The Ransom Coat of Arms illustrated was drawn by an heraldic artist from information officially recorded in ancient heraldic Armorial General. Heraldic artists of old developed their own unique language to describe an individual Coat of Arms. In their language, the Arms (shield) is as follows:
"Az. On a chev. Or, three roses gu. A conton erm."
Above the shield and helmet is the Crest which is described as:
"A hawk's head erased az. In the beak an annulet or."
When translated the blazon also describes the original colors of the Ransom Arms and Crest as it appeared centuries ago.
Family mottos are believed to have originated as battle cries in medieval times. A motto was not recorded with this Ransom Coat of Arms.
Individual surnames originated for the purpose of more specific identification. The four primary sources for second names were: occupation, location, father's name, or personal characteristics. The surname Ransom appears to be both patronymical and characteristic in origin, and is believed to be associated with the English, meaning, "son of Rand or Randolph", and "descendant of Randal (shield; wolf)." The supplementary sheet included with this report is designed to give you more information to further your understanding of the origin of names. Different spellings of the same original surname are a common occurrence. Dictionaries of surnames indicate probable spelling variations of Ransom to be Rand, Rands, Rande, Randes, Randolph, Randolphs, Randal, Randals, Randel, Randels, Ransome, Ransomes, Ranson, Ransons, and Ransoms.
Although bearers of the old and distinguished Ransom name comprise a small fraction of the population there are a number who have established for it a significant place in history. They include:
No genealogical representation is intended or implied by this report and it does not represent individual lineage or your family tree.
Your Name and Your Coat of Arms -- Priceless Gifts from History
Until about 1100 A.D. most people in Europe had only one name. (This is still true in some primitive countries today). As the population increased it became awkward to live in a village wherein perhaps 1/3 of the males were named William, and so forth.
And so, to distinguish one John from another a second name was needed. There were four primary sources for these second names. They were: a man's occupation, his location his father's name or some peculiar characteristic of his. Here are some examples:
Occupation: The local house builder, food preparer, grain grinder and suit maker would be named respectively: John Carpenter, John Cook, John Miller, and John Taylor.
Location: The John who lived over the hill became known as John Overhill, the one who dwelled near a stream might be dubbed John Brook or perhaps John Atbrook.
Patronymical: (Father's name): Many of these surnames can be recognized by the termination ---son, such as Williamson, Jackson, etc. Some endings used by other countries to indicate "son" are: Armenian's ---ian, Dane's and Norwegian's ---sen, Finn's ---nen, Greek's ---pulos, Spaniard's ---ez, and Pole's --wiecz. Prefixes donating "son" are the Welch - Ap, the Scot's and Irish - Mac, and the Norman's - Fitz. The Irish O' incidentally denotes grandfather.
Characteristic: An unusally small person might be labeled Small, Short, Little or Lytle. A large man might be named Longfellow, Large, Lang or Long. Many persons having characteristics of a certain animal would be given the animal;s name. Examples: a sly person might be named Fox; a good swimmer, Fish; a quiet man, Dove; etc.
In addition to needing an extra name for identification, one occupational group found it necessary to go a step further - the fighting man. The fighting man of the Middle Ages wore a metal suit of armor for protection. Since this suit of armor included a helmet that completely covered the head, a knight in full battle dress was unrecognizable. To prevent friend from attacking friend during the heat of battle, it became necessary for each knight to somehow identify himself. Many knights accomplished this by painting colorful patterns on their battle shields. These patterns were also woven into cloth surcoats which were worn over a suit of armor. Thus was born the term, "Coat of Arms."
As this practice grew more popular, it became more and more likely that the knights unknown to each other might be using the same insignia. To prevent this, records were kept that granted the right to a particular pattern to a particular knight. His family also shared his right to display these arms. In some instances, these records have been preserved and/or compiled into book form. The records list the family name and an exact description of the "Coat of Arms" granted to that family.
Interest in heraldy is increasing daily. This is especially true among people who have a measure of family pride and who resent attempts of our society to reduce each individual to a series of numbers stored somewhere in a computer. In our matter-of-fact day and age, a "Coat of Arms" is one of the rare devices remaining that can provide an incentive to preserve our heritage. We hope you'll agree that it is much more than just a wall decoration.
If you are interested in a more in-depth study of the subject of this paper, may we suggest you contact the genealogical department of any fair-sized library. We especially recommend the "Dictionary of American Family Names" published by Harper and Row and also "The Surnames of Scotland" available from the New York Public Library as excellent sources on the meaning of surnames.
Nancy L. Halbert