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The Book of Family Crests

This is the first in our new reference series of better than paper books.

We have copies of this two volume set dating to the mid to late 1800s, we have scanned and transcribed the contents to make them available here.

This book contains a (mostly) alphabetical list of family names along with the blazons of the crests known to be associated with each name, many including the source region and motto.

Regional coverage includes England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland and British Empire colonies.

Many of the blazons include references to sample engravings that illustrate aspects of the blazon for additional clarity. In the original books, the plates of illustrations were in one volume while the blazon was listed separately in the other volume. We have endeavored to bring the two together on a single details page for each name entry.

The blazon listing was over 500 pages long, so we have used OCR to do the bulk of the transcription, followed by months of manual editing to get the data into a format that we could make searchable. There still remains an untold number of errors in the transcribed text so we have included a link to a scan of the original source page. We will be correcting errors as we find them, but if in doubt, check the scanned page. Many of the errors are unfortunately also present on the original books. This book appears to have been stereotyped during its first printing and the stereotypes reused for all of the printings. Errors in the original edition are corrected in an additions and corrections section of the second volume. We have not added the additions and corrections sections yet, but we will, and they will be identified as such to make if easy to resolve contradictions between the original entries and the corrections.

You may find that checking the page image does not help resolve errors in the transcription because the extensive reuse of the stereotype plates resulted in wear and fouling that left some areas readable by neither man nor machine. If you find one of these areas where you need help deciphering the blazon, let us know the page and name, our scan was from a later printing, we can check our earlier printings and other sources to see if we can get the correct text.

 The Book of Family Crests

Notes on use:

  • We have expanded many of the abbreviations for ease of reading see Abbreviations for the ones we have missed. The expanding process also caused some unintended glitches where an error in the OCR scanning made something that was not an abbreviation look like it was, so you may find occasional words that have a nonsensical expanded abbreviation grafted on to an unrelated word, we will correct them as we see them.
  • In the original document, lines starting with ---, indicate that the name is the same as above. We have replaced the dashes with the previous name, The names that we have filled in are followed by *** to identify them. There may be some errors where a hyphenated name was carried down or where two names/blazons ended up on a single line / in a single record leading to the wrong name being carried down. Checking the page image should let you check that you have the name correct.
  • The original book seems to use the abbreviation ib. to mean the 'same as the above' checking the page image for context should usually make it reasonably clear what is intended to be the same.
  • The original book does not always list names in strict alphabetical order, at least not by modern standards, there may be a good reason for that but we suspect that it was just because everything was being sorted and typeset by hand and mistakes were made. We have tried to maintain the original order in our alphabetical lists so you can more easily find the entry on the scanned page image but this means that sometimes the entry you are looking for is somewhat before or after its 'proper' place.
  • We have reunited typographical widows and orphans where a blazon spanned a page break.

Notes from the original book:

The reader will occasionally find that the engraved crest differs in some trifling particular from its blazonry or description. This occurs in cases in which it has been thought unnecessary to execute new engravings for trivial differences, or deficiencies, which the imagination can readily supply; but, in general, where the crest and its blazonry do not perfectly agree, the difference is marked, in a parenthesis, or by italic letters. For Additions and Corrections see End of Vol. I.

The Alphabetical Lists currently include the transcribed blazons from Volume 2 but do not yet include the additions and corrections from Volume 1.

Volume 1 contains articles, explanatory material, an a dictionary of mottoes. Also, the reference image plates were included at the end of volume 1. We have cut up the plates and linked the sample images directly to the crests that reference them.

Alphabetical lists Volume 1 Page Image Index Volume 2 Page Image Index

 


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