From history to design: The world’s crests


We all have our own personal identity and we express it in different ways. Whether that’s through a signature hair style, the clothes that we wear or even the music we listen to. But when it comes to having a ‘brand’ for our family, what can we opt for?

Across the world there are thousands of prestigious families who have made a name and a memorable image for themselves. 

Usually linking back to historical ties, these esteemed families create ‘crests’ – otherwise known as a full coat of arms, the crest literally sits on top of the design.

Historically, these crests were often used to adorn a knight’s helmet, and were occasionally used in place of the family’s whole coat of arms in order to keep things simple. 

However, these crests are far from simple! 

They almost always include a shield of some description, as well as several basic components including the mantling, the helm and the wreath. Some even have colours, animals or other artwork and sayings.

Crests are also often incredibly ornate, made to stand out and represent these families in the most respectable way possible. 

To celebrate these works of art, and the centuries of history behind them, we took a closer look at family crests from around the world and the country with the most crests.

Our findings revealed France to be the number one country in the world for the most family crests! 

The multi-cultural European country has recorded a whopping 3937 crests belonging to a variety of families and royals. A more simple crest within France belongs to the family of Thais – whose crest is a basic shield shape with three white stripes and two blue stripes. 

Poland came second, being home to 3423 crests, with the majority being overly decorative and ornate. 

The oldest known crest is the seal of Żegota, the Kraków voivode. First used in 1282, this coat of arms was used by 639 Polish noble families and features two axes, a knight’s helmet and the colours of the Polish flag. 

The country of Spain has 3078 family crests, including a unique design crest of three heads across a shield, for the Armas de Rebuelta. 

The top ten countries for having the most family crests: 

family crests

Interestingly, these top ten countries with these rich histories are all within the continent of Europe. 

Keeping things magical, Germany has an entire collection of family crests that include a unicorn! 17 of the 2,672 crests include the mythical creature, with the Kingdom of Hanover’s crest’s unicorn sharing the stage with a crowned lion. 

Central Europe’s Slovakia also has unicorns featuring on many of its family crests, but the actual country’s coat of arms is, unfortunately, missing the stunning horse. Instead, it has a gothic style double cross embossed on a shield, and has been used by the country since 1990.

The culturally and historically rich country of Italy naturally has plenty of interesting crests. Some are incredibly ornate, sporting the usual fantastic creatures and decorative shields, but many of Italy’s family crests are more simple. The crest of Stemma della famiglia Alasia is a half grey and half black simple shield shape, with no other elements.

Russia has their own unique version of family crests too, with some of the oldest crests simply being a fine line symbol. That’s a stark contrast to the heavily detailed and extravagantly designed crest of the Russian Empire!

We also took a deeper look at the history behind the UK’s family crests, across all four countries.

The UK has a long history, dating back to around 325BC, as Pytheas of Massilia wrote of his discovery of the island. And in that time, the UK has been home to thousands of prestigious families and an iconic monarchy.

Thanks to this detailed history, our island has a huge collection of crests. We found that England alone has 2443 crests, with the earliest conception of a crest being recorded in 1127. However, it wasn’t really much of a crest we’ve come to know today. 

Count Geoffrey of Anjou was given a ‘crest’ by King Henry I, who presented the Count with “a badge” decorated with a lion – quite a simple design by today’s standards.

Especially in comparison with today’s royal coat of arms, a crest that features two lions, a unicorn and the crown jewels. Along with the motto of English monarchs, Dieu et mon droit – meaning God and my right.

1131 of the UK crests we found were Scottish, relating to their prestigious families, or ‘clans’. These clan crests are usually described as a badge, with the main shape being circular, and the inside element changing depending on the clan it represents. 

Traditionally, the badge’s main element will be a plant. For example, the last name Buchanan’s clan will usually feature an oak, and MacDonald will be a common heath. 

Elements of these clan badges will change slightly depending on the family it belongs to.

One of the most famous clans in Scotland, the Campbell Clan, has a crest featuring a boar’s head. It’s circled by a belt and the motto ‘Ne Obliviscaris’ meaning, ‘forget not’.

Northern Ireland’s own crest features a six pointed star and an Imperial crown between a lion and an Irish elk. Crests across Northern Ireland normally feature the surname of the family in the Irish language. 

Welsh crests make up just 56 of the UK’s family crests, but that doesn’t mean the country lacks in history. Historians have found evidence that heraldry was already prominent in Wales by the middle of the 13th century!

And it doesn’t just stop at their iconic Kingdom of Gwynedd crest of four lions within the shield, used by the Princes of Wales. The country has the quartered arms of Hughes of Gwerclas. 

This crest includes a snapshot of a variety of other Welsh family crests, giving us an overview of Welsh heraldry. It includes the crest of Lord of Gwyddelwern, Lord of Nannau, Lord of Ges and the Lord of Iscoed – all prestigious names in Welsh history.

But what’s your family crest?

Well, with a few minutes of your time, and a good idea of your family tree, there are many online resources that can help you track your family crest down.

And if you can’t find one – make one! Create your own family motto too, and surprise your family members with a personalised gift sporting your very own motto to live by.

If you fancy going the extra mile and adding a crest, we have our very own database to help you design the perfect gift! 

Our family crest gift range means you can enjoy a tipple, hold your cards and cash, nibble on a snack and even open a letter, all whilst appreciating your family’s heritage.

Win a gift with your own family crest

Share with us what animal you wish would represent your family and be on your family crest (for example eagle or lion) to be in with a chance of winning one of our family crest gifts

Simply fill the below form!

1. Introduction
1.1 These terms and conditions shall govern your use of GiftsOnline4U website.

2. Copyright notice
2.1 Copyright (c) 2021 GiftsOnline4U Ltd.

2.2 Subject to the express provisions of these terms and conditions:

(a) we, together with our licensors, own and control all the copyright and other intellectual property rights in our website and the material on our website; and

(b) all the copyright and other intellectual property rights in our website and the material on our website are reserved.

3. Competitions
3.1 This Section 3 applies to all competitions that are promoted on and run through our website.

3.2 To be eligible to enter a competition:

(a) you must be a natural person, at least 18 years old, permanently resident in the United Kingdom; and

(b) you must not be our employee, officer or agent, or an employee, officer or agent of any person or organisation involved in the running of the competition, and you must not be a family relation of any such person.

3.3 To enter a competition you must complete and submit the competition entry form on our website.

3.4 Our competitions are completely free to enter.

3.5 The maximum number of entries to a competition per person is 1.

3.6 A competition shall open for entries at 9am on the 13th of September similarly shall close to entries at 11:59pm on the 13th of October. Unless otherwise stated on the website, these times and dates are the relevant times and dates in London, England.

3.7 Competition entries shall be judged on the basis of those criteria specified on our website in relation to the competition.

3.8 The winner will be chosen at random by an independent software.

3.9 The competition prize is for the winner to receive a designed family crest and a chosen family crest gift. All details will be agreed upon once winner is contacted.


3.10 If a competition entrant does not meet the eligibility requirements or is subject to any entry restrictions, that entrant shall not be entitled to be adjudged a winner, and will not be entitled to a prize in any circumstances.

3.11 Competition prize winners will be notified of the competition result by email and social media not more than 30 days following the closing date of the competition, and will receive their prizes not more than 156 days following that closing date.

3.12 The results of a competition will be announced on our social media within 30 days following the closing date of the competition. The announcement will include the name of the winner.

3.13 You warrant to us that you created your competition entries, that you own all of the copyright in those entries, and that our use of the entries in accordance with these terms and conditions will not infringe any person’s intellectual property rights or other legal rights.

3.14 You grant to us an exclusive, worldwide, royalty-free, perpetual and irrevocable licence to copy, store, edit, distribute, transmit and publish your competition entries.

3.15 To the maximum extent permitted by applicable law, you irrevocable and unconditionally waive your rights to be identified as the author of your competition entries and to object to any derogatory treatment of your competition entries.

3.16 Competition entries will not be returned. Please, therefore, keep a copy of your competition entries.

3.17 We may undertake publicity activities relating to competitions and prize awards. We may publish and/or arrange for the publication of prize winners’ first names, surnames, ages, towns or regions of residence and prize details. Photos of the winner may be also used. We may provide that information to GiftsOnline4U and its agencies for marketing purposes.

4. Rules about your content
4.1 You warrant and represent that your content will comply with these terms and conditions.

4.2 Your content must not be illegal or unlawful, must not infringe any person’s legal rights, and must not be capable of giving rise to legal action against any person (in each case in any jurisdiction and under any applicable law).

4.3 Your content, and the use of your content by us in accordance with these terms and conditions, must not:

(a) be libellous or maliciously false;

(b) be obscene or indecent;

(c) infringe any copyright, moral right, database right, trade mark right, design right, right in passing off or other intellectual property right;

(d) infringe any right of confidence, right of privacy or right under data protection legislation;

(e) constitute negligent advice or contain any negligent statement;

(f) constitute an incitement to commit a crime, instructions for the commission of a crime or the promotion of criminal activity;

(g) be in contempt of any court or in breach of any court order;

(h) be in breach of racial or religious hatred or discrimination legislation;

(i) be blasphemous;

(j) be in breach of official secrets legislation;

(k) be in breach of any contractual obligation owed to any person;

(l) depict violence in an explicit, graphic or gratuitous manner;

(m) be pornographic, lewd, suggestive or sexually explicit;

(n) be untrue, false, inaccurate or misleading;

(o) consist of or contain any instructions, advice or other information which may be acted upon and could, if acted upon, cause illness, injury or death, or any other loss or damage;

(p) constitute spam;

(q) be offensive, deceptive, fraudulent, threatening, abusive, harassing, anti-social, menacing, hateful, discriminatory or inflammatory; or

(r) cause annoyance, inconvenience or needless anxiety to any person.

4.4 Your content must be appropriate, civil and tasteful, and accord with generally accepted standards of etiquette and behaviour on the internet.

4.5 You must not use our website to link to any website or web page consisting of or containing material that would, were it posted on our website, breach the provisions of these terms and conditions.

4.6 You must not submit to our website any material that is or has ever been the subject of any threatened or actual legal proceedings or other similar complaint.

5. Trade marks
5.1 All trade marks, our logos and our other registered and unregistered trade marks are trade marks belonging to us; we give no permission for the use of these trade marks, and such use may constitute an infringement of our rights.

5.2 The third party registered and unregistered trade marks or service marks on our website are the property of their respective owners and, unless stated otherwise in these terms and conditions, we do not endorse and are not affiliated with any of the holders of any such rights and as such we cannot grant any licence to exercise such rights.

6. Variation
6.1 We may revise these terms and conditions from time to time.

6.2 [The revised terms and conditions shall apply to the use of our website from the date of publication of the revised terms and conditions on the website, and you hereby waive any right you may otherwise have to be notified of, or to consent to, revisions of these terms and conditions.] OR [We will give you written notice of any revision of these terms and conditions, and the revised terms and conditions will apply to the use of our website from the date that we give you such notice; if you do not agree to the revised terms and conditions, you must stop using our website.]

6.3 If you have given your express agreement to these terms and conditions, we will ask for your express agreement to any revision of these terms and conditions; and if you do not give your express agreement to the revised terms and conditions within such period as we may specify, we will disable or delete your account on the website, and you must stop using the website.

conditions specifically in relation to each user or customer and, if we update these terms and conditions, the version to which you originally agreed will no longer be available on our website. We recommend that you consider saving a copy of these terms and conditions for future reference.

6.3 These terms and conditions are available in the English language only.

7. Our details
7.1 This website is owned and operated by GiftsOnline4U.

7.2 GiftsOnline4U are registered in England and Wales under registration number 08755135.

7.3 Our principal place of business is at Unit 11 Broadgate House, Westlode Street, Spalding, Lincs, United Kingdom, PE11 2AF.

7.4 You can contact us:

(a) by post, to the postal address given above;

(b) using our website contact form;

(c) by telephone, on the contact number published on our website; or

(d) by email, using the email address published on our website.
Thank you for visiting our site. We need to let you know that this site uses cookies. By continuing to browse, or by clicking “OK,” you agree to the storing of first and third-party cookies on your device to enhance site navigation, analyze site usage, and assist in our marketing efforts to bring you a more tailored experience.

Contact us