The College of Arms maintains the official registers of pedigrees or family trees of families.
The oldest of these date to the sixteenth century and they are continually added to today as new pedigrees are submitted for registration. In some cases pedigrees are recorded to prove an inherited right to arms, or to support the descent of a dignity such as a peerage or baronetcy. But in many cases pedigrees are placed on record simply to subject them to independent checking and then to preserve them in a central register for the benefit of future generations.
To have a pedigree placed on official record at the College of Arms it is necessary to engage the services of an officer of arms who will draft the pedigree in the required format and advise on the documentary evidences needed to support it. He will then submit it to the Chapter of the College which will appoint two other officers of arms to examine it with the evidences. The two examiners will each go through the pedigree in detail, calling for documentary proofs for each fact and relationship that is to be recorded. They may not accept parts of it that they believe are not satisfactorily proven, or call for additional research to be undertaken. Once the examination is complete the pedigree is scrivened into the pedigree registers and becomes part of the official records of the College.
The most recent generations of a pedigree, as far back as the grandparents of the person attesting, can be accepted without documentary evidence. But exact details have to be given of dates and places of birth, marriage, divorce, and death, and of any adoption of a child.