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Blazons & Genealogy Notes

1) (Tendring Hall, co. Suffolk, bart.). Motto—Ventis secundis. (Admiral Sir Josias Rowley, Bart., G.C.B. and G.C.M.G.). (Hill House, co. Berks, bart.) Ar. on a bend engr. sa. betw. two Cornish choughs ppr. three escallops of the field. Crest—A mullet pierced or. Supporters, borne by Sir Charles Rowley, first bart., as a G.C.B.—Two Cornish choughs ppr. navally crowned or, each gorged with a riband, therefrom pendent a representation of thw Oeder of Maria Theresa.
2) (Lawton, co. Chester; descended from Randolfe Rowley, Esq., of Carmichan, temp. Edward II.; William Rowley, Esq., of Lawton, was elder brother of Hugh Bowley, ancestor in the female line of Lord Langford). Motto—Bear and forbear. Ar. on a bend cotised sa. three descents or. Crest—A wolf's head erased ar.
3) (Barkway, co. Hertford; granted 20 Dec. 1639). Ar. on a fess betw. three mullets sa. as many mullets of six points pierced of the field.
4) (co. Middlesex). Sa. on a fess betw. three spur rowels of eight points pierced ar. a fleurs-de-lis of the first.
5) (Wykin and Rowley, co. Salop). (Rev. George Rowley, D.D., Master of University College, Oxford). Ar. on a bend betw. two Cornish choughs sa. three escallops of the first. Crest—A mullet ar. pierced sa.
6) (Highley, co. Stafford). Erm. fretty or, on a chief of the last three buckles, the tongues lying fessways
7) Ar. on a fess betw. three mullets pierced sa. as many of the first. Crest—A sword bendways ar. hilted or, through a mullet sa.
8) (Reg. Ulster’s Office). Motto—La vertue surmonte tout obstacle. Quarterly, 1st and 4th, or, on a bend cotised gu. three crescents ar.; 2nd and 3rd, ar. two trefoils slipped in fess sa. on a chief of the last a crescent or. Crest—A wolf's head couped sa. collared and ringed ar.
9) (Castle Rowley, co. Londonderry; confirmed by Preston, Ulster, 1634, to Edward Rowley, Esq., of that place). Quarterly, 1st and 4th, or, on a bend cotised gu. three crescents ar.; 2nd and 3rd, ar. two trefoils slipped in fess az. on a chief of the last a crescent or, charged with another crescent of the second. Crest—A wolf's head couped az. gorged with a plain collar knotted at the back ar. and charged on the neck with a crescent or, charged with another crescent az.
10) (Baron Langford). Motto—Bear and forbear. Quarterly, 1st and 4th, ar. on a bend cotised gu. three mullets or, for Rowley; 2nd and 3rd, erm. on a chief gu. a fleur-de-lis betw. two boars’ heads couped and erect or, for Tayour. Crest—A wolf's head erased ar. collared and langued gu. Supporters—Two emblematical figures, the dexter representing Pallas, with a spear in her light hand; the sinister, Temperance, holding a bridle in her left hand, all ppr.
11) Erm. a fret or, on a chief gu. three trefoils of the second.
12) Az. a lion ramp. or.

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


The name Rowley is Anglo-Saxon/English in origin. The name is topographical, thought to have been used to identify anyone from one of the towns or villages which bear the name found in the counties of Devonshire, Durham and Staffordshire. The name derives from the medieval compound word “ruhleah”. Broken down the prefix, “ruh” means “overgrown” and the suffix “leah” means “glade”. This name is usually associated with a pastoral setting, and those who had developed the medieval skill of building organic walls, called hedges. Hedges are a historical and cultural holdover from the 11th century, with some hedges being several hundred years in age.

Surnames from antiquity often came about as an indicator or representation of the birthplace of an individual or an identifier of an easily recognizable landmarks near the person's home. In addition surnames were also formed by using patriarchal/matriarchal names, reference to the individuals occupation, or things such as a defining physical trait. While the use of surnames was not unheard of in England it was not a widespread practice until after the Norman invasion of 1066. The practice of using surnames served at least two practical purposes; it made the distinguishing of individuals easier and it made the tracking of citizens for census, tax, and immigration records more convenient.

There often exists variations in spelling of many surnames which date back to the early centuries. The variation in spelling of both given and surnames during this time period can be attributed to a lack of continuity regarding guidelines for spelling which was compounded by the diversity of languages in use in European countries at this time. The variations in the spelling of this surname include but is not limited to; Rowley and Rowly. One of The earliest records of any variation of this surname is that of William de Ruelay which appears in the Assize tax rolls from 1219. These rolls, were a series of census and tax records kept by the English Treasury by order of King Henry III, with the oldest dating back to the 12th century. These documents are considered the oldest concentric set of records documenting English governance in the United Kingdom spanning a period of over seven centuries, these records have proven invaluable to researches over the years.

With the discovery of the Americas and the addition of other countries to the British Commonwealth such as Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, the use of surnames helped with the tracking of immigrants as well. Some of the first recorded immigrants to America bearing the surname were Henry Rowley who arrived and settled in New England in 1634. Christopher Rowley who landed and settled in Maryland in 1656 and John Rowley who landed and settled in Virginia in 1665. John and Charlotte Rowley along with their children, George and Eliza, arrived and settled in Adelaide, Australia in 1840. John Rowley arrived and settled in Auckland, New Zealand in 1863.

Worldwide, the highest concentration of people with the surname Rowley are found in the United Kingdom, Australia, Ireland, New Zealand, and the United States. By state, the largest percentile of those with the surname Rowley live in Utah.

There are a number of persons of note who bear the surname Rowley. Sir Charles Rowley was a British Royal Naval officer. During his naval career he commanded eight ships in the Royal Navy, and was Commander-in-Chief of The Nore, Jamaica Station, and Portsmouth. Rowley was created a baronet in 1836. He also held the position of Third Naval Lord and was appointed Groom of the Bedchamber to William IV, in this capacity he was one of the Kings most trusted confidants. He held this position until Victoria became Queen in 1837. For his service, Rowley was also awarded Knight Grand Cross of the Order of Bath and Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Guelphic Order.

During William IV's reign, Sir Charles Rowley witnessed and advised his monarch on such historical changes as the abolition of slaves in the British colonies, the first ever Child Labor Act, abolishing small children from factories and work houses. The king reformed the Poor Act, which previously had allowed debt collectors to have a debtor imprisoned for lack of payment. The Rowley Baronetcy is extant to this day, with the Senior branch of the family differentiated by their family seat of Tendring Hall merging with the Junior or Cadet branch of Hill House in the birth of Sir Richard Charles Rowley, 8th Baronet of Tendring and 9th Baronet of Hill. The presumptive heir to both Baronetcies was born in 1989.

Rowley Coat of Arms Meaning

The four main devices (symbols) in the Rowley blazon are the decrescent, mullet, trefoil and fretty. The three main tinctures (colors) are or, sable and argent .

The bright yellow colour frequently found in coats of arms is known to heralds as Or, or sometimes simply as Gold.1. 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 2. The yellow colour is often associated with the Sun, and the zodiacal sign of Leo.3.

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.

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) 7. In a sketch or drawing it is represented by plain, unmarked paper 8.

For easy recognition of the items on a coat of arms, and hence the quick identification of the owner, bold simple shapes are best. Hence, simple geometric shapes are often used for this purpose 9xz`, and the crescent Is a typical example of this, and can appear in any of the main heraldic tinctures. Some common is this device that there are special names for its appearance in various orientations – whilst it lies normally with points upward, the decrescent points to the sinister side, and the increscent to the dexter 10. The allusion, obviously is to the shape of the moon in the sky (indeed, the French have a version “figuré” which includes a face!) and has been said to signify both “honour by the sovereign” and “hope of greater glory” 11.

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” 12. 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 13. 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” 14.

Natural objects abound in heraldry, and one category that gives especial delight are the many flowers and flowering plants that frequently occur 15. The trefoil may originally been a representation of a specific plant (perhaps shamrock) but it has been used as a symbol almost since the beginning of heraldry and over time has adopted a stylised aspect. 16. Guillim believes that it signifies “perpetuity…the just man shall never wither”. 17

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Robyn Hardina commented on 03-May-2018
Thanks John, Thank you for your information. I was so pleased to learn more about the Rowley Family. My 11th Great Grandfather Richard Rowley died in Buckland, Surrey in 1600. His birth date and place of birth is not known. He was married to Elizaveth Cuddington who died on 1601. Her birth date and place of birth is not known. We must remember, (if my research is correct) that church records did not exist much before Elizabethan times in the 1500's and any records of that time is written in Latin. I know this Richard Rowley, my 11th Great Grandfather had a father named Richard and that is as far as my research goes in Surrey of the Rowley Family. I know nothing of his birth and death dates nor who he married who would be my 12th Great grandfather and mother of Richard of Buckland. Who is likely to be the Richard Rowley you mentioned who was MP for Harwich. Where is Harwich? Did I mention that I am writing a book about the life of my 5th Great Grandfather, Captain Thomas Rowley? So I want to get my facts right as I am writing about his ancestors. I am still a bit confused about the Coat of Arms belonging to my Rowley family. The 10th one from the left does not have the words "bear and Forbear" on it as you thought, so I am not sure if it is the right crest. Thanks for your time in helping me and I will acknowledge you and your website in my book which I hope to publish in September. Do you live in Michigan in the USA/ Cheers, Robyn Hardina
Coat of Arms Database commented on 01-May-2018
It is the 10th one listed starting in the top left corner. The Baron Langford (Rowley) resided in Ireland for the last 400 years. They originated here in Cheshire and had the motto "bear and forbear". One or two members of the family lived in the South of England, notably Richard Rowley, who was MP for Harwich. One thing to point out however, is that Lieutenants didn't have adjutants
Robyn Hardina commented on 01-May-2018
My Fifth Great Grandfather was the first Rowley to emigrate from England to New South Wales in the Fourth Fleet as adjutant to Lieutenant Philip Gidley King. . His name is Captain Thomas Rowley arriving on 14th February 1792 on HMS the Pitt. He was born at Kingston Upon Thames in 1747. He earned a prestigious reputation as Commandant to the New South Corps in his military career, a magistrate and held official positions in his civilian service to New South Wales before his death in 1806. I am a direct descendant from his eldest son, Thomas Rowley , who too contributed greatly to the pioneering life of the early colony. Because there are many coats of Arms for the Rowley family are you able to confirm if the one that has the words Bear and Forbear belongs to the Rowleys of Surrey which my family came from?


  • 1 Boutell’s Heraldry, J.P. Brooke-Little, Warne, (revised Edition) London 1970, P 27
  • 2 A Complete Guide to Heraldry, A.C. Fox-Davies, Bonanza (re-print of 1909 Edition), New York, 1978, P85
  • 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 Understanding Signs & Symbols – Heraldry, S. Oliver & G. Croton, Quantum, London, 2013, P53
  • 8 A Glossary of Terms used in British Heraldry, J.H. Parker, Oxford, 1847, P11
  • 9 A Complete Guide to Heraldry, A.C. Fox-Davies, Bonanza (re-print of 1909 Edition), New York, 1978, P146
  • 10 A Glossary of Terms used in British Heraldry, J.H. Parker, Oxford, 1894, Entry:Moon
  • 11 The Symbolisms of Heraldry, W. Cecil Wade, George Redway, London, 1898 P106
  • 12 Boutell’s Heraldry, J.P. Brooke-Little, Warne, (revised Edition) London 1970, P 97
  • 13 A Display of Heraldry, J. Guillim, Blome, London, 1679, P107
  • 14 The Symbolisms of Heraldry, W. Cecil Wade, George Redway, London, 1898 P105
  • 15 A Complete Guide to Heraldry, A.C. Fox-Davies, Bonanza (re-print of 1909 Edition), New York, 1978, P262
  • 16 A Glossary of Terms used in British Heraldry, J.H. Parker, Oxford, 1894, Entry:Trefoil
  • 17 A Display of Heraldry, J. Guillim, Blome, London, 1679, P109