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A family crest is important to your coat of arms and family history. So what are family crests, how do I find my family’s crest and do all families have a crest? Family crests are a fascinating subject with a rich history. You’ll find out all you need to know about family crests and how you can find yours in this post.

Table of contents


What is a family crest?

A family crest is an element that crests the design, as shown in the photo below the crest sits on top of the coat of arms. If your family’s coat of arms is too complex you can often use just the family crest. This photo shows one of our handcrafted shields with the crest attached to the knight’s helmet.

family crest


The design of the crest can include a lion, tiger, horse or cross, but there are many others. Similarly, some crests include arrows or chains. For example, a lion represents deathless courage and hence the symbol of a true warrior. Something to share with friends down the pub when they question your character!

Sometimes the term family crest can refer to the overall design but specifically, it relates to the part on top of the coat of arms.


How can I find my family’s crest?

Discover your family crest, coat of arms and surname history using our search tool at the top of the page. Type in your surname in the box provided, in the band that runs under the main menu and click submit. We provide your family’s crests and surnames with German, Australian, Scottish, Italian, Spanish, Welsh, English, Canadian, and American origins.


Do all families have a family crest?

Firstly no, not all families have a crest on top of their coat of arms. Secondly, people with the same surname will often have a completely different coat of arms or sometimes no coat of arms at all. Please use our search tool to find out if you have a family crest with your coat of arms. Our family crest archive contains a wide variety of different symbols but if your search doesn’t reveal one for your surname please contact us so we can double check for you.


What does it mean if your family has a family crest?

You can tell a lot about your ancestry from your Coat of arms and family crest. They were originally intended to recognise family achievements and heritage, and the design can give insight into your family’s history and legacy. Subsequently, the history of your family name can be passed down through generations and tell you a lot about your ancestors.

Is there a difference between a coat of arms and a family crest?

A family crest can get confused with the coat of arms, so it’s good to know the difference, especially when researching your surname history. You’ll find the family crest is on top of the coat of arms and can include feathers, arrows, chains and lots more besides. Why not check out our free online dictionary, which tells you what the various symbols mean.

What do the colours on a family crest mean?

The colours within a design were intended to be visible from far away and highly recognisable and this informed which colours went together. Because of this simple background colours like red, blue, green, black, and purple go with metal colours, yellow for gold and white for silver.

Colours had meanings for each family:

  • Gold: generosity and elevation of the mind
  • Silver or white: peace and sincerity
  • Red: warrior or martyr, also military strength or magnanimity
  • Blue: truth and loyalty
  • Green: hope, joy, and loyalty in love
  • Black: constancy
  • Purple: royal majesty, sovereignty, and justice
  • Orange: ambition
  • Maroon: patient in battle and yet victorious

In addition to this, there were patterned backgrounds symbolic of animal fur. After that, the most prominent were ermine (in black and white) and squirrel (in blue and white), but other fur patterns were also common. In conclusion, you can see how the crest adorns your coat of arms and what meaning it gives to your surname history. Subscribe to our newsletter for the latest news and tips on the history of your surname and its meaning.

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