The Becroft Coate of Arms
Many people have seen and bought into the family heraldic devices being sold in malls and tourist places around the world. While it is neat to think that your family name has a coate of arms assigned to it, it is important to realize that in most cases, what you are buying has absolutely no relation to your family at all. In most cases, what you are buying is someone else's legal heraldic device.
Heraldic devices came about in medieval times as a means of reconizing knights on the field of combat and from a distance. Heraldic devices allowed people to reconize friend and foe from a distance without the aid of modern inventions like binoculars and telephoto lenses. These blazons were so coveted that entire institutions were established to track and grant them to individuals.
(1) A Coate of Arms is assigned to an INDIVIDUAL (not a family)
A coate of arms was passed down through a family from the INDIVIDUAL who owned it to a son or daughter upon the death of the original owner. In general, heraldic devices did not traverse up a family tree and back down another branch. Again, only one individual was ever recognized as the legitimate owner of any device.
(2) A Coat of Arms may be inherited by family members directly related to the INDIVIDUAL owner
Durning the lifetime of a device's owner, his children were given their own devices. These devices were made unique to each child by a process called differencing. There are very specific rules that are used in this process. Because this process exists, all devices, even when similar to the parents, were unique to individuals.
The Beecroft Coat of Arms
|(Bishop Wearmouth, co, Durham). Per cross vert and ar. in the
2nd and 3rd quarter an annulet gu.
Crest-- Two arms, dexter and sinister, in armour ppr. erect and embowed, holding between the fingers an annulet gu.
The device assigned to "Beecroft", described by the description
above is a green and silver background with two red donuts or hoops in the upper right and lower left silver squares.
The crest is two arms in armour holding a red donut or hoop.
Burkes' Landed Gentry page 81 gives the seat of the Beecroft's as "the Abbey house, Kirkstall near Leeds". It lists "George Skirrow Beecroft, Esq of the Abbey House, Kirkstall Co, York, J.P. & D.L., M.P. for Leeds, born 16 Nov, 1809; married 28 July 1842, Mary Isabelle, only daughter of the late George Beaumont, Esq of Halifax, and has only one son, George-Audus-Beaumont, b 21 July, 1844."
"Mr. Beecroft is son and heir of the late George Beecroft, Ironmaster of Kirkstall (who died in 1840), by Mary, his wife eldest daughter of the late John Audus, Esq. of Selby."
The coate of arms was assigned to a George Becraft in England. He is the original owner of the device and therefore, if you were descended off of Becraft's or Beecroft's in the US at that time, have no legal right to the device.
In addition, a second reference indicates that George only had a daughter. The legal entitlement of the device fell to her upon his death. By the time of her death, her name was no longer Beecroft and thus, the device at the last time it was officially owned, wasn't even assigned to the Beecroft name.
The College of Arms, England
As of several years ago, the College of Arms in England was granting official coates of arms to individuals who could show lineage to English citizens. Basically, if you can show that you descended from an individual who was English you can have your own official coate of arms. It is important to note that anyone related to individuals in the colonies prior to 1776 who was English, count towards this requirement. Hence, Peter Becraft, Rebecca and all their children were officially English subjects prior to the American Revolution.
The cost of this was (in 1993), around $1500. Should anyone undertake this, we would love to see their official device.
© Copyright, 2001. Robert J Becraft, All Rights Reserved.