Armigerous Ancestors Database

The database of Armigerous Ancestors comprises a catalogue of Heralds' Visitation records together with indexes to pedigrees, arms and disclaimers compiled by Cecil Humphery-Smith.

What are Heralds' Visitations?
These records were originally made in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries by Heralds from The College of Arms checking on whether families were bearing arms legitimately. Each name in the index refers to a family or person who was checked.

Who might this index help?
For many in the New World much of their English ancestry story begins in the seventeenth century. This vast and untouched source is neglected on the pretext that it contains only the peerage and nobility. This is a gross misconception. Many of the families referred to were aldermen, merchants and the gentry from whom lesser folk derived.

How many records are there?
This index contains references to 26,000 family trees, coats of arms and individuals.

What do the records contain?
As well as notes of evidence for pedigrees it contains sketches of coats of arms, seals and monuments, church windows, banners, brasses and vivid descriptions of topography and social life. This remarkable collection of manuscripts contains an important body of genealogical and historical material taken down contemporaneously after the Reformation, before the English Civil War, and after the Restoration of the monarchy.

These records represent a most important source of genealogical information on English and Welsh families for one of the most difficult periods of history when research into families is confused by the lack of records, migrations within England and the New World, and changing fortunes and allegiances.

What period do they cover?
The Herald's Visitations were made over several centuries but these records mainly cover the period from the 1530s to the end of the 1600s.

A note on Disclaimers
Several records in the database show 'Disclaimed' as 'Yes'. This refers to persons known to have disclaimed their rights to the use of coats of arms or to be called "gentleman" at the time of the Herald's Visitation, either because they were unable to provide the required evidence or pedigree of descent and did not wish to apply for a grant of new armorial bearings or because they were making use of arms illegally. Some of these records consist of only a single surname and in these circumstances any payments made will be refunded.

What do we have online?
The Family Tree Name Search will look for your name in this index. You will be asked to register (or login) to the website to see the results and can send us a message about the name in which you are interested. We will reply to see how we can assist you.