Legal Status of Private Officers of Arms

Is it legal? Does it matter? Discuss it here.
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JMcMillan
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Re: Legal Status of Private Officers of Arms

Postby JMcMillan » 11 Jun 2013, 13:11

Chris Green wrote:I think that the fact that when the post of Finlaggan Pursuivant was revived in 2005 after 500 years, Ross Herald was present representing the Court of the Lord Lyon, was the best evidence that Private Officers of Arms are "legal" in Scotland. The Wiki article uses the word "recognised" by the Court of the Lord Lyon King of Arms. Merely putting on a tabard and calling oneself "MacThingy Pursuivant" would not result in such recognition being forthcoming!


On the other hand, if we construe "legal" as meaning "not contrary to law," it probably would be legal in Scotland for anyone to appoint or even appoint himself a herald of whatever rank. Ridiculous perhaps, but legal.

In England there are no Private Officers of Arms, but two of the Royal Pursuivants of Arms Extraordinary - Fitzalan and Howard - have titles which suggest that they are the Private Pursuivants of the Earl Marshal, the Duke of Norfolk.


But they are appointed by the Queen and not the Earl Marshal acting unilaterally, aren't they?
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Re: Legal Status of Private Officers of Arms

Postby JMcMillan » 11 Jun 2013, 13:22

I would think that the panoply of heraldic officers of the so-called Royal House of Aragon would qualify as private officers of arms, albeit unrecognized by anyone except the pretender to that throne.

Perpignan, Aragon, and Sicily Kings of Arms
Ayerbe, Catania, and Montpellier Heralds
Aquila, Correia, Dragon, Impavidus, and San Salvador Pursuivants
Siren Pursuivant Extraordinary.

At various times in the past there have also been a Paterno King of Arms and Malta and Palma Heralds.

The Order of St. Lazarus also appoints several heralds who must be considered private officers of arms.
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Chris Green
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Re: Legal Status of Private Officers of Arms

Postby Chris Green » 11 Jun 2013, 13:53

... if we construe "legal" as meaning "not contrary to law," it probably would be legal in Scotland for anyone to appoint or even appoint himself a herald of whatever rank. Ridiculous perhaps, but legal.


A legally appointed royal herald or pursuivant would be appointed by Letters Patent. It would be interesting to know what document the clan chiefs employed to appoint Finlaggan, perhaps a document bearing their signatures and seals. Anyone interested might care to ask the Clan Donald Society.

Using "legal" to mean "not illegal" does not necessarily make something true. I might call myself High Potentate of Mars - not illegal, but most certainly not true.

But they [Fitzalan and Howard] are appointed by the Queen and not the Earl Marshal acting unilaterally, aren't they?


Precisely. My point was that the names made it seem that they might be the Duke of Norfolk's private pursuivants though they are not.
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Re: Legal Status of Private Officers of Arms

Postby JMcMillan » 11 Jun 2013, 16:32

Chris Green wrote:
... if we construe "legal" as meaning "not contrary to law," it probably would be legal in Scotland for anyone to appoint or even appoint himself a herald of whatever rank. Ridiculous perhaps, but legal.


Using "legal" to mean "not illegal" does not necessarily make something true. I might call myself High Potentate of Mars - not illegal, but most certainly not true.


Yes, but let's imagine giving it a little substance. Let's suppose the Duke of Hamilton, a Scottish personage of undeniable eminence, decided he required an officer of arms to do all the things the Lyon-approved private pursuivants do, genealogical and heraldic stuff. I'm not aware of any law or rule that would prevent His Grace from picking someone for the job, having a tabard made of the Douglas-Hamilton arms, and setting the newly vested Angus Pursuivant to pursuivancing.

So is it legal for him to do this? It's hard to see how it would be illegal.

Would he truly be a pursuivant? Why would he not be? The Duke's nth great-grandfather circa 1500 wouldn't have needed anyone's permission to make such an appointment, and there don't appear to be any laws enacted since then to change things. The only vaguely relevant statute is the Officers of Arms Act 1587, and it applies only to those "personis weirand and beirand our souerane lordis armes."

If it looks, walks, and quacks like a pursuivant, what makes it not a pursuivant?
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Re: Legal Status of Private Officers of Arms

Postby Chris Green » 11 Jun 2013, 17:35

Let's suppose the Duke of Hamilton, a Scottish personage of undeniable eminence, decided he required an officer of arms to do all the things the Lyon-approved private pursuivants do, genealogical and heraldic stuff. I'm not aware of any law or rule that would prevent His Grace from picking someone for the job, having a tabard made of the Douglas-Hamilton arms, and setting the newly vested Angus Pursuivant to pursuivancing. So is it legal for him to do this? It's hard to see how it would be illegal.


I think we can be confident that His Grace would be unlikely to act unilaterally but to consult Lord Lyon who in turn would consult his records. This would take a while (say five years or so). If the result of this research was that the noble Duke's forebears had indeed employed their own Pursuivants, Lord Lyon would so inform him and undoubtedly encourage him to re-establish the tradition. The precedent of Finlaggan Pursuivant would clearly serve as a guide in the absence of any records of how previous Douglas/Hamilton appointmentm was effected.

In the absence of any evidence of a previous Douglas/Hamilton Pursuivant, I imagine that Lord Lyon might propose that the matter be discussed by the Standing Council of Scottish Chiefs. This august body, whose objectives are "to consider matters affecting Scottish Chiefs and the Clans and Names which they represent and to submit their views and interests to HM Government, to Departments of State, the Scottish Government, to Local Authorities ..." might consider that the precedent of the four existing Private Officers of Arms appointed by clan chiefs constituted good grounds for the Duke of Hamilton to be recognised as entitled to the same privilege. If Lord Lyon agreed, he would then recognise any such appointment in exactly the same way as he recognised the Finlaggan appointment.

All the foregoing should be understood to be the private opinion of an Englishman (and therefore of little worth). It would be really helpful if we could get some knowledgeable Scottish input!
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Chas Charles-Dunne
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Re: Legal Status of Private Officers of Arms

Postby Chas Charles-Dunne » 11 Jun 2013, 18:15

When Pye of Cambridge was still Pye and before it got absorbed into Phillips, it was granted arms, banner and eight badges (one for each of the eight departments). These departments were spread throughout the UK. They also had satellite and sub-satellite locations. Their corporate policy was for the Pye symbol to be displayed with the department badge. This is the Pye logo -

Image

There were so many sites and so much that needed the badges and logos affixed that they appointed a manager, secretary, driver and general worker to accomplish the task.

They worked full time, 40 hours per week, for I believe close to 10 years until the Phillips takeover.

Not a private herald, but it was called the heraldry office.
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Re: Legal Status of Private Officers of Arms

Postby GSelvester » 11 Jun 2013, 18:26

JMcMillan wrote:
The Order of St. Lazarus also appoints several heralds who must be considered private officers of arms.


So, too the Sacred Military and Constantinian Order of St. George and the Heraldische Gemeinschaft Westfalen.

In addition to Garter being the King of Arms for the Order of the Garter, Lyon being the King of Arms for the Order of the Thistle and Norroy & Ulster being the King of Arms for the Order of St. Patrick (an order in abeyance but for which, nonetheless, Norroy & Ulster remains King of Arms) the Order of the Bath and the Order of the British Empire each have a king of arms appointed who are not members of the College of Arms and must, therefore, be considered private officers of arms.

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Re: Legal Status of Private Officers of Arms

Postby GSelvester » 11 Jun 2013, 18:32

Chas Charles-Dunne wrote:There are those who would argue that the College of Arms are private officers.


I think it might be fair to say that while they are not part of, appointed by or funded by the government they are, as appointees of the Crown, state sponsored and, therefore, not really private. However, they do engage in private heraldic practices in addition to their responsibilities as a College.

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Re: Legal Status of Private Officers of Arms

Postby Ryan Shuflin » 11 Jun 2013, 18:36

It appears the four private Scottish officers of arms operate with the support and approval of the Lyon Court. It seems there is no legal barrier to anyone appointing their own officer of arms (one just needs a coat of arms), but is official approval/recognition given, even if it is not required?

As far as letters patent, I did see an illuminated document by the Earl of Elgin appointing an Armorer to Clan Bruce (the armorer appears to no longer be in business, so I can't find the pictures)

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Re: Legal Status of Private Officers of Arms

Postby Martin Goldstraw » 11 Jun 2013, 19:02

Ryan Shuflin wrote:It seems there is no legal barrier to anyone appointing their own officer of arms (one just needs a coat of arms), but is official approval/recognition given, even if it is not required?


This is a bit like the debate on the use of supporters in unregulated countries. Whilst there may be nothing in law to prevent anyone appointing their own pursuivant in Scotland, unless they were themselves of great rank and possibly even then, were any mere armiger to do so it is highly unlikely that they would receive the recognition of the Lord Lyon (which although entirely unnecessary is, believe me, a powerful social requirement) I would imagine that they would at the very least attract a great deal of adverse comment from the masses and would risk a great deal of ridicule.

Anyone fancy being my pursuivant :shock:
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