Coat of Arms


Everyone, not just those of us who are in hot pursuit of our family heritage, is interested in knowing whether or not their family has been granted a Coat of Arms. The Drewrys are no exception! In my research I was fortunate to discover several different Coat of Arms from various sources. While many were similar in design several were distinct which led to the question: Which one, if any, was the authentic Arms for the Drewry family? To answer that question I turned to the College of Arms, London, England, and commissioned them to do a study on the Drewry Arms. To my surprise I found that many of the examples I had discovered each had some basis in fact for being the Drewry Arms. However, the resulting report from the College of Arms cleared up the matter once and for all.

As you progress through this section on the Drewry Coat of Arms you will see pictures of the actual Arms granted to the Drewry family with explanations of the Blazon, the language that Arms are described by, for each. I have also included for your enjoyment several of the Arms I discovered from various sources purporting to be the Drewry Arms with explanations as to what they actually are. Before we introduce the Drewry Arms let's first understand something about Coat of Arms and how they came into use.

The use of Arms dates to the 12th century in medieval Europe and England. The use of symbols as an insignia for identification was common in these medieval societies and predates 1000 AD. The principle value Arms served was to positively identify, through their bold, colorful and unique arrangement of symbols, individuals on the battlefield. The designs used had to be bold and easily seen across the great expanses of the battlefield. Using a system of decorative symbols in an attractive and dramatic way, Arms were, in fact, a system of hereditary identification. The symbols, at first simple but bold in design, were arranged in a pattern upon a escutcheon, or shield, used by nobles and knights in battle. These same symbols placed on the tabard, the tunic worn over the armor, gave rise to the term "Coat of Arms" or "armorial bearings."

The Crusades, beginning in the 11th century and lasting to the 14th century, involved many nations across Europe and aided the spread of heraldic identification rapidly throughout the entire region. Over the centuries the symbols, or Arms, became more and more elaborate and spread beyond the military field. Nobles used Arms as a means of identifying themselves and commonly appeared on their wax seals, windows and monuments. Within a short period, these symbols became popular as a means of identification for the clergy, lawyers and other prominent citizens as well. Understandably a system had to be devised to control the use of these art-forms, avoid duplication and authorize the adaptation of new designs.

In 1417 King Henry V issued Writs to the sheriffs of various counties stating that men might not assume their own Arms. Thereafter, the right to bear Arms could only be acquired through proof of descent in an unbroken male line from someone using Arms before 1417, or by a new Grant of Arms. King Henry V delegated the power to validate a family's claim to Arms and grant new Arms to the senior Heralds, or King of Arms, officials under the Crown's authority whose responsibility it was to oversee and control the use and grants of Arms. The earliest surviving Letters of Patent granting Arms by an English King of Arms is dated 1439.

In 1530, King Henry VIII issued commissions to Clarenceux and Norroy, the two provincial King of Arms, to visit the counties in their provinces and record the Arms and pedigrees of the principal families in each county. Thus began the system known as the "Herald's Visitations," which lasted until 1689. During these visitations, or systematic surveys, it was the responsibility of the Visitors to examine and validate a family's claim to Arms. The results of their review could have devastating effects for families whose claims were rejected. False Arms, those found by the Heralds to not be supported by proper hereditary descent, were removed and destroyed from all monuments, windows, etc. Individuals were forced to sign disclaimers of any pretense to the Arms or the title of Gentleman. Such disclaimers were proclaimed at the assizes and a list was set up on the annexed forbidding the sheriffs and the bishops' registrars to describe those so listed as "gentleman" on summons to jury service or otherwise. Those refusing to sign these disclaimers were held legally answerable; the court still exists today to deal with the bearing of false Arms. Obviously proving one's right to bear Arms had significant impact, both economically and socially on a family.

The term Arms describes the escutcheon, or shield, and the symbols which appear on it. It does not refer to the Crest which may or may not appear above the shield. The term Crest is often misused to describe the whole ensemble including both the Arms and Crest as a single unit (such as "family crest"). Arms and Crests are separate and distinct elements. It is possible to have Arms without a Crest and, in one documented case, there exist a Crest without Arms. Crest began to appear in the 14th century well after the introduction of Arms throughout England and Europe and, like Arms, were granted to families. In many cases grants of Crest occurred well after the original grant of Arms, in some cases, several hundred years later. In the latter centuries Arms and Crest could have been granted together. In addition to Crest, various shaped helmets, used to indicate the rank of a warrior, were also common. The helmet and Crest were placed above the Arms in a complete grouping of elements called the "armorial achievement." Other elements, such as family mottoes, were placed above and/or below the armorial achievement were also added over the centuries.

The Drewrys were fortunate indeed to have been granted several Coat of Arms. The acknowledgment of these grants were documented during the heraldic visitations of the 16th and 17th century. As you will see by the included pictures these different Arms were, in fact, quite similar, no doubt denoting different branches of the same family. Two of the predominant Arms are presented here.


The Arms allowed Sir Robert Drury of Rougham, county Suffolk, are a relatively simple representation without the flare seen in many Arms, especially Royal arms. Using the keywords of the Blazon, Argent, on a Chief Vert two Mullets pierced Or, it is easy to translate into the pictured Arms: Argent indicates the color of the shield, silver, which is commonly represented as white; on a Chief, refers to a horizontal band located at the uppermost third, "the chief," of the shield; Vert, representing the color green, indicates the color of the Chief; two Mullets refer to the two five-pointed stars appearing within the Chief, and pierced Or indicates that the stars are colored gold, the color "Or," and contain two smaller circles, "pierced," allowing the underlying color of the Chief to show through. The Crest appearing above the Arms is described as: A Greyhound courant (proper) collared Or. In translating the crest's blazon we find a Greyhound dog depicted as if running full speed, "courant," with its front legs extended in front of him and his back legs extended behind him; the color of the Greyhound is natural as indicated by the wording "proper," and the "collared Or" indicates that the Greyhound is wearing a gold collar.


The Arms allowed Sir William Drury of Halsted, county Suffolk, are almost identical to the Arms of Sir Robert Drury of Rougham with the exception of the addition of the Tau Cross located between the two pierced mullets. As pictured, a Tau Cross is a cross without the upward extension.

It is obvious from the similarities of the two Arms that these two families, that of Sir Robert and Sir William, were related to one another which, in fact, they were.

As is shown in the record of the Heraldic Visitations, other minor variations were also recorded. One such variation records the Arms as pierced gules
indicating that the color red appeared through the pierced Mullets; in another the Mullets were not pierced; and still another includes, annulets gules, red rings. Such minor variations were commonly used to identify different branches of the same family.


The Arms pictured to the right represent one of the more fascinating depictions of the Drewry Arms discovered during my research. They represent the English Quarters which appeared in the book The History of the Family Drury in the Counties of Suffolk and Norfolk from the Conquest as commissioned by F. S. E. Drury and published by Arthur Campling in England, 1937. Mr. Drury, in commissioning this book, sought to record the history of his family and bring the armorial bearings up to date in 1933 . A. T. Butler, Windsor Herald, recorded a continuous pedigree of F. S. E. Drury's family followed from the Visitation manuscripts in which Mr. Drurys antecedents appeared. The shield is divided into 20 quarters and is set on an eight pointed Cross, most of the limbs of this appearing amongst the mantling. The reason for the presence of this eight pointed cross is that the owner of these Arms, Francis Saxham Elwes Drewry, was a Knight of Grace of the Venerable Order of St. John of Jerusalem, and it is the privilege of Knights of this Order to display their Arms on an eight pointed cross.

The quartering appearing in this example can be described as the alliance between the Drewrys and other notable English families, as follows: 1) Arms of Sir Roger Drury; 2) Arms of Sir William Drury; 3) Frisell; 4) Saxham; 5) Naunton; 6) Whitwell; 7) Liston; 8) Fowler; 9) Loveday; 10) Barton; 11) Englefield; 12) Clark; 13) Rycote; 14) Garnon; 15) Lee; 16) Trollope; 17) Daubeney; 18) Daubeney Vincent; 19) Sterton, and 20) Pauncefote.
During the course of my research I discovered several other Arms, some in books and others provided by Drewry descendants I had contacted, that were purported to be the Drewry Arms. At my request the College of Arms evaluated each of these Arms and reported back to me on their authenticity. The following pictures show these Arms.


The Arms pictured at left were provided by William Drewry Gallalee of Richmond, Va., the grandson of Dr. William Francis Drewry who did much family research in the late 1800's and early 1900's. They were most interesting as they represent the Drewry Arms impaled (joined) with another family's Arms. As you can see, the left side of the shield is an accurate depiction of the Drewry Arms showing the Chief Vert with two Mullets pierced Or. The addition of the third Mullet indicates the Arms belonged to a son. Thus the Drewry portion of the shield is genuine. However, there is no known basis for the impalement with the Arms on the right side of the shield which cannot be positively identified. As commented on by the College of Arms: "There has been a genuine attempt to create real heraldry here and that the attempt has been quite successful and gone quite far."


The Arms at right were found in a biography of Braxton Bragg Comer, Governor of Alabama and son of Catherine Lucinda Drewry Comer, written by Anne Kendrick Walker and published in 1947. These Arms contain a smaller shield at its center which is quartered, having Lions Rampant, one of the more impressive symbols used in Arms, in the first and last quarter. The purpose of this smaller shield, like Impalement, when the shield is divided vertically, is to represent a Drewry marriage to a heraldic heiress entitled to the Arms described by the smaller shield. Removing the smaller shield and focusing on the larger shield we find an example of the heraldry established for the Drewry name by the local heraldic authority in Ireland. Evidence of the use of this differenced heraldry for Drewry in Ireland does exist and is described as: Argent abordure Gules on a chief Vert a Cross tau Or between two Mullets Argent. By the date of this instrument, 1763, the Drewrys using these Arms had accepted that they were not entitled to the Drewry Arms as used in East Anglia and elsewhere and had petitioned from the Ulster King of Arms the opportunity to establish their own Irish Arms.

While the depiction is a genuine representation of the Irish Arms granted this Drewry line it is not believed to be representative of the Drewrys in America. All of the evidence to date points directly to the descent of the Drewrys in America from the English Drewrys and not the smaller Irish faction that existed.


The Arms (pictured at left) were purchased with a short history of the Drewry name from a heraldry vendor in a shopping mall. They are not a legitimate representation of the Drewry Arms as recognized and recorded in the College of Arms' English, Scottish or Irish records. They do, however, appear in the Burke's General Armory. Described as: Azure a Chevron between three Birds Argent beaked and legged Gules with a Crest a plume of five feathers Argent the middle of enfiling a sword proper hilt pommel and blade Or. These Arms were used by a Drewry family of Brampton, county Suffolk, however, no authorities are referenced. Burke may have discovered these Arms on a tomb, a pedigree having its origin outside the College of Arms, a hall chair, a piece of jewelry or silverware, a charter or coach panel, or some other similar undocumented source. It is believed that the Drewrys bearing these Arms, perhaps in an effort to put their family on an equal par with the Drewrys of Rougham and Docking, decided to adopt for themselves the armorial bearings to which they had no right. This was easily done in the years following the end of the official Heraldic Visitations in 1690 and continued until the second half of the eighteenth century.
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Drewry Family History in America
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The Drewrys in Charles Parish, Virginia, 1649 - 1789
John and Deborah (Collins) Drewry, circa 1649 - 1735
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The Drewry Coat of Arms
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Last updated: November, 1999