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Blazons & Genealogy Notes

1) (Tenterden, co. Kent; granted 1614). Az. a griffin segreant betw. three estoiles or. Crest—A griffin's head or, betw. two wings az. charged with estoiles gold.
2) (co. Essex). Same Arms. Crest—A griffin’s head betw. two wings.
3) (London, and Doncaster, co. York; granted 3 June, 1663). Sa. a griffin pass, segreant ar. a chief erm.
4) (London). Az. (another, sa.) a griffin pass. or, betw. three mullets ar. Crest—A griffin's head or, in the beak a trefoil slipped vert.
5) (Newham Hall, co. York). Quarterly, 1st and 4th, az. a griffin seagreant ar. a chief erm., for Short; 2nd, or, on a bend gu. three goats trippant ar., for Holwell; 3rd, sa. a stag’s head couped betw. three buglehorns or, stringed and garnished az., for Thurston. Crest—A griffin’s head couped or, betw. two wings az.
6) (Newton and Exeter, co. Devon; John Short of Newton, aged 36, 1620, son of John Short and grandson of John Short, both of Exeter. Visit. Devon, 1620). Gu. a griffin segreant or, a chief erm.
7) (Bickham, co. Devon). Same Arms. Crest—A griffin's head or, betw. two wings az. each charged with an estoile of the first.
8) (Edlington Grove, co. Lincoln). Motto—Sinceritas. Sa. a griffin pass. ar. on a chief of the last five erm. spots of the field. Crest—A griffin's head and neck, wings elevated sa. collared erm.
9) (Chicago, U.S. America; confirmed to John George Shortall, Esq., of Chicago, son of John Shortall, of Dublin, merchant, traditionally descended from a family seated in co. Kilkenny, of which was Sir Oliver Shortall, who d. at Ballylorcan, in that co., 1635, and whose funeral certificate was entered in Ulster's Office in May of that year). Motto—Certavi et vici. Gu. on a cross ar. a cross crosslet betw. four lions’ heads erased az. Crest—A stag trippant ppr. supporting with the dexter forepaw a cross crosslet az.

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

Short Origin:

England, Ireland, Scotland

Origins of Name:

The Short surname is of medieval origins. In Middle English, it derives from the word “schort” which was used to describe a person of low height. In Old English the word used to describe someone of low stature was “sceort”. The Short surname was also found in Scotland and in the Gaelic language was used to describe someone who was the son of a person of low height. Specifically, in Gaelic “Mac an Gheaire” – “Mac” meaning “son of” and “Gheaire” from “giorr” meaning short; ergo, “the son of a short man”.


More common variations are:

Short, Shortt and Shorte, Shorto, Shorty, Shorat, Schort, Shourt, Shorti, Shordt, Shorta


The surname was first recorded in the late 12th century English financial records in Dorset for one Ordic Scort. It was also recorded in 1269 in Somerset for Richard le Sorte, and in 1273 in Suffolk for William Short.

In England the surname Short was originally found in Northumberland, Yorkshire, and Durham. Eventually it would spread out into Lincolnshire and Lancashire. It was also found near the southern coast of England and within the city of London.

The Short surname was first found in Church Registers in 1548. The London Church Registers recorded the christening of Elizabeth Short in 1548 at Saint Andrew Hubbard and in 1576 the christening of Ann Short at Saint Andrew’s Holborn. In 1846, Ann Short sailed for the New World from Liverpool aboard the ship “Yorkshire”.

The Short surname is the 721st most common name in Great Britain. The highest concentrations are found in Suffolk, Caerphilly, and Leicester.


Gaelic surnames that were not based on geographic location were almost all derived from a nickname from the chief, ancestor or first name holder. While many times obscene and normally toned down a notch over the years, Short could be interpreted as the chief or main ancestor being incredibly short compared to his peers.


Variants of this name were in use in Dublin and Wicklow. While of Scottish origin, the surname Short inside of Ireland is more likely the variant of a native Irish family.

Crest Origin:

The surname Short is most known for their crest which is a gold griffin’s head set between two blue wings charged with gold estoiles. In medieval England griffins represented courageousness and boldness. As well as used to represent strength and military courage.

Short Today:

62,000 in the United States (high numbers in the South and Midwest)

15,000 in England (mainly in Suffolk)

6,000 in Australia

5,000 in South Africa

4,000 in Canada

1,000 in Scotland (high numbers found in Lanarkshire, Fife, and Midlothian)

Notable People:

Chris Short (1937) professional baseball player

Gregory Short (1938) American classical music composer

Keith Short (1941) English sculptor

Luke Short (1908) American writer

Nigel Short (1965) British chess player

Hassard Short (1877) director of Broadway musicals

Craig Short (1968) English football player

Bobby Short (1924) American musician

Short Coat of Arms Meaning

The two main devices (symbols) in the Short blazon are the griffin and estoile. The three main tinctures (colors) are azure, or and ermine .

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 1. 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” 2.

The bright yellow colour frequently found in coats of arms is known to heralds as Or, or sometimes simply as Gold.3. 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 4. The yellow colour is often associated with the Sun, and the zodiacal sign of Leo.5.

Ermine is a very ancient pattern, and distinctive to observe. It was borne alone by John de Monfort, the Earl of Richmond and Duke of Brittany in the late 14th century 6 It has a long association with royalty and the nobility in general and hence represents “Dignity” wherever it is found 7. The ermine pattern is white with, typically, a three dots and a dart grouping representing the tail of the furred creature.8. The ermine spot is sometimes found alone as a special charge on the shield.

In the mediaeval period there was no real percieved difference between real and mythical animals, after all, much of the world remained unknown and who was to say what strange and magical creatures existed in distant lands? As heraldry developed a whole menagerie of imagined creatures 9 came into being, and their various representations became more or less standardised in form and appearance. The griffin is perhaps the most common of these creatures, being a chimera with the body of a lion and the head and wings of an eagle. 10. It is most often in the pose known as rampant segreant, on its hind legs with claws and wings extended. Vinycomb has much to say on the subject of the griffin, perhaps summarised in his belief that it represents “strength and vigilance”.]11

There were of course many widely recognised symbols that existed long before the advent of heraldry and it should be no surprise that some of these were adopted as charge in coats of arms 12. The estoile is a typical example, reflecting the stars in the sky and represented with six wavy points, often with a little shading to give it some depth. 13. The ancient writer Guillim assigns these symbols as the emblems of God’s goodness”. 14

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  • 1 A Glossary of Terms used in British Heraldry, J.H. Parker, Oxford, 1894, Entry:Azure
  • 2 The Symbolisms of Heraldry, W. Cecil Wade, George Redway, London, 1898 P36
  • 3 Boutell’s Heraldry, J.P. Brooke-Little, Warne, (revised Edition) London 1970, P 27
  • 4 A Complete Guide to Heraldry, A.C. Fox-Davies, Bonanza (re-print of 1909 Edition), New York, 1978, P85
  • 5 Understanding Signs & Symbols – Heraldry, S. Oliver & G. Croton, Quantum, London, 2013, P53
  • 6 A Complete Guide to Heraldry, A.C. Fox-Davies, Bonanza (re-print of 1909 Edition), New York, 1978, P69
  • 7 The Symbolisms of Heraldry, W. Cecil Wade, George Redway, London, 1898 P39
  • 8 Boutell’s Heraldry, J.P. Brooke-Little, Warne, (revised Edition) London 1970, P 28
  • 9 Understanding Signs & Symbols – Heraldry, S. Oliver & G. Croton, Quantum, London, 2013, P164
  • 10 A Glossary of Terms used in British Heraldry, J.H. Parker, Oxford, 1894, Entry:Griffin
  • 11 Fictitious & Symbolic Creatures…in British Heraldry, J. Vinycomb, Chapman & Hall, London, 1906, P150
  • 12 A Complete Guide to Heraldry, A.C. Fox-Davies, Bonanza (re-print of 1909 Edition), New York, 1978, P301
  • 13 A Glossary of Terms used in British Heraldry, J.H. Parker, Oxford, 1894, Entry:Estoile
  • 14 A Display of Heraldry, J. Guillim, Blome, London, 1679, P77