The Blauvelt Coat-of-Arms
Our authority for this coat-of-arms will be found in Reitstep’s Armorial General, Vol. 1, page 215, where it is described:”D’azure, a fasce dor, acc. de trois bes. du meme.” this roughly translated is:- Blue, a fasse, (horizontal bar), gold, between three besants, (disks), of the same. Then too, we have had correspondence regarding this with reliable authorities in the Netherlands.
Our authority for this coat-of-arms will be found in Reitstep’s Armorial General, Vol. 1, page 215, where it is described: “D’azure, a fasce dor, acc. de trois bes. du meme.” This roughly translated is: Blue, a fasse, (horizontal bar), gold, between three besants, (disks), of the same. Then too, we have had correspondence regarding this with reliable authorities in the Netherlands.
To begin with, it is most definitely not regarded as good practice, or shall we say legitimate, in heraldic usage to appropriate a coat-of-arms unless one can absolutely establish direct descent from the original possessor of that arms, so we use this arms with reservation, even though we believe that we have the right. This is the coat-of-arms of Pieter Blaeuwvelt of Enkhuysen, (1534) and we cannot definitely prove that our Gerrit Hendricksen, (1620), was a descendant from this Pieter, though we feel confident that he was. However, we must be honest with ourselves and take this fact into consideration.
Our Blauvelt name seems actually to have been derived from this coat-of-arms. Sometime prior to 1534 there was a ship-owner in the city of Enkhuysen, on the Zuyder Zee. His name was Pieter. He had no family name. Few did have family names in the Netherlands in those days. It would seem that Pieter used a blue shield on his ships to show his ownership of them. The background of a shield is called the field, hence the name Blaeuwvelt meaning blue field. Don’t let the spelling trouble you, for we have found the name spelled more than fifteen different ways.
At first we find Pieter variously referred to as Pieter Blaushep, Blauhulch, Blauschuit and Blausynt. We have been told that shep, hulch, schuit and synt are all types of vessels. For more uniformity no doubt, Pieter seems to have become van (of the) blue field,-Blaeuwveldt. We find that Pieter was a schout, a public official in Enkhuysen in 1534.
What became of the descendants of Pieter we do not know. We can trace them for two generations and then the name seems to fade out. We understand that the name is not known in the Netherlands to-day. We suspect that Pieter’s descendants fell back into the peasantry, and as such, according to the custom of the time, they did not use the family name even though we think they had such a name. Certain it is that our Gerrit’s father was entered in the records of the church at Deventer only as Hendrick Gerryts, (son of Gerrit), and our Gerrit himself used only his patronymic of Hendrick-son.
What seems most significant is that all of Gerrit’s children simultaneously took the Blauvelt name in this country 150 years after it had been first used by Pieter in Enkhuysen; and remember that the “Pirate,” Capetain Willem Albertse Blaeuvelt, came from Monnikendam, twenty miles from Enkhuysen, to New Amsterdam only five years after our Gerrit came here from Deventer or Nykerk. Would the children of Gerrit be likely to coin or invent a name that was practically identical with the one that had been used in the Netherlands for 150 years, or would they be likely to assume a name to which they had no right? We think not. We feel sure that Blauvelt was their rightful family name. If Blauvelt was their family name, and the name originated with Pieter from his coat-of-arms, then they must have descended from Pieter and had a right to his arms as well as the name.
Now a few words about the coat-of-arms as we have shown it. There are very definite rules governing heraldry and, while we might like to embellish this coat-of-arms with a helmet, crest, wreath, mantlings, supporters and a motto, and all the other decorations usually shown with a coat-of-arms, we do not wish to lay ourselves open to criticism for violating heraldic practice.
The laws of Heraldry are quite rigid in English practice, though not quite so much so on the Continent. The use of the helmet is only permissible in English armoral bearings, and we Blauvelts are Dutch. The wreath and crest, not appropriate to Continental heraldry, in that of England are marks of honor to which only those of great valor were entitled, and Pieter was only a ship-owner. Mantling, originally only decorative, in English heraldry seems to have acquired some vague knightly significance; while supporters, also originally only decorative, now, in English usage, are confined to royalty and nobility, and but very few have a real right to use them. Lastly, Reitstep gave us no motto.
In truth, a coat-of-arms has no place in American democracy. At the same time most of us feel a little pride if we think we may lay claim to one that is derived from our remote old world forebears. If we borrow such insignia from old world practice we should also abide by these old world restrictions in heraldic practice, and we should be content with this simple coat-of-arms, knowing that we are not assuming anything to which we do not have a rightful claim.
By Louis L. Blauvelt, founder of the Association of Blauvelt Descendants, and compiler of the first official Blauvelt Family Genealogy.