Bookshelf of British Heraldry

Introduction

I needed some reference sources for my Heraldry of Lincoln Cathedral Project and found many heraldic works freely available on archive.org. Unfortunately there were very few reviews or guidance on which were most useful so I have provided some here! All views (and any mistakes) are my own.

Selection Criteria

To select the most useful I assessed them against the following criteria:

  • Available offline, ideally in PDF format (for use when not connected and for ease of searching)
  • The most recent version (where multiple editions exist)
  • Fully text searchable, with the ability to cut and paste text
  • Authoritative (i.e. recognised authors, comprehensive content)
  • Good quality reproductions of both the original text and diagrams (in colour)
  • Coverage primarily of British Heraldlry

The List

This then is the resulting list. The links in the middle column go directly to the appropriate page on archive.org, the link in the right hand column is to additional page on this site, which lists the contents, quality and other information about the work. I have also included these comments in a review of each book on the archive.org site, each review is titled “Bookshelf of British Heraldry” but I can’t guarantee that they will stay near the top!

If you are trying to use these resources to identify some heraldry that you have found then I have put together some hints and tips for identification.

Bookshelf of British Heraldry Title Review and Contents
Summary & Link Rating
Armorial Families, a Directory of Gentlemen of Coat Armour, 7th Ed.
A.C. Fox-Davies
Hurst & Blackett, London 1929
More details…
These 2 volumes contain 2,200 searchable pages of fantastic detail and beautiful images of full achievements, with arms, mottoes and family details
http://archive.org/details/armorialfamilies01foxd
http://archive.org/details/armorialfamilies01foxd
Essential
The Art of Heraldry – An Encyclopaedia of Armory
A.C. FOX-DAVIES
TC and EC Jack, London 1904
More details…
This is a beautiful visual source book of Heraldic art, with more than 150 full page plates and 1200 other figures.
http://archive.org/details/artofheraldryenc00foxd
Essential
Encyclopaedia Heraldica, or Complete Dictionary of Heraldry
William BERRY
Sherwood Gilbert and Piper, 1828-40??
More details…
A very comprehensive work, it can be hard to navigate but what you need to know is in here somewhere!
http://archive.org/details/encyclopaediaher01berr
http://archive.org/details/encyclopaediaher21berr
http://archive.org/details/encyclopaediaher22berr
http://archive.org/details/encyclopaediaher03berr
http://archive.org/details/encyclopaediaher04berr
Essential
The Book of Public Arms
A.C. Fox Davies
T.C. & E.C. Jack, 1915
More details…
Well illustrated and comprehensive list of British corporate, municipal and other non-family arms.
http://archive.org/details/bookofpublicarms00foxd
Essential
An Introduction to Heraldry, 18th Ed.
Hugh Clark, updated by J.R. Planche)
Bell & Daldy, London(?) 1866
More details…
Excellent general introduction and overview, colour reproduction stained but readable.
http://archive.org/details/introductiontohe00claruoft
Recommended
The General Armory of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales, Comprising a Registry of Armorial Bearings from the Earliest to the Present Time
Sir Bernard BURKE
Harrison, London, 1884
More details…
Good background information, very comprehensive list of family names (50,000+) and some interesting contemporary advertisements too!
http://archive.org/details/generalarmoryofe00burk
Recommended
Heraldry Historical and Popular, 3rd Edition
Charles BOUTELL
Richard Bentley, London 1864
More details…
Huge amount of information on all aspects of heraldry, including 975 illustrations, many in colour.
http://archive.org/details/heraldryhistoric01bout
Recommended
A Treatise on Heraldry, British and Foreign
John WOODWARD
W &AK Johnson, London 1896
More details…
Interesting and wide ranging work, illustrations mainly shields only.
http://archive.org/details/treatiseonherald01wood
http://archive.org/details/treatiseonherald02wood
Interesting
The British Herald or Cabinet of Armorial Bearings of the Nobility and Gentry of Great Britain & Ireland from the Earliest to the Present Time…
Thomas ROBSON
Sunderland 1830
More details…
This is a comprehensive work, but PDFs of volumes I and III are only available from Google Books and they are NOT text searchable.
http://archive.org/details/britishheraldor04robsgoog
http://archive.org/details/britishheraldor02robs
http://archive.org/details/britishheraldor01robsgoog
Flawed