William Shakespeare’s Coat of Arms Discovered

William_Shakespeare_1609William Shakespeare’s biography has long circled a set of tantalizing mysteries: Was he Protestant or secretly Catholic? Gay or straight? Loving toward his wife, or coldly dismissive?

Most of those questions remain unanswered but one new discovery does provide a bit of insight into the man’s personal life. New documents were recently discovered by Heather Wolfe, the Folger Shakespeare Library’s curator of manuscripts. The documents are said to relate to a coat of arms given to Shakespeare’s father in the year 1596 — a discovery that offers proof of Shakespeare’s gentlemanly status and provides researchers with new insights into his life.

Pssst! Want to Buy Your Family’s Coat of Arms?

CoatOfArmsIn many shopping malls across America, you will see pushcart vendors selling reproductions of coats of arms, claiming to be the “proud history and heritage of your family name” or similar words. These merchants sell coats of arms on parchment paper, suitable for framing. They also may sell coats of arms on t-shirts, sweatshirts, golf jerseys, stationery, coffee mugs or even key chains.

Similar “businesses” exist on the Web. A number of Web sites proclaim that they can sell you “authentic” copies of your family’s coat of arms. One Web site says, “What is your Name? What was it’s origin? Was it taken from the name of a village? Was it taken from the Bible? A clan name? An Occupation? An ancient landmark? Who were your historical namesakes who bore your fine family name in the homeland of your ancestors?” Sometimes they also claim to sell “gifts of lasting heritage.”

I have one thing to say to these con artists: “Balderdash!”

Online Course in Heraldry from the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow

The following announcement was written by the folks at the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, Scotland:

From October 2015, the University of Strathclyde will be offering an 8-week on line course entitled “INTRODUCTION TO HERALDRY”. It will run twice in each academic year, or more depending on demand.

First classes – from Monday 5 October 2015 & Monday 18 April 2016 – Cost – £153 (ILA eligible). See http://www.strath.ac.uk/courses/yourfamilyhistory/#d.en.975313

This class is “welcomed and encouraged” by the Lord Lyon King of Arms in Scotland, Canon Dr Joe Morrow.

The tutor for the class is Dr Bruce Durie.

How to Obtain a Coat of Arms (if you are British)

If you are a British citizen, you probably can obtain a coat of arms. An article in the Mirror web site at http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/ampp3d/missed-out-new-years-honours-4897332 will help you find out if you’re eligible.

Citizens of other countries also might be eligible for a coat of arms but the article in the Mirror only covers Great Britain. However, you cannot claim a coat of arms as your own simply because someone else of the same last name had a legitimate coat of arms. In most cases, each individual must obtain his own, personal coat of arms. In most cases, there is no such thing as a “family coat of arms.”

Married Gay Couples Can Now Get Official Coats Of Arms in Great Britain

Same-sex couples can now create their own coat of arms.

For centuries, married couples have been designing shared shields that combine their family histories in one heraldic symbol. But the strict rules of the ancient body meant civil partners could not qualify. Now, a month on from the first ever same-sex marriage, the College of Arms has revealed gay and lesbian married couples can be welcomed into the tradition.

Details may be found at http://goo.gl/w717Xc.