A commonly misunderstood aspect of American family history and genealogy research is the European coat-of arms. I have found no proof that any of my American families have claim to a legitimate Coat-of-Arms other than the person to whom it was originally assigned or commissioned. We are free to create our own, or buy one online, but unless a hearldry organization recognizes the coat-of-arms, it is debatable what value that coat-of-arms would be for a multi-generational American family history.

From their April 2011 web page: "The College of Arms is the official repository of the coats of arms and pedigrees of English, Welsh, Northern Irish and Commonwealth families and their descendants." On their FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions page they post this:

Q. Do coats of arms belong to surnames?
A. No. There is no such thing as a 'coat of arms for a surname'. Many people of the same surname will often be entitled to completely different coats of arms, and many of that surname will be entitled to no coat of arms. Coats of arms belong to individuals. For any person to have a right to a coat of arms they must either have had it granted to them or be descended in the legitimate male line from a person to whom arms were granted or confirmed in the past.

More Information

  1. Hints & Tips Seven: The Right to Arms by Society of Genealogists The National Family History Centre in London, England

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