The scams known almost everywhere as "heraldic bucketshops", after having during these last few years proliferated throughout American shopping malls as franchise operations, have now recognised the Internet as a low cost and highly profitable marketing system. They persuade their victims that every name has its coat of arms, one that each victim is privileged to buy. We ask our readers to help us fight this menace by informing their friends of the truth.

Bogus Heraldry

Almost all the bogus heraldry available on the Internet is not only based on an ignorance of history ~ it is also ugly. Examine carefully this example ~

This is described on the Bethune/Beaton family website as the "first Bethune crest" but, of course, this is not the error of the website's owners and editors. The picture was bought, we presume innocently and in good faith, from one of the Internet's scam merchants selling "Your Family Coat of Arms". Heraldically it is a monstrosity, ugly and wrong.
Obviously, it is not a crest. A crest is a device worn on top of a helmet. It poses as an armorial achievement, but the Beatons (Bethune is an alternative spelling) were never entitled to the two rampant lions shown stepping away from their duty to support the shield, the slughorn above the crest of the otter's head (presumably "Debonnaire") is unreadable, the red of the mantling should be blue, the shield is of a shape no Scottish warrior has ever borne in battle, the field of the shield should be blue but is almost black, and "Bethune" should not appear as a motto at its base. And, moreover, these are not the "first" Bethune arms.
The early Bethune arms, borne by the
Advocates of Boulogne

From the Beaton Website

The History of the Beatons

The ancient chronicles of Scotland reveal the early records of the name Bethune as a Norman surname which ranks as one of the oldest. The history of the name is finely interwoven within the tapestry of the Scottish Tartans dominating the panorama of the history of Scotland.

Skilled historical analysists have researched ancient manuscripts such as the Doomsday Book (compiled in 1086 by William the Conqueror), the Ragman Rolls, the Wace poem, the Honour Roll of the Battel Abbey, the Curica Regis, Pipe Rolls, the Falaise Roll, the list goes on. This research has shown the first record of the name Bethune was founded in Perthshire, where they acquired lands.

The name Bethune has occurred in many references, from time to time, including Bethune, Betune, Beaton, De Bethune. These spellings occurred, even between father and son. Scribes recorded and spelled the name as it sounded, phonetically. It was not unlikely that a person would be born with one spelling, married with another and buried with still another. All three spellings were for the same person. Sometimes the preferred spelling variations from a division of the family for religious reasons or came for a nationalistic reasons

The name Bethune contributed much to the affairs of England and Scotland. Later in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries Scotland was ravaged by religious and political conflict. The Monarchy, the Church and Parliament fought for supremacy. During these times of tyranny the exodus began. Highlanders joined the Highland Regiments, Lowlanders were shipped to Ireland. Families sought favourable alliances, with powerful Clans, either by marriage or contract. Choosing the wrong loyalty could be disastrous to a family name, and their viable future.

The democratic freedom of the New World attracted many. They sailed abroad the fleet of sailing ships known as the The White Sails. The stormy Atlantic, small pox, dysentery, cholera and typhoid took its toll on the settlers and many of the overcrowded ships arrived with only 60 or 70% of their passenger list.

Thus the name Bethune spread out throughout the world. America, Australia, Canada, New Zealand etc.

The ancient chronicles of Scotland do nothing of the sort. Bethune (Beaton) is a Flemish name, not Norman, and is derived from Béthune in Artois, in mediaeval times a province within the jurisdiction of the Counts of Flanders.

The spelling and punctuation have been left untouched, as they are the hallmark of the products of the Hall of Names scam.

The Domesday Book has no direct relevance to Scotland.

Early Bethune arms in Scotland attributed to Bethune of that Ilk
The heiress of Balfour of that Ilk took her lands to Robertus de Bethune

This note on the lack of orthographic standardisation appears in all the Hall of Names products, for it usefully excuses wrongful attribution whenever it occurs.

The grammar and sentence structure here have been left untouched.

This routine flattery appears in all the Hall of Names products, whatever the name.

Such banal comments as these help only to fill the space, not to inform.

The arms of Beaton of Balfour from which family came the famous Cardinal David Beaton

The reference to "The White Sails" distinguishes the Hall of Names products from their competitors and imitators, for we have never met the term elsewhere.

And now the way the trick is done is easily seen. It is standard boiler-plate text with the space for the surname left free. Almost any name from the Scottish Lowlands may be inserted in this text and it would read no more or less absurdly.

A recent article in a serious newspaper has observed that the Internet is following television in that, as television, once envisaged as a prime source of information, had now become the principal source of misinformation, the Internet would succeed it.

We hold the editors of the Beaton Website blameless for their misinformation. (There is more which we have not repeated here.) The culprits are the mischievous merchants who peddle their ignorance to all who seek to proclaim a pride of family with the use of wall plaques, framed certificates and, increasingly, websites.

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