Warburton John portrait compressedThe 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.

Pedigree Rolls

29 July 2014

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.

College of Arms MS Schedule 20/26

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:College of Arms MS Schedule 20/26 reverse


College of Arms MS Schedule 9/58Another 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.

College of Arms MS Schedule 9/58 detail of male scribeCollege of Arms MS Schedule 9/58 detail of female scribeCollege of Arms MS Schedule 9/58 Nativity Scene

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.

College of Arms MS Schedule 6/33

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.

College of Arms MS Schedule 13/7College 0f Arms MS Schedule 13/7 border detail

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.

The Piggott Library during the reboxing of the rollsThe boxes in the Pigott Library today

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.

Vincent 151 Vincents Presidents p.21 compressedSymbols 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.

Morris pedigree 14D14.263Pedigree 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.

The Scottish Government has announced the appointment by Her Majesty The Queen of a new Lord Lyon King of Arms, Dr Joseph Morrow, on the recommendation of the First Minister of Scotland, in succession to David Sellar, M.V.O. Dr Morrow will serve as head of the authority for heraldry and state ceremony within Scotland and as judge of Lyon Court.

Dr Morrow is an Advocate, and First-Tier tribunal Judge, who in 2009 was appointed as a Vice Lord Lieutenant for the City of Dundee. He is an Incumbent of the Chapel of Glamis Castle. As well as being a student of heraldry, Dr Morrow has a special interest in ecclesiastical history and 35 years' experience of the practical application of ceremonial within a variety of settings including State, Civil, Military and Ecclesiastical areas of Scottish life.

The part-time appointment, made under section 3 of the Lyon King of Arms (Scotland) Act 1867, is based at Edinburgh's New Register House.

East London University of - patent compressedUNIVERSITY OF EAST LONDON: a grant of Arms, Crest and Supporters was made by Letters Patent of Garter, Clarenceux and Norroy and Ulster Kings of Arms dated 25 April 2013. The full achievement of Arms is illustrated left. The blazon is:

Arms: Azure a Torch enflamed Or enfiling an Annulet embattled on the outer edge Argent between two Keys in pile the wards upwards and outwards Or on a Chief wavy Argent three Acorns proper.

Crest: Upon a Helm with a Wreath Or and Azure Upon a pile of three Closed Books fesswise those at the top and bottom with their spines to the dexter and that in the middle with its spine to the sinister Azure edged and garnished Or a Kylix issuant therefrom a Phoenix Or the flames proper.

Supporters: On either side A Phoenix Or the flames proper gorged with an Annulet embattled on the outer edge Azure.

College reference: Grants 177/76.

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