When researching your ancestry or family lines, you may be inspired to learn how to create a family crest.
Each family surname (last name), no matter what their lineage or stature, could have a distinctive and unique family crest somewhere down the line in history.
These crests are significant to the specific family, and are full of signs and symbols that relate to the family.
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What is a family crest?
A family crest is also known as a coat of arms, which is a design or symbol of a certain family’s name and heritage. The family crest acts as a symbol that represents the family, its stature and is linked to your family tree.
The family crest originated when heralds would announce knights to crowds of spectators, and such knights would have their family crest emblazoned on their shields and armor to distinguish them from the rest.
Think Game of Thrones, and the different ‘houses’. These designs that were used were linked to the specific family name, and were often used to decorate armor, and even the horse’s gear too.
Family crests were then passed down generations of families, handed to the firstborn male much like fathers would pass their own forenames down to sons as a notion of tradition.
Family crests and coats of arms have been vital in distinguishing families, stature and heritage for many years, and can still be tracked and traced back by people today.
How do family crests work?
Family crests have always followed the male lineage within a family tree. These crests are passed on from father to son, and so on and so forth for generations. This is how some heritage tracing enthusiasts can come to learn what their own family crest is.
This is most commonly done by one son documenting and proving who his father is, and his father’s lineage too. This goes back from son to father for years and years, repeating the process until you find your unique family crest or coat of arms.
How to Find Your Family Crest
If you are curious to find out more about your family history, and what your family crest is, then you will want to trace your genealogy.
Luckily, there are many records pertaining to the heraldry of families in both the United States and the United Kingdom, so many families can be traced back to their roots.
You can utilize the American Heraldry Society to research your family lineage: The American Lineage Society
In addition to this, you can trace your family lineage back to European settlers with the UK heraldry site, College of Arms: College of Arms
You can also search this database with your surname Ancestral Findings and the rest is history! If you cannot find, or are unsure if you have a family crest or a coat of arms, then why not make your own?
How to Create a Family Crest
If you want to create a family crest, then you will need to consider a few of the rules of traditional heraldry.
Each family crest has symbols, colors, mottos, and elements that make them unique to each particular family, and so your crest will have to encompass those qualities.
There are also many regulations for how you create an official family crest that must be followed. There are at least 12 elements that have to be considered, and you will even have different design templates to follow which are connected with different kingdoms.
For example, in the United Kingdom, where the tradition began, there may be different crests depending on whether your family hails from Scotland, Ireland, Wales, or England.
For instance, the family coat of arms will contain a variety of different elements in order for it to be complete. A traditional family crest will have the shield of arms with your family sort of logo on it, which will be held up by supporters, typically animals.
There may also be a wreath with family colors on it, or a helmet associated with the family’s battles and knighthood.
The actual crest is the point that sits at the top of the shield of arms, and will relate to the achievements of the family or the owner of the coat of arms.
The best place to start when creating a family crest is with the family motto.
The family motto is the first element that most people focus on, and will be written across a scroll on the bottom part of the crest.
When making a family crest or a coat of arms, it is vital that you think about color symbolism. Colors have their own unique meaning, and so you will want to pick some that signify what your family is about.
For example, the color red is known to symbolize strength, military power and a warrior, whereas purple is known to signify sovereignty or power.
Look into what each color means to find a suitable color scheme for the shield of arms and the wreath.
The shield elements typically would relate to the knight’s history in battle, or would tell a tale of the family.
When creating your own crest, or coat of arms, you will want to ensure that the elements included relate to your family history, traditions and can identify with your motto.
Symbols for a Family Crest
The symbols on the family crest or coat of arms are most important. These are what makes your crest easily identifiable at a glance.
Again, each symbol, animal or image has a deeper meaning and so you should choose wisely. For instance, a lion or a dragon would depict courage, strength, and how fierce your family is, whereas a snake would depict fertility and wisdom.
Stags are also very popular and represent that you are an ancestor of Celtic people, whereas another popular creature is the griffin, known for its valiance and watchfulness.
The good thing about family crests and coat of arms is that there are so many different designs that have so many meanings.
Even the lines and shapes of the shield have different interpretations and tell a story about the family. So feel free to have a little fun with it, research what each means and make a crest perfect for you!
Tools to Create a Family Crest
You can utilize a variety of tools and platforms to help you create your own family crest.
- All My Family Crests – Coat of Arms Family Crest Generator
- My Blazon – Coat of Arms
- Fleur-de-lis Designs – Create Your Coat of Arms
- My Tribe 101 – Family Crest and Coat of Arms Generator
- Roll for Fantasy – Coat of Arms Generator
I hope this article inspired you to think about the importance of family and make a family crest. Until next time!