Hello everyone! I am excited to start designing my coat of arms and get input from the community. I received some great feedback from Michael, Kathy, and Joseph on my new member checking in post a few months back.
I will say I am really torn between designing something purely for myself, something for my family (wife, future children), and my Braddy clan at large.
I’ll talk through some of the designs I’ve sketched up, rationale, and additional thoughts.
1. Larger Braddy family:
When I first started researching family history and coats of arms, I fell prey to the "House of Names", etc. ‘this coat of arms applies to everyone under the surname X" trap. That being said, I was under the assumption that we shared the same CoA as a particular Brady and the below image was also MY CoA, haha.
Once I became more knowledgeable about CoAs I started designing a CoA and used the "Brady" CoA as my muse. I kept the same theme with the dexter hand couped pointing, however I changed the sun in splendor with a crescent and centered everything for a more pleasing look, IMO. One of the reasons for the crescent, other than differencing myself from the owner of the "Brady" arms, is for its symbolism for my fraternity which made a significant impact on me in my college days. I like the simplicity of the design and I think it looks pretty clean, my only hangup is if I continue doing extensive family research and come to find out we aren’t even remotely related or even from Ireland. Anyway, below is the initial design I created…
Continuing with the this CoA and potentially serving my greater family, I determined that my Crest would serve to better represent me. The crest below is a bear holding a fret. The bear is both a symbol for my father (from New Bern, NC) and my mother (from California), as well as where I was born (California). The fret serves a duel purpose, representing my love of lacrosse as well as a nautical motif (love being on the water).
2. My Immediate Family (Wife and future kids):
Recently I have been toying with the idea of my CoAs as something I could pass down and how that design would look. Her maiden name is Long and I am unsure if anyone in her family on either side ever had a CoA, may require more digging. One idea that I tinkered with is our combined monogram is BBB and a friend commented "holy B’s, man!" which lead to a slight bee motif on a belt I had made for our wedding.
That being said, I love George Washington’s CoA and thought about changing out the mullets for bees, and changing the colors.
Though, honestly, I think my wife couldn’t care less and feels no real attachment to bees.
3. Totally Personal Arms:
The last idea is that of arms personal to me and are comprised of elements that embody me or that I find visually pleasing. I love Thomas Jefferson’s CoA with the large fret and I also like the idea of a chief fretty.
I value your opinions as some of you are very knowledgeable and have been doing this for quite some time. I look forward to this process and what will become of my CoA! Thank you all for your help!
fixed image links.
I would focus first only on one thing, a personal coat of arms that pleases and satisfies you.
Scattered ideas are bound to come in and compete for your attention for family arms, wife’s arms, how much kids will appreciate it, etc, but to me, this stuff is inconsequential to the primary task. I would focus on none of those extra considerations until you’ve actually already chosen, and assumed your own personal arms.
With that said, my first question would be: how attached are you to the specific charges on your current idea for personal arms, and what are those charges specifically meant to represent (other than a similarity to existing arms) to you? There is no right answer here, and in fact, you can plainly admit that a given charge just looks good, but, if you can evoke a "meaning" out of a charge, the arms will usually be invested with more personal value.
My approach would be just the opposite from Jeff’s. If you start from the purely personal, and then try to somehow add or modify elements to signify or appeal to a broader range of relatives, you risk an end result that will really accomplish neither goal unless—a big unless—your "personal" starting point already reflects something reflective of or attractive to your extended lineage, either accidentally or on purpose.
Not impossible—Jeff managed it quite nicely—but IMO only because his personal arms don’t visually shout "me, me, this is me."—rather, they seem to me to express a more abstract theme that can be read many ways by his extended family. (He may see it differently of.course..)
If your ultimate goal is purely personal, all this doesn’ t matter; but if your end goal is to symbolize and unite an extended family, why not start there for the central shared design theme, which you and other members can if desired "difference"—add to or modify—without losing the shared identity?
Taking your hand and crescent option—the hand, if tilted to point to the dexter chief corner, does suggest Brady (helpful if that’s really the origin of your surname?) but a crescent based on your college fraternity is personal to you unless you were a legacy member. Not that the crescent is a bad idea, but not for your siblings and cousins unless it will also carry some shared symbolism. If not, then what would?
Your belt of BBB’s is an interesting possibility as an addition to some broader Broddy design—maybe a fess or barrulet or bendlet overall?
Enough for now; but IMO you need to ponder just where you want to go, or you’re not likely to get there!
Back to Jeff or others…
To clarify, the arms I bear, were designed (with my help) for my dad and they were for HIS assumption, not mine. Thus, he was the one to decide on which elements to include (and he did in fact reject some of my suggestions, as Michael may recall, I had tried to sell my dad on using a falcon).
So to reiterate… a design should (IMO) be made for and decided on by one armiger, the "source" of the arms. If that is you, then only your descendants should also use those arms.
If the arms are to be assumed by a living parent, then, you and your siblings can bear the arms.
I don’t myself like the idea of created arms attributed to a no longer living ancestor (many will disagree with me on this point it should be noted).
So, in summary, pick one person who actually wants arms, have that person approve of the design, and then if it’s your parent, you get the entitlement also. If the assumption is for yourself, then don’t design for other family members… they can create their own assumptions (perhaps with your design help and with a nod to your arms).
My mighty two cents.
I’d forgotten that Jeff’s arms were designed with his dad - an increasingly frequent occurance (my forgetting, that is).
But I believe my basic point is still valid—decide on how broad an audience you want to address (i.e. those to whom the new arms are intended to apply), then focus on what would be relevant and meaningful for that audience, ideally (as in Jeff’s case) with audience participation.
In Jeff’s case, among many others, the audience was personal, to Jeff’s dad, and to his descendants, living and future. That was Jeff’s & his dad’s starting point. Hopefully these arms will appeal to that audience, and continue to be used as a family identifier and focus of family pride and affection, either "as is" or with some future personalizing by various descendants that still preserves the core design theme tying them all together. (In Jeff’s case, since he bears his dad’s arms with a label as eldest living son, I’m guessing that his family’s practice will be to difference individual arms in some way; but that’s optional with each family and secondary to the initial design process which will establish the shared elements linking the family members, living and future, whether or not the family opts for differencing / cadency of some sort.)
In many other cases, the chosen starting point will be several generation back, and the arms will hopefully serve as a unifying symbol for the larger family descended from that earlier ancestor. Note however that the arms thus designed are in memory of that ancestor, but for the use of his living and future descendants bearing the ancestor’s surname; hopefully no one pretends that great-grandpa actually used those arms! As in the prior paragraph, the intent may or may not include future cadency or differencing for present and future individual family members or different branches etc.
This approach is quite common (but of course not mandatory) for those with Scottish, Scotch-Irish and Irish roots, but also used by others whose intent is to symbolize and unite an extended family wider than their own household.
But the main point, whichever way you go, is to first carefully consider and then (at least tentatively) decide what you intend the arms to symbolize and who they should identify. Jeff and many others choose one way, many others (me too) choose the other. My intent here isn’t to argue which way is better - that would IMO warrant a separate thread since it would be relevant to many future design discussions; but just that you’re better off to think it out and decide - hopefully with some level of "audience participation" - where you want to go early in the design process rather than putting it off and risk wasting time, energy and emotional investment on a dead end.
Thank you all for your ideas and thought provoking suggestions. I think I have narrowed my scope…slightly. I’m still debating between a broad coat of arms for my extended family (with there help) vs. a purely personal set of arms. I have some questions for both scenarios though.
1. I plan on bringing up creating a COA to my extended family at least the patriarchs and family historians in our ranks, at our yearly gathering in July. If we were all able to agree upon a design that signified our branch of the family, how would we go about delineating ourselves? I assume that using marks of cadency would be improper for my dad or uncle to use (as it would assume that the arms were their father’s and would be false); however I could add a brisure on the COA of my father to signify myself as his second son? Or could we all use the "whole coat" and have different crests to designate ourselves? (Sorry if I mixed words/terms)
2. If I designed a purely personal COA, could my wife adopt it? How would she distinguish it as hers versus mine? If she designed her own COA, would it make sense to impale it with mine? What options do our children have when "inheriting" a COA? Mine with a mark of cadency? Our impaled COAs with a mark of cadency?
Thank you all for your help, I am realizing how truly ignorant I am to this.
Bryan—Have you read the Society’s Guidelines?
I think answers to your questions can be found there, especially sections 3.2 through 3.5
Ditto Arriano—the Guidelines won’t answer every detail of your questions, but do address most of them. Then we can discuss how you and your family might apply them to best effect.
Note that the Guidelines don’t (well, seldom) dictate "the" one true way; rather they more often point out historical practice and acceptable options within reasonable sideboards, and/or recommend "best practices" (note the plural). There are a few firm no-no’s (stealing other folk’s arms, or including certain foreign "noble" items not compatible with American norms) but these are generally not relevant to the questions you’re now addressing.
Not trying to stifle discussion, just suggesting some brief but useful homework
Understood, reading now!
Ditto the above recommendation on reading guidelines especially for how to treat spouse’s use of arms…
As to extended family sharing one coat of arms, one potential solution for this would be to have a "family association" of descendants from a chosen common ancestor, then design arms for this association in honor of said ancestor (but note, not directly attributed to the ancestor as if he/she bore the arms in actuality because my own preference is never to directly attribute arms to one who never born them). Such family assoc. arms could be generally possessed by all members of the association who didn’t have enough of an interest in study of heraldry to assume their own arms indivudally and separately and technically the family assoc arms would never be "assumed" by any but the association itself (as an entity). For those who did assume individual arms, then those individuals’ descendants could of course use cadency/differencing respectively but this would be a separate issue from the family association arms.
Here’s a really sloppy example for the descendants of John Doe Family Association. This assoc. uses Argent a mullet Gules, useable by all descendants as "members" however they please (John Doe, Jr.: "hey bro, check out my family crest [SIC]") ...then more refined and discerning Jimbo Ray Doe, grandson of the late John Doe, Sr. has decided to assume a personal coat of arms to distinguish his honor and with a nod to the family association arms, he chooses Azure, on a fess Argent a mullet Gules for his personal arms, which is passsed (with or without cadency/differences depending on preference) to his own descendents. Note, that Jimbo Ray and his descendents can also use the family association arms to represent.
Finally, I would just forgo dealing with the family association arms myself and assume arms individually, then, I would pursue extended family at liesure to go through the arduous task of agreeing on some kind of family assoc. arms. Inevitably it really doesn’t matter if the family association and personal arms match that much, and it would be something you’d have to negotiate with the respective peoples. Let me say this, it’s better to be pleased with your own arms and not compromise… otherwise, you may regret your own arms later, and the rest of the extended family may not have that much invested… so why make your own arms based off of some agreement of theirs that in the long run you may not like as much?
Sorry to babble a bit, but I’ve covered this ground myself a bit and want to convey my own encounter with "issues."
Well, without at this point continuing our debating the merits of personal vs. immediate family vs. various levels of extended family from a shared ancestor living or dead, I don’t think Jeff and I disagree on the value of considering and deciding, early in the process, which approach you want to take. If you don’t have a general notion of where you hope to get to, you may not have a lasting attachment to wherever it is you eventually tire of wandering and "settle" for something you may later come to regret.
You mentioned getting together with senior relatives to chat - good for you! Their interest or lack thereof, and if interested their preferences, may help in deciding your target audience.
Michael F. McCartney;104397 wrote:
If you don’t have a general notion of where you hope to get to, you may not have a lasting attachment to wherever it is you eventually tire of wandering and "settle" for something you may later come to regret.
I say keep things simple. Of course, "simple" is not necessarily easy.
Take time to come up with a singular design that meets all your needs, ie: a common symbol you AND your family members can revere or that stakeholders can find their own meaning in.