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Chief, domination, authority, wisdom, achievement in battle
Fierce courage, this symbol can also represent a great Warrior or Chief
Hope of glory, one who has been enlightened, sign of the second son
Warrior, martyr, military strength
Hope, loyalty in love
Simpson Clan Tartan
Heraldry, or the study of armorial bearings, is an adjunct to the study of family history. Coat armor, it is important to note, was
completely unknown in Europe before the twelfth century, and did not appear in England until about 1250. Its sudden rise has been
ascribed to several varied events, including the First Crusade (1097), the advent of body armor, and the growing use of seals on
In any case, the early development of the use of heraldic devices followed closely upon the need for better identification, and the
trend became widespread. First embellished on shields and other pieces of armor, the imaginative, elaborate heraldic designs soon
were transferred to surcoats, horse trappings, and even private possessions. These early insignia, including bends (diagonal stripes),
fesses (horizontal stripes), chevrons, and crosses, were chosen because they were conspicuous, even in the chaos of bloody battle. For
the same reason bright colors were used. Charges, or the representations of animals and natural objects, did not become popular until
the second half of the twelfth century.
With the advent of gunpowder in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, and the concomitant decline of armor as an essential in warfare,
the need for armorial bearings also waned. By then, though, coats-of-arms were cherished for their decorative effect, and the family crests
were handed down from proud sire to aspiring son. The ancient art was debased by the frenzied efforts of many people to coin their own
armorial bearings and adorn them with embellishments and devices of doubtful historical significance.
Central authorities were established to inquire into the validity of the new creations. Their work was generally ineffectual in maintaining
the simplicity and purity of the earlier designs, but their thorough records have subsequently proved very useful to the genealogical
researcher. These records, showing hereditary usage of certain symbols and devices, represent in many cases the only means for unraveling
the complex familial relationships of medieval Europe.
In the United States, where the democratic tradition has mitigated interest in holding and preserving official armorial bearings, there is
nonetheless a great informal interest in the science of heraldry. The question of rightful ownership of coat armor does not pertain in this
country, for the very nature of the settlement and development of America makes it unlikely that any more that a few families have legitimate
claim to specific insignia. Heraldry is instead highly regarded for its aesthetic and historical qualities - for the symbols, devices and the
colors generally associated with any particular surname tell a story of our ancestors.
Figure A is perhaps the only Simpson coat of arms that definitely has been verified for Simpson immigrants in America. It was copied
from an engraving on the surface of a fine silver flagron donated by John Simpson (unfortunately, not related to any of the Johns in this web
site) to the Old South Church in Boston. The same coat of arms has also been found on various family bookplates dating back to about the time
of the American Revolution. Figure A was first registered in Scotland to a Simpson family in the town of Udorn in the year 1672. It is one of
nineteen Simpson coats of arms registered in Great Britain.
Figure B is one of the oldest of Simpson family arms. It dates back to the late fourteenth and early fifteenth century, and belongs to
one of the earlier branches of the Simpsons living in Yorkshire, England.
Note that the coat of arms at the top of this page is a combination of the two below.
|Figure A||Figure B|