Why are there multiple coats of arms for the same surname?
Let me clear up a common misconception: For the most part, a coat of arms actually belonged to an individual person, and did not belong to the family or surname. Unfortunately, many heraldry websites out there on the internet do not make this point well-known, intentionally or not.
To help explain the concept clearly, let us pose a hypothetical example as follows:
John Allen lived in Suffolk, England and was granted a coat of arms by the King in 1450 AD. It was yellow with a black lion. However, much further north, in Cumbria, England, thirty-five years later, Peter Allen was granted a coat of arms by the King in 1485. It was blue with a white eagle. Since both men owned coats of arms, they were called “armigers”.
Next, let’s assume both John and Peter married and had children, and the right to bear the arms was inherited by each man’s eldest son. This pattern than repeats through the generations. Hence, each of these coats of arms became associated with different branches of the family. These branches may not be immediately related, although they may share a common ancestor from a distant time.
OK, I understand why there are multiple coats of arms for the same surname, but how do I know which one is “mine”?
You would have to trace your lineage/ancestry back into history to see which, if any, coat of arms may have belonged to armigerous (coat of arms owning) members of your family tree. This requires good research skills, time, and access to libraries of information, all of which we possess in full, allowing us perform this unique, tailored service for you.
We provide a risk-free service:
if we can establish that you are related to an armigerous ancestor, we will inform you in a written document with relevant information, whereupon you will be invoiced according to the below (above?) pricing structure. If we failed to establish a connection to an armigerous ancestor, you will not be billed!
To be clear, technically speaking, in the niche world of heraldry, the fact that your ancestor owned a coat of arms, does not necessarily mean you have the legal right to bear the arms: the rules are much more complicated for how that works. That is why we chose to put the word “mine” in quotation marks.