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The surname and people who share it

Coat of Arms

When wearing armour in battle, it was difficult to see who was who. Uniforms were no use, because people tended to change sides from time to time.

From about the early 12th century, combatants would wear symbols on badges, shields or flags, or on cloth worn outside the armour. It was literally a coat, with the symbols or 'arms' painted on: thus a 'coat of arms'. The symbols were simple, bold and colourful to make them easily recognisable.

The 'coat of arms' were passed on from generation to generation (usually in the male line), so they came to represent families rather than individuals.


Official messengers, known as heralds, were used to pass messages between the armies and their kings or princes. They obviously had to know which symbols represented which families so the designs were recorded in books called 'armorials'. Armorials contained illustrations with a description including colours, in a language based on an ancient form of French, the language used by most of the ruling classes since the 1066 invasion of William.

By about 1200 a protocol prevented anyone from using a coat of arms already used by someone else. This was taken to be 'common law' by around 1400. From then, a coat of arms could only be used if it was granted by the king and this was regulated by the heralds. This is essentially unchanged in Britain now, where coats of Arms can only be granted by Royal Warrant.

The Titherly coat of arms is 'Ermine, two cripping irons in saltire gules'. 'Ermine' describes the background, white ermine fur with a black tail design. 'Cripping irons', also called 'grosing-irons' or 'nippers', were tools used by glaziers, so one supposes that this was the family trade at the time. 'Saltire' means in the shape of the St. Andrew's cross. 'Gules' is the colour - red. This gives the red cripping irons in a St Andrew's cross shape on an ermine background.

The picture of the coat of arms is from a photo of the Tytherleigh Arms pub sign, taken by Howard Tytherleigh.

Mottos have been used with a coat of arms since about the 14th century, although they were not used regularly until the 18th century. In England, anyone can adopt a motto and no authority is needed to use one, although they are usually mentioned in records where there is one. Although examples of the arms are seen with mottos, there is no record of an established motto for the Titherly/Tytherleigh coat of arms,

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