Grave obsessions

The Stanwood Coat of Arms
The coat of arms is an oft sought-after element of family historians. Symbolizing the right to bear arms, the coat of arms indicated status and privilege. Rarely are those seen in the United States deemed authentic.
The New England Historical and Genealogical Register 50:542 tells us of the Stanwood Coat of Arms.  The article's author, Mrs. Ellen Dunlap Hopkins, writes:

"In connection with the origin of the family, comes the question of the right to a coat of arms in this branch of the Stanwood family. There seem to be two Stanwood coat of arms.  I can find no authority for the New England family using arms save by tradition..."

Ethel Stanwood Bolton, the author of The Stanwood Family in America, also tackled this subject.  She described the work of John Cole, an unscrupulous man who was the likely creator of two fake coat of arms.  One of them, touted in the Brunswick Stanwood family, had four griffins' heads upon it.  According to Bolton, "Both bear on a scroll across the bottom the text, 'By the name of Stanwood;' but Philip spelled and signed his name Stainwood, and most of his sons and grandsons did the same.  In fact, both coats are, without a doubt, forgeries." She continues, "There was at one time a third coat-of-arms in Ipswich, but as it has been destroyed it is impossible to say whether it was a different or a copy of one of these."  Regardless, Bolton continues:  "Age, use, and ignorance of heraldry on the part of the owners, have all brought about a belief in their authenticity to-day." The coat of arms depicted above was purchased off of eBay about 2004.  It was sold along with several letters, one of which was written by a Lemuel Stanwood of Boston probably about 1845, and the other by Mr. John Dorr to "My Dear Son," penned 16 December 1825.  The original letters were donated to the New England Historic Genealogical Society.

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