HERALDRY IN SCOTLAND , while broadly similar to that practised in
England and elsewhere in western Europe, has its own distinctive
features. Its heraldic executive is separate from that of the rest of
United Kingdom .
* 1 Executive
* 2 Principles
* 3 Characteristics
* 3.1 Mottoes
* 3.3 Badges
* 3.4 Crests
* 3.5 Heiresses
* 3.6 Quarterings
* 4 Important works
* 5 Civic heraldry
* 6 Notes
* 7 References
* 8 Works referenced
* 9 Additional bibliography
* 10 External links
The bearings that may be used by the
Lord Lyon King of Arms, the
coat being impalable with the office holder's personal coat.
The Scottish heraldic executive is separate from that of the
remainder of the
United Kingdom and is vested in the
Lord Lyon King of
Arms . The earliest reference to the Lyon, as such, dates to the
reign of Robert the Bruce in 1318, although with respect to certain of
his functions he is considered the successor of royal officials dating
to ancient Celtic times. The
Lord Lyon exercises general jurisdiction
over all matters armorial in
Scotland and serves as a Judge of the
Realm. He also decides on questions relating to family representation,
pedigrees and genealogies. In addition, he supervises all state,
royal and public ceremonies in Scotland. The
Lord Lyon also asserts
the right to decide who is Head of the
Clan or Chief of the Family or
Name, although his authority to determine chiefships has been
In carrying out his duties, he has been assisted, in recent times, by
a staff of three heralds and pursuivants along with a Lyon Clerk and
Keeper of the Records . The present Lyon Clerk,
Elizabeth Roads MVO ,
who is also Snawdoun
Herald , is the first woman ever to serve as an
Officer of Arms
Officer of Arms in the United Kingdom.
Pursuant to Chapter 47 of the Act of 1672, the
Lord Lyon is
empowered to grant arms to "vertuous and well deserving persons."
According to Innes of Learney: "A coat of arms is the outward
indication of nobility and arms are officially described as 'Ensigns
of Nobility'. A patent of arms is . . . a Diploma of Nobility . . . ."
Clarifying this statement, a later writer on
Scottish heraldry has
noted: "Technically, a grant of arms from the
Lord Lyon is a patent of
nobility; the grantee is thereby 'enrolled with all nobles in the
noblesse of Scotland'. This does not constitute a peerage or any
title. It is a social distinction, and has no legal privileges."
The principal function of heraldry , whether personal or corporate,
is to symbolise the identity of the owner of the armorial bearings .
Clan , the Family, and the Name have survived as
significant entities in the social organization of Scottish society.
Scottish heraldry there is no such thing as a "family coat of
arms". Junior members of a family are assigned specific and relevant
differences to the armorial bearings of an ancestor.
Scottish heraldry operates under the supposition that all those who
share the same surname are related, however distantly. Consequently,
where a coat of arms for the head of a family already exists, new
grants of arms to individuals with the same surname will generally be
variations on those arms. "he salient feature of
Scottish heraldry is
that, as compared with England and other countries, the basic coats of
arms are relatively few in number, but numerous differenced versions
of each basic shield exist. The basic, or simple undifferenced arms
and crest, are the property, not of the 'family', but of the 'Chief'
of each clan or house …."
The strict adherence to cadency , or the need for cadets to
difference their arms from the chief of the family, is due to the
permanence of the old families. From an early period the leading
families of England were extinguished in the male line. Some continue
to exist in the male line, but are comparatively obscure, having
sprung from untitled cadets of the ancient families. On the other
hand, the Scoto-Norman barons were remarkable for their numerous
progeny. Sub-infeudation, which had been prohibited in England since
the time of the Plantagenet kings, was largely practiced in Scotland.
Whole districts of
Scotland have their predominant names, which are
generally those of the old feudal families. Surnames were for a long
time after their introduction, used only by the gentry; and when they
began to be assumed by the lower orders, the clansman almost
invariably took the name of his chief, considering himself a member of
his family, at least by adoption, if not by blood. In England new men
emerged, and founded new families; it was easier to adopt new arms
rather than trace a connection with those who had died. Hence it came
to pass that while in England the multitude of entirely distinct coats
of arms is enormous, in
Scotland the number of original coats is
The earliest existing examples of Scots heraldry are Stewart coats of
arms from seals of the last half of the 12th century and the first
half of the 13th, and show the fess chequy, which is still a feature
of 21st century Scots heraldry.
Lord Lyon King of Arms
Lord Lyon King of Arms has a vital and continuing influence on
the family organization in Scotland. Depending on the terms of the
original grant, armorial bearings are succeeded to by the heir—who
may be the heir male, the heir female, or the heir by tailzie (an heir
nominated within the blood relationship).
Part of a series on
Conventional elements of coats of arms
Escutcheon Chief Field (Tincture ) Division
Supporter Slogan (battle cry ) Crest
Mantling Helmet /Galero
Coronet Compartment Order Ordinaries Charges
Dexter Sinister (right) (left)
One of the most obvious visual distinctions of
Scottish heraldry from
heraldic styles used elsewhere is that the scroll on which the motto
is displayed is almost always positioned above the crest in Scottish
bearings, as depicted in the illustration of the Royal
Coat of Arms
Coat of Arms of
Scotland above. This difference is more than merely visual, however.
Scottish heraldry mottoes are considered a component of the grant
of arms and can be altered only by re-matriculating the arms. In
English heraldry , while a motto is usually illustrated in the patent
of arms, with very rare exceptions, it is not included in the verbal
grant of armorial bearings. Consequently, English mottoes may be
changed at will. The Stodart system of differencing the coats of
arms of cadet branches of a family
Another difference between Scottish and
English heraldry that may be
discerned from the appearance of the shield itself lies in the systems
employed to distinguish younger sons of an armiger , known as cadency
English heraldry uses a series of small symbols, termed brisures ,
to differentiate between the senior representative of an armigerous
family and junior lines known as "cadet branches" . In Scotland,
except for the line of the immediate heir, this function is served by
a series of bordures (borders) surrounding the shield of varying,
specified colors and designs, named the "Stodart" system. In Scottish
practice brisures function only as "temporary house marks of cadency
used by children . . . without formal authority of the Lyon Office,
until they establish houses of their own."
Heraldic badges are treated differently in Scottish heraldic practice
than in English armoury. A badge may be defined as "An armorial
device, not part of the coat of arms, but . . . available to an
armigerous person or corporation for the purpose of identification."
Badges may consist of no more than a charge from the shield of arms,
but others were emblems adopted for their hidden meaning or in
allusion to a name, title or office. In England, the granting of
badges to armigers by the
College of Arms has become "commonplace" in
recent years. A crest badge suitable for a member of Clan
In Scottish heraldry, however, the grant of badges is limited to
those categories of individuals who may be expected to have a
"numerous following", that is to say a significant body of adherents
or supporters. Generally badges are awarded only to peers , the
baronage , clan chiefs and chieftains and the older landed houses and
only when the
Lord Lyon is satisfied that the grant of a badge is
warranted on practical grounds. Corporate bodies, such as local
governments, schools, companies or sports clubs may also obtain badges
as a means for their members to display their affiliation.
Scottish heraldry, however, also recognizes a unique form of badge,
the crest badge. In the case of an armiger, this device is composed
of his crest, encircled by a plain circle on which is inscribed the
individual's motto. As a mark of allegiance to their chief, members of
a clan are permitted to wear a clansmen's badge, consisting of their
chief's crest surrounded by a strap and buckle device on which the
chief's motto is inscribed.
In English heraldic practice the crest, the device or emblem that
appears above the helmet or chapeau in a full coat of arms, should not
duplicate any crest previously granted. Just as each shield should be
unique, so too should each crest. In Scotland, however, it is
permissible, and not uncommon, for two or more different families to
bear the same crest. As
Scottish heraldry joins the crest and motto
in the crest badge , however, the combination of crest and motto
should, in each case, be unique.
In traditional heraldic practice coats of arms pass through the male
line. Where a woman's father bears arms and, at his death, there are
no surviving sons or surviving children of sons, the woman is an
heraldic heiress and can transmit her father's arms to her
descendants. In England, if there is more than one surviving
daughter, each transmits her father's arms on equal terms. In
Scotland, only the eldest surviving daughter transmits her father's
undifferenced arms to her offspring.
In heraldry a basic shield can be divided into four, essentially
equal, sections or quarterings. In recent times this typically occurs
as the result of the marriage of an armiger to an heraldic heiress.
English heraldry appears to put no limit on such divisions, which
continue to be termed "quarterings" no matter how many more are added.
, Scottish practice favours a simplicity of design and permits each
quarter to itself be quartered, but no more. A Scottish shield,
therefore, is limited to sixteen quarterings.
Scottish heralds and the Lord Lyon, from an 18thC French
illustration of an opening of the Scottish parliament
Scotland has no ancient rolls of arms as in England and its earliest
document of any importance is the Armorial de Gelré 1369–1388
preserved in Brussels - a European manuscript with a section on
Scottish arms." The first truly Scottish armorial dates only from
Two of the oldest and most important works on the subject of Scottish
heraldry are The Science of Herauldry by George Mackenzie of Rosehaugh
, first published in 1680, and A System of
Heraldry by Alexander
Nisbet, first published in 1722. Mackenzie is regard as legal
authority in matters of Scottish heraldry. Whether Nisbet is likewise
regarded as of "institutional authority" is unclear, but "his work
has been treated with very great respect since it appeared in 1722."
Perhaps the most celebrated work of
Scottish heraldry is the Public
Register of all Arms and Bearings in Scotland, known more simply as
the Public Register or even Lyon Register. It has been said that:
"There is no better evidence of the diversity and splendour of
heraldic art anywhere in the world than is to be found in the . . . ."
The work was created under the authority of the Statute of 1672,
which provided that it record all arms properly registered with the
Lord Lyon. The first volume was bound in 1677 and it has been
faithfully maintained from that time. Each of the series of massive
volumes contains 120 pages of vellum, and it includes the work of some
of Scotland's greatest heraldic artists over nearly three and one-half
Scotland's civic heraldry is particularly rich with burgh arms from
the 15th century still in use in the 21st.
The earliest civic heraldry seems to have been the arms of Dundee
which date back 600 years.
In January 2008 a petition to matriculate armorial bearings for the
Inverness was refused by
Lord Lyon King of Arms
Lord Lyon King of Arms on the grounds
that there is no legal persona to which arms can be granted.
* ^ "The jurisdiction of the
Court of the Lord Lyon
Court of the Lord Lyon in questions of
precedence or clan chiefships was rejected by the Court of Session ,
Lord Lyon does not regard those decisions as being final, and
continues to exercise this jurisdiction in defiance of the Court of
Sessions ." See
Scottish clan chief .
* ^ See the arms of Stuart of Yeochrie and those of Stewarton
* ^ In
Scottish heraldry mottoes are placed below the shield only
when there are two or more mottoes, in which case one is placed above
the crest, the other below the shield, or where there is no crest, as
is common with corporate arms.
* ^ The "record holder" appears to be an early nineteenth-century
painting of the arms of Temple-Nugent-Brydges-Chandos-Grenville, the
only British family to have used a five-part surname. The 719
quarterings depicted include ten variations of the English royal arms,
the arms of the Spencer family of the late Princess of Wales and those
of many other of the most prominent families of English history.
* ^ The blazons of armorial rolls containing Scottish arms can
currently be found under the heading The Mitchell Rolls on the website
Heraldry Society of
* ^ Writing as
Lord Lyon in the preface to the 1984 reprinted
edition of Nisbet's System of Heraldry, Innes of Edingight stated that
"the work of Alexander Nisbet has not been received as of
institutional authority." In 1991, however, Sir Crispin Agnew of
Lochnaw, Rothesay Herald, characterized both Nisbet and MacKenzie of
Rosehaugh as "institutional writers." Agnew has further specified that
the second volume of Nisbet's work is considered "suspect" because of
numerous, erroneous insertions by an unknown writer.
* ^ A B Friar 1987 , p. 227.
* ^ A B Dennis 1999 , p. 5.
* ^ Burnett 1997 , p. 59.
* ^ A B C Friar 1987 , p. 305.
* ^ "Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh v. Royal College of
Physicians of Edinburgh". 1911. 1911 SC 1054.
* ^ "Maclean of Ardgour v. Maclean". 1941. 1941 SC 613 SLT 339.
* ^ The Laws of Scotland, vol. 11, para. 1614, 548.
* ^ Cox 2005 , p. 158.
* ^ Burnett 1997 , p. 60; see "
Court of the Lord Lyon
Court of the Lord Lyon website".
* ^ "Lyon
King of Arms Act 1672". François R. Velde.
* ^ Innes of Learney 1978 , p. 13, see p.46.
* ^ Innes of Learney 1978 , p. 13.
* ^ A B C Burnett 1997 , p. 42.
* ^ Burnett 1997 , p. 41.
* ^ Innes of Learney 1978 , p. 13–14.
* ^ Woodward, J. A treatise on heraldry, British and foreign : with
English and French glossaries, Vol. 2, p. 397-400
* ^ Burnett 1997 , p. 33; Innes of Learney 1978 , p. 20.
* ^ A B Burnett 1997 , p. 33.
* ^ Brooke-Little 1970 , p. 175.
* ^ A B Friar 1993 , p. 184.
* ^ Friar 1987 , p. 41.
* ^ Slater 2002 , p. 31.
* ^ Innes of Learney 1978 , p. 23-24.
* ^ See Innes of Learney 1978 , p. 90-95.
* ^ Burnett 1997 , p. 32-33.
* ^ Fox-Davies 1985 , p. 253.
* ^ Brooke-Little 1970 , p. 162.
* ^ Brooke-Little 1970 , p. 140.
* ^ Friar 1993 , p. 181.
* ^ Burnett 1997 , p. 46.
* ^ Slater 2002 , p. 116.
* ^ Fox-Davies 1985 , p. 420.
* ^ Friar 1993 , p. 49.
* ^ Burnett 1997 , p. 47.
* ^ Innes-Smith 1980 , p. 19; see Innes of Learney 1978 , p. 39.
* ^ Burnett 1997 , p. 17.
* ^ A B C Nisbet 1984 (Foreword by Malcolm Innes of Edingight).
* ^ Agnew 1991 , p. 65.
* ^ Way of Plean 1994 , p. 50.
* ^ Innes of Learney 1978 , p.43-44.
* ^ Way of Plean 1994 , p. 52.
* ^ "Area Council Arms/Dundee".
* ^ "
Coat of arms
Coat of arms rejected in city status query", The Inverness
Courier, accessed February 12, 2008
* Agnew of Lochnaw, Sir Crispin. "
Heraldic Bibliography." The
Highlander. (March/April 1991).
* Brooke-Little, J.P. (revisor). Boutell's Heraldry. Frederick Warne
The Lion Rejoicing The Stationery Office, Edinburgh, 1997.
* Cox, Noel. "Commonwealth
Heraldic Jurisdiction." The Coat of Arms
* Dennis, Mark. Scottish Heraldry: An Invitation
Heraldry Society of
Scotland, Edinburgh, 1999.
* Fox-Davies, A.C. A Complete Guide to Heraldry. (revised,
Brooke-Little, J.P.) Orbis Publishing Limited, London, 1985
(originally published 1909). (of dubious authority and accuracy in
* Friar, Stephen (editor). A Dictionary of Heraldry. Harmony Books,
New York, 1987.
* Friar, Stephen and Ferguson, John. Basic Heraldry. The Herbert
Press, London, 1993.
* Innes of Learney, Sir Thomas (revisor Innes of Edingight, Malcolm
R.). Scots Heraldry. Third edition. Johnston & Bacon, London &
Edinburgh, 1978 (originally published 1934).
* Innes-Smith, Robert. An Outline of
Heraldry in England and
Scotland. Pilgrim Press Ltd., Derby, 1980.
* Nisbet, Alexander A System of Heraldry. T & A Constable,
Edinburgh, 1984, first published 1722.
* Slater, Stephen. The Complete Book of Heraldry. Lorenz Books,
* Way of Plean, George and Squire, Romilly. Collins Scottish Clan
and Family Encyclopedia. HarperCollins, Glasgow, 1994
* Mackenzie of Rosehaugh, G. Scotland's Herauldrie: the Science of
Herauldrie treated as a part of the Civil law and Law of Nations. Heir
of Andrew Anderson, Edinburgh, 1680
* McAndrew, Bruce A. (2006). Scotland\'s Historic Heraldry. Boydell
Press. ISBN 978-1-84383-261-4 .
* Moncreiffe of Easter Moncrieffe, Iain (Kintyre Pursuivant) &
Pottinger, Don (
Herald Painter). Simple
Heraldry - Cheerfully
Illustrated. Thomas Nelson and Sons, Edinburgh and London, 1953
* Paul, Sir James Balfour (
Lord Lyon King of Arms). An Ordinary of
Arms Contained in the Public Register of All Arms and Bearings in
Scotland. Edinburgh: W. Green & Sons, 1903
* Reid of Robertland, David and Wilson, Vivien. An Ordinary of Arms,
volume 2 , Lyon Office, Edinburgh 1977
* Schweitzer, Leslie A and Hunter of Montlawan, David. Annotated
Bibliography of Scottish
Heraldic Materials - see at "
* Stevenson, John H and Wood, Margaret: Scottish
Heraldic Seals (3
vols.), Glasgow, 1940
* Urquhart, R M. Scottish
Burgh and County
London, 1973; Scottish Civic Heraldry: Regional - Islands - District
Heraldry Today, London, 1979; Scottish Civic
Heraldry 2 Scottish
Library Association, Hamilton, 2001