Past heralds have included a large number of eminent antiquarians and scholars, including Robert Glover (1544-1588), Somerset Herald, William Camden (1551-1623), Clarenceux King of Arms, Sir William Dugdale (1605-1686), Garter King of Arms, and Elias Ashmole (1617-1692), Windsor Herald. Sir Anthony Wagner (1908-1995), Garter King of Arms, was the most eminent scholar at the College of Arms in the last two hundred years.

Sir John Vanbrugh (1664-1726), the famous architect and playwright, was for many years Clarenceux King of Arms, though he is said to have known nothing of heraldry and genealogy and to have ridiculed both. He was succeeded as Garter by John Anstis (1669-1744). It was mainly at Anstis's instigation that the Order of the Bath was instituted in 1725.  William Oldys (1696-1761), Norroy King of Arms, was a noted antiquary and bibliographer but wholly ignorant of heraldry and known for being 'rarely sober in the afternoon, never after supper', and 'much addicted to low company.'

However most heralds have been keen students of their craft, some distinguishing themselves in other fields as well. Gregory King (1648-1712), Lancaster Herald, was a celebrated  draughtsman, cartographer, statistician and town planner. J.R. Planché (1796-1880), Somerset Herald, was a historian of costume and a dramatist, and Sir Alfred Scott-Gatty (1847-1918), Garter King of Arms, wrote many popular songs and lyrics. Other characters had colourful careers before becoming heralds. 'General' John de Havilland (1826-1886), York  Herald, was a soldier of fortune, serving in Spain under Don Carlos and in other foreign countries. Thomas Morgan Joseph-Watkin (1856-1915), Chester Herald, spent his early life as a cowboy in Texas. Sir William Weldon (1837-1919), Clarenceux King of Arms, who took a leading role in the coronation of King Edward VII, once managed a circus.

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