By Jeannette Holland Austin
If you are fond of antiques and come across some old English silver, examine the piece to see if you can find a family insignia stamped on the bottom. Those who possessed a legal right to the coats-of-arms engraved symbols on personal property. Such items were listed in the inventories of their estates. Also, the custom of carving coats-of-arms upon tombstones was a general practice in the colony (as it was in the Mother Country) . It was not an uncommon provision for the deceased in his last will and testament to provide that the coat-of-arms should be stamped in brass (or chiseled) upon his tombstone. In 1674, Colonel Richard Cole gave directions that a slab of black marble, bearing his coat-of-arms be engraved in this metal and that, after his death, it should be purchased in England, brought over, and laid on the spot where he desired his body to be buried. This is the sort of information found in the old Wills and Estates which provide interesting stories to pass down. Source: Westmoreland County Records, Vol. 1665-77, page 186.
County and Probate Records to Help you Find your Virginia Ancestors