Fairbairn’s Book of Crests of the Families of Great Britain and Ireland

2 volume set


Author: Fairbairn, James
Publication Date: 1905
Reprint Date: 2020
Pages: 1,094 pp.
ISBN: 9780806301075


Crests are the ornaments and devices attached to a helmet or coronet and pictured in a coat of arms. They are as distinctive to the bearer of arms as the shield itself and are generally representative of the person originally granted the arms. Throughout the centuries crests have evolved as an important element in heraldic art and are referred to today as a means of identifying families associated with their use, much as the shield itself is.

This present work is a register of all crests known to have been in use in Great Britain and Ireland. Long established as the definitive work in its field, it has passed through a number of editions since it first appeared in 1859. The edition offered here is a reprint of the fourth edition of 1905, the best and most complete edition ever published, used for years as a work of reference by genealogists, artists, engravers, and jewellers.

The main part of this encyclopedic work is an alphabetical list of about 50,000 names associated with various crests, with a full description of each crest and a reference to the plate in which it is illustrated. Following this is a section containing a list of 5,000 mottoes and the names of the families using them.

The illustrated portion of the book–its chief feature–consists of 314 full-page, black-and-white plates with beautiful engravings of about 5,000 crests. Beautifully executed, these illustrations form a timeless archive of family memorabilia. There is also a key to the plates, which cross-indexes the names of the families assigned to each crest, and a dictionary of terms which serves as a glossary.

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