“In Chief” or “On the Chief”

chief

Alan says:

In heraldry, what is the difference between “In Chief” and “On the Chief”

Herald Armiger says:

Thanks Alan. When the phrase On the Chief is used it means there is a charge of some sort on a Chief. The Chief here is a partition of the field running across the top. Originally it would be 1/3 of the field, but it is usually shown now as about the top fifth of the field area. This Chief will be of different tincture from the remainder of the field. A chief was sometimes used as a form of Honorable Augmentation, that being a portion of the Coat of Arms added afterward by the sovereign to recognize some extraordinary feat or deed. It can also be used as a Mark of Cadency or as a Difference to alter the arms for a separate branch of the family. There is also a third kind of chief which is a Chief of Allegiance which is used to show the overlord’s arms, this usage is popular in German arms.

If something is said to be in Chief it means the charge or charges are running in a horizontal band across the top of the shield, it does not mean that there actually is a chief. Please see my article of the Positions on the Field for more information.

I hope that answered your question.

Originally posted 2009-05-23 21:44:26.

Colonial Families of America by Frances Smith
The Symbolisms of Heraldry (1898)

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