Coats of Arms derived when mediaeval knights taking part in tournaments were recognised by the arms they bore on their shields and the crests they wore on their helmets. Heralds became responsible for recording arms, and then later for controlling their use.
Coats of arms belong to individuals. For any person to have a right to a coat of arms they must either have had it granted to them or be descended in the legitimate male line from a person to whom arms were granted or confirmed in the past.
To establish a right to arms by inheritance it is necessary to prove a descent from an ancestor who is already recorded as entitled to arms in the registers of the College of Arms.
The Society of Genealogists has hundreds of historic ‘Grants of Arms’ letters patent which are all quite beautiful in their own right. Most have one or two seals attached to the official parchment document which are protected by a removable metal case. They are rolled and kept in official College of Arms boxes.
Grant of Arms for Amelius Richard Mark Lockwood 1917
Grant of Arms for William Joseph Kelson Millard 1882