Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Palma Virtuti

I suppose some may think this interesting, especially my family. Others? Who knows, read on and when it gets boring your only a click away.

Anyway, I’ve been doing some research lately on our family crest, or coat-of-arms, whichever you prefer. We’ve had one hanging at my parents house since memory dawned for me. My mom used to do a lot of oil painting and she and a cousin, now departed, who was fairly handy with a pencil, pooled their talents and thus was born our current crest. As a child I remember thinking it an odd looking face, but once I came to realize that it was actually a shield it made much more sense. Consequently, I’ve never really understood the full meaning of the crest, especially some of the symbols on the shield itself. While there this last weekend, I was looking at it above the fireplace mantel still wondering “What ARE those things?” So I decided to find out and started clicking away.

WELL, WELL, come to find out, Palmer isn’t British like we always thought! It’s Irish and a sept of one of the clans in County Mayo. The name itself is a derivative of the Norman “le paumer” and has existed in Ireland since the 13th century. “To be a Palmer meant that you had traveled to the Holy Land. The word comes from the thirteenth century when a pilgrim would wear two crossed palm leaves to show they had made the pilgrimage (Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, 1997, 837).” Apparently, there are several crests, but namely only four are recognized. We have adopted a mixture of a couple of them without going into the gory details.

This one is the closest I have found to the one that we have, although ours have different colors (which may have something to do with the multiple adaptations. I always wondered what those three little things were on the shield, emblazoned by a chevron. Come to find out, they are pilgrim’s purses, obviously one would need a purse for their pilgrimage, since they would be wearing kilts. The other thing I had questions about was what were those things behind the purses? Turns out, they are a Pilgrim’s stave, or staff. Again, with obvious implications. What I didn’t realize was that EVERYTHING in the picture has assigned meaning. The mark of the chevron itself was for “Protection; Builders or others who have accomplished some work of faithful service”. Even the colors of blue (azure) and gold (or) signified “Truth and Loyalty” and “Generosity and Elevation of the Mind” respectively. My but I could have some fun with THOSE and what I’ve seen in my 39 years in this family. The helmet depicted here is a Crusader type. The foliage, I have yet to find out about. One thing this particular rendering does NOT have that ours has is the motto, “Palma Virtuti” which also has a few different translations itself, but is mostly translated “The Palm to Virtue” or even better, “The Reward is to the Brave” which seems a little shaky, but sounds really good. There’s much more to come but that’s about it for now. Its been fun. Check back in if your interested for further updates.

3 comments:

Bag Blog said...

"palm to palm is a holy palmer's kiss..." from Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet.

Buck Pennington said...

Heraldry can be fun, and it certainly is interesting as all get out!!

I got a quick (in a manner of speaking) course in heraldry back in the early 80's when I was assigned the "additional duty" of developing a unit patch for the newly-minted 2119th Communications Squadron in London, UK. It was then I learned that everything has meaning in heraldry, as you've found out, Jay. What I thought was going to be a two-week (at the most) task wound up taking over 18 months. To make a long story short, our first six or so designs were rejected for various reasons by the USAF organization responsible for approving unit emblems. That was quite the experience!

And now I've gone and spent the better part of six cents on your blog... ;-)

Jobe said...

Thanks for the info!, i myself am a Palmer and live in Scotland as most of my fathers relatives do, Thanks again.
Jordan Palmer