Well as with most things it is not that simple. If you are reading this page then there is a good chance that like myself your surname is Pinckney. However, that does not automatically give you or I the right to use a Pinckney coat of arms. A coat of arms is granted to an individual and only that person or his direct descendants have the right to use those arms.
I have found many variations in the arms and to my eye they are all obviously based on the same basic design so they must either be connected or have been re-drawn over time with slight variations here and there depending on where they have been used.
This first coat of arms is described as "Or five Fusils conjoined in fess Gules each charged with an Ermine spot Or on a Chief nebuly Gules three Griffin Heads erased Or". The Crest is "In front of a Griffins Head erased Gules gorged with a Collar gemel Argent three Fusils fesswise conjoined Or." These Arms and Crest were granted to George Henry Pinckney of Middlesex House, Batheaston, co. Somerset, BA (Oxon) on 31st January 1878 (Grants 60.80).
The second coat of arms is a bit more complicated. It shows two coats marshalled together, this indicates a marriage. The coat on the left (dexter) side is that of the husband and the coat on the right (sinister) side is that of the wife. The letter describes the possible owners of the husband's crest however none of them are Pinckneys. The wife's crest is listed for three possible families; Cusack, Johnson and Kesackes. We do have Cusack link, she was Francis Elizabeth Mary Cusack and on 22nd February 1870 she married Erlysman Charles Pinckney who was the Nephew of George Henry Pinckney. In addition the Crest shown over these marital Arms is "Out of a Ducal Coronet Or a Griffins head proper". This has been attributed in Fairbairn's "Book of Crests" (4th ed., 1905) to "Pinkney of Upper Sheen, Surrey" (p447).
Now the Reverand John Hearne Pinckney was of East Sheen and he was the father of George Henry Pinckney and grandfather of Erlysman Charles Pinckney. So it would seem that we have a consistent use of the family coat and crest within a very tight family group.
The letter concludes "I think it is therefore probable that the Arms were used by the Pinckney family without authority before George Henry Pinckney was officially granted Arms in 1878. It was a fairly widespread practice in the Victorian period for individuals to use Arms to which they were not entitled".
I personally think that is a bit harsh and in fact the following entry goes to disprove that statement.
The arms are described as "Or, five fusils conjoined in fesse gu., each charged with ermine spot of the field, on a chief nebuly of the second, three heads erased of the first. Crest - In front of a griffin's head collared gold, three fusils or. Motto - Deus nobis". To my mind that is incredibly close to the description of the arms granted to George Henry Pinckney in 1878.
The family pedigree listed goes back as far as William Pinckney who died in 1591 and includes the Reverand John Hearne Pinckney of whom we heard earlier. Once again the arms are a slight variation but still obviously attributable to the same family group.
St. Peter's Church, Charlton St Peter, Wiltshire. The memorial marking the vault of eight Pinckneys buried below.
St. Matthew's Church, Rushall, Wilshire. The memorial of an as yet unidentified Pinckney, initials WP, with the familiar five diamonds.
The last one is from a dubious "Family History" book I bought many years ago and I do not attach much weight to anything in it. This shows another variation of four diamond going diagonally across.
That's as far as I have got so far. If you know of any other variations please let me know and I will gladly add them to this page.