The English system of heraldry is well established. The origins are based upon the fact that a man in full armour was unrecognizable. Since full armour was usually worn with the intent of inflicting great bodily harm at very close quarters, it was necessary to know who was on the "giving" and the "receiving" ends of the conflict. Therefore, each man wore a distinctive coat by which he could be recognized. [As you know, this became known as the coat "of arms".] These distinctive symbols were displayed on banners, horse cloth, and shield. It was often the case that if one had been dismembered and disfigured beyond recognition, this coat was the only means of identity.
The organizational system for arranging these distinctive symbols (called blazoning, assigning, and marshalling coat armour) became the "rules" of heraldry. In principle no two men in the same region could wear exactly the same coat of arms. [Did not want to get all those bodies mixed up.] Over time, these symbols became personal marks of the owner's possessions, and since few people could read in those days, they also became a type of visual communication.
The figure above shows those JONES families who had coat armour before 1870. They are present by the English and Welsh counties from which they resided as recorded in Burke's General Armory of 1884. On pages 546-549, there are 108 JONES families listed with coat armour. These have also been listed by the counties they represented in the table below in England, Wales, and Ireland. [Those that could be identified by county.]
The highest number of families are to found in London with seven. This is followed by Hereford and Carmarthen with six. There are a fair number of counties with five, most being "border" counties such as Monmouth, Salop, Worcester, Denbigh, and Flint. Dublin and Ulster in Ireland had five each.
Sixty one coat of arms were found in England. Thirty one coat of arms were found in Wales. Fourteen coat of arms were found in Ireland. All these were recorded before Burke was published in 1884.
Most of these arms had distinctive blazoning thus representing different JONES families. This will be discussed in future posts. For now, there are multiple roots to this JONES surname!
The map and table was taken from The Jones Genealogist, Vol. VIII, No.1, 1996, p.4 and p. 6.
The analysis of coat armour was taken from The General Armory of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales; comprising A Registry of Armorial Bearings From The Earliest to The Present Time, by Bernard Burke, Ulster King of Arms, Harrison, London, 1884.