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Ancestral Arms of The Family of Proctor

Article Credit: Carolyn Hall Proctor, Winthrop, MA ~ Courtesy of The Howie Proctor Family Records
Coat of Arms Icons Gleaned From The Internet
Transcription Courtesy of House Of Proctor Genealogy


In that ancient feudal castle, where the first heraldic honor was conferred by the reigning monarch upon his noted countryman, there began the custom upon which the lore of heraldry is based. Through the centuries, when a man was to be rewarded he was granted the privilege of bearing Coat Amour to display his coveted position. This privilege is inherited by his descendants. A Coat-of-arms has become an object of pride and display, used to preserve for posterity the record of ancestry and as a testimonial of authentic descent.

Authentic reproduction of the coat-of-Arms of the family of Proctor, anciently seated in Downton, County of Wiltz, England.

These arms may be found blazoned in Bolton's American Armory, 1927; Zieber's Heraldry in America, page 38, 1895, on which there is a cut of the arms as shown on the tombstone of captain Richard Proctor, son of Joseph, died 1753, buried in Christ church graveyard, Philadelphia, Pa;,; Pioneers of Mass., by Pope, 1900 on George Dorchester Proctor 1634; Founders of the Massachusetts Bay Colonies by Sarah Saunders Smith, page 177, 1897; Burke's General Armory 1878, page 826; Heraldry illustrated by Wm. H. Abbott, page 92 & plate 15, figure 12, 1897 and the book of Proctor Genealogy by William Lawrence Proctor and Mrs. W.L. Proctor, 1898 in which the front piece of the book contains a black and white cut of the Arms.

Following is a heraldic description of the Arms as indicated in the above references:- ARMS - Argent a chevron sable, between three martlets gules. CREST - On a mounted vert, a greyhound sejant argent, spotted brown, collared or. MOTTO _ TOUJOURS FIDELLE (Ever Faithful) Definitions of heraldic terms:- Argent - Silver Sable - Black Gules - Red Vert - Green Or - Gold or Yellow Martlets - An imaginary bird said to be without legs, it is used both as a charge and a difference for a fourth son. Sejant - French word for sitting Chevron - This ordinary is supposed to represent the rafters of the gable of a house.

Heraldry = Coats-of-Arms

Possession of a record of heraldic honors, especially in the form of a painting of the family arms, indicates pride in our family name and achievements. The display of the Coat-of-Arms is a high inherited privilege as well as a beautiful object of art for the home.

Coats-of-Arms originate from the middle ages when the brunt of fighting in battle was borne by armed and mounted knights and esquires who were actually student knights. These fighting men were incased in armour, first metal-reinforced leather; then all metal. Over the head at first was worn a heavy leather or metal cap with a nose piece, then a casque or helmet was later adopted, which completely hid the face of the wearer.

In as much as most of the fighting was done on horseback and hand to hand it became necessary for each man to identify himself so that friend might be distinguished from foe in the heat and excitement of battle.

The most prominent part of a warrior's ensemble was the shield which he held before him. This shield was at first made of leather, then of light metal. It was braced, front or back, with strips of light wood. Naturally, as the most visible piece of armour, the shield was chosen for identification and so marked.

Usually the knight, esquire or pikeman wore over his armour a short coat or baldric. This was marked with the same identification as the shield. It is from this jacked or coat that the "Coat" in Coat-of-Arms takes its name.

The shields were first marked in about every possible way. At first the braces upon the front of the shield were painted in different colors or metals from the shield itself or where there were no front braces, the shield was divided by directional lines and painted in alternate colors and metals. When all possible colors, metals and furs were used in different manners, then animals, inanimate objects, birds, trees, and flowers, fruits, mythical creatures and parts of the human figure were used. At first markings were selected and adopted by the individual himself; later they were granted by the emperor, king, prince, duke or other overlord.

Unrelated warriors rarely ever used the same markings in their shields. After heraldry or the marking of shields became an almost universal custom in Europe and British Isles, heralds (hence the name) were appointed by the rulers to seek out and register the name and arms used by each warrior in his respective country, and later the arms of each family. This pretty well kept down duplications which as then and now makes it easy to distinguish a family name by the design and color of the arms. Arms were taken up by sons exactly similar to the late fathers. It is in this manner that the "inherited arms" were initiated.

The bible first speaks of marked shields; so do Homer and Virgil. The Normas used marked shields in the Invasion of England in1066 and found the native English warriors doing likewise. However, it was not until about 1099 in connection with the First Crusade that warriors began employing one consistent marking of their shields and so to copy the shield of the father.

Of what does a display of arms consist? First there is the shield. This is really the arms, upon which all else is but an appendage. It is individual and unique to the family. It is perfectly proper, though not artistically so pleasing, to display the shield alone. The crest was a figure of light wood or leather covered wood which was worn upon the helmet as a further means of identification. It was not unique to the family. The motto was a war cry, slogan or assembling cry usually employed in battle. It was not individual to the family. Sometimes whole armies would use the same war cry. Some families varied their mottoes with each war in which they participated; some never employed a motto. Thus it is proper, if desired, to use whatever motto seems consistent or true to desirable, if one must have a motto in his or her display of arms.

The helmet in Continental arms is shown affronte or in part of whole profile. In Great Britain, helmets in certain positions and of certain metals and with or without bars are used to show the rank or the actual bearer. This went only where there was a title itself. As the United States does not recognize title or rank in its citizens, it is proper for those of British origin to display only the esquire's helmet; i.e., the steel helmet in the semi-profile or profile position.

The mantling or lambrequin, the scrollwork around the helmet and shield, is purely decorative and has not real significance, although a graceful mantling adds greatly to a well executed painting of the family arms. The mantling represents a cloak worn by the warrior, while in full armour. Its purpose was purely utilitarian. Encased in armour, as he was, the warrior would have been fairly cooked b the hot sun in summer without this protection. In winter the mantle protected the wearer from rain, sleet and battle these cloaks were often cut and slashed and the warrior was very proud of these marks of combat. This is purely discretionary with the artist. The principal color and metal or fur (the first two mentioned in the blazon of an arms) should be sued for the colors of the mantling. An exception to this is the Saxons where regardless of the colors of the shield the mantling is always purple.

A blazon is a description of the arms in heraldic terms, the essential features being in the old Norman-French tongue. In heraldry there are only five basic colors and two metal colors used, which in heraldic terms are call ARGENT (metal silver), OR (metal gold), SABLE (black), GULES (red), AZURE (blue), PURPURE (purple) and VERT (green). It is perfectly proper to display the arms of any lineal ancestral branch of the family, either the paternal or maternal side, no matter how far removed.

Article Credit: Carolyn Hall Proctor, Winthrop, MA ~ Courtesy of The Howie Proctor Family Records
Coat of Arms Icons Gleaned From The Internet
Transcription Courtesy of House Of Proctor Genealogy

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