How do I find my family crest?

Finding your family crest offers a truly unique way to connect with your ancestors.

However, finding the correct crest can be challenging as many versions of a family crest can appear online and there is no central repository for all family crests.

Here are our tips to get started.

First understand why there are many versions of your family crest

Each crest represents the original beliefs and story of its founding family members, including those from different regions or countries. It is the symbols on the crest itself that tells this story.

The different crests you see were often granted by nobility at different times throughout the middle ages in Europe and often from different countries.

Typically later crests were in some way associated with earlier ones of the same family name, but with different symbols added to tell a different or new part of the broader family story.

The exception to this, is where names became established in multiple countries independently.

Lordship eventually gave way to colonialism, and the English drove the Irish to less fertile farmlands. They worried that the original Normans had become too entangled with the Gaelic culture. They passed laws that discriminated against the Irish and segregated them from people of English descent.

For example, this occurred when a name of Gaelic origin (Irish or Scottish) was later translated to an English spelling based on how it sounded, and over time became blended with a similar sounding name with origins in England.

The challenge with finding the correct crest for your family name is that you will not be aware of these finer historical points when searching crest images online.

How to find the correct crest for your name

1. Study original offline crest records (known as Armoury records) in your family’s origin country or use a cost-effective online family crest research service to do this for you.

These records are where family crests were first officially recorded and catalogued which means they offer the most accurate information available from medieval and middle ages.

However, they largely only exist offline in paper format as these texts can be hundreds of years old.

That means you’ll need to first find out what county your family name comes from and then contact a heraldry society to get tips on which records you should pursue. This can be a daunting task, so it may be worthwhile using a specialist online provider for help such as crestsandarms.

2. Get help from a professional genealogist A genealogist is a person who studies or is an expert in genealogy, the tracing of family lineages. Genealogists use oral traditions, historical records, genetic analysis, and other records to obtain information about a family and to demonstrate kinship and pedigrees of its members.

A genealogist can help you learn more about your family history and connect you with distant relatives. They can also help you find information about your ancestors, their origins and even details such as their birth dates and death dates.

Due to their specific skills in tracing ancestors and filing through complex records, a genealogist may be able to help you locate resources that indicate the earliest family crest for your name

Typical genealogist fees start at around $500 per project in the United States and increase with complexity.

3. Ask your relatives for help, especially any living grandparents.

It is quite likely that you’re not the first person in your family to seek out your family crest.

A quick conversation with family members, especially older ones, can potentially save you many hours of research.

There are many ways that your relatives can help you with your family history research.

They can provide you with information about your ancestors, help you locate family records, and give you advice and guidance.

Additionally, your relatives can help you connect with other family members who may be able to provide you with additional information or help with your research.

Even if no relatives have discovered the crest yet, often some have heard a reference to the symbols which may make up part of your crest. These clues can give you a start in the right direction.

4. Contact a heraldry society in your home country for support.

Heraldry is the art of creating and designing family crests and coats of arms.

Some heraldry societies simply promote knowledge about heraldry, while others are involved in the practice of heraldry itself, such as granting arms.

There are a number of ways that a heraldry society can help you find your coat of arms.

One way is by searching through their records to see if they have any information on your family

Another way is by contacting other heraldry societies or individuals who may have information about your family's coat of arms.

Finally, the heraldry society can help you design your own coat of arms in the rare event that your family name does not have one already.


The icons on a family crest usually symbolize different aspects of the family's history or values.

Throughout hundreds of years of history, many versions of a family crest may have come into existence, each telling a different story.

Finding the correct crest is what gives you and your immediate family a real tangible connection back to those founding values of your earliest ancestors and perhaps even a rare connection back to ancient nobility.

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