In Scotland Arms are heritable property,
and on their original owners death they descend to his heir, normally
his eldest son, and in turn to his eldest son, and so on forever. A
younger brother may inherit his fathers Arms if the elder brother
dies first and leaves no heirs of his own. Otherwise younger sons and
their descendants inherit only the right to apply for a Matriculation of
their ancestral Arms with a "MARK OF DIFFERENCE" or "A
DIFFERENCE" added to them.
There are many methods by which the order
of seniority of a family line can be shown in the differences allotted.
Two of the most usual methods are set out in the diagram on the back of
this sheet, the BORDURE most usual in Scottish heraldry, and CADENCY
MARKS more usual in England and elsewhere. These two methods, and
others, can be and often are combined.
BORDURES (or borders) are allotted to an
armigers sons in order of their birth in a set sequence of colours
which shows their seniority, thus:- 2nd son, Or; 3rd son, Argent; 4th
son, Gules; 5th son, Azure; 6th son, Sable; and so on. The first or
eldest son inherits the Arms undifferenced. Where the bordure in this
sequence happens to be of the same colours as the field of the Shield,
it is made "chequy" (chequered) of that colour and a
In the next generation, the 3rd from the
founder, this system continues as above for younger sons as it shows the
seniority of their descent from the founder, NOT their father. When the
previous generation, the 2nd had already borne a bordure for difference
as is shown in the diagram where all the 2nd generations borders have
been used up, the bordure is further differenced by varying its inner
edge in a set sequence of patterns as shown. This combination of varying
colours and patterns of border continues in the same way for each
When these differences as in the diagram
are not available to younger sons of the senior line, having been used
by junior lines, an alternative system or systems is used as shown, such
as adding small marks of cadency or varying the edge of the main charge
on the Shield.
An illegitimate son is accorded a special
border of blue and white, called a "bordure compony". This is
inherited by all his legitimate descendants thereafter, varied in
In certain cases differences are allotted
for a lady of a junior line matriculating Arms in her own right.
It is entirely for the Lord Lyon alone to
decide which differences to allot when matriculating Arms as he alone
knows all the differences which have already been allotted from the
systems and are recorded in the Public Register of All Arms and Bearings
in Scotland, and the principles on which they are allotted and should
continue to be allotted.
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