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Blazons & Genealogy Notes

1) Ar. on a chev. betw. three lions’ heads erased gu. a chessrook or.
2) (Colthorp, co. York). Ar. a chev. betw. three lions’ heads erased gu. langued az.
3) Same Arms, a border of the second.

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

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Rowcliff Coat of Arms Meaning

The two main devices (symbols) in the Rowcliff blazon are the chessrook and lion’s head. The two main tinctures (colors) are gules and argent.

Gules, the heraldic colour red is very popular, sometimes said to represent “Military Fortitude and Magnanimity”1. It is usually abbreviated as gu and in the days before colour printing was shown in a system known as hatching by vertical lines 2. Although it may look like a French word it is normally pronounced with a hard “g” and may be derived either from the Latin gula (throat) or Arabic gule (rose).3

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) 4. In a sketch or drawing it is represented by plain, unmarked paper 5.

Although we expect to find fierce creatures and fearsome weapons depicted in a coat of arms this is not always the case – sometimes simple household objects are used 6. The Chess Rook is a typical example of this and has been used in heraldry almost from the beginning. The word “rook” comes not from the bird but from the Italian word rocca, a “castle” or “tower”. 7

There can be no animal more clearly associated with Heraldry than the lion, majestic King of the Beasts.8 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”. 9

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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, P52
  • 3 A Glossary of Terms used in British Heraldry, J.H. Parker, Oxford, 1847, P154
  • 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 A Complete Guide to Heraldry, A.C. Fox-Davies, Bonanza (re-print of 1909 Edition), New York, 1978, P281
  • 7 A Glossary of Terms used in British Heraldry, J.H. Parker, Oxford, 1894, Entry:Chess-rook
  • 8 Boutell’s Heraldry, J.P. Brooke-Little, Warne, (revised Edition) London 1970, P 64
  • 9 The Symbolisms of Heraldry, W. Cecil Wade, George Redway, London, 1898 P59