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SARRETT/SARRATT/SURRATT Families of America (SFA)©
Meaning & Orgin of Heraldry
None of the Sarratt/Sarrett/Surrett family Coat of Arms are Authentic and is not a big deal to me, weather they were or were not.

When you realize that nearly 85 percent of all Americans can trace their heritage back to one of the British Commonwealth nations England, Scotland, Ireland or Wales, you'll be able to imagine just how many people living in America are likely to have an authentic Coat-of-Arms somewhere in their background.

There are many Coats-of-Arms circulating that are the product of recent artistic innovation, and if you'd like to have one of these on the wall of your den, there are several legitimate houses that specialize in their creation.
But you and I aren't so interested in recent developments, we're trying to discover if any of our ancestors had the rank "Medieval Crusader" or position in the old country that would have entitled them to own and use an official Coat-of-Arms.

Heraldry, at one time, was very serious business. You see, the reason for having a Coat-of-Arms was so you could be identified in battle. So not only was your shield adorned with your chosen identification, but so was your helmet - just in case your shield wasn't visible.
Sir Thomas Malory, who lived from 1408 to 1471, the time when knighthood and heraldry was probably at its peak, wrote what is considered the finest collection of Arthurian romances - Le Morte D'Artur -- the death of King Arthur. The feeling and intensity for knighthood during the 15th century shows up quite well in this paragraph on the death of Lancelot --

"Thou Sir Lancelot, there thou liest, that thou were never matched of earthly knight's hand. And thou were the courteoust knight that ever bare shield. And thou were the truest friend to thy lover that ever bestrad horse. And thou were the truest lover of a sinful man that ever loved woman. And thou were the kindest man that ever struck with sword. And thou were the goodliest person that ever came among press of knights. And thou were the meekest man and the gentlest that ever ate in the hail among ladies. And thou were the sternest knight to thy mortal foe that ever put spear in the rest."

I'm certain you get the idea that knights and all that went with them were highly regarded. In most cases, Coats-of-Arms were issued to individuals (such as Lancelot) rather than to families. And under strict heraldic tradition, only the first son of the first son is entitled to bear his ancestor's Coat-of-Arms. If there was more than one son in the family, the rules of heraldry said it was alright for them to use the Coat-of-Arms, but it had to be changed in some way. If the family's line was to be carried on by daughters, she was allowed to combine her family's coat of arms with that of her husbands. That's a bit of a warning to those of you who begin to trace a Coat-of-Arms, obviously there are going to be combinations along the way that will make it necessary for you to carefully dissect each Coat-of-Arms in order to identify the changes and additions that occurred over the years.

Incidentally the name "Coat of Arms" comes from the practice of the knight wearing a cloth coat over his armor -- a coat on which his identifying arms were sewn. The knight, therefore, wore a "Coat-of-Arms."

When the custom of having a Coat-of-Arms really became popular, every knight wanted to make his own, unique insignia. Obviously, there was some duplication -- in most cases the duplication wasn't settled without some kind of fight. In fact the fighting over Coats-of-Arms became so intense that in 1419, Henry V of England issued a decree that there would be no more coats of arms unless your ancestor had one, or unless you received one as a gift from the Crown. Later in the century, Richard III, just to reinforce the decree, sent inspectors into the various parts of the kingdom to authenticate Coats-of-Arms already in use and deny their use to anyone who was trying to circumvent the king's order.

These inspectors -- known as heralds -- have full jurisdiction over disputes over who is or who is not entitled to use a particular Coat-of-Arms. The heralds are still very much in existence today and preside over the heraldric lineage at:
The College of Arms,
Queen Victoria Street
London E.C.4V48T.
No outsiders are allowed access to their records so mail contact is the only way to have your research done.

There are three rules for granting a Coat-of-Arms.

  • 1. Document that you are a direct descendant of an arms-bearing ancestor in an unbroken line of first sons. In this situation you can have your ancestor's coat-of-arms assigned to you.
  • 2. Prove your descent as any of the other sons of an arms-bearing ancestor and you can have an altered (different) Coat-of-Arms assigned.
  • 3. If you are of English or Welsh descent you can buy a brand new Coat-of-Arms.

Actually, if you want to be 100% correct historically, you should not refer to the identifying adornment we've been discussing as a "coat-of-arms" it should be referred to as an "Achievement of Arms." Common usage has eroded the original name, but remember that the Coat-of-Arms was only what I described earlier -- a coat worn over the armor on which was painted the Achievement of Arms.

We have a "Coat of Arms inspector" that is not to happy with the reference to the various Sarratt/Sarrett/Surrett being used to day!.

Submitter: Franki Hastings Surratt - Coppell, TX, Coat-of-Arms

Hi.............It's been a long time, and we just moved to
Madison Wisconsin, so my life is a little chaotic..........

I have been taught as a genealogist that a claim on a
coat-of-arms can not be made until positive proof
links you to that coat-of-arms.............

My family is Irish and although I have found the coat-of-arms for Brogan, I can not use it until I show the lineage proof to the exact Brogans
that held that coat-of-arms..........
There were rich Brogans and there were poor ones........
Different families.............
It is very valued and honorable to have a true coat-of-arms.........
Most people do not understand that..............

I will meet Sarratts who tell me very proudly that that is
their coat-of-arms....
and they will believe it because you told them so..............
IT IS NOT CORRECT!!!!!!!!!!!!

Why don't you help us find the link to France.......
I think we may also be linked to Seurat, the painter........
I hope to go to France soon and do my own research.........
wish me luck........
Franki
( I am leaving in the morning for London for 10 days, so any replies will be made when I get back)
Received: 01 Sep. 1999, 6:47:35 PM Pacific Daylight Time

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E-Mail: Paul R. Sarrett, Jr. Auburn, CA.

Text - Copyright © 1996-2008 Paul R. Sarrett, Jr.
Created: Dec. 01, 1996; Revised: Jun 10, 2000;  Nov 11, 2008;