Armorial bearings are hereditary. They can be borne and used by all the descendants in the legitimate male line of the person to whom they were originally granted or confirmed. To establish a right to arms by inheritance it is necessary to prove a descent from an ancestor who is already recorded as entitled to arms in the registers of the College of Arms.

Pedigree and arms of Montague of BoveneyThe first step in establishing whether there might be a possibility of having a right to arms by descent is to approach the officer in waiting at the College of Arms with what details one has of one’s paternal ancestry.

He will then be able to advise on the cost of having a search made in the official records for coats of arms recorded for families of one’s name. The search may show that no family of the name has possessed arms or that one or more have done so.

If the latter, and no known ancestor of the enquirer has been found on official record, the next stage will be genealogical research in records outside the College. This would be undertaken to extend the enquirer’s pedigree to see if a connection with an armigerous family could be found.


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