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Early American Dalzells and Delzells

The Coat of Arms

The following is a direct quotation from ”The Dalzell Survivors,” by my cousin, John Malcolm Delzell. It is found on pages 7 and 8.

“The story agrees that the name had its beginning in Scotland when the family were subjects of Kenneth McAlpin. The King’s son had been captured by foes in 842 A. D. and had been hanged naked from a gibbet outside the enemy camp. Being exceedingly grieved by his son’s death and the insult of his being hanged naked, he called for a volunteer to venture before the enemy camp and retrieve the young man’s body. There were no volunteers until one man stepped forth, raised his sword, and declared, “Dhail Zheal,” which in the language meant, “I dare” or “I will.” And so he did.

The legend says that the valorous man was rewarded by the King and became one of his favorites. It is not legend, however, that the “Old Barony of Dalziel” which lands lay along the north bank of the Clyde, dates from that same year. It is also significant that a gift of land was about all “King” possessed with which to reward favorite subjects and was a custom that continued well into the eighteenth century.

The phrase, “Dhail Zheal” became something akin to DalZell and was adopted as the family motto and battle cry. Records show that the Dalzells held the barony from 843 A. D. well into the seventeenth century.

Over a period of times the family gained prominence and influence with subject of their own. When it became the custom to design, display and bear identification on shields and banners, the main branch,of the ancient family seems to have drawn on the early story, and when surnames were adopted and came into use, they combined the story of the naked man hanging from a gibbet and the raised sword as their emblem,and adopted the battle cry, “Dhail Zheal.” Eventually;;y the strange words, translated to mean “I Dare,” were incorporated in the family crest as the family motto and appears so even into modern times. The naked man symbol has been retained through the years and continues to remain the central theme of most Dalzell family coats-of-arms, early.”

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