Coat of Arms

History of Coat of Arms

The following information comes from the World Book Encyclopedia (1981):

A "Coat of Arms" is a heraldic design, used to distinguish individual families and to authenticate official documents. The Coat of Arms comes from the custom of embroidering the emblem of a knight on the surcoat which he wore over his armor.

Heraldic symbols as we know them today developed with the use of armor in the Middle Ages. The suit of armor made it difficult to distinguish friend from foe during violent hand-to-hand combat, and knights developed heraldic symbols so they could identify each other. The symbols usually commemorated an event in the knight's life, or some outstanding quality.

During the Middle Ages, heraldic symbols were also used in everyday life. Most persons did not know how to write, so they had to develop some way of proving the authenticity of various documents. It became common practice to use a seal with a person's heraldic design as a signature. The introduction of gunpowder into warfare made armor obsolete. As a result, heraldic symbols were no longer needed as a means of recognition on the battlefield. These symbols became more useful as an emblem distinguishing a particular family than as a mark of an individual knight. [Similarly, the College of Arms has stated: "With the introduction of gunpowder and artillery the use of arms on the jousting field and in battle eventually decreased, while the use of arms in civilian activities and social endeavors increased."]

In England, Richard III established the Herald's College [today known as the College of Arms] in 1484 AD. The Herald's College decided(s) who is entitled to wear coats of arms. Also, in such [areas] as Great Britain, heraldic symbols usually depict the ancestry of a particular individual, rather than an element of his life.

A complete coat of arms consists of a shield, crest, and motto. The shield, or escutcheon, is the basic element. A helmet, or supporters, or both may be added. Accessories include the wreath, mantling and scroll. The wreath represents a device used to cover the point where the crest was attached to the knight's helmet. The mantling originally protected the knight from the direct rays of the sun and also protected the helmet from stains and rust.

College of Arms in London, England

In January 2016, the College of Arms in London, England, stated the following on its website:

Heraldry: "There is no such thing as a 'coat of arms for a surname'. Many people of the same surname will often be entitled to completely different coats of arms, and many of that surname will be entitled to no coat of arms. Coats of arms belong to individuals. For any person to have a right to a coat of arms they must either have had it granted to them or be descended in the legitimate male line from a person to whom arms were granted or confirmed in the past."

Coats of Arms: "Coats of arms belong to specific individuals and families and there is no such thing as a coat of arms for a family name. From their origins in the twelfth century to the present day arms have been borne by individuals, and by corporate bodies, as marks of identification. They have also been used to denote other characteristics, which have changed over the centuries as society and culture have evolved. New coats of arms have since the fifteenth century been granted both to individuals and corporate bodies by the senior heralds in Royal service, the Kings of Arms."

Granting of Arms: "As of 1 January 2016 the fees payable [to the College of Arms] upon a personal grant of arms and crest are £5,750, a similar grant to an impersonal but non-profit making body, £12,100, and to a commercial company, £17,950."

History of Braithwaite Coat of Arms

The following information comes from: Generoso Germine Gemmo ["I bud from a gentle stock" or "Generous increase of a bud"] by Lieutenant Colonel Garnett Edward Braithwaite (1904-1982), Kendal, Westmorland, England, 1965, pages 5-6:

Thomas Braythwayte [b.abt.1459], of Brathay,…is known to have had a mill in 1494, and to have owned peat lands, from which he made enough money to enable his branch to move slowly, but surely, round the North of Lake Windermere, leaving behind, in the Parish of Hawkshead, descendants of the original stock. His is the first name to be recorded with issue.

His son Richard [Braithwait, b.abt.1485], who owned the Borrans, and his grandson Robert [Braithwait, b.abt.1511], built houses in Ambleside and prospered through trade and agriciulture. Thomas [Braithwait, 1537-1610] of the next generation, who was Knighted by [Queen] Elizabeth in 1591, married well and was given Burneside Hall near Kendal, by his father, where he died in 1616. He was granted the right to bear the coat of arms of 'Gule, on a chevron argent, three cross crosslets, fitchee sable' with the family crest of a greyhound. I suspect that the 'three cross crosslets' came from the Sandys family.

In the Transactions, vol. VI, pp. 217 and 230, it is stated that the Red shield with three cross crosslets fitchee sable was the coat of arms of the Warcop branch and the Golden shield with Bugle-horn garnished and furnished sable was that of Ambleside.

This I believe to be incorrect--in fact I am sure the allocation must have been the reverse. The confusion could well have been caused by the fact that there were three, in two generations, having the name Thomas, all three of whom were granted the right to bear coats of arms. Thomas brother of Gawen in 1602; Sir Thomas of Warcop in 1616; and before them Sir Thomas of Ambleside and Burneside in 1591.

I believe Thomas took the Bugle in 1602 and his brother Gawen, whether he was entitled to or not, followed suit.

I possess a coloured facsimile of the 'cross crosslet' coat of arms with the greyhound crest as borne by Sir Thomas of Ambleside Hall; and our crest today is a greyhound. This Sir Thomas, Knighted in 1591, became a Deputy Feodary of Westmorland in 1576 and his son Richard [Braithwait, 1588-1673], an Escheator in 1633. This Richard reproduced the 'cross crosslet' coat of arms on many of the frontispieces of his published works together with the greyhound crest and the motto 'Generoso Germine Gemmo' ('I bud from a gentle stock'.) (Records of Kendale, Vol. II, pages 440 and 441; Transactions, Vol. XXII.)

Heraldic Designs of Braithwaite Coat of Arms

The Braithwaite Coat of Arms has been used by related members of the Braithwaite family of England for hundreds of years. It is described as follows in these two well-known and respected heraldic publications:

The General Armory of England, Scotland, Ireland, And Wales, by Sir Bernard Burke, Ulster King of Arms, London, England. First Edition: 1842; Used Edition: 1884, page 115: "Braithwaite ([of] High Wray, co. Lancaster [Lancashire County, England]). [Shield:] Gu. on a chev. ar. three crosses crosslet fitchee sa. Crest-A greyhound counchant ar. collared and chained gu."

Translated, the above description reads: "A shield of red containing a chevron design of silver (that is frequently represented by white), with three black crosses having the lower part sharpened to a point; and a crest containing a greyhound of silver or white that is lying down and which is collared and chained in red".

Fairbairn's Book of Crests of the Families of Great Britain and Ireland, by James Fairbairn, and later revised by Lawrence Butters), London, England. First Edition: 1859; Used Edition: 1905, page 71, contains two entries for the surname Braithwait or Braithwaite:

"Braithwait, on a mount vert, a greyhound couchant". Two Plates (or drawings) are then referenced to this entry: Plate cf. 60.1--which contains a drawing of the greyhound lying down; and Plate cf. 68.7-which contains a drawing of a vertical mount (or small hill on which crests are frequently represented). Translated, the above description reads: "A crest containing a vertical mount (or small hill) and a greyhound that is lying down."

"Braithwaite, Robert, 26, Endymion Road, Brixton Hill, S.W. [Endymion Road, Brixton Hill, Lambeth, London, England], a greyhound couchant arg., collared and chained or. Sub cruce salus." Translated, the above description reads: "A crest containing a greyhound of silver (which is frequently represented by white) that is lying down and which is collared and chained in gold (which is frequently represented by yellow)". The phrase "Sub cruce salus" means "Salvation under the cross".

Braithwaite Family Organization Coat of Arms

In July 2011, the Braithwaite Family Organization (BFO) commissioned Julie Rebecca Thorup, a graphic-artist living in Utah, to create a professional looking Braithwaite Coat of Arms for the Braithwaite Family Organization. Using well-known Braithwaite-related documents and heraldic symbols, Julie incorporated historic Braithwaite family art and designs into her drawing, which resulted in a Braithwaite Coat of Arms that was true to its heraldic past while presenting a new and vibrant display of Braithwaite family heritage and tradition.

Julie Thorup's 2011 artistic drawing of the Braithwaite Coat of Arms (shown below) is now owned and used by the Braithwaite Family Organization (BFO) to represent its corporate existence and is part of the intellectual property of the BFO. This drawing appears on the BFO website, on its official flag, and on its stationary, publications, clothing, plaques and other endorsed items. Braithwaite family members and others wishing to use this drawing should contact the BFO for permission to copy or otherwise use it.

Description of the Braithwaite Coat of Arms is also mentioned in the following document:

Transactions of the Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society, 1883, Volume VI, pages 106-109.