Blazons & Genealogy Notes

1) Az. three boars’ heads erased in bend ar. Crest—A mullet ar.
2) Ar. a bend betw. two lions’ heads erased sa.

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


Historically, surnames have various sources of origins. In the case of the name Mello, it can be Italian, Dutch, or Belgian in origin. In Italian the term “mello” was usually added as a suffix to a given name. In doing so, it created a nickname of sorts indicating a close, endearing, loving relationship between the two parties. The Dutch or Belgian variation is topographical as it is the name of a place of region called Mellelo which translates to “a wooded area” or “grove”.

Surnames were often created by using an identifying factor about a person such as; a familiar geographical location or a topographical landmark found near the individuals home or birthplace, using one of their parent's names to create a patriarchal or matriarchal surname, it referenced the person's occupation, or a defining physical trait among other things. There was almost a limitless source from which surnames could be formed. Once adopted, surnames became hereditary and were passed from one generation to the next.

Surnames in Europe prior to the mid-sixteenth century were largely reserved for the noble class. In the small villages which existed during these earlier times, residents found little need for surnames as everyone in these communities knew each other and a given name would usually suffice. However, as population, growth, and expansions of villages gave way to towns and cities, for practical purposes, it became necessary to add a qualifier to a people's names to distinguish them, one from another and to make the keeping of tax, census, and immigration records easier. Therefore, the nobles' practice of surnames gained in popularity.

The task of keeping these records was primarily under the jurisdiction of the Church, local priories, and the government. This was due in large part to the fact that literacy was a skill usually found only among the nobles, the clergy, and government officials and scribes. Even so, there still often existed multiple variations of names which may be attributed to a number of factors. The origins of the surname, the lack of guidelines which existed for spelling, the native language from which the name originated, and the fact that many scribes who were charged with record keeping, spelled phonetically,among other things. Variations of the name may include but are not limited to; Mello; Mellune; Melun; Melunes; Mellun; Melune; Meluns; and Melluns among others.

With the discovery of America and the addition to the British Commonwealth of countries such as Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, it was not long before people began to immigrate to these outlying areas. The use of surnames made tracking of immigrants easier. Some of the first recorded immigrants to America bearing the surname were Angelo Mello who landed and settled in New England in 1893 and Anna Mello who arrived in New York in 1897.

Worldwide, the highest concentration of people with the surname Mello are found in the United States, Australia, Argentina, Italy, Switzerland, and Luxembourg. By state, the largest percentile of those with the surname Mello live in Massachusetts, California, Maine, Nevada, New Hampshire, and Vermont.

There are many persons of note who bear this surname, such as American born biologist and professor, Craig Cameron Mello. Mello attended Brown University, he majored in biochemistry and molecular biology. He received his Sc.B., graduating in 1982. After completing his studies at Brown, Mello attended the University of Colorado, Boulder for his graduate studies in molecular, cellular, and developmental biology. He eventually moved to Harvard where he completed his Ph.D. In 1990. He became a fellow at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.

In 1998, in a joint venture between Carnegie Institution for Science and the University of Massachusetts Medical School, Andrew Fire and Craig Mello, along with their colleagues, SiQun Xu, Mary Montgomery, Stephen Kostas, and Sam Driver, headed a research team working concentrating on Ribonucleic Acid (RNA). In 2006, the colleagues published a paper in the journal, Nature, detailing their findings. The director of the Medical Research Council's Human Genetics Unit, Professor Nick Hastie categorized the paper as revolutionizing the way biological process an regulation was thought about. In 2006, Mellow and Fire along with their colleagues were awarded the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine by Sweden's Karolinska Institute.

Mello Coat of Arms Meaning

The three main devices (symbols) in the Mello blazon are the boar, bend and lion’s head. The two main tinctures (colors) are azure 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.

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 3. 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 4. Although it may seem a sombre tone, and does indeed sometimes denote grief, it is more commonly said to represent Constancy 5.

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. 6 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! 7 We should not be surprised then that this “fierce combatant” is said to be associated with the warrior. 8

The bend is a distinctive part of the shield, frequently occuring and clearly visible from a distance – it is a broad band running from top left to bottom right 9. Indeed, so important is the bend that it was the subject of one of the earliest cases before the English Court of Chivalry; the famous case of 1390, Scrope vs Grosvenor had to decide which family were the rightful owners of Azure, a bend or (A blue shield, with yellow bend). 10. The bend is held in high honour and may signify “defence or protection” and often borne by those of high military rank 11.

There can be no animal more clearly associated with Heraldry than the lion, majestic King of the Beasts.12 The head of the lion also appears alone on many coats of arms, but its use in this form is largely to enable a clear difference from similar arms that use the complete animal, and its significance should be taken to be the same as the lion entire, being a symbol of “deathless courage”. 13

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  • 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 A Glossary of Terms used in British Heraldry, J.H. Parker, Oxford, 1894, Entry:Sable
  • 4 Boutell’s Heraldry, J.P. Brooke-Little, Warne, (revised Edition) London 1970, P 26
  • 5 The Symbolisms of Heraldry, W. Cecil Wade, George Redway, London, 1898 P35
  • 6 Boutell’s Heraldry, J.P. Brooke-Little, Warne, (revised Edition) London 1970, P 72
  • 7 A Glossary of Terms used in British Heraldry, J.H. Parker, Oxford, 1894, Entry:Boar
  • 8 The Symbolisms of Heraldry, W. Cecil Wade, George Redway, London, 1898 P67
  • 9 Boutell’s Heraldry, J.P. Brooke-Little, Warne, (revised Edition) London 1970, P 39-40
  • 10 A Complete Guide to Heraldry, A.C. Fox-Davies, Bonanza (re-print of 1909 Edition), New York, 1978, P22
  • 11 The Symbolisms of Heraldry, W. Cecil Wade, George Redway, London, 1898 P49
  • 12 Boutell’s Heraldry, J.P. Brooke-Little, Warne, (revised Edition) London 1970, P 64
  • 13 The Symbolisms of Heraldry, W. Cecil Wade, George Redway, London, 1898 P59