What say I?A typically infuriating English yes-and-no.You and Barbara are both partly right and partly wrong.Which I should gladly trade for, since I know that I am always almost wholly wrong.The reason for this is that there is NO English equivalent of a constitution.Our legal system illustrates this better than anything else.Unlike the French, the English Courts of Law do not set out to establish the truth but to decide the winner in a confrontational joust. Legal decisions are based on precedents (themselves originally simply the outcome of contests not much to do with objectivity).Get enough precedents on your side and you are likely to win your case.
Where this applies to heraldry is that ANY Royal grant is an HONOUR, not a POSSESSION.It can be removed by the Sovreign, since it is bestowed by the Sovreign.Usually this happens only where the individual has behaved with DIShonour.SO: heraldic Coats, in theory, are the honour bestowed on an individual.Precedent, however, has resulted in the Coat's becoming an established family honour, a remembrance of an ancestor and a mark of the nobility of that particular gene bank.Sometimes, when, say, a better honour becomes married in to the family, or if the intemarriages have become pictorially unwieldy, another Coat is adopted, provided it is legitimate to do so.
I think that that's as far as anyone will want me to go.Certainly I have oversimplified to the extent that any Herald would rap my knuckles severely.
The site that Don has identified is excellent and by far the definitive word on the subject.A lot of sweat and adrenaline can be saved by sending an email to the web site and paying the fees.They will not be exorbitant; and, for what you will get, almost a gift.I intend to make more use of it (the site has recently been revised and made modern).
However, there is a new hare about to run.I'll post in detail when I've sorted the matter out. It could be most helpful.I'm mentioning it now in order to give interested Eatons time to check in their family pedigrees.
Through a happenchance that is extremely rare, the family name of ANTROBUS has started to appear on the periphery of matters Eatonian.I'm not playing hard to get, and I shall post as soon as may be.But when I push the button it would be good to have as many replies as possible from Eatons who have the name in their lines, so that the implications can be laid out and conclusions drawn.There is a real chance of hitting paydirt here.
But I can't sign off without another drip-whinge at my patient friends.
It's the old matter of LINEAGE v. NAME.The College of Heralds will speak on this better than I ever could; but I have to keep on nagging at you that if you insist on concentrating on tracng the EATONS, in all their spellings, there will come a point beyond which you may not go; and that would be a pity.For all of us who are interested in the awesome sequence of random chances that has put us in front of our keyboards today, it seems a pity to be fascinated by a name when a lineage may take us even further back towards people who can be identified and known.
There has been an extraordinary example here in England this year.Real (not my metaphorical)DNA was removed from a skeleton excavated in a cave.The body was about 100,000 years old.The DNA was taken from a molar tooth,, since the structure of teeth acts as a capsule of preservation against interference over very long time periods.And an archaeologist had a thought.Half a mile away there is a small village consisting of long-established families.He asked at the local school for children to volunteer to give a snip of their hair for comparative DNA analysis.Not only was this inspired teaching of history and prehistory; it was inspired archaeology.The results have shown that one of the girls, eight years of age now, MUST be a direct descendant of that skeleton.
Of course, it will never be possible to link names and generations; BUT that girl will be able to look at the hills and rocks and rivers around her for evermore and to say with certainty:"I am a part of this.This is a part of me."Isn't that what we're all after in our hearts?