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The McClintock - McClintic Coat of Arms


Coats of arms were originally developed for medieval messengers of the Kings of Europe, Great Britain and Ireland during the 12th. to 14th. centuries. Because most people could not read, an easily recognized symbol was necessary to identify each Sovereign. The men who carried the messages were called heralds and wore a coat over their clothing on which was painted the symbols of their Sovereign which identified them as his messenger. These early coats of arms were usually animals, ships, birds, ect. The Royal Arms of Scotland is a red lion on a gold field. The Irish harp is the symbol of Ireland and three walking lions are the symbols of England. The fleur-de-lis (lily flower) is well known as the royal symbol of France.

It has been found that heralds, as early as the 12th century also acted as officers connected with tournaments. They were able to identify the knights who participated in the event and had a wide knowledge of weapons and armorial devices. From these functions they became men well versed in the different coats of arms and were entrusted with the registering and record keeping of the different coats used by individuals and families.

In England, Henry the V issued a writ proclaiming that no man should assume a coat of arms unless he possessed or ought to possess one in right of his ancestors or by grant of some person competent to grant it. This was a way to control and identify the use of arms in the kingdom. Disputes concerning armorial matters were dealt with in the Court of Chivalry, presided over by the Constable and Marshal. In due course the heralds obtained the power to grant and devise coats of arms for persons of sufficient standing. A King of Arms was created giving the power to issue coats of arms on behalf of the Sovereign. This was done in two ways. Arms were either granted or confirmed. In all countries except Ireland coats of arms were issued to only one individual. Fathers and sons would have slightly different arms. In Ireland any person claiming descent by blood from a person who had been issued a coat of arms may rightfully use the same arms.

The McClintock arms is registered in the Office of Ulster King of Arms for Northern Ireland, Dublin, Ireland. They were confirmed in 1815 to the descendants of Alexander McClintock of Trinta, County Donegal. Alexander McClintock who came from Argyleshire Scotland in 1597 brought with him a marble slab upon which the arms were carved. They were used by the family for several hundred years before being confirmed by the Ulster King of Arms. It is the practice to make some minor change when confirming arms. The colours of the escallop shells and lion was changed by the Ulster office. There is no record in the Scottish Office of the Lord Lyon King of Arms, in Edinburgh, Scotland of the grant. Emory McClintock of Carlise, Pennsylvania speculated that the arms might have been granted by King James IV, to Alexander McClintic who may have been the same McClintock, who killed Black John McGregor at the battle of Glen Fruin in 1603. This is an interesting theory but nothing has been found to support it. The traditional time of Alexander’s migration was in 1597, some six years earlier. He is supposed to have brought the marble carving with him at that time. The truth will probably remain forever buried in the dark and misty past. Colonel R. S. McClintock in his history of the McClintock family in Ireland states that the carving of the arms is certainly not the work of any Irish stonemason, so it must have surely come from Scotland with Alexander. Stonemasons used rows of lines cut into the marble in different directions to indicate the colours of different parts of the coat of arms.

The marble slab still exists today, 1997, and resides over the doorway of Thomas Benjamin McClintock-Bunbury’s home in Rathvilly, County Carlow, Ireland. Thomas Benjamin is the present Lord Rathdonnell and a Naval Lieutenant. He succeeded his father William, the fifth Lord Rathdonnell at his death in 1959. His great, great grandfather was elevated to the title of Lord Rathdonnell in 1868. The McClintock arms were again changed by the Ulster King of Arms in granting this title. The change restored the original colours with the escallop shells all silver and the lion gold.

The following description is the coat of arms that were confirmed by the Office of Arms in 1815 to the descendants of Alexander McClintock of Trintaugh(Trinta), County Donegal.: Per pale gules and asure, a chevron ermine between three escallop shells, that in the dexter chief or, in the sinster argent, in the base per pale of the fourth and last. The crest is a lion passant argent. The motto, "Virtute et Labore". Here is the translation of the language of heraldry used in the records: a shield divided, the left side red(gules) the right side blue(asure), an ermine chevron between three escallop shells. The shell in the top left quarter of the shield is gold(or), and the shell in the right top quarter of the shield is silver(argent). The shell in the base of the shield is divided, with the left side gold and the right side silver. The crest above the shield is a silver lion (lion argent) walking with one front leg raised(passant). In Ireland and Northern Ireland any descendant is permitted to freely use the arms issued to their ancestor. The descendants of Lord Rathdonnel can freely use his coat of arms, while the rest of us who claim descent from Alexander McClintock can use the arms confirmed to him in 1815.

The symbols used in the McClintock arms are thought to mean the following: The ermine chevron means service to the King. The chevron is like the rafters of a house and ermine is the fur worn by royalty. The escallop shell is the symbol of James, the desciple of Jesus Christ from the Bible. It was worn on the helmets of the Crusaders in their war to free the Holy Land from the barbarians. It may also be significant of James VI of Scotland who also became King James 1 of Great Britain in 1703 and who was King of Scotland at the time of Alexander McClintock’s migration to Ireland. The escallop shell is widely used in heraldry. The colour red usually means military service and the colour blue is the national colour of Scotland. The interesting phrase "true blue" comes from the wearing of this colour by Scots who were loyal to Scotland in their struggle for freedom from English domination in their wars with England. The lion is a widely used symbol of strength and courage. The helmet above the shield identifies the grantee of the arms as a gentlemen and not a knight or person of royal blood. We may surmise that the arms were of a Scottish gentlemen of courage and strength who serves the King militarily. The motto "Virtute and Labor" means success by virtue and labor.


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