In the 12th century, knights began wearing helmets that completely concealed their faces except for two narrow slits for the eyes. It made a knight unrecognizable to both his friends and his enemies. Therefore, symbols such as lions or other beasts were painted on the knights’ shields and banners to aid in recognition during a battle. As time went on these decorations were repeated on the surcoat (a sleeveless garment that was worn over armor) —therefore the name, coat of arms.
Other social classes who never would march in battle also began to assume arms for themselves. Initially, those closest to the lords and knights adopted arms, such as persons employed as squires that would be in common contact with the armorial devices. Then priests and other ecclesiastical dignities adopted coats of arms, usually to be used as seals and other such insignia, and then towns and cities to likewise seal and authenticate documents. Eventually by the mid 13th century, peasants, commoners and burghers were adopting heraldic devices. The widespread assumption of arms led some countries to regulate heraldry within their borders. However, in most of Europe, citizens freely adopted armorial bearings.
QUESTION: What is the difference between Family Crest and a Coat of Arms?
ANSWER: There is a technical difference between a family 'Crest' and a 'Coat of Arms', but people often use the terms interchangeably. A 'Coat of Arms' (full achievement) generally refers to the shield, crest, helmet, mantling and supporters (if any), while the 'Crest' technically only refers to the small image that lies on the helm (top of the helmet). A Coat of Arms that bears a name was originally bestowed to an individual.
QUESTION: Are there Family Crests?
ANSWER: Strictly speaking there is no 'Family Crest', nor 'Family Coat of Arms', but these terms have come into common usage and are therefore used on this web site. The more correct terms are 'Coat of Arms' and 'Armorial bearing'
The coat of arms of the v. Ossenbruch ancestors in the 14th, 15th and 16th century have been described in quite some detail on this website under the 1200-1600 --> Introduction tab.
A few centuries later, the heraldic books (from ~1800) still describe the red shield and a half turned oxen head, repeating from a helmet with red and white mantling.
The first shield on the right is from:
Joh. Martin v. Ossenbruch zu Haldern 1829.
Wappenbuche der Preussischen Rheinprovinz. 1835.
The second (virtually identical) shield on the right is of the van Ossenbroecks in Gelderland in the 16th century.
Source: Waapen boeck van adelijke en aanzienelijke famiellien in de 17 provintien van de Nederlanden. De Ridderschap van de Veluwe. 1725 en 1795.
Source: Coat of arms book on nobility and prestigious families in the 17 Provinces of the Netherlands. The Knighthood of the Veluwe. Published in 1725 and 1795.
Willem Wilich (Wylich) was born in 1608 in Wesel as the son of Judocus Willichius and Anna Ossenbrügge (also spelled Ossenbrugge). The Wylich and Ossenbruch families had married each other several times over the previous centuries.
We have not (yet) been able to identify where this Anna fits in. Her described family crest in the Sint Jan's cathedral in Den Bosch is shown on the left. Click to enlarge.
Read more about them and their graves (and various coat of arms) in the Sint Jan's cathedral in Den Bosch.
van Osenbrugge and Oostenbruggen
There is a large amount of correspondence on military matters between captain Matthijs van Osenbrugh (also Osenbrugge(n) and Ossenbrugge) - who later settled in Arnhem- and Prince Willem Frederik of Orange (stadhouder Friesland, Groningen and Drenthe) in the 1650s and 1660s. In 1672 he gained notoriety in the bloody battle at Lobith against the army of Louis XIV.
He signed his letters with a seal showing a tree on the shield and a rose as crest. Click images on the right to enlarge and view his actual stamped seal and a clearer worked-out graphic.
We have not (yet) been able to trace his ancestors. It is not clear if the coat of arm's seal is his family crest or that of his military regiment.
Matthijs is the patriarch of the Goeree-Overflakkee van Oostenbruggens.
His granddaughter Anna Osenbrugge (b. 1666), married to Martinus Friesma, is buried in the Sint Jan's cathedral in den Bosch.
Read more about him under the "1600-present, Towns, Arnhem" tab.
van Osenbruggen and Osnabrugge
Six generations after Aert (or his son Hendrick) van Osenbrugge moved to Rijswijk in De Betuwe, Dirk van Osenbrugge (born in Rijswijk in 1703) married a girl from Hoogeveen (Friesland) and both settled in Schoonhoven (in-between Rijswijk and Rotterdam). Quite an adventurer for that time. Their son Sacheus van Osenbruggen (b. 1735), at the age of 27, married Johanna van der Putten. Sacheus and his brother Willem were silversmiths and developed the Stag coat of arms. See below on the right.
Click for more info
People had of course been making their own family "crests" or signs, since time began.
View a more creative "van Osnabrug" sign under the image on the left. It is a wall plaque at Hazestraat 62 in Amsterdam depicting an "Ox-after-bridge" (Os-na-brug).