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The Mort Coat of Arms

Prior to my involvement with this website I would have never considered spending any time researching ‘coats of arms’ and ‘family crests’. However it is an interesting deviation and an alternative way of getting to know more about our ancestors. The fact is, that these ‘arms and crests’ are covered in symbolism that from the 12th century onwards told the onlooker something about the person who wore it and the family it represented. Understanding some of what this imagery means does offer clues about the past lives of our ancestors.


When in battle and covered from head to foot in armour, it would be difficult to determine which side which knight was on. They had to have some means of identification, almost like the way football teams distinguish themselves by their shirts. Originally this was done by the display of a linen surcoat worn over the armour and embroidered with the Arms (hence the terminology ‘Coat of Arms’).

As this practice gained popularity, so did the desire to use this method of ID as a way to ‘show off’ about who and what your family was within the community. Noble families who had amassed wealth and prestige by engineering marriages into lots of other noble and wealthy families would often try to squeeze the symbols of their related families into their own ‘Coats of Arms’. Therefore, any knight displaying a crowded Crest would symbolically be saying to another knight ‘I am well connected so mess with me and you will feel the mighty wrath of my influential relations’.

The end conclusion of a few hours of research is that a ‘Coat of Arms’ is personal to the family it belongs to. You cannot sell or give away something as individual and intimate as this, as it tells a unique story about the family that owned it. A ‘Coats Of Arms’ technically, should be something that is inherited and as such it legitimately belongs to you and your family.

You can of course have your own ‘Coat of Arms’ designed. In much the same way as our forefathers, you would be probably asked about your hobbies, dreams, ambitions and beliefs and one would be designed around you specifically. On that note, let us now investigate the ‘Coat of Arms’ of the Mort family from Lancashire.


To begin with I must stress that this is not a ‘pretend Coat of Arms’ downloaded from some website from the other side of the world. A ‘Coat of Arms’ must be granted and records must exist to show that this has happened. I am going to describe the official ‘Coat’ as verified on the 16th March 1664 by the well known antiquary ‘Sir William Dugdale’ as granted to Thomas Mort (Grandson of Adam Mort from whom he inherited the ‘Coat’ upon his Grandfathers death in 1658).

I stress that this belongs to the ‘Morts of Lancashire’ as it may well be that Morts in Southern England, Ireland or Wales, had entirely differing ‘Coats of Arms’ because they were entirely differing families. The symbolism is very personal to the family to whom it was attached. For a family to own a ‘Coat of Arms’ in itself is a sign of former power, wealth and prestige. The workmanship behind the production of the shields, the cost of gold leaf, the fine silk embroidery - these items were not the luxuries afforded to poorer families.

Much of the wealth of medieval England was determined by how much land you owned. As such, many of the more wealthy landlords would train their sons in combat to act as ‘border patrol bouncers’. Not all Knights were employed in the honourable defence of King and Country.

We know that the Morts of Astley, Farnworth and Preston were very well connected and that some of them did loose their lives in major Royal battles around Lancashire. So, as an amateur guess, I would say that the Morts were ‘Ye true knights of Olde’ who wore the family Crest with pride and during active battle.


The Mort ‘Coat of Arms’ comprises of the shield, the helmet and the family Crest. The shield and the helmet form the central part, which are surmounted by the family Crest and adorned by gold tassels.

The White Phoenix:
The family Crest predated the ‘Coat of Arms’ and displays a ‘phoenix’ the legendry bird that rises from the ashes to be born again. The Phoenix is mostly portrayed in many Crests as having red and gold plumage; however the Mort Phoenix is pure white. The symbolism of the Phoenix is indeed quite clear. Any family choosing to display a Phoenix would be trying to portray an aspect of recovery from lesser or weaker situations. The choice of colour is an interesting selection. White has two meanings. One is that it is a feminine symbol and as such represents a female. The other is that it is a religious symbol representing purity and the resurrection of Christ from the tomb. It equals victory of sin, death and the devil.

The Shield:
The shield is in silver which is a colour often used by ‘lesser gentry’. However, silver is also a feminine choice as symbolic of ‘the moon’.

The Bend:
Across the body of the shield is what is refered to as ‘a bend’. This is basically a band of colour that stretches from one corner to the other. In terms of a ‘Knights scarf’ the bend is normally used to signify a position of defence. The colour of the bend is flame red, the colour chosen by a warrior. It refers to military strength and a knight who is willing to die to defend what he (or her) represents.

The Lozenges:
Within the bend are four diamond shaped lozenges. The Lozenges are used for the arms of those families who make no claim of military heritage. As an aside, in the real world the Lozenge was historically used for the coat of arms of a woman. We commonly think of Knights as being only male, but in the middle ages there were also shield maidens, swordswomen and the like. As such, the use of Lozenges was slightly more common amongst women warriors than amongst men. It is much more common to find Lozenges in a quantity of 5, so I am not sure of the significance of the lesser number. There will be significance if anyone can look this up.


I could have literally spent hours on the Internet researching Heraldry and the meanings behind the Mort ‘Coat of Arms’. I had not realised there was such much symbolism and that each item of details was in itself a story. It is certainly worth more investigation for anyone with the time and the curiosity. However, taking all of the optional meanings of all of the above into consideration, I have reached the following conclusions and as always I am open to other suggestions or challenges.

A White Phoenix - symbolism of purity, recovery, religious rebirth and femininity.
The Red Band - defensive but determined and warrior like.
The Silver shield - lesser nobility and feminine.
The Lozenges - used by females and to denote a ‘non military’ family history.
The Gold Tassels - symbol of wealth.

Was the original Mort Knight ‘ Zelda the Warrior Princess’?

Interesting - so the Mort females don’t just do unrequited love and occasional hauntings then?

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