How can I know if this is my family’s coat of arms?

Bob wrote into Ask Herald with this excellent question.

Hello Herald:

I found a coat of arms on your website that I think might belong to my ancestor, but I also read that only the direct heir would have rights to the shield or crest. How do I know if this is me, my family has been in the United States for more than ten generations.

Bob from Utah.

Thanks for writing in Bob. The best way to be sure is to consult your family genealogy and verify that the person named in the patent of arms is in fact your ancestor. If you don’t have your family genealogy back to the ancestor in question, then you can chose to hire a professional genealogist, do the work yourself, sign up for an online service, such as, or use any combination of the above.

If you do not have experience with genealogy, there are several books I’ve read that you might be useful to you:

As I’ve mentioned in other places on this website, even if you find these arms belong to your ancestor, you want to be careful how you use them. As I have often stated, in countries that have an active heraldic authority, such as the United Kingdom or Canada, the arms are considered a form of inheritable property, passed down according to exacting rules, not just for any and all members of the family. However, most people today are only interested in the coat of arms as a form of family “folk art” which helps enhance a connection to the past—under these conditions, there is nothing wrong with displaying your great-great-grand uncle’s coat of arms in your home, hopefully with a picture of him and the story of his life.

I personally use for all its fabulous online resources, they usually have a free trial in effect, so you can find out for yourself if they will be useful in your search. By using the links on this page you help support as well, as will pay us a small referral fee.

Try and get 14 Days FREE!

Originally posted 2014-12-15 10:48:56.

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