Sir Henry Farnham Burke

25 February 2019

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the appointment of Sir Henry Farnham Burke, KCVO, CB, FSA, as Garter King of Arms. Son of Sir Bernard Burke, Ulster King of Arms, and grandson of John Burke, the founder of Burke’s Peerage, Sir Henry inherited the family enthusiasm for genealogy but brought to it a discernment it is said his father lacked. He built up a very large practice and at his death bequeathed to the College of Arms 184 volumes of material relating to his genealogical research cases. Born in 1859, Henry Farnham Burke was appointed to the College of Arms as Rouge Croix Pursuivant in 1880. He was promoted to Somerset Herald in 1887. He became Norroy King of Arms in 1911 and Garter Principal King of Arms by Patent dated 22 January 1919. He died in 1930. In Heralds of England (1967) Sir Anthony Wagner wrote that Burke “had studied all the branches of his profession and was thorough in all he undertook. His character was forcible and his energy and acumen brought him great professional success.”

Burke Sir Henry Farnham 72dpiPortrait of Sir Henry Farnham Burke

Acc 2018 01 pt 2 title pageThis beautiful pedigree book of the de Trafford family contains the genealogy traced by Farnham Burke in 1890 as Somerset Herald, the position he held from 1887 to 1911.

Acc 2018 01 pt 2 achievement comp

College of Arms Ms Acc 2018/1 pt 2

Burke’s working papers were bound into very thick volumes with the title of the office he held at the time stamped onto the spine. This is an example of a volume created when he was Somerset Herald, showing pages containing a draft pedigree, the blazon of his client’s arms, and a questionnaire filled out by the client with information about his own and the immediately preceding generations. Other material gathered might include correspondence, copies of certificates, notes from parish registers, and the occasional photograph. The different sizes of the papers bound, combined with the thickness of the volumes, makes them awkward to handle.

Somerset 93 compCollege of Arms Ms H. F. Burke Collection 93

 

One of the College’s treasures is the mediaeval volume of painted coats of arms known as ‘Jenyns’ Ordinary’ (after one of its 16th-century owners, William Jenyns, Lancaster Herald). The volume was created in c. 1380 and contains 1,611 coats, mostly shields, but also some banners. This volume is thought to have been purchased by Burke in c. 1880 – 1890 for £4 from a bookseller near the British Museum, and was presented by him to the College during his lifetime.

Jenyns Ordinary f. 3v comp

William Jenyns Ordinary f. 19r compCollege of Arms Ms Jenyns’ Ordinary ff. 3v. and 19r.

 

Sir Henry Farnham Burke’s practice is thought to be the largest the College had ever had, at the time and possibly since. Besides his genealogical work, this of course including designing arms for new armigers, such as the ‘canting’ arms shown below, granted to Sir Jesse Boot in December 1909.

Grants 79 Boot compCollege of Arms Ms Grants 79 p. 162

The image below shows a detail of a pedigree from the College records shows the ancestry of Edmund Beachamp Tucker, subsequently Edmund Beauchamp Beauchamp, who took the surname and Arms of Beauchamp alone by Royal Licence dated 19 June 1905. Burke conducted much of the genealogical investigations himself and directed others in their searches in regional repositories. His collections of Tucker material from Devon are now of considerable value as many of the originals were destroyed during the Second World War.

Norfolk 23.118College of Arms Ms Norfolk 23/118

The Arms of Beauchamp were therefore exemplified to Edmund Beauchamp Beauchamp by Letters Patent of the Kings of Arms dated 19 August 1905.

Grants 75.213College of Arms Ms Grants 75/213

 

Sir Henry Farnham Burke took an active part in the arrangements for the Coronation of King George V and Queen Mary in June 1911. This page from the Order of Service for the ceremony shows him standing in for Clarenceux King of Arms, George Edward Cokayne (author of The Complete Peerage and The Complete Baronetage) who was seriously ill and died two months later. On his death, William Henry Weldon, Norroy King of Arms, became Clarenceux, and Burke was promoted to become Norroy King of Arms.

Coronation George V vol 5 compCollege of Arms Ms Coronation of King George V, vol 5

In this letter to Lord Edmund Talbot, Deputy Earl Marshal during the minority of the hereditary Earl Marshal, a representative of the Lord Chamberlain’s Office outlines arrangements for Henry Farnham Burke to receive his insignia of Office as Garter King of Arms. Farnham Burke, who was also knighted in 1919, held the position until his death in 1930, although his duties were exercised by a deputy during the illness of the last few months of his life.

Acc 2019 01 pt 1 file 3 HFBCollege of Arms Ms Acc 2019/1 pt 1

Coll Arm Ms I38.197 compressedSir Harford Jones and the Arms of Persia: During the Napoleonic Wars both Britain and France competed to form an alliance with the Persian Empire. The records of the College of Arms contain a transcript of a letter sent to the Foreign Secretary, George Canning, from Sir Harford Jones, British Minister at the Persian Court, dated 29th March 1809 at Tehran, which recounts an unusual series of diplomatic manoeuvres resulting in an unique heraldic honour. Jones recounts how at the behest of the French Ambassador, the Persian Emperor created the Order of the Lion and the Sun, an order of chivalry on the model of those which existed in Europe, and awarded it to several French dignitaries, including the famous diplomat Talleyrand.

The Emperor then offered the order to Sir Harford, but on the grounds of its instigation by and award to Napoleon’s representatives, he viewed himself as unable to accept it. The Emperor expressed disappointment, and in order to mitigate the situation, Jones offered to accept any other honour that His Majesty could give, and therefore received a patent granting him the right to use the Imperial Arms of Persia, with Supporters and surmounted by the Imperial Crown on a cushion. The letter concludes by stating that Jones would await his Sovereign’s command as to whether to actually make use of this unique honour, and precisely a year later on the 29th March 1810, George III issued a warrant to the Earl Marshal giving such permission and directing it to be recorded at the College of Arms. While the text of the Persian patent does not specify any limitations on how Sir Harford used the Imperial Arms, as recorded at the College of Arms they were added as a chief to his personal arms of Argent a Chevron Sable between three Ravens in the Centre Chief point the Star of the Imperial Ottoman Order of the Crescent proper, and the Imperial Crown on a cushion used as a second crest. College Reference: I.38/193; illustration of patent I.38/197.

Learning with sadness of the death of George H. W. Bush, former President of the United States of America, who died on 30 November 2018, special instructions have been received that all Union flags on the buildings of Her Majesty's Government should be lowered to half-mast as soon as possible today (1 December 2018) until 2000 hours.
 
Any other UK national flags flown alongside the Union Flag when it is at half-mast should also be at half-mast. If a flag of a foreign nation is normally flown on the same stand as the Union Flag, it should be removed.
 
Local authorities are not bound by this request but may wish to follow it for guidance. Devolved administrations are responsible for issuing instructions for the flying of the Union Flag on buildings in their estate and others as necessary. Enquiries regarding the correct protocols for the flying of Union and other flags should be addressed to the Officer in Waiting at the College of Arms in the first instance.

10. Acc 2010 02 2 1919 p. 1 cropped compressedThe First World War ended for practical purposes with the Armistice of 11 November 1918, but the state of war between the belligerents came to an end only after the signing of the Treaty of Versailles on 28 June 1919. Following that Treaty the heralds were dispatched to proclaim the Peace, and this was done on 2 July 1919 from St James's Palace and other key points in London. This article by Oswald Barron, later Maltravers Herald Extraordinary, is from the July 1919 issue of Country Life. It shows Sir Henry Farnham Burke, Garter King of Arms, and Gordon Ambrose Lee, York Herald, making the Proclamation. College of Arms reference: Acc 2010/2.

An online exhibition of other documents from the archives of the College of Arms relating to the First World War can be seen here

 

 To mark the Armistice and the conclusion of the First World War, we present a brief online exhibition of images relating to the conflict and the heralds' reactions to it.

1. Treasurers Accounts 1913 35 p 107 compressedIn the first meeting of the Chapter of College held after War was declared, Officers discussed the threat of zeppelin raids. It was agreed to appoint a night watchman and to insure the building against enemy aircraft damage should the worst occur. This page from the Treasurer’s Accounts of 1918 shows the ongoing payments.

College of Arms reference: Treasurer’s Accounts p. 107

 


2. Chptr Bk 18 p 161 compressedOn 3 September 1914, at the first meeting of the Chapter of College after War was declared, it is minuted that Algar Howard, Rouge Dragon Pursuivant of Arms and a yeomanry officer, had been mobilized and was already at the Front. In this minute of the July 1919 meeting of Chapter, he is welcomed back after five years' service and the award of the Military Cross.

College of Arms reference: Chapter Book 18 p. 161

 

3. Standards 1 p 106 compressedThe standard granted to Algar Howard, Rouge Dragon Pursuivant of Arms, in 1913. Made Windsor Herald in 1919, then Norroy King of Arms in 1931, in 1943 Howard became the first Norroy and Ulster King of Arms when the two offices were merged. During the Second World War many College records were sent for safekeeping to his home, Thornbury Castle in Gloucestershire.

College of Arms reference: Standards 1, p. 106

 

4. Grants 87 p 22 Allenby compressedArms granted to Field Marshal Edmund Allenby, 1st Viscount Allenby, GCB, GCMG, GCVO (1861 – 1936). The supporters, a horse and a camel, symbolise aspects of his military career: he commanded the cavalry division of the British Expeditionary Force on the Western Front, then from 1917 was Commander-in-Chief of the Egyptian Expeditionary Force in Palestine. The shield is enclosed in the circlet of the Order of the Bath, of which he was appointed Knight Grand Cross in 1918.

College of Arms reference: Grants 87 p. 22

 

5. Chptr Bk 18 pp 120 121 compressedIn the summer of 1917, concern about the possibility of air raids led to the decision that “the ancient Rolls of Arms, and the most interesting of the ancient records of the College” be moved from their usual place of storage to a strongroom within the building. A report was commissioned on the possibility of extra protection for the Record Room against aircraft damage, but it was decided not to proceed in the matter.

College of Arms reference: Chapter Book 18 pp 120-121

 

6. Chptr Bk 18 Papers 1918 p 1 cropped compressedIn May 1918 certain series of records were removed to a place of safety. This minute records discussions preceding the move, although later it was decided not to use the cellar under Norfolk House. So carefully was secrecy about the location maintained that it remains unknown to this day.

College of Arms reference: Chapter Papers 18

 

7. Grants 87 p 66 Rawlinson compressedArms of General Henry Seymour Rawlinson, 1st Baron Rawlinson, GCB, GCSI, GCVO, KCMG (1864 – 1925). Rawlinson held various senior commands on the Western Front, including that of the 4th Army at the Somme. After the War, he was appointed Commander-in-Chief in India. The Supporters, granted in 1919, are blazoned as: To the dexter an Infantryman of the British Expeditionary Force and to the sinister an Infantryman of the Australian Imperial Force each supporting with the exterior hand a Rifle with fixed Bayonet all proper.

College of Arms reference: Grants 87 p. 66

 

8. I. 78 p 9 compressedChanges of name and Arms by Royal Licence are arranged by the Officers of the College of Arms and placed on official record in the College. During the First World War, members of the Royal family relinquished their German surnames, styles and titles. This page records the Royal Licence granted by George V, by which Prince Louis of Battenberg relinquished the titles ‘Serene Highness’ and ‘Prince’ and changed the designation ‘of Battenberg’ to the English surname ‘Mountbatten’.

College of Arms reference: I. 78, p. 9

 

9. Grants 87 p 76 Beatty compressedArms of Admiral of the Fleet David Richard Beatty, 1st Earl Beatty GCB, OM, GCVO, DSO, PC (1871 – 1936). Beatty led the 1st Battlecruiser Squadron at battles including Heligoland Bight and Jutland. He was subsequenrly Commander in Chief of the Grand Fleet. In 1919 he was promoted to Admiral of the Fleet and created an Earl; he then served as First Sea Lord, professional head of the Royal Navy. He was granted Arms, Crest and Supporters by Letters Patent of the Kings of Arms dated 29 December 1919. The devices on his shield are a pun on his name; while the Supporters signify his career and are blazoned as: to the dexter a Sailor of the Royal Navy and to the sinister a Soldier of the Royal Marines both proper.

College of Arms reference: Grants 87 p. 76

 

10. Acc 2010 02 2 1919 p. 1 cropped compressedBy ancient tradition, heralds are proclaimers of peace. This article from Country Life magazine of July 1919 describes Officers of Arms reading the proclamation of peace at various locations across London.

College of Arms reference: Acc 2010/2

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By decision of the College of Arms all proceeds arising from the sale of The Armorial of Haiti will be donated to the international effort for the relief of Haiti
after the calamitous earthquake of 12 January 2010.

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