Hiestand Coat of Arms

HIESTAND, Richterswilerberg and Hütten, Zürich, Coat of Arms of Jacob Hiestand (1674-1730), seal of 1706 A.D. Schönau line

The clenched fists are a clue that this shield was not created by or for an Anabaptist, but by a Swiss Hiestand who had not joined that movement.  However, he may have been sympathetic to and protective of neighbors and relatives who were Anabaptists.

Dr. Peter Ziegler (Zürich, Switzerland) and Dr. Wayne Haston (Pennsylvania, USA), Co-Authors

(Including significant research data from Kent Douglas Hiestand)

"Early Swiss Hiestands" Series

German Language Version of this Article

Heraldry - A Brief Historical Overview

Heraldry arose in the 11th and 12th centuries, around the time of the Crusades, a series of military campaigns undertaken by Christian armies from 1096 to 1487. In battle, a knight dressed head to toe in armor would not be recognizable to friend or foe, so a new method of identification became necessary. The shield, heraldry’s most recognizable component, provided a broad, flat surface on which to paint colors and symbols assigned to a particular nobleman and his knights. A nobleman also usually wore an outer garment called a surcoat to protect him from the heat of the sun, often decorated with the same devices that appeared on a knight’s shield. It is from this garment that the phrase “coat of arms” is derived.  


The origins of heraldry stretch back into ancient times. Warriors often decorated their shields with patterns and mythological motifs. Army units of the Roman Empire were identified by the distinctive markings on their shields. These were not heraldic in the medieval sense, as they were associated with military units, not individuals or families.  Source

Contrary to what is commonly believed, a surname group often did not have a single coat of arms that always represented the entire family for all locations, generations, and family lines.  Some branches of a family created their own.  Sometimes a coat of arms was  locational, specifically representing a part of a surname family that lived in a certain location.  

The above artistically-recreated version of a 1706 Hiestand coat of arms from the area where our Hiestand roots were deeply entrenched at that time, the area around Hütten, particularly, the Schönau. 

The fighting stance, with clenched fists, suggests something more than just simply standing on the ground where they were supposed to stand.  And it is probably more than stubbornness.  Apparently, it depicts a reputation for taking a defensive stand of some sort, even if it means fighting to protect myself, my family, and my land.

Jacob Hiestand (1674-1730) - Originator of this Coat-of-Arms

Jacob Hiestand’s infant baptism is entered in the Reformed Church register of Richterswil, Zürich, Switzerland, microfilm no. 008014334, photograph 127, page 125.     


Jacob’s parents were Ulrich Hiestand from Hinter Schönau and Barbara Strickler Hiestand.  Ulrich was not an Anabaptist but was apparently a Half-Anabaptist, a man who shielded Anabaptists from “Anabaptist hunters” (Täuferjäger), even at the risk of endangering himself. One of Ulrich and Barbara’s sons, Heinrich, was an Anabaptist (who never married).  Barbara, Jacob’s mother, had a brother (Jacob Strickler) who was a well-known Anabaptist preacher.  Ulrich’s Aunt and Uncle, Hans and Elsbeth Hiestand Asper, were strongly committed Anabaptists who were imprisoned more than once for their faith.  In 1674 (the same year this Jacob Hiestand was born) Ueli turned his dogs on a sheriff’s helper who came to his house hunting his Anabaptist relatives.        

So even though this Jacob Hiestand, originator of the coat of arms seen above, was not an Anabaptist, he came from a family who demonstrated a willingness to take a defensive stand, even though the results might be costly to them.

Jacob Hiestand married Barbara Bachman on June 8, 1697 in the Richterswil Parish.

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