The earliest record of the Hauri coat of arms is an illustration of them in the early 15th century Liber Vitae of the collegiate church of Beromünster, Canton Luzern, to memorialize an undetermined member of the Hauri family. The drawing at right was taken from the Liber Vitae. These arms would be blazoned as:
Azure a dove rising wings elevated and displayed Argent beaked and membered Gules; and for a crest, a dove as in the arms.
The Liber Vitae does not say which Hauri bore these arms, but it was probably either Johann Hauri, Bailiff (Vogt) of Beromünster from 1411, or his first cousin Jacob Hauri, a Canon of Beromünster who served as a judge of the court of lower jurisdiction at Ludigen in 1415. Johann’s descendants and the descendants of Jacob’s brothers used many variations of these arms, usually with the addition of a mill rind.
The arms are notable for being one of the few illustrations in the Liber Vitae to include a crest. In that period, a crest was an additional dignity, usually indicating that a family was of tournament rank. However, the arms have no torse or motto, perhaps a sign that the family was not of knightly rank.
Conrad Hauri, who might have been the ancestor of this family, was a Knight of the Order of Saint Lazarus in the early 1300s. He might have borne these arms. Conrad’s immediate descendants do not seem to have been noble, so the status of the family in the 14th and 15th centuries is uncertain. My own theory is that Conrad Hauri belonged to a noble family, probably one of the ministeriales, but was himself impoverished by the lavish lifestyle expected of the nobility; a common story. I think that Conrad took the only noble occupation open to him, membership in an hospitaller order. His descendants sank in status, to emerge a hundred years later as wealthy burghers and prosperous officials of the collegiate church of Beromünster. Thus, the Hauris circa 1415 were able to claim not only arms, but also a crest, when their peers were adopting simple arms without the crest.
Originally a Gamecock?
The bird in the Hauri arms is now understood to be a dove and as a dove it appears in the arms of succeeding generations, according to the Staatsarchiv des Kantons Aargau. However, one scholar has suggested that the bird was originally a gamecock hardi (that is, a rooster with comb and wattle cut off for cock fighting). If so, the arms were canting arms, that is, arms that were a picture of the surname. In the Alemannic dialect of Switzerland, the wordhauri means a person who is very loud or boisterous. According to this theory, the arms became corrupted through poor draftsmanship. It is easy to see from the drawing at the top of this page that the bird might be either a gamecock or a dove.
The Hauris in what is now Cantons Aargau and Luzern used many variations of the original arms. The Staatsarchiv des Kantons Aargau has a record of half a dozen variations used by Hauris who served as Untervogts, judges and other local officials. The Staatsarchiv des Kantons Luzern has records of still more variations. The one common element is a white dove on a blue shield. Most variations also contain a mill rind or two. The mill rind symbolized the Hauri’s customary occupation of miller.
My ancestor Hans Hauri was Untervogt of Reinach. In 1605, he carved his version of the Hauri arms over the door of Schneggen, the new residence he built in 1586:
[Azure] a dove rising wings elevated and displayed upon a trimount [Vert] and in chief two mill rinds addorsed [Argent]; for a crest, a dove as in the arms; and for supporters, two bears passant [Proper].The bear supporters were a deft reminder that the Hauris owed their civic offices to the goodwill of the urban patriciat of the city of Bern, which derives its name from the German word for “bear” and consequently has a bear in its arms. Bern ruled the Aargau at that time.
If the Hauri arms were originally a gamecock, then the Hauris used the same arms as the French de l’Hôpital family, who were descendants of the first royal family of Naples. The de l’Hôpitals later changed their blue shield to red, while an English branch of the family, the Lospitals, retained the blue shield. The coincidence would not be at all remarkable — many families used simple arms that were the same as other families in distant areas — except for the fact that the surname of the French family means “of the Hospital“. I make this point because there might have been some reason why a gamecock was emblematic of membership in a hospitaller order or of hospitals in general.
- Stift Beromünster, Liber Vitae (early 15th century).
- Peter Steiner, Die beiden Reinacher Schneggen (1987/88).
- The Augustan Society, The Augustan Society Roll of Arms, 52-53 (Justin Durand, 5 March 1983).
- American College of Heraldy, No. 1943 (Justin Howery, 29 February 2000).