Kim Beall's Beall History Pages


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1996 Kim Beall

  Is there a Beall Coat of Arms?

Scottish Heraldry

Scottish Arms are a little different from what most Americans understand. The fact that most Bealls in the US today are of Scottish descent means that there can, in fact, be no "Beall Coat of Arms"!

In Scottish heraldry, the same coat of arms is not possessed by an entire family, rather, only one person may bear a particular arms at any given time. Therefore, each descendant of an arms bearer must either inherit the arms after his immediate male ancestor dies, or, in the case of more than one descendant, younger siblings must "difference" the ancestor's coat of arms. That is to say, they must make it their own by personaizing the forbear's arms in some way and then having this new arms approved by the court at Lyons.

The upshot of this is that every single Scottish bearer of arms should have a slightly different coat of arms! Wearning someone else's arms is known as "Usurping Arms," and is a chargeable offense, in Scotland.

If anyone ever tries to sell you a supposed "Beall" coat of arms, be aware that you would be breaking heraldic law should you buy and wear it - well, IF it were authentic, anyway, which it amost certainly is not. These plaques and suchlike are usually accompanied by a lame boilerplate story about how the name is based on some old church in England or even - ye gods! - a perversion of the French word "belle" *Oh, please!*

However, anyone can take the arms of an ancestor, surround it with an image of a belt and buckle, and call this a Badge (Not a "coat of arms.") Clan Badges may be worn by any member of a family.

Now! Having said all of the above (it DID sink in, didn't it?) I am deeply indebted to Brooke Beall for providing me with a photocopy of this Arms, which is supposed once to have belonged to a Beall ancestor, and which I have rendered into the .gif at left.

Description of the image on this page: Azure field, party per chevron, three argent wolves' heads facing dexter.

Many of the old Beall arms I've seen seem to have contained one or more wolves heads facing sinister somewhere in them, but I haven't found out, yet, what is or was the significance of the wolf's head in heraldry. If anyone knows, please contact me, and I'll put the information here, thanks! (It looks to me as if the chevron is a fur, but I have never seen such a fur and can't tell what kind it is supposed to be. Vair?)

The motto: "Inest Clementia Forti" may mean "In Mercy is Strength" or "In Strength be Merciful." Anyone with a better grasp of Latin than mine is welcome to try for a more accurate translation!

Links to Further Resources on Arms and Heraldry:

The Heraldry Society of Scotland
Heraldic Dictionary
A Note on Scots Heraldry