Roll of Arms

Arms of Samuel Appleton of Ipswich (Roll, no. 2), painted by Robert Dixon Weston

Arms of Samuel Appleton of Ipswich (Roll, no. 2), painted by Robert Dixon Weston

Since 1914 the Committee on Heraldry has compiled a Roll of Arms of American colonists, or immigrants to the United States, who were rightfully armigerous according to the authorities and customs of their countries of origin, or those already resident here during colonial times who were granted arms by such authorities. The precise scope of the Roll of Arms has changed more than once in subsequent years. Since 1972, only arms borne rightfully prior to 1900 are eligible for the Roll.

Since 1933 the Committee has separately recorded coats of arms assumed by Americans without proved hereditary right; these have never been included in the Roll of Arms. Since 1972, honorary grants of arms to Americans by foreign heraldic authorities are no longer added to the Roll of Arms, though the modern foreign grants registered between 1923 and 1972 can still be found there. For information and forms for registration of eligible arms in the Roll of Arms, or for separately recording assumed arms or modern foreign grants of arms with the Committee, choose the ‘Registration’ submenu.

The Roll has been published periodically since 1928, in pamphlet form and in the New England Historical and Genealogical Register. The parts of the Roll of Arms published in the Register are available online to NEHGS members on the americanancestors.org website.

In 2013 the Committee published a one-volume edition of the complete Roll of Arms to date, through Part 10 (registration nos. 1–741), edited and with a historical introduction and notes by the Committee’s  secretary, Henry L. P. Beckwith. This volume may be purchased from the NEHGS via the americanancestors.org online store.

It is the intention of the Committee that registrations in the Roll of Arms following no. 741 be published here, online, and periodically in paper format.  Plans to initiate this are underway.

For a complete name-index to the Roll of Arms—including those registrations not yet published—see the “Roll Index” submenu above.