The "Brough" Coat of Arms
Use and Meaning of a Coat of Arms
The following information comes from the
World Book Encyclopedia and was quoted in the 1981 RBFO book
The Ancestors of Richard Brough and Mary Horleston, pp.43-44:
A "Coat of Arms" is a heraldic
design, used to distinguish individual families and to authenticate official
documents. The Coat of Arms comes from the custom of embroidering the
emblem of a knight on the surcoat which he wore over his armor.
Heraldic symbols as we know them today developed
with the use of armor in the Middle Ages. The suit of armor made it difficult
to distinguish friend from foe during violent hand-to-hand combat, and
knights developed heraldic symbols so they could identify each other.
The symbols usually commemorated an event in the knight’s life, or some
During the Middle Ages, heraldic symbols
were also used in everyday life. Most persons did not know how to write,
so they had to develop some way of proving the authenticity of various
documents. It became common practice to use a seal with a person’s heraldic
design as a signature. The introduction of gunpowder into warfare made
armor obsolete. As a result, heraldic symbols were no longer needed as
a means of recognition on the battlefield. These symbols became more useful
as an emblem distinguishing a particular family than as a mark of an individual
knight. [Similarly, the College of Arms has stated: "With the introduction
of gunpowder and artillery the use of arms on the jousting field and in
battle eventually decreased, while the use of arms in civilian activities
and social endeavors increased."]
In England, Richard III established the
Herald’s College (College
of Arms) in 1484 AD. The Herald’s College decided(s) who is entitled
to wear coats of arms. Also, in such [areas] as Great Britain, heraldic
symbols usually depict the ancestry of a particular individual, rather
than an element of his life.
A complete coat of arms consists of a shield,
crest, and motto. The shield, or escutcheon, is the basic element. A helmet,
or supporters, or both may be added. Accessories include the wreath, mantling
and scroll. The wreath represents a device used to cover the point where
the crest was attached to the knight’s helmet. The mantling originally
protected the knight from the direct rays of the sun and also protected
the helmet from stains and rust.
College of Arms in London, England
Today, the Heralds of the
College of Arms in London,
England, grant the "right to arms" to individuals who can "show
direct male line descent from an ancestor already appearing therein as
entitled to arms." The College of Arms reminds people that
"there is no such thing as a 'coat of arms for a surname'. Many people
of the same surname will often be entitled to completely different coats
of arms, and many of that surname will be entitled to no coat of arms.
Coats of arms belong to individuals. For any person to have a right to
a coat of arms they must either have had it granted to them or be descended
in the legitimate male line from a person to whom arms were granted or
confirmed in the past."
fee due the College of Arms "upon a grant of arms" is considerable.
For example, "As of 1 January 2015 the fees payable upon a personal
grant of arms and crest are £5,550, a similar grant to an impersonal
but non-profit making body, £11,675, and to a commercial company,
"Brough" Coat of Arms in the British Isles
Over hundreds of years, various Brough families
in the British Isles used different coats of arms. The following graphic,
compiled by Sir Bernard Burke and first published in 1842, describes the
types of arms that were used by these Brough families.
Click here for additional examples
and explanations of other Brough Coat of Arms in the British Isles.
From the above listing by
Burke, it is obvious that one of the most prevalent Brough coat of arms
used in England was the one which displayed "five swans". In
fact, it is historically known that these "five swans" were
used by a number of Brough families residing in England--especially those
who lived in Staffordshire (as identified by Burke in the above graphic
and explained below), Lincolnshire (also identified by Burke in the above
graphic) and Yorkshire (as mentioned in the following paragraph).
For example, in the book A History of
Yorkshire North Riding: The Victoria History of the Counties of England
(by William Page, London, England, 1968, Volume 1, page 75; FHL Book #
942, H2vyn), the Brough shield of "five swans" is shown and
accompanied by the following text: "In 1435-1436, John Brough was
returned as holding one knight's fee in North and South Cowton. From him
the manor [of Gilling] descended through his son William, his grandson
and great-grandson of the same name to his great-great-grandson William
Brough, who left daughters and co-heirs Anne and Elizabeth. Anne was married
to Thomas Tempest, who died seised of North Cowton Manor about 1544, leaving
a daughter and heir Anne wife of Sir Ralph Bulmer...."
Based on the usage of the
"five swans" coat of arms by a number of Brough families in
Staffordshire, Lincolnshire and Yorkshire, Ann Brough Hind of England
stated in May 2010: "We can't dismiss anyone who has the five swans
of the field on their Arms as so many of the Houses of Broughs offshoot
from the basics. The bearers of different Arms were granted their own
for their accomplishments, but the bloodline is for the most part descended."
Whether these probable family relationships are specifically based on
blood, adoption, inheritance, occupation, land ownership or something
else, is presently being researched.
Brough Coat of Arms of Staffordshire,
Five hundred years ago, the
Broughs of Leekfirth, Staffordshire, used a coat of arms of "Argent
[silver], on a saltire [diagonal cross] sable [of black], five swans of
the first [five white swans]." This "Brough" Coat of Arms
appears in Staffordshire pedigrees and records of the 1500's and 1600's.
In the early 1500's, Thomas Burgh (born
about 1480) of Brewood, Staffordshire, moved to Windygates, Leek, Staffordshire.
Initially, Thomas was a "leaseholder of land." But while
his sons or serving men worked his fields, Thomas, being a literate and
able man capable of administration and government, eventually achieved
the position of "Gentleman." Although Thomas apparently
never took upon himself the title of knighthood--possibly because he was
reluctant to incur the expenses involved--he was known as a Gentleman
and used the Brough Coat of Arms of "Argent [silver], on a saltire
[diagonal cross] sable [of black], five swans of the first [five white
swans]." This Coat of Arms was described (in the "red
box" below) and displayed (as shown in the photo on the right, below)
by John Sleigh in his well-known book The
History of the Ancient Parish of Leek, published in 1883 by Bemrose
& Sons, London, England. From the 1500's to the present day, Thomas
Burgh's descendants have used this Brough Coat of Arms.
In 1949, Catharine Ann Brough
Hind visited the College of Arms in London for confirmation of the Brough
arms shown in Staffordshire pedigrees and records. The Herald to whom
she spoke said that no formal permission was needed for her family to
use the Brough arms provided the family possessed genealogical confirmation
of who they were. Interestingly, it was the Herald's belief that the Brough
"swans" coat of arms were granted for service in wars in Ireland,
in which their close blood kinsman, Lord Walter de Burgh and his sons,
were leading noblemen and administrators, and whose descendants now make
up the widespread de Burgh/Burke family clan of Ireland. Subsequently,
Ann Brough's father, Edgar Brough, commissioned original art work for
a Brough "swan" coat of arms, which was done by a London printer
in 1949 (and shown above in the top image, center).
In 1999, Catharine Ann Brough Hind provided
the RBFO with the following facts and information about the Brough Coat
"During the 16th and 19th Centuries,
Visitations were made in every county by heralds and recorders. These
individuals recorded the descent--or pedigree--of each nobleman, gentry
and landed family, and described or portrayed the crest or arms of its
founder and ancestor as noted in deeds and grants of their family seat
in the county concerned. This is the sense in which a family recognizes--or
is indeed recognized
--by the arms of its ancestors and is held to have 'a family crest.' The
more simple the form of the crests portrayed, the more likely the grant
was earlier--and thus the earlier was the family recognized.
"You note that I am...sending the ‘original’
Brough crest [taken from Sleigh's book of 1883]...The more elaborate the
crest the ‘newer’ the family. The ‘cruder’ and more simple, the older!
The elaborations came in time, when every simple formula and shape had
been claimed; and then with self-aggrandizement by later risen gentry
and nobility. ...With time of course there came those who prefer the more
floriated design and a belief that simplicity suggests rusticity or a
lesser worth...and if ‘the world’ judges by worth and lesser worth then
who is to say who is wrong or right? I’m proud of proofs of the antiquity
of our grant-of-arms and recognition of worth.
"The 19th Century publication of Joseph
Foster's Dictionary of Heraldry
depicts in words seven 13th Century de Burgh coats of arms--several of
them in color. All holders are related by blood and cover the counties
of the Midlands and of Norfolk, Richmondshire (the modern North Yorkshire
on its Cumberland border), and Ulster in Northern Ireland. In later centuries,
individual Broughs achieved the right to their own arms, not the least
of whom was the 18th Century, Admiral Brough of Rollestone Hall in Mappleton,
East Yorkshire. Among the Middle Hulme and Leekfrith Houses of the Broughs
the 'swan' crest--or in some cases just one individual swan--was used
to seal papers, and was often displayed by the Broughs of Waterhouse."
In recent years, Ann Hind--because of her
fourteen years of research work and archaeological excavation of Moated
Wood Hall at Womersley, North Yorkshire, and the related heraldry of its
nobility, gentry and military owners--has spoken with a Rouge Pursuivant
Herald of the College of Arms. Nothing that he advised and explained to
her has cancelled or altered the perception of recognition of a House
by the coat of arms of its founding ancestor.
Brough "Shield" updated in 2009
In July 2009, the RBFO commissioned
Juan Maestas, a professional graphic artist to produce a new and computerized
version of the Brough Coat of Arms "Shield". According to Fairbairn's
Book of Crests of the Families of Great Britain and Ireland (published
in 1905), the Brough crest contained "a swan ppr"--as shown
above (left, in Plate 99.2 of the book). Using Fairbairn's swan, Juan
Maestas produced a new version of the Brough Coat of Arms "Shield"--shown
Brough "Coat of Arms" updated in
In July 2010, the RBFO commissioned
Rebecca Thorup, a professional graphic artist to produce a new professional
looking Brough Coat of Arms. Using well-known heraldic and historical
documents, Julie incorporated Brough family art and designs into her drawing,
which resulted in a Brough Coat of Arms (shown below) that was true to
its heraldic past while presenting a new and vibrant display of Brough
family heritage and tradition.