August 2014 saw the 300th anniversary of the accession of King George I to the throne of Great Britain, marking the start of the rule of the Hanoverian dynasty.
The heralds, under the jurisdiction of the Earl Marshal or his deputy, had an important rôle to play in arranging and carrying out the ceremonial associated with the accession. This included the Proclamation of King George's succession, and of course the Coronation itself. The design and registration of Royal and national symbols was also undertaken at the College of Arms, as it is to this day.
In the course of George I's reign, the Most Honourable Order of the Bath was established. This was the fourth most senior British Order of Chivalry (after the Orders of the Garter, the Thistle, and St Patrick): its chief architect was John Anstis, Garter King of Arms, who was appointed by the King to draw up Statutes for the Order, design its motto, badge, and elements of the robes, and the ceremony for creating a Knight.
A temporary exhibition at the College of Arms presents a selection of facsimiles of documents held by the College relating to King George I's accession and Coronation and to the Order of the Bath.
Order of the Privy Council directing the Heralds to proclaim the accession of George I. The Order was issued on the day of Queen Anne's death. By the terms of the 1701 Act of Settlement, the Crown was to pass to her nearest surviving Protestant relative, meaning that it was inherited by George ahead of around 50 others who had stronger genealogical claims to the throne but were Roman Catholic. 1 August 1714. College reference: Coronations of King George I and Queen Anne, p. 19.
Record of the appointment of a Commission of the Lords Justice to decide the cases of those who claim to have a hereditary or other right to play a role (to 'do a service') in the forthcoming Coronation ceremony. The Earl Marshal is to arrange for a notice to be put in the Gazette (the first official journal of record and the newspaper of the Crown). 6 Sept 1714. College reference: Coronations of King George I and Queen Anne, p. 26.
Even the Earl Marshal had to set out his claim to do service at the Coronation, as laid out in this document. Here he claims the right to order and direct the building of the Galleries and seats in Westminster Abbey, and decide their 'disposal' (i.e. the allocation of seating). College reference: Coronations of King George I and Queen Anne, p. 32.
This document conveys the King's Order to the Earl Marshal that he enquire of the Heralds whether the First Earl of England (i.e. the Earl who takes precedence over others on ceremonial occasions by virtue of his Earldom being the oldest) may carry the Sword of State at the Coronation if he is not a Knight of the Garter. The Order was issued on 14th October, less than week before the Coronation on the 20th. 14 Oct 1714. College reference: Coronations of King George I and Queen Anne, p. 51.
Design for coins to be issued by George I, combining the arms of the countries of the United Kingdom with those of some of his dominions in Germany. 1714. College reference: Earl Marshal's Book: I.27, p.45.
Draft of design for arms of King George I, quartering the nations of the United Kingdom with those of some of his German dominions. 1714. College reference: Earl Marshal's Book: I.27, p.44.
Original patent of arms issued in the first year of the reign of King George I. This was granted to Mathew Howard, merchant of the City of London, and his brother, Richard. The grant was made after it was established that they were of good reputation, loyal to The King and the Protestant succession, and had sufficient estates to support the rank of gentility. The grant is signed by Sir Henry St George, Garter King of Arms, and John Vanbrugh, the famous architect and playwright, who was Clarenceux King of Arms. 21 Dec 1714.
The College of Arms was experiencing a period of some turbulence at the time of King George's accession, with two men vying to become Garter King of Arms. The incumbent, Sir Henry St George, was 89, and both John Vanbrugh and John Anstis wanted to be named his successor. Vanbrugh had been appointed Clarenceux King of Arms in 1704 from outside the College, despite an ignorance of, and professed lack of interest in, heraldry. This was naturally much resented by other Officers. Anstis, a strong personality and a divisive figure, persuaded Queen Anne to sign a patent by the terms of which he would become Garter when Sir Henry died.
Historically, however, Garter Kings of Arms had always been appointed on the recommendation of the Earl Marshal. On Sir Henry's death in August 1715, the Deputy Earl Marshal ignored Anstis's patent and appointed Vanbrugh instead.
The case went to the Attorney General and remained in dispute for four years. In the meantime, Vanbrugh acted as Garter, using the title 'Clarenceux nominated Garter'. However, in 1718 it was Anstis who became Garter. Vanbrugh continued to serve as Clarenceux until, with the permission of the Deputy Earl Marshal, he sold the office in 1725. (This practice was not uncommon in the 17th and 18th centuries, but had petered out by 1770, never to return). Portraits of Vanbrugh and Anstis hang at the left-hand side of the Earl Marshal's Court.
The Most Honourable and Military Order of the Bath was founded by King George I in 1725. The idea was that of John Anstis, who took the name from the medieval practice of ritual bathing on special occasions when new knights were created (the more usual practice being that of dubbing with a sword). However, there had never before been an Order of the Bath. At first it was a military order, but there are now both military and civil divisions and 'Military' has been dropped from the title. It contained both Knights and Esquires. There are now three classes of member: Knight or Dame Grand Cross; Knight or Dame Commander; Companion.
The volume illustrated, The Procession and Ceremonies Observed at the Time of the Installation of the Knights Companions of the Most Honourable and Military Order of the Bath, was produced by the engraver John Pine (later Bluemantle Pursuivant of Arms) in 1730, from original drawings by Joseph Highmore, depicting the processions and ceremonies at the time of the first installation of Knights and Esquires of the Bath in 1725.
This page from Pine's work shows the heralds in procession at the ceremony to install the first Knights and Esquires of the Bath.
Copy by Stephen Martin Leake (Lancaster Herald, 1727; Norroy King of Arms, 1729; Clarenceux King of Arms, 1741; Garter King of Arms, 1754-73) of Anstis's Statutes of the Order of the Bath. This page shows an illustration of the badge to be worn on the mantle of a Knight of the Order. College reference: SML 23: Order of the Bath c. 1725-72.
Twentieth-century drawing of the collar and badge of a Knight Grand Cross (Civil), by the artist Gerald Cobb, who worked for the College from the 1920s to the 1970s. College reference: Acc 1986/1 Box 2 Part 2.
Twentieth-century drawing of the collar and badge of a Knight Grand Cross (Military), by the artist Gerald Cobb, who worked for the College from the 1920s to the 1970s. College reference: Acc 1986/1 Box 2 Part 2.
The College of Arms has purchased a portrait of John Warburton (1682-1759), Somerset Herald. It was acquired from Sir John Elphinstone Bt, a descendant of Warburton's daughter Amelia (1735-1786) who married Captain John Elphinstone RN, an Admiral in the service of Catherine the Great.
Warburton was something of a notorious figure. Born at Bury in Lancashire, the son of a tenant of Lord Derby, he worked as a customs officer in Cumberland, Northumberland and Yorkshire and acted as a government informer during the Jacobite rising of 1715. Soon after being demoted for drunkenness in 1718 he left the revenue service and was appointed Somerset Herald, supposedly in reward for his service to the government in convicting some of the rebels. Admitted a fellow of the Royal Society and the Society of Antiquaries, he was eventually ejected from both bodies. A noted collector of manuscripts and antiquities, he also published county maps for which he sought subscribers in return for including their arms in the margins, but without establishing their entitlement to arms. This caused bad relations with his fellow heralds. His collection of Elizabethan and Jacobean plays was destroyed by his cook, by whom they were burnt or 'put under pye bottoms'. After his death his books and manuscripts were sold at auction, the Duke of Norfolk buying sixty-three lots which he gave to the College.
There are no plans to issue a Special Command requiring the flying of the Union Flag at half-mast on 4 August 2014 to commemorate the beginning of the First World War.
Local authorities, other public bodies and private corporations and individuals may chose to fly the Union Flag at half-mast on that day. If it is decided to fly the Union Flag at half-mast in this way, it is recommended that the flag be raised to the top of the flag-staff and then lowered to half-mast, at 8 a.m. It should then be struck in the same way at sunset.
Any questions about the flying of the Union Flag or other flags should be addressed to the Officer in Waiting, College of Arms.
In the middle of 2013, a project was begun to locate, rehouse and list comprehensively the large collection of rolled material held at the College.
Pedigree rolls make up the most significant proportion of this collection. These pedigrees (genealogies, or 'family trees') take a surprisingly wide variety of forms. They range from highly ornate medieval pedigrees produced by specially commissioned scribes, to less spectacular twentieth-century works-in-progress in biro. The origins of some are clear; others not so. Some have not worn well, and are torn and patched, whereas others have been carefully preserved. Often, those on vellum are much more robust than those on paper.
Some of the most visually exciting rolls are the biblical pedigrees, showing the descent of a family from a biblical figure, such as Adam or Noah. The beautiful manuscript seen below (MS 20/26) details the descent of King Harthacnut, son of King Cnut (or Canute), from the Saxon Kings of England. It is incomplete, and presumably was designed to continue to further generations of rulers of England.
In an interesting example of vellum, a precious material, being re-used in the creation of a manuscript, sections of the reverse of the roll feature chess problems, as shown here:
Another example of a biblical pedigree roll is this 14th-century manuscript (MS 9/58) showing the descent of Christ from Adam. The drawing shows Christ at the centre, and beneath Him Adam and Eve, with the intriguing figures above Him appearing to show both a male and female scribe. The man, on the left of the picture, is tonsured and is shown preparing the parchment by scraping the surface. The woman, also in Holy Orders, leans her head rather disconsolately on her hand as she views the blank parchment on the stand in front of her. The four winged creatures around Christ represent the four Evangelists, the authors of the four Gospels.
In the course of the roll, biblical figures and scenes are illustrated, including one of the Nativity, seen below, showing in the background a tiny Christ child sharing the manger (placed somewhat incongruously atop a pillar) with the oxen.
Pedigrees of royal and noble families sometimes included their descent from mythical figures. A pedigree of the Earls of Warwick, apparently dating from the Renaissance period (MS 6/33, below), shows their descent from the mythical king Dunvallo, King of Cornwall and one of the descendants of Brutus, who according to Geoffrey of Monmouth won the Civil War of the Five Kings.
Other pedigrees of noble families, which more often show descent from the first ancestor to come to England with William the Conqueror, are sometimes beautifully illustrated, and show the coats of arms of the families which make up the pedigree. The roll created for the Heveningham family in 1509 (MS 13/7), to which an addition was made in 1597, is one such.
Naturally these precious and often delicate items require careful preservation and conservation. Thanks to the generosity of Mr Mark Pigott, KBE, the newly-appointed Pigott Library has now been fitted out with archival shelving and environmental controls, and the rolls housed in custom-made acid-free boxes. Some 1,126 rolls are now listed on a searchable database, which takes as its basis the cataloguing work undertaken by Mrs V. Lamb around 1960. Due to several moves of material over the years, some errors and duplication of reference numbers had crept in, which have now been corrected. More detailed descriptions of some items have been added to the database; this work (along with conservation work to clean and rewrap the rolls) is ongoing.
By letters patent from Her Majesty dated 1 July 2014 Timothy Hugh Stewart Duke, previously Chester Herald, has been appointed Norroy and Ulster King of Arms in succession to Sir Henry Edgar Paston-Bedingfeld, Bt., who retired the previous day after nearly four years in office, and a total of thirty-one years as an officer of arms.
Timothy Duke was appointed Rouge Dragon Pursuivant on 26 January 1989 and became Chester Herald on 7 August 1995.
Symbols of Honor: Heraldry and Family History in Shakespeare's England: a free exhibition with this title will run at the Folger Shakespeare Library, Washington DC, USA from 1 July to 26 October 2014. This exhibition, one of the largest and most comprehensive of its kind ever mounted in the USA, will feature a variety of armorial manuscripts and pedigrees, early printed books, and documents written by heralds. Exceptional treasures include the original drafts of William Shakespeare's own coat of arms lent by the College of Arms. It is curated by Dr Nigel Ramsay and Dr Heather Wolfe. Details can be found here.
A publication with the title Heralds and Heraldry in Shakespeare's England will coincide with the exhibition. Edited by Dr Nigel Ramsay, this is a significant work exploring the use of heraldry in early modern times. It includes contributions by Clive Cheesman, Richmond Herald, and Peter O'Donoghue, York Herald, alongside chapters from a number of other scholars; and it is to be published by Shaun Tyas of Paul Watkins Publishing.
In a ruling dated 29 March 2014 the Kings of Arms have issued an ordinance governing the arms of individuals in same-sex marriages. The ruling aims to replicate as closely as possible the heraldic practice for married couples of different sex.
The ruling also amends a ruling of the Kings of Arms dated 6 November 1997 in respect of the arms of married women, ordaining that the use of the mark of difference laid down there for married women will henceforth be optional.
For the full text of the ruling, see here.
Pedigree of Morris family: one important function of the College of Arms is to create and preserve pedigrees of families. Many of these are the result of genealogical research carried out by the heralds; and some are recorded to show the families of those receiving grants of coats of Arms. This example was registered in 1843. It shows the family of William Morris of Woodford Hall, Essex, who had been granted Arms by Letters Patent dated 15 April 1843, with the limitations extended to the other descendants of his late father, William Morris of the City of London. Included is his eldest son, also William Morris, who would become the famous artist, designer and author, a pioneer in the decorative arts. The Arms, which would later appear on tiles at the Red House, Bexley, are blazoned:
Arms: Azure a Horse's head erased Argent between three Horse Shoes Or.
Crest: On a Wreath of the Colours A Horse's head coupe Argent charged with three Horse Shoes in chevron Sable.
College references: 14D14/263 and Grants 46/298.