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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.


Azure, two swans close in pale argent between as many flaunches ermine--MELLISH.

Azure, a swan proper--SWAN, Kent.

Azure, a fesse between three swans argent--SWAN, ob. 1487.

Gules, three swans argent--SWANLAND, Lord Mayor of London, 1329.

Sable, a swan its wings expanded argent, within a bordure engrailed or--MOORE, Hants.

Azure, a fesse or, between three swans argent beaked and legged gules--GISLINGHAM, Suffolk.

Gules, a bend sable between two cotises or, and as many mullets and as many swans argent--RUSSELL.

Per saltire; in chief argent, a cross gules; in the dexter flank gules, a lion passant gardant or; in the sinister flank or, a red rose; in base azure, a swan eating an eel proper--Town of GOREY, Ireland; granted 1623.

Sable, two swans in pale, wings addorsed argent, between as many flaunches or, on a chief gules a garb between two fleurs-de-lis of the third--FITLER.

Per pale sable and gules, a swan, wings expanded argent, ducally gorged and[sometimes] chained or--Town of BUCKINGHAM.

Azure, a fesse engrailed or, surmounted of another gules charged with three roses argent, all between as many swans sans legs proper--RIVERS, Kent; Lord Mayor of London, 1573.

Sable, two swans[rather geese] incontrant[otherwise in fesse incontrant regardant] argent--TREGOSSE.

Swans are borne by the following families amongst others:--

ATWATER, Kent.--BADBY, Suffolk.--BALDEN, Norfolk.--BOLDEN, Lancaster,--BRACY.--BRODERIP.--BRYSE.--CAZIER, London.--CHARLTON, London.--CLARKE(see under Pellet).--COBB(see under Herring).--COBLEY.--COPPARD, Sussex.--CRESSINGHAM.--DALE, York and Northumberland.--DAWES, Norfolk.--DELANEY.--ELKINGTON.--FATTOR, Norfolk.--FOLNARBY.--HOBBES, Wilts.--JENYSONN, Norfolk.--LANNOY, Hammersmith.--LEIGHAM.--LIGHT, Oxfordshire.--LOVENHAM.--LYTE, Somerset.--MICHELL, Somerset.--MOLSFORD, Devon.--MORE, Devon.--PELFYN.--PHILLPOT, Hereford.--PICKERELL, London.--REDDIE.--SCOTER.--SHELDON.--STORMER.--SUTER.--SYNNOT, Wexford.--SWABEY, Bucks.--VAUGHAN.--WALTON, Lancashire.--WATERS[York Herald, temp. Ric. II.].--WOLRICH, Salop.--WYBERNE, Kent.--YEO, Devon.

The head and neck of a swan are blazoned a swan's neck; the wings are also met with.


Argent, five swan's necks erased argent--LACY, alias HEDGES, London; also co. Oxford.

Sable, three swan's heads couped at the neck argent--Samuel SQUIRE, Bp. of S.David's, 1761-66.

Argent, a martlet sable; on a chief azure three swan's wings endorsed of the first--SWANSTON, Scotland.

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.

Badge of HENRY V.
Badge of HENRY V.

Azure, a bend engrailed between two cygnets argent gorged with ducal crowns, with strings reflexed over their backs or--PITFIELD, Dorset.

Gules, a cygnet argent--Thomas ASDALE.

A beacon, inflamed proper.--An antelope gorged with a crown and chained.--A swan adorned in a like manner. Three badges of HENRY V., from cornice of his chantry, Westminster Abbey.

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