Matriculation of Arms
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Matriculation of Arms

Matriculation of New Arms

When you do not possess arms and are not descended from someone who possessed arms, you must petition for a grant of arms.  Though this is a legal process, it is actually quite simple and a lawyer is not necessarily required. The procedure was made much simpler by the publication of templates of the "prayer" to the Lord Lyon for the matriculation of arms in 'Scots Heraldry' by Lord Lyon Sir Thomas Innes of Learney.  It should be noted however that special circumstances apply to what you will read below for a non-British subject applying for a Scottish coat of arms.

The information required is fairly simple. The person explains who they are, gives some personal details and as much or as little genealogical information as they wish. It must be remembered, though, that the application is a legal process and any genealogical claims must be proved by documentary evidence sufficient for a court of law. The prayer closes with a request that the Lord Lyon devise a coat of arms for you. Provided that you are a person considered reputable and "deserving", a coat of arms will normally be granted.

The Lord Lyon has full discretion to devise any coat of arms he likes for you, but the process is a conversation rather than an imposition, and an applicant's desires will be taken into consideration. Generally, if you bear the surname of an armigerous Scottish family, your arms will be devised to reflect in some way the arms of the head of that family. This is due to the 'clannish' nature of Scots society where it is considered that by bearing a particular surname you are proclaiming yourself a follower of the chief of that name. This means that a person with the surname Lindsay is likely to receive arms which in some way reflect those of the Earl of Crawford, but which are sufficiently different so that the applicant's descent from (or lack of proven blood connection with) the chiefly house is obvious. If you can prove descent from someone who has arms recorded in Lyon Register then the process you should follow is to apply not for a grant of arms, but for a rematriculation. 

Once the arms have been devised, they are painted onto vellum together with the accepted details of personal and family history. The arms are recorded in the Lyon Register, the arms come under the protection of the laws of Scotland, and the armiger is confirmed as one of the noblesse of Scotland. 

In Scotland, arms can also be applied for in memory of a person, so persons of Scottish descent who are no longer citizens of Scotland may apply for arms in memory of a Scottish ancestor and once these arms have been granted, may re-matriculate as a descendent. The ability to apply for arms in memory of an ancestor can be particularly useful when there is a group of cousins who wish to obtain arms. The cost of a new grant is more than the cost of re-matriculation and it can work out much cheaper if the cost of the grant to an ancestor is shared by a group and each individual then re-matriculates. Such a procedure also means that the group can be treated as a family unit whereas a series of individual grants or re-matriculations may not make this clear. 

Re-Matriculation Of Arms

This is a similar process to a grant of arms, but the prayer to the Lord Lyon must deal specifically with the proof of descent from someone who has recorded arms in the Lyon Register. If sufficient evidence (good enough to stand up in a court of law) is available, the prayer petitions Lyon to re-matriculate the arms with suitable differences to make plain the relationship of the petitioner within the family. Again, a template for the prayer is shown in Innes of Learney's Scots Heraldry. 

Fees For Matriculation Of Arms

There are a range of fees payable for the matriculation of arms.  The list below was accurate as of April 1, 1995. 

q      New Grant of Armorial Bearings - shield alone - 786

q      New Grant of Armorial Bearings - shield and crest - 1,225

q      New Grant of Armorial Bearings - shield crest, motto and supporters - 1,706

q      Rematriculation of previously recorded Armorial Bearings including shield and crest, with a Grant of new supporters -843

q      Rematriculation of previously recorded Armorial Bearings - shield, crest and supporters - 576

q      Rematriculation of previously recorded Armorial Bearings - shield and crest - 365 

q      Additional charges may be made for extra painting work and for postage. 

Differencing In Scotland

As was said in the section on matriculation, only one person may rightfully use a coat of arms at any particular time.  All other persons must bear arms with some form of difference - either temporary or permanent. 

The main temporary difference used with any frequency in Scotland is the label which is used by the nearest heir to a coat of arms. In Scottish practice this includes presumptive heirs as well as apparent heirs, so an only daughter would be heraldically correct in using a label - though as a daughter she could also use her father's coat undifferenced. The rule also applies to more distant relatives - so long as they are the nearest heir to the coat of arms. It must, however, be remembered that the label is only temporary, so should a nearer heir be born, the previous nearest heir must drop the label and matriculate an appropriate cadet difference. 

The differences now in use for all families, except that of the sovereign, may be partially traced to the time of Edward III. They are as follows.  First son: A label of 3 points.  Second son. A crescent. Third son: A mullet. Fourth son: A martlet.  Fifth son. An annulet.  Sixth son. A fleur-de-lis. 

In general, Scottish differencing is worked out according to a standard set of rules which are best described pictorially.  In most cases, differencing involves the use of a bordure which is tinctured, charged and generally devised to denote the position of the person in the family.  Good examples of how this system works are given in Innes of Learney's "Scots Heraldry" and  Moncreiffe & Pottinger's "Simple Heraldry".

 

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