Merrilees Crest & Coat of Arms

The earliest recorded Merrilees Crest is depicted in the "Royal Book of Crests of Great Britain and Ireland" published in 1883. (No.9 on Plate 21).

It shows a man and a woman in an open boat in a wild sea. The woman is seated in the bow, partly obscured by spray, while the man stands in the stern steering the boat with an oar or paddle.

The motto is: "I bide my time."

The representation (right) is from "Fairburn's Crests of the Families of Great Britain and Ireland" (No.4 on Plate 57).

(When this Crest was displayed at the 2nd International Merrilees Gathering in Edinburgh, some English clan members questioned its authenticity on the grounds that the sketch was remarkably similar to that which accompanied stories of the Scottish heroine Grace Darling, who rowed with her lighthouse-keeper father to rescue survivors from the SS Forfarshire which hit rocks off the Farne Islands on the night of September 7th, 1838.

Grace was born in 1816 at Duns, just across the Lamermuir Hills from Haddington where many Merrilees families lived, but it seems she never married.

Crests and Seals can be designed and registered by any individual with the Lord Lyon, King of Arms, in Scotland, to represent an individual, family or corporate body. If there was ever a connection between the Merrilees and Grace Darling it remains unknown.)

The impressive Coat of Arms (left) purported to be "The Ancient Arms of Merrilees" can be found on the "Names & their Origins" web site. It is described as a "Silver shield on a blue fess three gold stars," but there is no information as to its origin.