Tuesday, June 23, 2009

What is a COAT OF ARMS? an introduction... & the Cory coat of arms

This is a digression from the life and times of GS, but an interesting one. Now we delve back into the Middle Ages in Europe, to a time when knights were recognized by the colorful insignia on their armor, and even later to when they wore their Coat of Arms with pride at tournaments; by 1400 A.D., the bearing of a coat of arms had become a prerequisite to participation in a tournament—those colorful and exciting times where men proved their valor and believed in the code of chivalry. Knights promised to defend the weak, be courteous to all women, be loyal to their king, and serve God at all times..... they were the upper class and a coat of arms also became a mark of noble status.
these would have the knight's emblem or family seal on them

A leather-covered drawing and description (both below) were passed down to me, which I put into a drawer and only pulled out to investigate a couple of weeks ago, when I began to write about Dr. Ben Cory in this blog, explaining how his son married Carrie Martin who brought the Portrait to Ca.
Hey, turns out there is a "coronet" in my family's coat of arms, pretty cool stuff! Now this is why I have always been fascinated by all things noble or royal... could it be genetic?!!!

The drawing & description were handed down to me, but when/where these originated, I don’t know. But the description was typewritten, the paper is yellowed with age.
In the last few posts, Dr. Ben Cory was introduced, his ancestry was briefly mentioned; ie the branch of the Cory family stemming from John Cory of Southold born in 1611 in England... In the last post, I showed the Cory coat of arms. I didn't know what it meant! Thanks to the internet, I quickly learned the rudiments, which I will share here. The motto (in Latin) means "hold with a firm hand." I suppose that meant... ...don't show any weakness when swinging the sword!
NOTE; the griffin is sitting in a CORONET!

The (typewritten) Description


“Sable” (black) on a chevron between three griffins’ heads (erased, d’or) [heads are not cleanly cut but jagged, yellow], three estoiles or stars “gu” (red)
The shield, wreath, motto scroll, motto and name are in “sable”. The chevron and griffin heads are “d’or”, the three estoiles are “gu.”

Out of a ducal coronet—a griffin’s head between two wings, and each wing charged with three estoiles in pale “gules” (pale red.)

In the crest the griffin’s head and wings are a heavy yellow, the ducal coronet (on which the griffin’s head rests) shows a little darker, the outlines show a little heavier. The shading on the wings should distinctly show or mark feathers in wings.

"Forti Tene Manu"

...everything, color, lines, depictions, are all symbolic...

Gules (Red) –warrior, military strength, magnanimity
Or (Gold) -generosity and elevation of the mind
Sable (Black) - constancy, sometimes grief
Represents the roof of a house - signifies protection, faithful service
(In the early days of heraldry, very simple bold rectilinear shapes were painted on shields. These could be easily recognized at a long distance and could be easily remembered. They therefore served the main purpose of heraldry—identification.)
GRIFFIN- (head, wings, and talons of an eagle with the body of a lion); Valour and death-defying bravery; vigilance
STAR (estoiles) – divine quality; noble person; superiority
CROWN (Coronet) - ducal coronet, bearer’s rank
VOL (wings) - Swiftness, protection, celebrity

As its use in jousting became obsolete, coats of arms remained popular for visually identifying a person in other ways — impressed in sealing wax on documents, carved on family tombs, or flown as a banner on country homes.

When I first started checking into my ancestry, just learning about the doctor was challenging! The family did not talk much about “family”, and thus I do not have a multitude of colorful stories to relate---how sad! How I would have loved to hear about how my ancestors....saved damsels in distress!

photo courtesy of the Cory Family Society


emikk said...

I seem to remember the Cory Coat of Arms displayed in the Principals office at Benjamen Cory Elementary School in San Jose CA which I attended.

einbildungskraft said...

Benjamin Cory Elementary School, located in San Jose, California, first opened in 1950 and was named in honor of the city of San Jose's first physician Dr. Benjamin Cory. Part of the San Jose Unified School District, Benjamin Cory Elementary was closed in 1984 due to declining enrollment. Three years later the school re-opened in 1987.
When it reopened in 1987, Cory was a primary magnet school educating kindergarten to second grade. Its focus was visual and performing arts. Every student in the school participated in drama and music classes and performed on stage at least once per school year.

Due to declining enrollment in the school district, the San Jose Unified School District's Board of Education voted in 2005 to close Cory Elementary School.

James Cory said...

my name is james cory and sir john cory was one of my ancestors i believe we are related in someway but i have grown up in iowa

Anonymous said...

My name is Richard Brian Cory Davis from Wales in UK. My grandfather was a James Graham Cory and I have taken his surname as one of my middle names. We are related to the Cory family that ran Cory Shipping Line out of Cardiff - there is a book written about that. Also, did you know that there is Cory Society ( that has some details on the family roots! I stumbled across your blog whilst looking for a good copy of the Cory Crest as I am looking to replace my Cory signet ring! Hope this ios of interest, Rik Davis.

Earl Cory said...

The display of arms is a relic of feudalism in Christian Europe, but it continues to be a living reality through its nobility functions in modern Europe. Arms continue to have a legal status in much of western Europe, especially England where the granting of arms is regulated by the College of Arms in London. Arms (in England) can be inherited only through direct male line descent from the man who was originally granted the right to display such arms. Moreover, every individual who wishes to display arms must apply to the College of Arms and must provide rigorous proof of his direct male line ancestry, a very expensive process.

The Coat of Arms shown here has been displayed in many Cory publications. These include: Harriet Cory Dickinson's Cory Family, Harry Harmon Cory's book The Cory Family. on the cover of Dorthy M. and Francis D. Corey's book, Descendants of William Corey 1615/20--1682, First Immigrant, A Genealogy, and as a full color plate in that book and Cory's of America, 1st Edition.

These arms were granted to Sir John Cory of Bramerton Hall, Norwich, England, in 1612, by James I and confirmed to his son, Sir Thomas Cory, of Bramerton Hall by Charles I in 1637.

Dr. Benjamin Cory was from the John 1 of Southold RI line. That line is genetically not related to the Bramerton Hall Corys.

Marcia C said...

I notice the Cory name on the pitcher is spelled "Corey". Is there any reference to why the difference in spelling? ~ Marcia Corey Douglas

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