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Foy Coat of Arms / Foy Family Crest

Foy Coat of Arms / Foy Family Crest

The surname of FOY was derived from the Gaelic O'Fiach. The most numerous of the name are in Fermanagh, Armagh, and Cavan. The tradition of surnames in Ireland developed spontaneously, as the population increased and the former practice, first of single names and then of ephemeral patronymics or agnomina of the nickname type proved insufficiently definitive. At first the surname was formed by prefixing 'Mac' to the father's Christian name or 'O 'to that of a grandfather or earlier ancestor. Ireland was one of the earliest countries to evolve a system of hereditary surnames. They came into being fairly generally in the 11th century, and indeed a few were formed before the year 1000. A notable member of the name was Maximilien Sebastien Foy (1775-1825) the French soldier, born in Ham. He entered the army in 1791, and held commands in the Italian (1801) and the Austrian (1805) campaigns. In 1807 Napoleon sent him to Turkey to assist Sultan Selim 111 against the Russians and British. He was wounded at Waterloo in 1815. He was a constant advocate of constitutional liberty. He wrote 'Histoire de la Guerre de la Peninsule' in 1827. Family names are a fashion we have inherited from the times of the Crusades in Europe, when knights identified one another by adding their place of birth to their first or Christian names. With so many knights, this was a very practical step. In the 11th, 12th and 13th centuries the nobles and upper classes, particularly those descended from the knights of the Crusades, recognised the prestige an extra name afforded them, and added the surname to the simple name given to them at birth. The origin of badges and emblems, are traced to the earliest times, although, Heraldry, in fact, cannot be traced later than the 12th century, or at furthest the 11th century. At first armorial bearings were probably like surnames and assumed by each warrior at his free will and pleasure, his object being to distinguish himself from others. It has long been a matter of doubt when bearing Coats of Arms first became hereditary. It is known that in the reign of Henry V (1413-1422), a proclamation was issued, prohibiting the use of heraldic ensigns to all who could not show an original and valid right, except those 'who had borne arms at Agincourt'. The College of Arms (founded in 1483) is the Royal corporation of heralds who record proved pedigrees and grant armorial bearings.


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Last Updated: May 9, 2020

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