Coats of arms

This topic has 3 replies, 2 voices, and was last updated 2 years, 7 months ago by Bob Frewen.

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    Can you tell me about the origins of Irish coats of arms (possible links) and in particular about my ancestors BARNEWALL?


    Thank you

    Claude Rossignol

     Bob Frewen

    This is a rather emotive topic. Arms are ‘personal’ i.e. they belong to an individual and do not belong to ‘families’ ‘septs’ or ‘clans’ despite what on-line businesses assert when selling copies of ‘coats of arms’ to gullible individuals.
    The Barnwell /Barnwall (and associated spellings) surname possibly derives from a Barnwell who arrived in Ireland with the Norman invasion. It could relate to a Barnwell who arrived in Ireland during a later period, but essentially the family is of Norman origin and not ‘Irish’ (Celtic). An early Barnwell might have been armigerous (i.e. have been granted arms) but Irish chieftains did not have arms until at least the era of ‘Surrender & Re-grant’ when, under Henry VIII and Elizabeth I, many Irish chieftains were granted titles and with them came a grant of arms. Both titles and arms were hereditary, so under the English law of primogeniture the senior descendants in the male line of the grantees had the right to bear them. Most of the heraldic souvenirs sold to tourists is inaccurate rubbish.
    Irish sept or tribal armies did carry banners into battle but they tended to be a plain colour or in exceptional cases they depicted a sept icon for e.g. the red hand emblem of the O’Neills of Ulster.


    A big thank Bob you for your answer, sorry for my late return

     Bob Frewen

    A blog I follow has an interesting post today on the Barnewall family. See

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