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The Watson Crest

In the header of this website, you'll see the Watson crest. On this page, we will talk about what a crest is and discuss the Watson crest in particular.

What is a Crest?

A crest is that part of a coat of arms that sits on top of the helmet. In the 1880 coat of arms of William Watson, Queen Victoria's advocate for Scotland, you'll see a version of the crest that is usually associated with the Watsons of Saughton.

Although the various elements of a coat of arms can only be used by the person to whom they are registered, there is an exception made for the crest of the arms of a chief of a name in Scotland. It is permissible for those that consider themselves to be followers of a chief to display the crest provided it is encircled by a strap and buckle. The chief himself will often wear the crest without the strap and buckle in the form of a badge and accompanied by three eagle feathers - either real ones mounted on the badge or metallic ones incorporated into the badge.

The Crest of the Watsons of Saughton

When we look at the arms registered with the Lord Lyon by various Watsons, we see a common theme:

1880 Coat of Arms of William Watson

1880 Coat of Arms of William Watson

1815 Watson Crest


1818 Watson Crest


1871 Watson Crest


1880 Watson Crest


1912 Watson Crest


1913 Watson Crest


Although all of these crests are based on a sprouting oak, there is an obvious difference in the inclusion and placement of the supporting hands. A internet search for the Watson crest will show a variety of different crests with the hands shown in both positions.

With this in mind, Scott Watson set about creating a new crest especially for the Clan Watson Society based on the arms of James Watson of Saughon, the last chief of the Watson name. The crest from James's 1818 arms is one of those shown above, and in both the depiction and the description by the Lord Lyon it is clear that the hands issue from clouds are grasping the trunk.

The resultant crest is shown below in three different colour variants. You can read an article that Scott wrote on the Watson arms on his Substack feed.

Clan Watson Crest Yellow
Clan Watson Crest Black and White
Clan Watson Crest Brown

The crest may be used for non-profit purposes provided that the watermark is left in place. It may not be used for any commercial purpose. Any questions regarding its use, please contact us.

Footnote: What's With the Oak?

You may be wondering why pretty much all Watson arms in Scotland feature oak trees, not just in the crest but also on the shield. The 19th century historian John P. Wood gives us one explanation, as recounted by A. S. Cowper in her series of books Historic Corstorphine: "John P. Wood c. 1818 ascribed the Watson armorial design to Scottish legendary history. When an early unnamed King was in flight from Danish invaders a gallant Watson defended the pass through which the King escaped. He uprooted the trunk of an old oak tree and blocked the advance of the Danes. This Watson was rewarded with arms depicting the oak growing out of the mountain and a crest showing hands holding up the tree trunk".

Although we'll probably never be able to validate the above, it's a nice tale all the same and tells us not only why the oak tree on Watson arms is usually depicted as growing out of a "mount vert", or green mountain/hillock, but also why the oak tree in the crest is shown with two supporting hands.

Cowper goes on to state: "The 17th century arms with fresh sprouting leaves alluded to the Watsons who disappeared in the 15th century but sprung to life again in the 16th century with land regained and, in time, wealth gathered at Saughton".

The disappearing Watsons referred to here are the Watsons of Cranston, and the reappearance and subsequent success of the Watsons of Saughton is also purported to be the inspiration behind the Watson motto Insperata Floruit, or "flourished unexpectedly".

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