Note: For privacy reasons, living people are not identified in this blog without permission.


If you would like to be contacted about a comment, you must leave me a way to reach you. Please include your email address. Thank you!

Follow This Blog!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Rerun Friday - Language Lesson - Heraldry

"Language Lesson - Heraldry" was originally posted on September 28, 2010

Heraldry - What is it? I mentioned doing language lessons a while back about terminology related to genealogy. I suppose I should live up to that previous post.

I came across the term 'heraldry' years ago when I was seeking "write-ups" about the individual surnames within my family tree. Various heraldry websites would come up in the search engine results online. So what is heraldry?

The word herald comes from a Germanic word referring to an "army commander". When it comes to family surnames it mainly revolves around the coat of arms and family crest. It appears to expand into the "write ups" about the meaning of specific surnames too.

Irish heraldry seems to have heavy influence from the Gaels, Anglo-Normans, and the English. From what I've read online, the Irish still did their own thing when it came to heraldry in and around the 1600s when the English were still trying to refine their rules and things were in constant flux. Let's just say that maybe the Irish kept it simple. That can be a good thing for sure. There is a regulatory division in Ireland who grant coats of arms and monitor the official use of them from what it sounds like.

Heraldry is also considered a way of tracing one's genealogies. I agree with this statement but it is a rather generic genealogy. I suppose if all you can find or know is your surname and cannot trace the family line, then the high level, general information about the surname is all you can hold onto. I know that's what is going on for several of my family lines at this time. It does give us a sense of where our ancestors came from. That can be a comfort and give us a goal of where we might want to travel.

I'm not sold on heraldry merchandise but I do own some. I suppose it gives one hope of finding more about your family line someday.


  1. I am very proud to have the name of O'Brien but am finding it hard tracing my family history due to similarity of names and having only verbal family information passed down to me by my parent's. I understand I am directly related to Timothy Francis O'Brien who was born in Melbourne on 24 December 1862. I believe he is the son on Michael O'Brien born in Ireland and Mary Hogan born in Tallow County Waterford Ireland. Any help would be appreciated.

  2. Hello, Maybe you read some of my O'Brien posts but your comment ended up on the Heraldry one? Anyway, I can respond here but not sure if you will see it. Do you have an email address? You are welcome to email me at I have O'Brien info that I can dig through and see if there is a connection.