Swedish Heraldic Society

I’m a sometime member of the Swedish Heraldic Society (Svenska Heraldiska Föreningen). I sort of rolled into it, from years ago when Magnus Bäckmark included my grandfather Harry Swanstrom’s coat of arms in his armorial roll at Gröna stubben. Probably about 1998, or a bit earlier. At this point I feel like I’ve known Magnus most of my adult life. I’m hoping to meet him some day.

Last summer, we traveled to San Diego to meet cousin Jonas Hildebrand from Sweden, and spend a few days getting know him and Hanna. He gave us a bottle of his homemade aquavit, with his coat of arms on it. It turns out he’s also a member of the Swedish Heraldic Society, and I’d never noticed.

The other day I was thinking it should be about time to renew my own membership. Poking around their website I came across a re-formatted page for the arms of members. I found my own listing, then also the listing for Cousin Jonas, and then, and then, and then.

  • Arms of Members“,  Svenska Heraldiska Föreningen. Retrieved Nov. 10, 2019.

More on Gallop

A few months ago Stephen Plowman wrote about the Gallop coat of arms as recorded in the 1677 Visitation of Dorset.  It’s an interesting topic for me because I’m a descendant of immigrant Capt. John Gallop (c1593-1650) — like so many other Americans.

Now Plowman is back with more on the Gallops. This time the question is where they got the quartering with the white bear (Azure a bear passant Argent).

Greenland arms
Arms of Greenland

No one knows the origin of these arms. Under English heraldic rules these should be the arms of a heraldic heiress, a woman who transmits her father’s arms to her descendants because she has no brother.

There are two heiresses recorded in the Gallop pedigree at the Visitations. They are Alice, daughter of William Temple, of Templecombe; and Elizabeth daughter of Thomas Thorne, of Caundle Marsh. These arms aren’t known to match to either family. So the mystery remains.

I can’t help but see this figure as a polar bear. It reminds me of the arms of Greenland (Azure a polar bear rampant Argent). Not that Greenland makes any sense in this context, but I love polar bears so I’m always going to see the polar bear connection if there’s one anywhere in the vicinity. (Totally off-topic, but I have a polar bear charm with snow flake obsidian that used to hang from the rear-view mirror of my car.)

Plowman notes the arms quartered with Gallop in this instance match those on record for Aresen (Denmark), in Rietstap’s Armorial Général. An unlikely lead, but it’s the best anyone has so far. Now that I know, I’ll be watching for other instances of a white bear on a blue background.

More Information

Gollop, of Strode

I was pleased and surprised tonight to check Feedly and discover an article by Stephen Plowman. Now there’s a familiar name.

The article is Armorial Bearings of Gollop of Strode. Another familiar name.

Like many Americans with ancestry in Colonial New England, I’m descended from Capt. John Gallop (c1593-1650), an early settler at Boston.

His ancestry is not certain but he is widely believed to been been the son of John and Mary (Crabbe) Gallop, and probably a grandson of Thomas Gollop, of Strode and North Bowood.

One thing is certain — his Internet genealogies are nearly always mangled beyond recognition, and Geni seems to be no exception, although there was a joke among Geni’s curators in the early days that the fastest way to become a curator was to be be a Gallop descendant.

John Gallop is a favorite of researchers because we have a touching glimpse into his personal life. Gallop’s wife did not come with him to America, and that was a problem. Gov. John Winthrop in Massachusetts wrote to Rev. John White in England:

I have much difficultye to keep John Gallop here by reason of his wife will not come. I marvayle at the woman’s weaknesse. I pray pursuade her and further her coming by all means. If she will come, let her have the remainder of his wages; if not, let it be bestowed to bring over his children, if so he desires. It would be about £40 losse to him to come for her. Your assured in the Lord’s worke, J. Winthrop, Massachusetts, Jul 4 1632’”

(Winthrop Papers)

Rev. White seems to have succeeded. Christobel Gallop and her children came over the following year. Capt. John piloted the ship into Boston Harbor through a new channel he had discovered, the channel running by Lovell’s Island, a quarter of a mile east of Gallop‘s Island.

I’ll be very pleased if someday we get a documented genealogy for these Gallops. There is a review of sources in The Great Migration Begins, 725-28, and a good research summary at Wikitree.

More Information

Heraldry is vanity

This title really caught my eye. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a heraldry aficionado willing to give time to anything that implies a criticism of heraldry, particularly an outright moral failing.

Medieval churches still abound in coats of arms depicted on tombs, epitaphs, windows, altarpieces and other commemorative devices. And of course it was not just knights, nobles, princes and kings that tried to preserve their memory by means of heraldry. Medieval townspeople, too, left behind heraldic reminders in the churches in England and Germany, for instance. The Nuremberg patrician Sebald Schreyer (d. 1520) noted a stained-glass window embellished with the Schreyer arms given to a local church as a ‘remembrance’ (gedechtnus) of his late father,1 just as York alderman and merchant Richard Wartere (d. 1465) commissioned a liturgical garment whilst revealingly requesting ‘that my executors add a shield of my arms to said vestment, in the same way as it is made above the sarcophagus of my tomb, […] with the intention that the people may pray especially for my soul.’

When I look at personal heraldry in churches abroad, I think about what the Episcopalian ministers I know would say about putting something like that in their churches. I don’t think it would be an easy sell. Times have changed. The modern church is more sensitive to the existence and inappropriate use of power structures.

Heraldic Lore

“Swan, (lat. cygnus, fr. cygne): this graceful bird has for various reasons been a favourite charge in armorial bearings. Swans are generally blazoned as proper, i.e. white, else they are described as argent, but they are frequently beaked and legged of other tinctures. The bird is generally borne with expanded wings, and it seems desirable that the position should be noticed, though as a fact it is only seldom so. Sometimes they are drawn swimming towards each other, and for this the word ‘respectant’ or ‘incontrant’ seems to have been used by some heraldic writers.”

“The Cygnet sometimes occur; and a cygnet royal implies a swan gorged with a ducal coronet, having a chain affixed thereunto and reflexed over its back. It should rather be blazoned a swan proper, ducally gorged and chained or, a cygnet being properly a young swan. It was one of the badges of Henry V. The term, however, may properly be used when there are two or more swans in one coat, like lioncel.”

Source: Swan in Parker’s Heraldry (1894)

Swanström Arms

Traditional arms, assumed about 1918
(Design by Magnus Backmark)

Descendants of Adolf Swanström

The Swanström arms were assumed (I believe) during or shortly after World War I, perhaps about 1918, and certainly before 1942 by my great uncle Hugo Ferdinand Swanström (1886-1971). The arms might be older than I know. No records exist of the arms assumed and borne by Swedish commoners, so the arms could have come down to Uncle Hugo from previous generations. However, the arrangement of three charges is so typically an English form that I doubt these arms came from Sweden.

In heraldic blazon, the arms are described as:

Azure two bars wavy Argent between three swans rising Argent beaked and membered Or, wings elevated and addorsed. Crest: Issuant from a crest-coronet Or a demi-swan as in the arms. Motto: Sans Tache.

In Swedish: Sköld: I blått fält två av vågskuror bildade bjälkar av silver ovan åtföljda av två inbördes frånvända och nedan av en svan, alla av silver med beväring av guld och med lyftade vingar. Blått hjälmtäcke fodrat med silver. Hjälmprydnad: En dylik svan uppstigande ur en hjälmkrona av guld.

Jeanne Swanström registered a version of these arms with the American College of Heraldry in 2005, and I registered another version with the Bureau of Heraldry in South Africa in 2006. The arms are also included in the database of the Svenska Heraldiska Föreningen.


The Swanström arms are canting arms, meaning that they are a picture of the surname. In Swedish, svans-ström means “swan’s-stream,” or more poetically, “river of the swans.” The arms show three swans beside a stream.

Most stories about symbolism in heraldry are fantasy, but I find it interesting that a swan is said to denote a music, poetry, and harmony. For more information on the symbolism of swans, see my Swan Lore pages.


  • The Augustan Society, The Augustan Society Roll of Arms, 52-53 (Justin Durand, 5 March 1983).
  • Magnus Bäckmark, Gröna Stubbens Vapenrulla (Hugo Swanstrom, 1999).
  • Svenska Heraldiska Föreningen, Heraldiska Källan, No. 1646 (Hugo Swanstrom, 1999).
  • American College of Heraldry, No. 2793 (Jeanne Swanström, 17 November 2005).
  • United States Heraldic Registry, No. 20070204E (Jeanne Swanstrom, 4 February 2007).
  • United States Heraldic Registry, No. 20070204F (Hugo Swanstrom, 4 February 2007).
  • United States Heraldic Registry, No. 20070204G (Justin Swanstrom, 4 February 2007).
Arms of Jeanne Swanström

(click to enlarge)

Other Svanström Families

The American Swanströms are not related to the Svanström family who were untitled nobility. Augustin Larsson Svanström (1600-1658) was ennobled by Queen Christina in 1647 (No. 397). His father Lars Michelsson was Governor of Helsinski Castle. The family became extinct in the male line with the death of Capt. Frans Ludvig Svanström in 1678. Their arms are illustrated below.


Arms of the Swanström family (No. 397)

Other Swedish Families

The Laxmand family in Sweden bears arms that would have been equally appropriate to a Svanström family. Their arms are illustrated below.

Arms of the Laxmand Family



Similar Arms

Because of the inherent difficulties of creating a unique design, families separated by time and distance occasionally choose identical designs. I have not discovered any other families that bear the same arms as the Swanströms, but following are close:

Swan, of Badwinstown Castle, co. Wexford. Azure on a fess wavy Argent, between three swans displayed Proper crowned Or, a trefoil Vert. Crest: a swan Proper crowned Or charged with a trefoil Vert. Motto: Sit nomen decus. (Sir Bernard Burke, The General Armory of England, Scotland, Ireland, and Wales (1864), 989.)

Waters, of Lenham, co. Kent. Sable three bars wavy between as many swans Argent. (John Woody Papworth,  Ordinary of British Armorials (1961), 44.)

A black swan is the badge of Western Australia, which has for its motto Cygnis Insignis (Distinguishged by Its Swans).


American Heraldry Society

Back in 2003 I was one of three founding members of the American Heraldry Society, with David Boven and Cory McHenry. Those were the days.

As I recall, the Society grew out of discussions in an online forum. One of the usenet groups, I think. Probably rec.heraldry. In the beginning David was our President, I was Vice President, and Cory was Secretary. As with many new groups, the way we arranged ourselves into the choice of offices was something that didn’t take much thought. It was just obvious. Later, I was happy to disappear into the background and leave the politics to new members with more ambition and higher social needs.

The Society was originally incorporated in the state of Colorado in 2003, but was dissolved and re-incorporated in Texas in 2007. I still have some of the original records. Succeeding corporate officers have never asked for them but in our modern world I doubt they need them.

Our little group attracted a lot of attention and eventually became the premier society for American heraldry in a very crowded field. (It seems every amateur heraldic enthusiast in America wants to preside over his or own society.)

I’ve always been very proud of what the Society has accomplished, growing out of the original vision and working with a core group of very dedicated members.

Now the Society is having some growing pains. The website (AmericanHeraldry.org) has been offline for months. The official explanation seems to be that the site was designed by amateurs. (Oh yes, it certainly was.) So we need professional help. (Yes, everyone needs professional help.) Which is just another way of saying it was working when the amateurs were running things, but the pros broke it and they’re having trouble fixing it.

I’ll just leave that train of thought there and hope the people involved can see the humor in it.

I hope they’re back soon. For now the only way to contact the Society or participate is through its Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/theamericanheraldrysociety/

Howery Coat of Arms

Hauri Ancient
Ancient Arms of Hauri

The earliest record of the Hauri coat of arms is an illustration of them in the early 15th century Liber Vitae of the collegiate church of Beromünster, Canton Luzern, to memorialize an undetermined member of the Hauri family. The drawing at right was taken from the Liber Vitae. These arms would be blazoned as:

Azure a dove rising wings elevated and displayed Argent beaked and membered Gules; and for a crest, a dove as in the arms.

The Liber Vitae does not say which Hauri bore these arms, but it was probably either Johann Hauri, Bailiff (Vogt) of Beromünster from 1411, or his first cousin Jacob Hauri, a Canon of Beromünster who served as a judge of the court of lower jurisdiction at Ludigen in 1415. Johann’s descendants and the descendants of Jacob’s brothers used many variations of these arms, usually with the addition of a mill rind.

The arms are notable for being one of the few illustrations in the Liber Vitae to include a crest. In that period, a crest was an additional dignity, usually indicating that a family was of tournament rank. However, the arms have no torse or motto, perhaps a sign that the family was not of knightly rank.

Conrad Hauri, who might have been the ancestor of this family, was a Knight of the Order of Saint Lazarus in the early 1300s. He might have borne these arms. Conrad’s immediate descendants do not seem to have been noble, so the status of the family in the 14th and 15th centuries is uncertain. My own theory is that Conrad Hauri belonged to a noble family, probably one of the ministeriales, but was himself impoverished by the lavish lifestyle expected of the nobility; a common story. I think that Conrad took the only noble occupation open to him, membership in an hospitaller order. His descendants sank in status, to emerge a hundred years later as wealthy burghers and prosperous officials of the collegiate church of Beromünster. Thus, the Hauris circa 1415 were able to claim not only arms, but also a crest, when their peers were adopting simple arms without the crest.

Originally a Gamecock? 

The bird in the Hauri arms is now understood to be a dove and as a dove it appears in the arms of succeeding generations, according to the Staatsarchiv des Kantons Aargau. However, one scholar has suggested that the bird was originally a gamecock hardi (that is, a rooster with comb and wattle cut off for cock fighting). If so, the arms were canting arms, that is, arms that were a picture of the surname. In the Alemannic dialect of Switzerland, the wordhauri means a person who is very loud or boisterous. According to this theory, the arms became corrupted through poor draftsmanship. It is easy to see from the drawing at the top of this page that the bird might be either a gamecock or a dove.

Howery Modern
A modern drawing of the ancient Hauri arms. Many Howerys, Howrys and Howreys in America use some version of these arms.


The Hauris in what is now Cantons Aargau and Luzern used many variations of the original arms. The Staatsarchiv des Kantons Aargau has a record of half a dozen variations used by Hauris who served as Untervogts, judges and other local officials. The Staatsarchiv des Kantons Luzern has records of still more variations. The one common element is a white dove on a blue shield. Most variations also contain a mill rind or two. The mill rind symbolized the Hauri’s customary occupation of miller.

My Line

My ancestor Hans Hauri was Untervogt of Reinach. In 1605, he carved his version of the Hauri arms over the door of Schneggen, the new residence he built in 1586:

Arms of Bern

[Azure] a dove rising wings elevated and displayed upon a trimount [Vert] and in chief two mill rinds addorsed [Argent]; for a crest, a dove as in the arms; and for supporters, two bears passant [Proper].The bear supporters were a deft reminder that the Hauris owed their civic offices to the goodwill of the urban patriciat of the city of Bern, which derives its name from the German word for “bear” and consequently has a bear in its arms. Bern ruled the Aargau at that time.

Similar Arms 

L'Hopital Coat of Arms
L’Hopital Coat of Arms

If the Hauri arms were originally a gamecock, then the Hauris used the same arms as the French de l’Hôpital family, who were descendants of the first royal family of Naples. The de l’Hôpitals later changed their blue shield to red, while an English branch of the family, the Lospitals, retained the blue shield. The coincidence would not be at all remarkable — many families used simple arms that were the same as other families in distant areas — except for the fact that the surname of the French family means “of the Hospital“. I make this point because there might have been some reason why a gamecock was emblematic of membership in a hospitaller order or of hospitals in general.


  • Stift Beromünster, Liber Vitae (early 15th century).
  • Peter Steiner, Die beiden Reinacher Schneggen (1987/88).
  • The Augustan Society, The Augustan Society Roll of Arms, 52-53 (Justin Durand, 5 March 1983).
  • American College of Heraldy, No. 1943 (Justin Howery, 29 February 2000).

Swanström Brand

Swanström Brand
Swanström Brand

In heraldic terms, a cattle brand is a badge. The Swanström brand, H Lazy S, was first registered in 1914 with the Wyoming State Livestock Commission by my grand uncle, Hugo Swanström, of Marbleton, Wyoming. He probably had registered the brand a decade earlier with officials in Sublette County. When he moved to California, he allowed the Wyoming registration to lapse. In 1942, the brand was re-registered with a slight variation by my grandparents, Harry and Vivian Swanström, of Farson, Wyoming. The brand now belongs jointly to my mother and me.


The Swanström brand originally probably represented the initials of my grand uncle, Hugo Swanström. When my grandparents re-registered the brand, they chose it because it could also stand for the initials of Harry Swanström, and, because the Lazy S looks like a V, for Harry and Vivian.


Wyoming State Livestock Commission, Wyoming Brand Book (1956, 2005).