Crests do not appear to have been considered as in any way connected with the family arms until the fourteenth century, when Edward III conferred upon William of Montacute, Earl of Salisbury, the right to bear an eagle. The earliest representations of a crest in mediaeval times in England upon any authentic record is perhaps that on the great seal of Richard the First, on which a lion appears figured on the helmet. It does not, however, seem to be a separate attachment, but to be a part of the helmet, and also appears in old illustrations to have been attached to the head of the horse as well as to that of the rider. Ancient crests were, for the most part, the heads of men, or of birds, or of animals, or of plumes or feathers. Such inappropriate figures as rocks, clouds, and rainbows were never used for crests while heraldry was in its purity. The list of the varieties of crests found on arms at the present time would fill several pages, but it may be observed that heads and portions of men and animals are still found to be the most frequent.
Unless the contrary be expressly mentioned, a crest is always to be placed upon a wreath, and such was, in general, the most ancient practice.
The early type of crest was a plume of horsehair (like the Roman soldiers) which helped deflect any sword blow coming down on the head and to distinguish the leaders from the common soldier. Later on, different designs were used, the most popular was an arm or hand holding a sword. Not all families would have a Crest but most would have a Coat of Arms.
PANTHER: (fr. panthère): This beast is always borne gardant, (facing forward) and generally incensed, that is to say, with flames issuing from its mouth and ears, as in the case of the dexter supporter of the Earl of Pomfret. With the panther may be grouped the lynx (fr. Loup cervier), both of which occur in several arms, the latter being found at an early date.