Thursday, 19 February 2015

Obtaining copies of recent grants of Arms in Scotland

I'm doing some research at the moment which has involved the exploration of a 17th century Coat of Arms as part of a gentleman's story that I am investigating. Although I'm clued up on the basics, heraldry is one of those subject areas where I rarely tread, but in pursuit of this, I contacted the Lord Lyon's office in Edinburgh. The Court of the Lord Lyon is the body which has responsibility for the granting of Arms in Scotland, for prosecuting the illegal use of Arms, as well as for various other ceremonial functions. The wonderful Sophie Reilly, the court secretary, has been exceptionally helpful, noting a recent matriculation of the Arms that I am interested in from 1999, which is a potential research avenue I'm now pursuing.

This raised a broader question, the answer for which may be of interest. In terms of obtaining the recent grant of Arms, it occurred to me that I had no idea what the mechanism was to do so. The ScotlandsPeople website at hosts the digitised images of grants of Arms from the Public Register of All Arms and Bearings from 1672 (when it commenced) to 1913, which cost £10 each to download. I therefore asked Sophie what the procedure was for entries recorded after this. It's very easy - simply email the Lyon office and for a fee of £15 they will send an image by email and a transcript of the entry in the Public Register. Contact details for the Lyon Office are available at

And remember that it is illegal to use someone's coat of Arms in Scotland if they are not granted in your name, as a set of Arms can only be owned by one person. If you don't own them, but use them, you're essentially committing theft. Best avoided really - I've seen the outfits of the Officers of Arms, and they look like they mean it...! :)

(With thanks to Sophie Reilly)


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