Arms of the Familes of Atwood and variants

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Surnames/tags: Wode Atwood atte Wode
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Armorial of Atwood (and variants)

Names: Atwood, Attwood, Wode, Wood, atte Wode, atte Wood.

This page is to assist in research into the various families of Attwood or Atwood that originated in England c. 13th Century.

Arms were hereditary and formed part of the deceased estate. Thus we, as researchers, can use these to help us determine likelihood of parentage. As genealogists there are some rules we need to observe:

  1. Arms belong to the person, the individual. There is no such thing as a family coat of arms. As such only the rightful heir to an individual has the right to bear those arms.
  2. Variations on arms occur when a junior line takes on a variation, such as additions (called charges in heraldry) to the undifferenced (the original) arms, or a change in colour (called tincture in heraldry).

Thus, if a person, named Atwood was to seek a grant of arms, and could prove an ancestor that was an armiger (bore arms) they would receive a grant of arms that was based on the original. If they could prove they were the last direct descendent they could receive a grant of the undifferenced arms of the ancestor.

On this page are a number of arms with description and source.

Harman Atwood (d. 1653)

His arms are sourced to his tomb in All Saints, Sanderstead, Surrey as: Quarterly, 1 and 4, Gules a lion rampant Argent between three acorns Or (Atwood); 2 and 3, Sable three curry-combs Argent handles Or (Harman (or Harmond according to Parkers Heraldry), Oxfordshire). Curry-combs were used to groom horses. They show the arms of his parents.

The points to note are the three acrons which must have been his fathers arms. Using the arms of his mother would also provide us the line of Harmond in Oxfordshire that she came from as these are the undifferenced arms of the Oxfordshire Harmonds.

Thomas Arthur Carless Attwood (b. 27 May 1863)

The arms depicted here are the undifferenced arms of the parental line represented by this gentleman. He was[1] born May 27, 1863, the only child of the late Thomas Aurelius Attwood of Birmingham, Barrister-at-Law, by his wife Mary Smallwood, eldest daughter of Joseph Smallwood of Castle Bromwich. He succeeded to the title on the death (1901) of his cousin George Reginald Attwood of Glaslyn Court, to the male representation of the family of Attwood, late of Hawne House, Corngieaves Hall, and the Leasowes, near Halesowen, Worcestershire.

As these are relatively recent arms they are more complex and represent various marriages and inheritances through time. Thus the arms are complex to reproduce but I will put them up in time. The arms are:

Quarterly 1 and 4, gules (red), a cross indented, in the first and fourth quarters a lion rampant argent, and in the second and third a swan close (wings beside the body) also argent, beaked or ; 2. per pale argent and gules, a chevron vair between three quatrefoils, in the centre chief point a fleur- de-lis all counterchanged (forAdams of Cakemore House, CO. Worcester) ; 3. or, on a mount, in base an oaktree proper, over all a fesse gules, thereon three cinquefoils of the field, in the dexter canton two annulets interlaced in pale sable (for Carless of Birmingham).

The field of interest to our work is the upper left corner of the arms; gules, a lion rampant argent. These are represented here and suggest that the undifferenced arms from which this person (Thomas Attwood) is descended carried them.

Sir John Wood (atte Wood) (d. 1458)

This person was an armiger and represented Worcestershire. His seat was at Wolverley. He is thought to have been the illegitimate son of Sir John atte Wood of Wolverley he eventually inherited title to those estates in 1420 after the legitimate line of Sir John atte Wood expired.[2] He went to great lengths to ensure the continuance of the estates in the family by tail-male, and the estates were inherited by his eldest son, Thomas.

Given the similarity to the previous undifferenced arms it would seem obvious that the forked tail might simply be an early differencing from the undifferenced arms. It (the forked tail) might simply have been a recent addition to represent illegitimacy or suggest deviation form the undifferenced line prior. Further research would be needed to confirm.

atte Wode or Atwood of Surrey

Wikitree carries an amount of material on this family of Coulsdon and Sanderstead.

This family, a member (Harman Atwood) noticed above is noticed in the publication of Surrey Coat of Arms as "ATWOOD [in early times atte WODE] of Wood Place in Coulsdon, and afterwards of Sanderstead Court [also called Sanderstead Place or House]. Extinct 1759."

They carried arms in two variants:

  1. Gules a lion rampant Argent between three acorns Or. On the right.
  2. Gules a lion rampant Argent between six acorns Or. On the left

It is not clear, as lineage is not, whether these were two different families, likely, or one family. The most likely assertion is that they were two distinct families, descended from the same father, that split, the line with the six acorns being a junior line. Given that Harman Atwood carried the former arms and held titles to both estates it seems probable that the second line died out.

Atwood of Devon

Atwood, or Wood, of Ashridge, in North Tawton, Devon. — This family was not extinct in 1620 although by then they were called Wood: they had possessed Ashridge from the reign of Edward III. A daughter of Christopher Wood, Esq., who probably was the last of the family, married Gregory, and died in 1719.[3] The bore Sable, semee of acorns, Or, a lion rampant, Argent; shown at right.

Other Attwood Arms

The British Herald; Or, Cabinet of Armorial Bearings of the Nobility & Gentry of Great Britain & Ireland, from the Earliest to the Present Time; by Robson carries a number of descriptions to the arms. To show variance I will include them here and put them up over time:

Attwood; gules, a lion rampant argent within an orle (this is like a border and the number is not stipulated) of acorns or. This clearly associated with the family of study. Location is not provided.
Atwood, of Bromfield, Essex; argent, on a fesse raguly azure, three fleur-de-lis. This clearly not related to the family of study.
Atwood, of Gloucestershire; gules, a lion rampant guardant (similar to the lion rampant but face is facing forward) argent, between eight acorns slipped (that is with leaves) or. This seems a likely candidate as well.
Atwood, of Broughton, Shropshire; gules a lion rampant double queued (two tails both coming from base - different from forked) argent.
Atwood, not designed, gules a lion rampant argent - crest, an antelope's head. This likely the original arms
Atwood, gules (another one as sable) the field replenished (covered) with acorns or, a lion rampant argent (would be superimposed over the field).
Atwood; gules, a lion rampant ermine (a fur depicted as white background with black shapes representing a stoat).
Atwood; gules, a lion rampant guardant argent. Similar to that of Gloucestershire but without the acorns.
Atwood; agent, a lion rampant gules. The reverse colours of the main arms.
Atwood; argent, a wolf salient sable. Not likely this line.
Atwood; argent, a wolf salient sable collared of the first (argent) within a bordure of the second (sable - black). Likely the same line as immediately above.
Atwood; argent, a wolf salient sable within a bordure engrailed of the second, charged with an entoire (generally signifies a placement in the bordure) of eight bezants (a coin - appears as a disk). Same family as above.
Atwood; argent, a wolf salient sable between three torteauxes (these are round circles, generally red) within a bordure of the second. Same family as above.
Atwood; gyronny ( variation of the field that looks like wedges) of <unknown> pieces argent and or, a wolf salient sable. This likely a junior line associated with the wolf family.
Atwood: argent, a greyhound skipping in bend sable. Not likely of the family in study.
Atwood; ermine, three leopards heads azure (blue). Not likely of the family in study.
Atwood; azure, an oak tree erased vert, fructed (the part bearing the seeds, in this case acorns) or; on a chief (at the top) azure, three trefoils slipped of the third. Unlikely one of the family in study.

You can see, from the above, that there are a number of different families of Atwood (Attwood) that held armigers in their lineage. The one of this study is essentially that bearing gules, a lion rampant argent and variants.


  1. Armorial families : a directory of gentlemen of coat-armour; by Arthur Fox-Davies; page 44 Family of Attwood
  2. The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1386-1421, Member John WOOD (sometimes atte Wood
  3. Daniel Lysons and Samuel Lysons, 'General history: Families removed since 1620', in Magna Britannia: Volume 6, Devonshire (London, 1822), pp. clxxiii-ccxxv. British History Online - Families removed since 1620.

Comments: 3

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Could you edit the links to "Category:Coulsdon Parish, Surrey" and "Category:Sanderstead Parish, Surrey" please? The category names should not include the word "Parish": they should be "Category:Coulsdon, Surrey" and "Category:Sanderstead, Surrey". Thank you!
posted by Stephen Heathcote
The comment by RJ Horace is correct. A family of Mowbray, Baron Mowbray, carried these arms for some time. The estates of Mowbray, c. 1110, were held, by tenure, to a Nigel de Albini. He bore, azure, an eagle, displayed, barry (series of horizontal lines), gules and argent. The estates were inherited by "his son and heir" Roger de Mowbray, who was commanded to take the name of the property, before 1135, by Henry I. When the family adopted gules, a lion rampant agent is unclear and possible when or before they were summoned to Parliament by Edward I. This is contemporary with the first appearance in the Wood family.
posted by Doug Straiton
These are the arms of Mowbray


The variant with ermine instead of argent was used by Nerford. Later in a canton by the Warrens of Poynton.

posted by [Living Horace]