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  • Writer's pictureDevon Noel Lee

DON'T Use A Family Crest in Your Genealogy - Until You Read This

Do you want to find your family’s crest and insert it into your family history book or project?

Stop Sign from Wix Media

What is a Family Crest?

The term crest is often used interchangeably with a coat of arms, but the crest is actually a part of the coat of arms.

A crest is a specific symbol or design that is traditionally used to identify a person, family, or organization. It is usually displayed on a shield or banner and represents a family's identity and heritage.

However, despite what many people may believe, not everyone has a family crest. Stated another way, crests and coats of arms do not belong to a surname.

Who Can Use a Family Crest?

The use of family crests was actually limited to a specific group of people, namely nobility and aristocrats, and it was a tradition that originated in medieval Europe.

Many countries, including the United States, have no official system for creating or registering a family crest. So, if you come across someone claiming to have a family crest, there's a good chance they have been misinformed.

Moreover, even if someone has a family crest, it does not necessarily mean they are entitled to use it. The right to use a coat of arms is granted to an individual and is passed down to the legal male-line descendants.

Therefore, to claim a specific coat of arms, you must prove a male-line descent from a person listed on a country’s heraldic register. You can learn more on the website of the College of Arms, the heraldic authority for England, Wales, and Northern Ireland.

Should You Include a Family Crest?

In short, the idea that everyone has a family crest is simply inaccurate. Be aware of these facts to avoid perpetuating myths and misunderstandings about our family histories.

Instead, take pride in our true family heritage and the stories that make us who we are today.

Free Tips For Writing Better Family Histories

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