Historically, heraldry began as a mark of identification in social intercourse and found its full flowering as a useful art in the Middle Ages, when it came to be used to distinguish the warriors on the battlefield.VARIOUS LANGFORD COATS OF ARMS
Originally, a knight was free to choose his own device, but by the 15th century, the multiplication of arms resulted in the complete systemization of the practice, and heraldry became an exact science. All armorial bearings came to be granted by the King, and all arms, both the recently granted and those established by right of ancient usage, were registered with the College of Arms, if English, or with similar agencies in continental countries.
Even the heraldic terms used became exact and a coat of arms was not described, but was blazoned. Terms for partition lines were developed such as engrailed, nebuly, inverted, dancety, embattled, etc. Charges (figures in the field) were of three kinds: the Ordinaries (chief, pale, bend, fess, chevron, cross, saltire, bar, baton, etc.), the Subordinaries (roundels, fusils, orle, annulets, cinquefoil, etc.) and the Common (hand, fish, lions, bears, birds, mullets, etc.). The colors used were: two metals: gold (or) and silver (argent): and five colors: red (gules), green (vert), blue (azure), black (sable) and purple (purpurs).
The need for this means of identification declined with the passing of chivalry, but the custom was anchored in antiquity and had a definite appeal of its own.
There have been a great many people who insisted upon having a coat of arms, whether they had a right to them or not, and there were also a number of pretenders calling themselves heraldic artists, who were willing to supply anything for a price. A coat of arms does not necessarily belong to a person just because some one of the same surname bore it. He must prove descent from the owner.
Marks and designs were used to mark a warrior's armor and his surcoat, which was the garment that he wore over his coat of mail. From this use comes the expression coat of arms. These marks were not at first hereditary. They gradually became so, however, and were recognized as evidence of the wearer's noble or gentle birth. The right to bear a certain coat of arms came to be hereditary as early as 1390. In 1488 the Herald's College was incorporated by Richard III of England and it was their duty to trace ancestry, to approve coats of arms, to confirm titles of honor, and to examine claims to armorial rights. Some inherit their father's arms not equally but by law of cadency: that is, each son has added to his inherited arms a particular sign indicating his order of birth.
Women's rights to coat armor are strictly limited, unless she is a sovereign. She is granted the right to use a coat of arms bearing the arms of her father or husband, but not on a shield. She uses a lozenge, a diamond shaped frame.
Since a woman was not a warrior she could not use the shield, helmet, crest, mantling or war-cry motto. Until her marriage, she used her father's arms in a lozenge, and oftentimes surmounted it with a true lover's knot of light blue ribbon. This later, however, has no official sanction.
After marriage, she used her husband's arms on a lozenge, and continued the practice if she became a widow. Sometimes the husband impaled his arms with those of the wife's father. At first, impaling was the placing of the two shields side by side, but later it became the practice to place the husband's arms on the dexter (left as you face the shield), and the arms of the wife's father on the sinister.
If a woman was a heraldic heiress (having no brothers to inherit the coat of arms) her husband placed a small shield with the arms of his wife's father in the center of his own so it would show he was carrying the arms for the benefit of his children, the grandchildren of his wife's father. This was called the "escutcheon of pretense". The children carried both of the arms, which were quartered.
During my research of the Langford name I have identified 16 coat of arms that various Langfords throughout history have been granted. It is unknown to me whether I am entitled to any of them as I have not been able to trace my family lineage back far enough to find out if I am closely related to someone who has been granted a coat of arms. Two of the best drawn coat of arms are shown below with descriptions of each. If you want to view all 16 of the arms there is a link to see them below. Note how similar many of them are to each other. Thiis is because the eldest son could own his fathers arms exactly when his father died but the second, third and fourth eldest etc. had to add symbols or make slight changes to the design and their children would do the same.