Assumption of Arms

Over the past several years, I’ve become quite a fan of Heraldry. I remember stories and seeing pictures growing up of the “family crest”. I was even duped by a kiosk at a local mall into paying money for a copy of my family’s crest, which, by the way, didn’t look anything like the one I had seen growing up. It was only much later that I actually started studying heraldry as a hobby that I learned that families don’t have crests, but individuals can be armigerous and can have a distinct coat of arms associated with them, that they can pass down to their descendants (with marks of cadency as necessary), following the rules of heraldry in their particular country.

I’ve also learned that as an American, there is no official body that regulates coats of arms. Unless I pursue the services of a heraldic body that is a part of another nation, I cannot obtain a grant of arms. This leads me to assume arms, as I am free to do as an American. There are many sites with great information on the processes of being granted or assuming arms. I’ll link to them later.

This post will serve as public record of my intention to assume the following arms. They are blazoned as follows:

Argent, a saltire between three wolf’s heads erased and a Phrygian cap gules.

I chose the elements present for very specific reasons. First is the St. Patrick’s cross. This represents Alabama, the state that has been home to my family for longer than it has been a state. All of my Blevins ancestors from John Blevins, who moved there in the 18-teens are all buried within a 75-mile radius of my home. I think its fair in that case to make use of the Alabama flag as a part of my arms.

Next are the three wolf’s heads. My surname is derived from a Welsh word that roughly meant wolf cub, or son of Wolf (Blaidd-yn). The wolf’s heads are a cant of that name, and represent both my two siblings and myself, and my own three children.

Finally is the Phrygian, or Liberty cap. It represents both the freedom I hold so dearly as an American, and my military service. It is a prominent component of the seal of the Department of the Army.

Several things might be noticeably missing to the astute observer well versed in heraldry. First, there is no helmet, mantling, torse, nor crest. Since I am assuming arms and providing no proof of gentility to an heraldic body, I do not feel it is proper for me to do so. Second, I have not employed the use of supporters. My reasoning is the same as for the crest, plus, supporters in English heraldry are (or were, please correct me if I am wrong) tied to peers. As highly as I think of myself, I am not, to the best of my knowledge a first son of a first son of… a peer.

Also, if you’re interested what software I used to create the arms, I started with SVGs from various Wikipedia articles to get the elements I wanted and imported them into Inkscape, and then did the finishing touches in the GIMP.

William Blethyn Pedigree Roll

In the history of the Blevins/Blevin/Blethyn/Bleddyn name, one of the more famous characters in the past thousand years would have to be William Blethyn, Bishop of Llandaff, who lived in the 16th century. There is a fair amount of information on him in out of print books, many of which can be found on Google books. At a later date, I’ll go back and give a better biography of him.

The one piece of historical information that is by far the most valuable, and in my opinion, of great importance to Welsh national heritage, is the William Blethyn Pedigree Roll kept at the Glamorgan Archives. A zoomable copy of the Pedigree Roll can be viewed here. One of the amazing things to me is that this roll purports to trace the lineage of William Blethyn back through the Welsh kings of antiquity and on to Brutus of Troy, the legendary founder of Britain. And even more astounding, the top left corner of the roll take the genealogy from Brutus all the way back to Adam. I’ll leave it to individual opinion how much of the genealogy presented is to be accepted as fact.

Copyright Glamorgan Archives (Reference CL/PED/1)

At some point in the future I’d like to transcribe the text of the roll and redraw the arms listed and research them one by one until I have a clearer picture of what all is here. Given the magnitude of information listed, this could turn into a life-long project. If there is anyone else out there interested in helping, please let me know.

[Update 24 February, 2017: It has been brought to my attention that the link to the pedigree roll on the Glamorgan Archives website is no longer functional, and that the Archives present staff does not appear to be aware of the document. We can only hope that it is still in safe keeping.]