Rolston Coat of Arms

I’ve been digging deeper into my family history recently and, since my father was celebrating his 70th birthday last month, I thought it would be cool to honour him by illustrating the Rolston family coat of arms. I had a few examples to draw inspiration and reference from; primarily a 19th Century version from the Rollestons of Franckfort Castle in Kings County, Ireland. I changed the look of the helmet and stylized the other elements in my own way but everything is in keeping with the original blazon (formal description of a coat of arms). Here’s the result…

Rolston coat of arms

It was drawn entirely digitally on my Yiynova MSP19U tablet monitor. I sketched it in Adobe Photoshop, inked the line work in Manga Studio 5, then brought it back into Photoshop to add the colour and finalize the text. Here’s a peek at those other stages…

Rolston coat of arms sketch   Rolston coat of arms inks

If you’re wondering about the family motto, it does translate to “Thus, and perhaps better.” I’ll admit that it could be described as less than inspiring. But I’ve always liked it and I recently learned the history behind it:

In 1515, Thomas Rolleston had a tower built onto the Mayfield Parish Church in Staffordshire, England. On the outer wall of the tower he inscribed “Ainsy et mieulx peult ester”, which translates to “Thus it is and better could it be.” The Rollestons later took this as their family motto, changing the wording slightly to “Ainsi et peut estre meilleur.” It’s been suggested that the inscription was Thomas’ way of saying he wished the quality of the tower could have been even greater, to better honour his God and the church.

As I said, I like the motto. I like its humble nature. Perhaps I also relate to it because of the perfectionist tendencies I deal with as an artist. For example, I’m quite pleased with my version of the coat of arms but I still see things I consider re-working. Like most of my illustrations, I could easily keep tweaking it until the end of time.

But here it is.

Thus, and perhaps better.


  1. Steve, you got it almost right. The crest eagle head should be down upon the wreath.
    Nice looking arms.

    • steverolston says

      Thanks Gary. What information are you basing that on? I have seen an example or two of the crest with the eagle head touching the wreath, specifically that of the Watnall branch of Rollestons in Nottinghamshire. However, my family is more directly connected to the Rollestons of Franckfort Castle in Kings County, Ireland, whose crest has the eagle head “erased”. That’s also the description given in a book about my family’s genealogy that was written in 1935.

      • Paul Rolston says

        That’s fantastic work and research Steve. We now live in Belfast and I remember my father saying that there were variations possibly. I kind of think it’s really good that you’ve included the characteristic side of it.

  2. Ron Rolston says

    Steve ,
    I just Googled the words at the bottom of the Rolston Crest that I have and came upon your website.
    A nice find .

  3. Dear Steve, Found this old posting. It’s very rare thing for the crest to float above the wreath (torse) as can be seen within books on heraldry. When a knight wanted his crest to be seen they rested upon the wreath. A floating crest would have been difficult to show the jousting public.

    • steverolston says

      Interesting. I see what you’re saying now. The coat of arms for the Rollestons of Frankfort Castle does have the eagle’s torn neck touching the wreath, as seen here:

      I thought that a strange representation of the neck and didn’t consider that it would be stranger for it to hovering above.

      • Steve, even more strange is that heraldry isn’t the real world either as the eagle should be placed inside the wreath (torse) tied to the helmet and not resting as placed upon the cloth’s top edges. Heraldry has its own set of rules that is best copied for consistency then go to the books to find out why it’s done a certain way. Just a note. Gary Smith

      • Rolston sounds like a French-Norman name and background. Gary

  4. “Rolston sounds like a French-Norman name…” P.S.–I’ve heard the reference nowadays only to discover my own French-Norman connections with Caren, France. Gary

    • steverolston says

      You’re correct about it sounding French-Norman. It is written that one or more men of the name Rolleston arrived in England with William the Conqueror during the Norman Invasion of 1064.

  5. Bert Rolston says

    Hi Steve,

    That coat of arms looks very familiar to me.

    My dad drew a similar version in the 1960’s and I know he still has the pencil drawings.
    We visited England and Ireland in the mid 1960’s when I was about 4 years old.
    Dad also has a small book with a genealogy of sorts that he got from his parents / grandparents.

    Dad was born in Canada and grew up in Smiths Falls, Ontario.
    The family moved to Florida, in his early teens I think, which is where I was born.

    I can see that my habit of trying to get things perfect is more than just how dad did things, and it’s been in the family for at least 500 years!

    Great drawing of the coat of arms,

    • steverolston says

      Hey Bert. I’d love to see your Dad’s drawing if you’re willing to share. You could email me, steve AT steverolston DOT com. And I’m curious if the book you’re referring to is the Rolston Geneology which was compiled by Henry Sharpe Rolston & Charles Tuckey Rolston in 1935 and then retyped in (I believe) 1973. Thanks to those papers I do know my branch of the Rolstons moved from Ireland to Ontario before later making their way to Vancouver.

      • Bert Rolston says

        Hi Steve,
        I’ve been talking to dad. His father passed a drawing down to my dad. He made a direct copy out of the book compiled by Henry and Charles. Then
        he got a plaque made from the drawing.
        The book is very old and looks s lot like an original.
        My great-grandfather established the first gas station in Vancouver.

Leave a Reply to steverolston Cancel reply