British Grants of Arms
1570-1721 (bulk 1684-1700)
In British heraldry, the coat of arms is a symbolic, visual representation of nobility. Individuals with a coat of arms were almost exclusively upper class, land-owning gentiles with military obligations. Arms passed down through families hereditarily. Beginning in the late 14th century, the King held complete control and jurisdiction over the armory, including the ability to grant arms without hereditary prerequisite. Although the King could and occasionally did directly grant arms, he delegated the responsibility to the Earl Marshal (first in military rank below the King) or the King of Arms.