In message of 19 Aug, "Edna & Ken" <ekbrit(a)rogers.com> wrote:
Good Day, So many of us have Coats of Arms in our families but my
understanding is that we have no right to them as they were for a particular person in the
family and not for the family as a whole. Am I correct?
Not quite. It depends on which heraldic country or jurisdiction you
The Scots are rather strict and insist on junior members of a family
having separate marks to distinguish them from the current head of
line. But all (male) descendants of an armiger are entitled to bear
The English are less strict and the rules allow all male line
descendants to bear the same arms. Though some recent grants have
included a clause about adding in difference marks. As yet, it is
unclear where the right to add in such a clause comes from.
Canadians allow arms to descend via the female line. But you need to
ask about this as I know little more.
In the USA there are no heraldic jurisdictions so you can do exactly
what you want - all is totally legitimate.
Spain, Ireland and South Africa have their own heraldic jurisdictions
with rules that I do not know. There are other counties with faint
heraldic offices but not so well-established as the six countries
I have mentioned.
On the question of "rights", this is another ball-park. There are
certainly rules, as in the rules of cricket. If you wish to play the
heraldic game, then you will get further if you play by the rules. But
rules does not imply legal rights; Scotland apart, I do not know of any
heraldic authority that has any powers in a functioning law-court.
Finally, of course, the worst offence against the rules of the game is
to claim someone else's arms on the basis that they have the same
surname as you. The mall arms-shops make that claim and make a living
thereby but they are encouraging others to display as theirs what is
not theirs, that is, fraudulently.
Tim Powys-Lybbe tim(a)powys.org
For a miscellany of bygones: http://powys.org