The McCulloch coat of arms

If you Google the “McCollough” surname, you will get many results for colorful McCulloch or McCullough coat of arms. Coats of arms, family crests, or heraldic designs were first used by European nobility in the 12th century and were proudly displayed through the 1500s. In England and Scotland, coat of arms identified important individuals, and their use was governed by a strict set of rules. In Great Britain they are still registered by the same heraldic authorities that traditionally granted and regulated arms for centuries. In Scotland, the Lord Lyon King of Arms still has criminal jurisdiction to control the use of arms that can be enforced by the police!.

In the medieval era, the McCullochs of the Galloway were a wealthy and influential family in the southwest of Scotland, and several of the prominent McCulloch families had their own coats of arms. Walter Jameson McCulloch’s book A History of the Galloway Families of McCulloch (1964) contains the genealogy of nine prominent McCulloch families of the Galloway district of southwestern Scotland. In the Galloway region of southwest Scotland at least four families held castles and large estates, and each had a distinct coat of arms.

The oldest record of a McCulloch coat of arms comes from the book Armorial de Berry, dated about 1450. This document was prepared for King Charles VII of France and depicted the arms of 122 principal Scottish families, including the McCullochs, at the time the King visited Scotland. Another is from the McCullochs of Cardoness near the Gatehouse of Fleet. It was recorded in an ancient Roll of Arms compiled by Sir David Lyndsay about 1542. The McCullochs of Drummoral, near the Isle of Whithorn, designed a coat of arms that is within a “border engrailed” to represent the arms of a McCulloch son and not the laird of the estate. The prominent McCullochs of Myrtoun castle used a coat of arms with a crest depicting a hand throwing a dart. These arms include the motto Vi et animo (Latin for By Strength and Courage). These arms were registered about 1672 by Sir Godfrey MacCulloch, the 2nd Baronet of Myrtoun. He was the same Godfrey who lost his head in a guillotine in Edinburgh. The Mackullo of Merton (Myrtoun) had a unique coat of arms that was azure (blue) with three wolves’ heads. It was recorded in an old heraldic manuscript about 1565 that is preserved at the Lyon Office in Edinburgh. The arms depict three wolves, but at one time may have represented three boars’ heads. This may be derived from the ancient Scots Gaelic Mac Cullaich, meaning “son of the boar.” The McCullochs of Barholm Castle had a unique coat of arms blending the previous themes. It consisted of the engrailed gules with a shield with three wolves. It was registered in 1814 when John McCulloch of Barholm was recognized as the patriarch of the McCullochs of Muir (near Creetown), Myrtoun (near Port William), and Cardoness (near the Gatehouse of Fleet).

Today there is a thriving coat of arms business, and there are many elaborate and colorful renditions of the McCulloch family crest, such as the color design above. They combine fanciful interpretations and variations of the old McCulloch designs. Nowadays, unless you live in Scotland there are no “heraldry police” watching (at least in the United States). So you could try your hand designing your own coat of arms for the McCollough family of Chicora or Chicago or wherever your clan resides using any of the design elements above!

1 thought on “The McCulloch coat of arms

  1. In 1983 I vacationed in Scotland and visited Cardoness as well as some other McCulloch sites. When I arrived at Cardoness I said to the curator, “I am a McCollough coming back to claim the castle.” He replied, “Oh, those McCulloch’s were a bloody bunch!”


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