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Douglas Heraldry






Archibald, 5th Earl of Angus
Archibald Douglas 'Bell the Cat',
5th Earl of Angus
Frieze of Famous Scots, 1898
Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh

The History of Arms


The origin of the Coat of Arms was a jacket or tabard worn by a mediaeval Knight over his armour in order to identify himself. Nowadays the expression "Coat of Arms" is generally applied to what is officially called an "Achievement", which consists of various parts: a shield, helmet, mantling, wreath, crest, motto and sometimes supporters and decorations.

There is a widespread misconception that a family or a clan can have a family or clan Coat of Arms. Many heraldic and clan web sites and other media suggest that a person has the right to use the family or clan Arms. This is completely incorrect.

A Coat of Arms belongs only to one individual person and can only be used by that person and no one else. In order for a person to be able to use a Coat of Arms it is necessary for that individual person to apply for a personal Coat of Arms to be granted to him or her.

What is permitted is for a member of a clan to use the clan crest . Usually what is referred to as the clan Coat of Arms is in fact the personal Arms of the chief of the clan which can only be used by the chief.


Clan Badges are a symbol of kinship with a Highland Clan or a Scottish Family.

In the past chiefs gave their followers a metal plate of their crest to wear as a badge. This badge was fixed to the Clansman’s clothing by a belt and buckle and when not in use the belt and buckle were coiled round the crest badge.

Today, the representation of the metal plate crest badge takes the form of the chiefs’ crest encircled by a belt and buckle with the chief’s motto on the belt. This is the only form in which a clansman is permitted to display his chief’s crest and its use indicates that the wearer is a kinsman or follower of the chief whose crest is thus shown. Only the chief and his heir wear the crest without the strap and buckle.

Heraldry Contents
  • Heraldry - Home
  • Crests - people
  • Crests - places
  • Crests - objects
  • Crests - organisations
  • Crests - Italy
  • Hatchments
  • Wall carvings
  • Mains, Blythswood &    Douglas Support
  • The Douglas heart
  • The Salamander
  • Seals
  • Flags and banners
  • Mottoes
  • Bookplates
  • Cigarette cards
  • Livery buttons
  • Model figures
  • Postcards
  • Stamp impressions
  • Stained glass
    WHSD Pipe banner This is the pipe banner carried by Major William Douglas's company piper whilst he served in the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders. It depicts his personal crest and motto.
    Chess piece Details of this Sir James Douglas chess piece, can be found in our models article




    See also:
    A Douglas desk seal
    A Douglas-Hamilton Seal
    Ancient Douglas Seals
    Ancrum Bridge hearts
    Armorial carvings
    Armorials - People
    Blencowe bleeding heart
    Buccleugh library donation
    Carved Armorial of Douglas, Earl of Angus
    Cigarette cards
    Coats of Arms - places
    Composition of a coat of arms
    Craufurd and Howison Heraldry
    Crests for Douglas organisations
    Crests on objects
    Douglas 'antique' seal
    Douglas bookplates
    Douglas coat of arms in Bargeddie
    Douglas flags and banners
    Douglas hatchments
    Douglas heart
    Douglas kilt pin
    Douglas of Cavers banners
    Douglas of Springwood seal
    Douglas postcards
    Douglas related armorials
    Douglas Scotti rifle
    Douglas seals
    Dr Alex Douglas, 1556
    Duke of Dover
    Duke of Monmouth
    Earl of Solway
    Galston, Ayrshire - Arms
    Haddington House
    Heraldry of Italy
    James Douglas, Commendator of Melrose
    John Douglas Armorial
    Kinross Coat of Arms
    Lazy Susan
    Livery buttons
    Lodge Bearsden
    Margaret, Duchess of Lennox armorials
    Peacock in Douglas heraldry
    Pipe banner for Maj W Douglas, A&SH
    Seal of Margaret, Countess of Angus
    Sgian dhu
    Silver Arrow archery competition
    Skelmorlie Aisle
    The Blythswood armorial
    The Queensberry Seal Matrix
    The Salamander in a Ring of Fire
    The University of Glasgow mace

    •  Douglas swords
    •  Elite women's seals and charters in late medieval Scotland [PDF 3.3mb]
     External link:
    •  The 'Coat of Arms Database' provided images of many of the family's coats of arms variations.
    •  Hearts in heraldry (Wikipedia)


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    Last modified: Friday, 17 May 2024