Change the system!!

Is it legal? Does it matter? Discuss it here.
Jonathan Webster
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Re: Change the system!!

Postby Jonathan Webster » 20 May 2013, 15:50

Chas Charles-Dunne wrote:There are times when it is not advisable to be 'all things to all men (or women)'. The Canadian system is one of those times.

If arms die out, then they die out. Not all couples are fertile and there is no law that says that they have to have a son as first child.

-and more to the point, a man (the law of arms assumes this anyway) can have a legitimate son at any point before his death. Just because he finds himself the father of umpteen daughters does not mean he cannot go on to have a son in later life.
Not heraldry related per-se, but I am reminded of a friend I knew at my secondary school who was from a large family (he had eight older sisters) and his father was an only child . His grandfather had resigned himself to the fact that the family name would die out, but was apparently tickled pink that he had a grandson at last.

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Peter Harling
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Re: Change the system!!

Postby Peter Harling » 21 May 2013, 19:26

And of course Jonathan 'pigs may fly.' Instances of this nature are outside the spirit of my proposal! Sadly Duncan even if the male changed his name to that of his heiress wife their progeny would be unable to claim her arms! A new grant would still be required.

There are two salient points here, firstly I do not agree with the argument 'let things take their natural course' If this had been the case the aristocracy in the UK would have lost their arms centuries ago, 99% have survived by passing through female lines. Secondly, the arms must be linked to a name! This is where the Canadian system falls down.

Sadly, it would appear the middle and lower middle classes are prejudiced against the female passing her name and arms back into the male line! There are many ways this could be done, but male dominance in armoury rules, therefore many lower class families who produce females lose their arms and name because unlike the upper classes they can not afford the new grants (£5,450 to date), Royal Warrants etc.

Thankfully I am not in this position, I have a son and a grandson, but I know many who are! You tell them to drop a family arms that has been in the family 175 years. Especially when there is as much ancient family blood in their female bodies as would have been in a son.
Regards Peter Harling
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Jonathan Webster
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Re: Change the system!!

Postby Jonathan Webster » 22 May 2013, 02:42

To be honest, the amount of money the College asks from applicants is the stumbling block. Surely if they lowered it, or tried to get it government funding like the Lord Lyon does, that would make things easier not only for them, but for all prospective armigers?

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Chris Green
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Re: Change the system!!

Postby Chris Green » 22 May 2013, 06:46

I think we can be reasonably sure that the College of Arms has looked closely at the question of funding sources often in the years since 1584.We can be rather more certain that at this time of financial cut-backs throughout the public sector, heraldry would have taken an enormous hit had it been in receipt of taxpayers' money. Providing public money to subsidise private citizens obtaining what many would consider to be little more than a "frivolous bauble" simply isn't going to happen.

Lowering the fees and thus attracting more custom isn't really an option either. The amount of time spent on each application cannot realistically be cut to any significant degree without compromising quality. The College records are mostly not computerised and the building is not large. Double (say) the number of applications and the College would therefore need to increase its staff, perhaps not double the number of heralds since the present ones do have other roles - Court ceremonial etc. Increasing staff might well involve renting additional office space, which would need to be close by in the City of London as the out-housed staff would need to run to and fro to the College to consult historic documents. The cost of renting office space in the City hardly bears thinking about. It should perhaps be added that the Treasury, were it the funding master, would certainly require the College of Arms to move part of its operations out of London - Bootle or Newcastle might be considered acceptable. It would also require the College to look into out-sourcing parts of its operations to the private sector and scrapping others as uneconomic. Oh dear, is this what we want?

I used to be active in raising money for the Royal National Lifeboat Institution and the question often used to come up: "Why doesn't the Government fund the lifeboats when it is responsible for the Coastguard and the Navy? Surely it is the Government's job to ensure safety at sea?" The RNLI looked closely at this, and examined how funds are allocated by HM Treasury. It concluded that voluntary contributions to a charitable organisation were a much more reliable source of income than Treasury funding, where each part of Government has to make its case each year to the Treasury. It recognised that much of its work is saving the owners of yachts, dinghys and motorboats owned by the affluent middle classes. Such people would gladly dip into their pockets for the RNLI, but the same sum would be extremely hard to extract from the Treasury who would consider it a very low priority. Thus we see that the RNLI's excellent lifeboat cover remains virtually untouched by the ravages of recession while the Royal Navy has scarcely two frigates to rub together at their moorings.
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Jonathan Webster
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Re: Change the system!!

Postby Jonathan Webster » 22 May 2013, 10:10

Then what about having a cheaper option? In Scotland and South Africa, potential armigers can apply for Arms consisting of just the shield and motto for a fraction of the price of a full achievement. In England and the rest of the UK outside of Scotland, you have to pay full price, including the crest. In Scotland, matriculating just the shield costs about £1000. In South Africa, it costs just £300. Perhaps if the College of Arms introduced a similar option more people would be encouraged to apply. After all, they could always apply for a grant of a crest later should they so wish.

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Chris Green
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Re: Change the system!!

Postby Chris Green » 22 May 2013, 11:06

... potential armigers can apply for Arms consisting of just the shield and motto for a fraction of the price of a full achievement.


I would have thought that the shield would have been by far the largest and most time-consuming element of a grant of arms. Helm, mantling and motto would be virtually cost-free and could usually accomplished in a day at most unless the motto was difficult or controversial. There is no requirement for the crest to be unique, though this is desirable, so its share of the cost should be less than that of the shield. But if the present work-load of the College is approaching 100% (and I think we may assume it is, given the time between first contact and completed grant), any such "cheap and cheerful" grants could only be taken on by employing additional heralds or pursuivants with the potentially large additional costs involved (see my earlier post).

I should be interested to learn how the Lyon Court's funding is managed. As for S Africa, I believe their heraldic authority is part of the National Archives and its funding thus contains concealed subsidy - the heralds are civil servants and their income is not derived solely from fees.

We have I think discussed the whole question of the cost of a grant of arms before. But it is worth I think repeating that people pay far more over a life-span to fund many hobbies than the heraldry buff pays to the College of Arms for something that may be passed to his heirs and successors in perpetuity. A modest family car costs three times as much, a smallish yacht or motor boat four or five times as much - and they need to be maintained and account taken of depreciation. Football fans happily (?) spend a thousand or so annually to watch their favourite team (and that is assuming they don't shell out to go to the away matches). There is little change to be had from £5,000 from the cost of a family holiday abroad these days.
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Ryan Shuflin
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Re: Change the system!!

Postby Ryan Shuflin » 22 May 2013, 14:00

Is this just abolishing the need for a Royal warrant and assumes a name and arms clause? I am sorry, my knowledge of the subject is a little hazy.

As far as reducing the cost, does the College have some sort of easy payment plan?

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Chris Green
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Re: Change the system!!

Postby Chris Green » 22 May 2013, 14:51

As far as reducing the cost, does the College have some sort of easy payment plan?


I think not. They will not proceed with a grant or with commissioning an artwork until they have been paid in full.
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Peter Harling
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Re: Change the system!!

Postby Peter Harling » 23 May 2013, 18:37

Chris has outlined the situation at the college perfectly. I would only add that the present rate of throughput of armorial grants fluctuates between 135 and 150 per year. Saturation point, or should I say the maximum number of grants that can be produced to the present high standard is 150! So, as Chris has pointed out there is no room for 'expansion' in this area.
Regards .......... Peter
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JMcMillan
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Re: Change the system!!

Postby JMcMillan » 23 May 2013, 19:33

Peter Harling wrote:Chris has outlined the situation at the college perfectly. I would only add that the present rate of throughput of armorial grants fluctuates between 135 and 150 per year. Saturation point, or should I say the maximum number of grants that can be produced to the present high standard is 150! So, as Chris has pointed out there is no room for 'expansion' in this area.
Regards .......... Peter


True, but is it really necessary to produce grants "to the present high standard," assuming that what you mean is the quality of the calligraphy and artwork? The Canadian Heraldry Authority offers considerably lower-end options--the heraldry is just as good, but the certificate is computer-generated.

Of course, the CHA doesn't have to maintain a national historic landmark building out of the proceeds of its grants. On the other hand, it's sometimes been suggested that the College of Arms price structure is also designed in part to discourage the riff-raff.
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