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The Royal Treatment

coat of arms

June 19, 2018

Have you always heard that your family can be traced back to royalty? I can trace my ancestry (very distantly) back to some British royalty, but I did not get an invite to the recent royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. I guess it makes me feel a little better that almost everyone alive has some type of connection to a past monarch, so it would have been impossible to invite all the relatives!

Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex, also had a coat of arms created just for her. Sadly, I have never had anyone create a coat of arms for me. The one I created for myself back in elementary school does not count. I learned that you can’t just create a coat of arms. The Crown grants them to an individual. For any person to have rights to a coat of arms, they must have descended from the legitimate male line of the person to whom it was originally granted. Just because you have the same surname as someone with a coat of arms, it does not necessarily mean that it is yours.

I didn’t have too far to go to find out information on heraldry (the science or art of armorial bearings). I was fascinated with the symbolism in the colors, lines, and objects used to create coats of arms. The Midwest Genealogy Center has an entire section of books on the topic that you can find by searching the online catalog using either “coat of arms” or “heraldry.” Not only can you find books with pictures of the various crests, you can also find glossaries that explain terminology.

I did not realize that coats of arms appear everywhere from architecture and monuments to official documents and seals. The College of Arms maintains the official registers of pedigrees that date back to the 16th Century. So, genealogy and heraldry are closely related. One book in particular, Heraldry for the Local Historian and Genealogist, interested me because the author explained how heraldry represents a treasure of information for a genealogist.

Come into MGC to get the royal treatment and find out if your research will lead you to a noble past!

Jolene C.
Midwest Genealogy Center

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