Families & Beyond: Origins, History and Research



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                van der Gracht

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Family Crest


Not all family members are entitled to the Coat of Arms.



In zilver een rode keper, vergezeld van drie zwarte merletten. Helm gekroond.

Helmteken: twee drakenkoppen, de linkse omgewend, de rechtse van hermelijn, de linkse van tegen-hermelijn, beide rood getongd.

Dekkleden: zilver en rood.

Schildhouders: twee wildemannen in natuurlijke kleur, groen omgord, de knots in natuurlijke kleur op de schouder.

De kroon op de helm is een zogenaamde "rang" kroon, vastgesteld bij een besluit van 1817 van Koning Willem I. Aan de versieringen kun je de rang zien. De drie bladeren met twee parels ertussen op onze kroon geven de rang van graaf aan.

Dat klopt met wat het jaarboek van de Adel schrijft: "De familie Van Waterschoot van der Gracht stamt uit hetzelfde geslacht als dat der Belgische baronnen en graven Van der Gracht en voert hetzelfde wapen."



In heraldry, the colour white, when borne as a 'field colour' (background) is significant of Peace and Sincerity.  It is pointed out by Guillim, considered the most authorative of the ancient heraldric writers however, that the term 'Peace' is not intended to portray one prepared to accept peace at any price, but denotes a 'bearer of arms' ready to devote all his efforts to bring about a just and equitable peace, a peace which would endure because it would be such a peace.

Gules (red):

Is the martial colour and is significant of Military Fortitude and Magnanimity. It was also the martyr's colour, but this significance is not evident in the arms of "van Waterschoot".

Sable (black):

Is symbolic of Constancy and, sometimes but less frequently, also denotes Grief.

The Chevron:

From whence came the insignia of the armed forces, was granted as a reward to those who had accomplished some notable enterprise, usually of a military nature. Representative of the roof-tree of a house, that upon which all else depends, it was considered a most worthy and honourable bearing of arms. It is classified in heraldry as a bearing of 'Honourable Ordinary'. Guillim however, as if to contradict the term 'Ordinary' places high significance on the chevron; "The chevron gives recognition to that which has already been achieved by its bearer. A reputation should not be gained from that which a person intends to accomplish."

The Martlet:

Presented in heraldry as a bird without legs (sans legs), draws meaning from its allocation as the 'Mark of Cadency' of a fourth son. When borne with only this significance it is presented singly in the dexter-chief of the shield; when borne as in the arms of "van Waterschoot" it does not necessarily denote a fourth son, but draws significance from this allocation as follows "as a fouth son the bearer could not anticipate to gain greatly from his father's estate because of three brothers having prior claim. Therefore whatever he was to achieve would need to be secured by his own efforts." It was therefore considered a suitable bearing for one of proven initiative, a self-sufficient person.

[NOTE: In the very early arms of "Wauters" (from which the name of "Waterschoot" did anciently derive), the martlet bird is presented 'sans beak', as well as 'sans legs', but this style was changed as early as the twelfth century. Therefore the martlet in the arms of "van Waterschoot" is more correctly presented without legs but with beak.]

The Sword:

Was considered a weapon suited for both Justice and its Execution and was held by some writers to be the true emblem of military honour; a bearing which should incite its bearer to a just and generous pursuit of honour and virtue in warlike deeds. It is classified in armory as the bearing of Justice and Government.


Sint Eloois Winkel:

Sint Eloois Winkel is located in the Province of West Vlaanderen (Oost Vlaanderen) in Belguim. Of interest is the City Coat of Arms, granted on December 31, 1926.

The arms are a combination of the arms of the Family Van den Clichthove (three green bushes), last Lords of Winkel in the 18th Century, and the left half being the arms of the Barons van der Gracht (three martlets) whose territory formed part of the Municipality of Sint Eloois Winkel.

Reference: which also provides an illustration of the Coat of Arms.



"Fortiter" = "Bravely" ... The Family Motto ...

Compiled by:  John van Waterschoot  Version: 4.0  Created: 02-January-2011
John van Waterschoot (Canberra, Australia) 2002-2017