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Heraldry Explanations and some Bagnall Coats of Arms

jump to links within this page:

The College of Arms
A Brief Explanation of Heraldry
Some Bagnall Coats of Arms
Blazon - a Description of Shields
Symbols and their Meanings
Useful external Heraldry Links

The College of Arms

The College of Arms is the official repository of the coats of arms and pedigrees of English, Welsh, Northern Irish and Commonwealth families and their descendants. Its records also include official copies of the records of Ulster King of Arms the originals of which remain in Dublin. The officers of the College, known as heralds, specialize in genealogical and heraldic work for their respective clients.

Jump to College-of-Arms website
for more on heraldry at:

Popular misconceptions

There is no such thing as a family coat-of-arms. Dozens of companies, operating on the Internet, in shopping malls, airports and tourist destinations will sell you all types of products under theguise of "family" coat-of-arms.

Coats-of-arms were issued to individuals, not families, and having the same last name as someone who had a coat-of-arms centuries ago does not give you an automatic claim. Commercial suppliers will not tell you this!

In short - there is no one Bagnall Family Coat of Arms.

Beware the "Bucket Shops"!!

A "bucket shop" is a term used by serious heraldic enthusiasts to describe "heraldrymongers" who dispense bogus or inaccurate coats of arms by the bucket load. They usually have a large database which contains images of historic and/or bogus armorial bearings. Even if their representations are accurate renderings of historic arms, these organisations will neglect to tell their customers that there might be anywhere from one to one hundred arms listed under any given surname. Further, when you ask these heraldrymongers, "What's my coat of arms?" or "What's my family crest?" they won't bother to tell you that armorial bearings DO NOT belong to all persons of a given surname and may rightfully be borne only by the descendants of the individual to whom they were first granted or allowed, according to the Laws of Arms in the country of origin.

There are links around this website to various companies who will sell you heraldic items. If you are tempted to buy - just take it with a pinch of salt when they lead you to believe that you have an exclusive right to the heraldic devices they sell!


"A Coat-of-Arms belongs to a Surname."

Answer - There is no such thing as a 'coat of arms for a surname'. Many people of the same surname will often be entitled to a completely different coat of arms, and many of that surname will not be entitled to bear a coat of arms at all.

A Coat of Arms belong to an individual. For any person to have a right to a coat of arms they must either have had it granted to them or be descended in the legitimate male line from a person to whom arms were granted or confirmed in the past.


"Family Crest is another name for a Coat-of-Arms"

Answer - It is a popular misconception that the word 'crest' describes a whole coat of arms or any heraldic device. It does not. A crest is a specific part of a full achievement of arms: i.e. the three-dimensional object placed on top of the helm.

A Brief Explanation of Heraldry

Heraldry began in the early Middle Ages of Europe to help the knights and foot soldiers identify each other during a battle.

Since many of the knights wore shiny metal armour covering their whole body, they had trouble identifying their allies and opponents during a battle. Thus, the noble and knightly families designed patterns and symbols to paint on their shields that would represent their family.

These shields were called coats of arms, and any family of noble rank could have one. Peasants of the middle class could earn their own coat of arms by performing a great deed or earning the favors of a nobleman. Many peasants had their own coat of arms that were not recognized by the College.

The College was where all the heralds learned their heraldric skills and where all the official records were kept. Families had to be recognized by the College for their coat of arms to be official.

Heralds went to school at a very young age and were taught to read and to write. They had to memorize all of the coats of arms that were in existence, and they were used at battles to help determine where the positions of the enemy and allied knights were on the battlefield.

Heralds had their own language for describing the shields, called Blazon.

All coats of arms were described in this language; it was an abbreviated way to describe what could be a very complicated coat of arms. Click to Jump to Blazon details.

Some Bagnall Coats of Arms

Bagnall Coat of Arms Bagnall Coat of Arms
These images downloaded from "Designs of Wonder" at:
Bagenal Coat of Arms

Bagnall Coat of Arms Bagnall Coat of Arms
These arms and more can be found on Phil Bagnall's (thanks Phil!) website

- (temporarily unavailable)
Bagnall Coat of Arms

Geoffrey de Bagenholt

This Image from Brian Timms'
"Studies in Heraldry" site at:

Bagnall Coat of Arms

Blazon - The Heralds' Language

Blazon to English Meaning
Or = Gold generosity and elevation of mind
Argent = Silver peace and sincerity
Gules = Red warrior, brave and strong but generous and just; the martyr's colour
Azure = Blue truth and loyalty
Vert=Green hope, joy and love
Sable = Black constancy or grief

There are no fixed shades for heraldic colours. If the official description of a coat of arms gives its tinctures as Gules (red), Azure (blue) and Argent (white or silver) then, as long as the blue is not too light and the red not too orange, purple or pink, it is up to the artist to decide which particular shades they think are appropriate.

Symbols and Their Meanings

(In alphabetical order)

Anchor - represents hope
Arrow - symbolizes readiness(for battle)
Battle Axe - symbol of the execution of military duty
Bear - strength, cunning, and protection toward one's own kin
Boar - bravery; one who fights to the death
Boar's head - hospitality
Bow - same as arrow, usually go together
Bull - valor, bravery, generosity; horns represent strength and fortitude
Camel - patience and perseverance
Castle - safety
Cock - courage and perseverance; badge of a hero
Cypress - death and eternal life thereafter
Dolphin - swiftness, diligence, and love(dolphin depicted having scales)
Dragon - valor and protection
Eagle - person of deeds and of noble nature, strength, bravery and alertness - wings symbolize protection
Scallop Shell - traveller to far places; victorious naval commander
Goat - one who wins through politics
Goose - resourcefulness
Griffin - valour and bravery
Hand - sincerity, faith, and judgement
Harp - composed person of tempered judgement; contemplation
Hawk - one who does not rest until he achieves his objective
Heart, Flaming - intense, burning affection
Heart, Human - clarity and sincerity
Hind (female deer) - peace and harmony
Holly - truth
Horse - readiness for all events
Horseshoe - good luck and safeguard against evil spirits
Laurel - peace and/or triumph
Lightning Bolt - swiftness and power
Lion - dauntless courage
Mermaid - eloquence
Oak Tree - great age and strength; w/ acorns: continuous growth and fertility
Ostrich - willing obedience and serenity
Otter - individual who lives life to fullest
Peacock - beauty, power and knowledge
Pelican - (shown piercing her breast to feed her young) self-sacrifice, person of charitable nature
Portcullis - protection in an emergency
Rainbow - good times after bad
Ram - leader, represents authority
Raven - divine providence
Rock - symbol of safety and protection; a refuge
Rose, red - grace and beauty
Rose, white - faith and love
Serpent/snake - wisdom
Spear - honorable warrior, valiant knight
Spur - preparedness, readiness for battle
Stag - one who will not fight unless severely provoked; peace and harmony; antlers represent strength and fortitude
Sun - (in splendour) glory and splendour; fountain of life
Swan - poetic harmony and learning
Sword - justice and honor
Tree trunk - (sprouting) new life sprouting from old
Unicorn - extreme courage
Vine tree - strong and lasting friendship
Wheel - fortune
Wings - swiftness and protection
Wolf - reward from perseverance and hard industry
Wyvern - valour and protection

Some heraldic links:

The Association of Amateur Heralds

Regulation of English Heraldry

Brennan Heraldry - (English & Irish info)

Encyclopaedia Britannica - "The Historic Development of Heraldry"

Society for Creative Anachronism - heraldry links page

The College of Arms (UK)

Some more Bagnall Heraldry and Coats of Arms info at
Bignall one-name studies website