealogy Notes

Ar. a fesse betw. three mullets sa.

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

The Anglo-Saxon name Melford comes from when the family lived in one of the many settlements called Milford in Derbyshire, Hampshire, Wiltshire, and the West Riding of Yorkshire, or in the place called Long Melford in the division of Suffolk.  The surname Melford belongs to the large category of Anglo-Saxon habitation names, which acquired from pre- existing names for towns, hamlets, churches, or farmsteads.  Before English spelling regulated a few hundred years ago, spelling variations of names were a common occurrence. Elements of Latin, French and other languages became organised into English through the Middle Ages, and name spellings changed even among the educated people. The variations of the surname Melford include Milforde, Milford, Millford, Millforde, Melford and much more. More common variations are: Mellford, Meliford, Meulford, Mlford, Milford, Mulford, Molford, Malford, Melfort, Melfred.

The surname Melford first found in Yorkshire where they held a family seat from very early times, as Lords of the estate of Milford, in the diocese of York.  It did not appear in the Domesday Book in 1080, and it must be assumed that the manor emerged about the 12th or 13th century. Some of the people with the name Melford who arrived in the United States in the 17th century included Thomas Melford, who arrived in Virginia in the year 1664. Some of the people with the surname Melford who arrived in the United States in the 19th century included Casper Melford, who arrived in Pennsylvania in the year 1762.  John Melford, who landed in Pennsylvania in the year 1762.

Melford Coat of Arms Meaning

The two main devices (symbols) in the Melford blazon are the mullet and fesse. The two main tinctures (colors) are sable and argent.

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 1A Glossary of Terms used in British Heraldry, J.H. Parker, Oxford, 1894, Entry:Sable. 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 2Boutell’s Heraldry, J.P. Brooke-Little, Warne, (revised Edition) London 1970, P 26. Although it may seem a sombre tone, and does indeed sometimes denote grief, it is more commonly said to represent Constancy 3The Symbolisms of Heraldry, W. Cecil Wade, George Redway, London, 1898 P35.

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 heraldic mullet, not to be confused with the fish of that name, is shown as a regular, five pointed star. This was originally, not an astronomical object, but represented the spur on a horseman’s boot, especially when peirced, with a small circular hole in the centre it represents a type of spur known as a “rowel” 6Boutell’s Heraldry, J.P. Brooke-Little, Warne, (revised Edition) London 1970, P 97. A clear example can be found in the arms of Harpendene, argent, a mullet pierced gules. The ancient writer Guillim associated such spurs in gold as belonging to the Knight, and the silver to their esquires 7A Display of Heraldry, J. Guillim, Blome, London, 1679, P107. In later years, Wade linked this five pointed star with the true celestial object, the estoile and termed it a “falling star”, symbolising a “divine quality bestowed from above” 8The Symbolisms of Heraldry, W. Cecil Wade, George Redway, London, 1898 P105.

The fesse (also found as fess) is one of the major ordinaries to found in heraldry, being a bold, broad, horizontal band across the centre of the shield. It may originally have arisen from the planks of which a wooden shield can be constructed, the centremost plank being painted a different colour 9A Glossary of Terms used in British Heraldry, J.H. Parker, Oxford, 1894, Entry:Fesse. It is instantly recognisable as a symbol, for example the arms of COLEVILLE granted during the reign of Hery III are simply or, a fesse gules. With this clear association with the construction of the shield itself, Wade believes that the fesse can be taken to be associated with the military, as a “girdle of honour”.

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References   [ + ]

1. A Glossary of Terms used in British Heraldry, J.H. Parker, Oxford, 1894, Entry:Sable
2. Boutell’s Heraldry, J.P. Brooke-Little, Warne, (revised Edition) London 1970, P 26
3. The Symbolisms of Heraldry, W. Cecil Wade, George Redway, London, 1898 P35
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. Boutell’s Heraldry, J.P. Brooke-Little, Warne, (revised Edition) London 1970, P 97
7. A Display of Heraldry, J. Guillim, Blome, London, 1679, P107
8. The Symbolisms of Heraldry, W. Cecil Wade, George Redway, London, 1898 P105
9. A Glossary of Terms used in British Heraldry, J.H. Parker, Oxford, 1894, Entry:Fesse