Ancient Forsyth Family Symbols
Clan Forsyth Society
From earliest times it was the custom of nations, clans and families to adopt a symbol which, when borne upon standard or shield, furnished an easy method of distinguishing different units or individuals from one another in the confusion of battle. In medieval times, the science of heraldry was based on this custom. As long as men fought with their faces bared, there was no problem distinguishing one from the other. However, when complete armor was adopted and men could no longer see their friends and antagonists’ faces, they were forced to adopt distinguishing marks by which they were easily identified in battle and in peace. These marks or symbols were usually worn on helmets, shields and banners. On the helmet it was called a crest; on the shield it was called a charge; on the banner it was the symbol of the family, or clan or nation. Each family, clan or individual had its own symbol by which it was known. In ancient times, a badge or symbol was a sacred thing, and for a tribe or family to adopt the symbol of another was an act of dishonor. From medieval times to the present, the symbol of Clan Forsyth has been the Griffin, a mythological winged creature, with the head of an eagle and the body of a lion.
In feudal times, to prevent repetition and confusion among the wearers of coats-of-arms, as the marks or symbols were called, special schools and colleges whose business was to know and keep record and order among the innumerable markings of the nobility developed. The lions of England and Scotland, the lilies of France, and the eagles of Germany are derived from these markings, and every knight and noble family had their own special bearings or symbols, coats-of-arms and crests by which they were known.
In the beginning, arms or symbols were assumed simply as a distinguishing mark. Later when they became more complex, they were given for some deed or as an honor especially conferred. Strictly speaking, a coat-of-arms is hereditary and belongs to the head of a family, or with certain manifestations, to his immediate kin. The crest or badge can be borne by any of the blood of the family.
The ancient history of the Forsyth family can be traced, not only by the name, of which there are several variations, but also by its symbol—the Griffin.