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Blazons & Genealogy Notes

Or, three piles az. surmounted with as many bars gu. over all a buck pass. sa.

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

This interesting surname noted in many forms including McRae, MacRae, Rae, Ree, and Rea, is of old Scottish origin, although there can be confusion with English name holder of similar spellings.  The origin is from the pre 7th century Old English 'ra'.  This word showed the roe deer, and when used as a nickname was on the face of it, a description of a rather timid person. More common variations are: Rawe, Raye, Raey, Wrae, Raei, Raee, Raie, Raue, Raea, Roae.

The surname Rae first showed in Cumberland at Gill, in the church of Bromfield which related to the family from the time of William the Lion, king of Scotland (died 1214.) The very first recording spelling of the family was shown to be that of Vlui Ra, dated 1095, in the Records of the Abbey of Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk. It was during the reign of King Henry 1st, who was known as "The Lion of the Justice" dated 1087-1100.  Surname all over the country became a necessity with the introduction of personal taxation.  It came to be known as Poll Tax in England.  Surnames all over the country began to develop with unique and shocking spelling varieties of the original one.

Some of the people with the name Rae who arrived in the United States in the 17th century included John Rae who settled in Nevis in 1663.  Robert Rae arrived in New Jersey in 1685. People with the surname Rae who landed in the United States in the 18th century included James Rae, who arrived in Virginia in 1716.

Rickman Coat of Arms Meaning

The two main devices (symbols) in the Rickman blazon are the pile and buck. The three main tinctures (colors) are gules, sable and azure .

The bold red colour on a heraldic shield is known as gules. It has a long history within heraldry, it is known that one of those who besieged the scottish castle of Carlaverock in 1300 was the French knight Euremions de la Brette who had as his arms a simple red shield.1. The word gules is thought to come from the Arabic gule, or “red rose” 2. Later writers associated it with the precious stone ruby and the metal iron 3, perhaps because of the red glow of iron in the heat of the blacksmith’s forge.

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 4. 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 5. Although it may seem a sombre tone, and does indeed sometimes denote grief, it is more commonly said to represent Constancy 6.

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 7. 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” 8.

The pile was originally quite a simple shape, being a triangle reaching from the top of the shield down to a point near the lower centre 9. A clear example being that of CHANDOS awarded in 1337, Or a pile gules. There is some argument as to the origin, Wade suggests some similarity with the meaning of “pile” in construction (a foundation) and hence that the shape could be adopted by those who have demonstrated some ability in the building trade 10. An earlier writer, Guillim, perhaps more plausibly suggested that the shape echoes those of a pennant or triangular flag 11 The shape is quite distinctive however and became popular, leading to many embellishments to distinguish it from its close fellows, with multiple piles meeting at various points, starting from various edges and with additional decoration, leading to potentially quite complex descriptions!

We should be surprised to find the stag or buck, noble quarry of many a mediaeval hunt, being illustrated in many a coat of arms. 12. It shares many of the poses to be found with the lion, but also one almost unique to the deer, grazing, as if the animal is still unaware of the hunter’s approach. 13. In common with all symbols related to the hunt we probably need look further for their intended meaning than the pleasure taken by the holder in such pursuits! 14

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References

  • 1 The Siege of Carlaverock, N. Harris, Nichols & Son, London, 1828, P180
  • 2 Boutell’s Heraldry, J.P. Brooke-Little, Warne, (revised Edition) London 1970, P 313
  • 3 Understanding Signs & Symbols – Heraldry, S. Oliver & G. Croton, Quantum, London, 2013, P53
  • 4 A Glossary of Terms used in British Heraldry, J.H. Parker, Oxford, 1894, Entry:Sable
  • 5 Boutell’s Heraldry, J.P. Brooke-Little, Warne, (revised Edition) London 1970, P 26
  • 6 The Symbolisms of Heraldry, W. Cecil Wade, George Redway, London, 1898 P35
  • 7 A Glossary of Terms used in British Heraldry, J.H. Parker, Oxford, 1894, Entry:Azure
  • 8 The Symbolisms of Heraldry, W. Cecil Wade, George Redway, London, 1898 P36
  • 9 A Glossary of Terms used in British Heraldry, J.H. Parker, Oxford, 1894, Entry:Pile
  • 10 The Symbolisms of Heraldry, W. Cecil Wade, George Redway, London, 1898 P48
  • 11 A Display of Heraldry, J. Guillim, Blome, London, 1679, P52
  • 12 Boutell’s Heraldry, J.P. Brooke-Little, Warne, (revised Edition) London 1970, P 69
  • 13 A Glossary of Terms used in British Heraldry, J.H. Parker, Oxford, 1894, Entry:Deer
  • 14 The Symbolisms of Heraldry, W. Cecil Wade, George Redway, London, 1898 P30