Welcome to the Society of American Armigers!

We are dedicated to providing a secure searchable armorial register that records the personal, corporate, and religious arms of Americans. Please consider the benefits of joining the Society and having your arms recorded for posterity.
Heraldry

Heraldry is Art, Language, History and Ancestry all in a single form.

Born of military necessity, heraldry grew to become an inheritance of honor and meaning. The beauty of heraldry is in its form, but its deeper meanings and long-held traditions are rarely familiar to the average individual. The interest in, and use of Heraldry is as popular as ever in the United States, especially with the growing interest in genealogy. It can be exciting when we find an ancestor who bore arms. Armorials speak to us, on a deeper level through its beauty and esoteric meanings.

Caveat Emptor...

"Family crest" and "last name coat of arms"...

We need to be aware that just because an ancestor bore arms, does not necessarily give us the right to bear those same arms. The traditions of heraldry must be upheld for it to continue to be meaningful.

The terms "family crest" and "lastname coat of arms" are often misused to describe an armorial design belonging to an individual with a similar surname. There are hundreds if not thousands of unscrupulous businesses (typically called "bucket shops" by the heraldic community) that sell "surname" or "family" arms.

Keep in mind that arms are typically granted to an individual, and unless one is in direct line of descent (depending on the heraldic traditions of the country of origin), the use of ancestral arms by any other than those who have been properly matriculated, is fraudulent at best.

The sale of "surname" or "family" arms is a dishonorable practice. Unscrupulous vendors count on the perspective customer's lack of knowledge of the traditions of heraldry. To use arms that are not properly owned, usurps someone else's heraldic identity. Using someone else's arms without proper matriculation is fundamentally a mix of identity theft and property theft.

Creating and Assuming Arms

The right to bear arms

In the U.S. we are free to adopt original arms, and may pass those arms to our children. We are also free to use the arms of our ancestors if it is appropriate under the traditions of heraldry. When using the arms of ancestors, we must respect our ancestor by adopting the arms in accordance with the traditions of the country in which the arms originated, following the long-held traditions of proper matriculation.

That being said, even the legal and rightful use of ancestral arms will ignore more an individual's recent history as well as (typically) the maternal side of one’s lineage. As an alternative, original, personal, meaningful arms can be designed in order to start a new heraldic legacy, passing those arms to descendants. Designing original arms gives the freedom to use heraldic symbology to indicate ancient as well as recent history. Arms can use elements of an ancestor who bears the same surname, or it can be designed to reflect unique characteristics that have a more personal meaning and value. Creating original arms allows us to tell our own story in heraldic terms.

Once an armorial has been designed, it can be registered as assumed arms here at the Society of American Armigers, or at any one of several available armorial registries.

Original Grant of Arms

The United States does not have a granting authority, but you may wish to have arms granted for your use by the College of Arms in the U.K., the Lord Lyon of Scotland, the Chief Herald of Ireland and others.

Matriculation of Ancestor's Arms

You can also have your ancestor's arms properly matriculated by contacting the granting authority in the country in which the arms were originally granted.

Assuming Arms

You may wish to work with an experienced heraldic artist who can help you to divise original arms for you to assume. In this case, your only protection of those arms is to have them listed in one or more heraldic registers (thus providing at least some indication of their first use).
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