by Richard A. Dodge
The origins of our family crest date back
to the very origins of heraldry in England.
Originally banners were used to identify
the various clans in battle while the decorations
on the shield identified the participating
noblemen. Strict heraldic regimentation dictated
what was painted on the shield, and often
it had a lot to do with honors bestowed upon
a noblemans family. Body parts on a
heraldic crest are not uncommon however a
womans breast is unique to our clan.
In 1306 AD, Edward I granted a heraldic crest to Peter Dodge of Stopworth, Cheshire. (Stockport) At that time in history, the king was engaged in a struggle with Scotland. If the king was successful in his campaign, the noblemen who supplied men-at-arms were granted lands and titles. And wealthy squires who supplied the king with horses, cattle and foodstuff were sometimes rewarded in the same way.
History always rewards tactics at the expense of logistics in any significant military campaign. A case in point is the case of the Battle of Hastings (1066). The real hero of that famous battle was a nobleman named Robert of Montgomery. King William I referred to him as the genius of Nives. Sir Robert organized the transfer of the army and supplies across the English Channel. Without this clever logistician, there would not have been a Norman England.
Likewise had it not been for the logisticians, there would not have been a conquest of the Scots. Edward I probably rewarded his benefactors with heraldic crests as may have been the case with Peter Dodge. Since a womans breast exuding drops of milk is the quintessential symbol of succor, might we not assume that it represents supplies received by the army of Edward I? Perhaps Peter Dodge was a wealthy squire who donated a heard of dairy cattle to the army as it marched on Scotland. Perhaps he supplied the vital intelligence to the king to win the day in Scotland. Perhaps Peters wife was a wet nurse to the princes of Edward I.
Whatever the significance of the unusual symbol on our family crest, it is lost in the mists of time, and only our imagination is left to interpret what honors it represents to the Dodges.