Coats of Arms are of interest to many people. Some people feel that Coats of Arms are the exclusive property of the aristocratic and are undemocratic in their origin and permanency. Fairbairn (1911:Preface) takes an opposing point of view. He states: "On the contrary, these badges of distinction were a reward of personal merit, and could be secured by the humblest as well as the highest. They are today the testimonials and warrants of bravery, heroism and meritorious deeds of our ancestors. Fairbairn repeats a remark by Edmund Burke who stated "that a man who is not proud of his ancestry will never leave after him anything for which his posterity may be proud of him. And as the honors of Heraldry have almost exclusively been the rewards of genius, valor, patriotism, and industry, they should be a continued stimulus to the descendants of those who bore them, to impart to the names additional lustre, and to the symbols the virtue and worth with which they are so largely imbued."

This writer shares the point of view expressed in the aforementioned paragraph. And because of this belief, attempted to identify coats of arms bearing the Cilley name. Several coats of arms have been located. However, the reader should be cautioned that these coats of arms do not possess a genealogical foundation.

Three possible coats of arms have been located:

  1. First:

    Two commercial firms were contacted. One, in the United States, and the second in England. Both provided virtually identical reports for the name CILLEY or its variant CILLY. The source of their information was the Armorial General by J.B Rietstap. The report follows:

    A coat of arms is basically the design used on a shield it identify a man, family, group, or clan. The usual achievement or arrangement is intended to display the warrior's shield hung on the wall between battles. This is surmounted by a helmet and the mantle (cloak). The helmet is topped by a torse, which is made up of the dominant metal and color of the shield (unless otherwise stated in the blazon, which occasionally happens).

    The torse (or family colors) is formed by two strips twisted together in the way of a circular cord; its tinctures are always those of the principal metal and the dominant color (unless a circumstance as above described occurs).

    The mantle is intended to represent a skin, or a scarf of silk or drapery, originally spread over and pendent from the helmet, to protect it and the polished armor from the weather. It is now usually displayed as a decoration to arms, by ribbons flourishing in all imaginable forms. The strips or leaves into which the mantle is divided, are supposed to imply that it has been torn into that ragged condition on the field of battle.

    The name appears, usually, on a ribbon above the arms achievement, and the motto (if one is used) appears below the shield. There is no crest or motto recorded for the name Cilley.

    The description of the shield in Heraldic terms is "Gules a pilgrim's staff or charged on the center by an escallop of the same."

    The colors are red (gules) and gold (or). The torse and mantle are alternating red and gold. The shield is red and the pilgrim's staff and escallop are gold.

    GULES: Red in heraldic language, is called gules, supposed by some authors to be derived from the Hebrew word gulgade, red cloth, by others from the Arabic gula, a red rose, but most probably from the French, gueule, the mouth of a wild beast, in allusion to its reeking with the blood of a slaughtered victim. Gules is a royal color, and has long been used as an apparel of majesty. This color denotes martial prowess, boldness, hardihood, valor, and magnanimity. It is considered to be the most noble of all colors, and is assimilated to the planet Mars in the heavens, to the ruby among stones, and among flowers to the rose.

    PILGRIM'S STAFF: The pilgrim's staffs are derived from the arduous journeys of pilgrims to the Holy Lands (Crusades 1095-1295). The staffs had a hook at the upper part to hang the scrip or bag upon, and were pointed at the lower end for the convenience of being stuck into the ground while the pilgrim performed his devotions. The portable crosses had also sometimes a spike or pointed end for the same purpose.

    ESCALLOP: Escallop shells were assumed by Christian pilgrims (for they always made those shells part of the decorations of their dress) appear to have allusion to some of the Apostles, who followed the profession of fishermen, and whose sainted protection these devotees invoked in their arduous journeys. Escallop shells, represent the constancy and faithful adherence of the bearer to the religious work wherein he is engaged; the indentations on their edges being so formed by nature that none other than the twin shells can by possibility be made to unite.

    OR: Refers to both the staff and the escallop shell with which it is charged. Or refers to the metal gold and is depicted in heraldry by yellow, this metal expresses a metal of all others most brilliant and valuable. As this metal exceeds all others in value, purity, and fineness, so ought the bearer to exceed all others in worth, prowess, and virtue. This metal is said to betoken to the bearer wisdom, riches, and an evaluation of mind. It is compared to the Sun among heavenly bodies; among precious stones it is assimilated to the topaz, and among plants to the cypress tree; with all the astrological and magical properties of each.

    The combination of the Red and Gold signifies that the bearer would spend his blood for the welfare of his country.

    A sample sketch indicating the components of the CILLEY Coat of Arms is presented in Figure 1.

    Figure 1

    A larger sketch showing more detail is presented in Figure 2.

    Figure 2

  2. Second:

    The second coat of arms is for the name SELEY, a variant of the name CILLEY. The primary colors are red and gold. The torse and mantle are red (dark) and gold (light). The lion is gold and the background is red. The areas to the right and left of the lion are silver with black figures. No other information is available. A sample of the SELEY Coat of Arms is presented in Figure 3.

    Figure 3

  3. Third:

    Fairbairn (1911:109) has this reference to a coat of arms: CIELY, Cornu., a tiger, sejant, ar. (Figure 4)."

    Figure 4