As you conduct research about your family's history, you may find yourself wondering, "Where can I find my family crest?" A crest can offer a visual reminder of your ancestor's lives and values, and it can be a great addition to your genealogy files.
What Is a Crest?
A family crest is associated with the practice of heraldry, and it was used to help differentiate knights in battle. The crest is different than the coat of arms, which is what most people think of first. The coat of arms is the shield part of the heraldry symbol, while the crest is the part that sticks up at the top.
Originally, crests were used on knights' helmets. They would stick up from the top of the helmet, making it easier to recognize a knight when you couldn't see his face. Because knights were men, few women had crests. The only women who had crests were royalty.
Eventually, these crests became connected with a family's coat of arms, and they were passed down from generation to generation. While the coat of arms itself will vary significantly with the family, crests feature some common motifs like lions, various other animals, people, wings, horns, feathers, and flowers.
Where Can I Find My Family Crest?
The Internet makes it easy to find your family crest, as well as your coat of arms. First, you'll need to know the surname your ancestors used during the 1500s, and it also helps to get a sense of where they lived. To find out how to research your surname origin, check out the following articles:
- Origin of Family Names
- What Country Does My Surname Come From
- Trace a Family Name History
- Nationality of Surnames
After you've identified the origin of your surname, you can search for any heraldry symbols associated with it. Although they also sell items with family crests, the following websites allow you to find and view your crest online:
After You Find Your Crest
When you've finished researching your crest, you may wonder what's next. There are several ways to use this information in your genealogy research, and you can even find products featuring your family's heraldry symbols.
Family Crests in Genealogy
You might consider adding your family crest and coat of arms to your genealogy files. These items can provide another dimension to your research, and it can be thrilling to look at the symbols that have represented your family for centuries. Consider these ideas for incorporating your crest in your research:
- If you plan to print your family history in book form, consider using the crest as a cover design. You could also use these symbols to illustrate the various surnames in your family history.
- Include an electronic version of your family crest on any email correspondence you may have with relatives. This can be an illuminating way to show that you share a special bond.
- Family crests make great additions to genealogy websites. If you keep a website for your surname, be sure to include the coat of arms and crest as a focal point.
Family Crests as Gifts
Once you know what your family crest looks like, you may find that you'd like to give crest-emblazoned items as gifts. You'll find everything from coffee mugs to detailed wall art. These are popular presents for genealogists and history buffs, and selling crest-related items is a thriving Internet industry. In addition to those mentioned above, the following retail shops offer products featuring family crests and coats of arms:
Keep Track of Your Research
Keep track of the websites that were the most helpful to you in your research. That way, when another genealogist asks you, "Where can I find my family crest?" you can point them in the right direction.