History will be made this October
at Stone Mountain Highland Games when, for the first time ever, a
reigning Lord Lyon King of Arms will be visiting the United States
in his Official capacity. The Lord Lyon is the Sovereign’s ultimate
arbiter in all heraldic matters and is also responsible for
determining the Chiefship of the Scottish Clans.
The first Lyon was appointed by
King Robert the Bruce at the beginning of the 14th
century and one of his duties was to attend Coronations and to
recite, in Gaelic, the pedigree of the newly crowned Monarch.
Originally, the Lord Lyon was assisted by twelve Officers of Arms –
six Heralds and six Pursuivants – but in 1672 the situation was
regularised by an Act of the Scottish Parliament which created the
Court of the Lord Lyon as we know it today.
The present Lord Lyon, the Rt.
Hon. Robin Orr Blair, LVO, WS, is a Judge and presides over his own
Court consisting of a Lyon Clerk, a Procurator Fiscal or prosecutor,
Three Heralds and three Pursuivants. Under certain circumstances, he
may also appoint additional Officers of Arms known as Heralds and
Pursuivants Extraordinary. The Scottish Heraldic Executive is a
separate jurisdiction from those in England and Ireland and, as
such, the Court of the Lord Lyon has, since 1672, maintained its own
manuscript record of all Coats of Arms borne in Scotland. This is
known as the Public Register of All Arms and Bearings in Scotland.
In terms of the Lyon King of Arms Act it is illegal to use a
Heraldic Device in Scotland that has not been granted by Lyon and
recorded in the Public Register and anyone contravening this Law is
subject to prosecution.
The Lord Lyon and his Heralds also
fulfil a ceremonial roll and appear, from time to time, in State
Dress wearing Royal Household Uniform and splendid embroidered
Tabards bearing the Royal Coat of Arms. Scottish Tabards are
slightly different to those worn in England as the Royal Arms are
shown with the Scottish ‘Lion Rampant’ taking precedence over the
English ‘leopards’. Members of the Court can be seen on parade at
such events as the annual St Andrew’s Day service at St Giles
Cathedral and at the Installation of the Governor of Edinburgh
A number of Officers of Arms have
visited North America in the past on a private basis, either on
holiday or visiting family and friends, but this will be the first
time in history that a reigning Lyon will be visiting an American
Highland Games in his Official capacity.
As well as being a special
distinguished guest at Stone Mountain, Mr Blair will also be
attending the first Annual General Meeting of the Society of
Scottish Armigers. This organisation, of which the Lord Lyon is
Patron, was established in 2001 and is composed of individuals who
bear Coats of Arms which are recorded in the Public Register of All
Arms and Bearings in Scotland or are entitled, as heirs, to use the
Scottish Arms of their parents or grandparents. The general
membership of the Society consists of some of the most active
participants within the various Scottish Cultural Heritage
organisations in North America.
As well as having the Lord Lyon as
its Patron, the Society is also honoured that the previous Lord
Lyon, Sir Malcolm Innes of Edingight, Orkney Herald Extraordinary,
has consented to serve as Chairman of the Advisory Board. George Way
of Plean, the Procurator Fiscal to the Lyon Court is also a member
of the Society, and Romilly Squire of Rubislaw, Secretary of the
Standing Council of Scottish Chiefs and Chairman of the Heraldry
Society of Scotland, is a member of the Board of Governors.
The Society was formed with the
purpose of assisting and helping to educate the Scottish-American
community and the public at large about Scottish Heraldry and Clan
Tradition. To this end, the Society, as well as the Lord Lyon,
encourages those Scots who may have a right to bear Arms to do so
and to join the Society. Members of the Society are available to
speak to groups, appear at Highland Games and other appropriate
events, or to write short articles for publication in clan and
society newsletters. The Society also encourages its members to
support the Heraldry Society of Scotland.
The Society has recently
petitioned the Lyon Court for a corporate Grant of Arms and it is
hoped that the Lord Lyon will consent to make an Official
presentation of the Letters Patent at the Stone Mountain Highland
Games in October.
For further information concerning
the Society of Scottish Armigers, please contact:
Major Randal Massey of Dunham
PO Box 361924
Birmingham, AL 35236
The Heraldry Society of Scotland’s
website is at
www.heraldry-scotland.co.uk and the Society’s Delegate to North
Donald Draper Campbell
4031 Ellicott Street
Alexandria, VA 22304-1011