The Society of Scottish Armigers (USA)
As our history as a family and clan goes back into the mists of time, their are many ways to celebrate our rich heritage. Our armorial history is one way of pinpointing people and time frames as the heraldic records still exist. Therefore continuing on from our previous blogs on the College of Arms and the Roll of the Peerage and in answer to questions we have received regarding a point of contact on the use, or misuse, of Scottish Arms in the US, it was interesting to note that in the latest Heraldry Society of Scotland (HSS) Newsletter, Tak Tent (83), there is an article on their sister organisation; the Society of Scottish Armigers.
The Society of Scottish Armigers, established in 2002 and in 2010 is listed as being based in San Diego, California, USA, being headed by some exceptionally notable and knowledgeable individuals. As an institution it has an excellent pedigree and can act with authority and expertise in all things to do with Scottish Heraldry. This is, in part based on their close links with the Lyon Court in Edinburgh, Scotland. At the time of their formation the Society was given the very great honor of having The Right Honorable Robin Orr Blair, LVO, WS, the then Lord Lyon King of Arms, to agree to act as its patron. They also had the former Lord Lyon, Sir Malcolm Innes of Edingight, KCVO, WS, Orkney Herald of Arms Extraordinary, who graciously consented to serve as chairman of the advisory committee.
The Society of Scottish Armigers are listed as a; USA IRS 501 (c) (3) educational entity, organised to provide the public with information about Scottish heraldry and its traditions, customs and laws.
There is a whole section of interesting and informative documents that can be downloaded and read at your leisure, on their website.
The Society of Scottish Armigers; Objects and Purposes.
- To research, identify and record Scottish Armorial Bearings, which have been granted or matriculated by the Court of the Lord Lyon.
- To publish and distrubute an historical record of Scottish Armorial Bearings, along with biographical information regarding the Armigers themselves.
- To inform and educate regarding the history and meaning of Armorial Bearings within the Scottish tradition.
- To promote information on Scottish heraldry, to preserve and share knowledge and to act as a resource centre for those seeking information (on the validity etc ed.).
- To support and encourage knowledge of Scottish history and heritage
- To encourage the use of coats of arms and armorial banners in pageantry and display.
- To encourage participation in events such as; Highland Games, Scottish Country Dancing, Kirking of the Tartans and St Andrews Societies
According to the information given in the HSS Article, it states that Scotland has the most scientific system of heraldry in the world today and is governed by a series of Laws dating back to 1587. A Scottish Armiger is described as a person who has a coat of Arms recorded in the Public Register of All Arms and Bearings in the Court of the Lord Lyon in Edinburgh.
It also makes clear that only Scottish Arms matriculated under the Lyon King of Arms Act of 1672, are valid in law.
From their website and in their ‘Home” page, the following is written; (http://scotarmigers.net/index.htm)
The Scots are a curious bunch. On the one hand we can be extremely egalitarian. “A Man’s a man for a’ that,” Burns’ great prophetic ode to the brotherhood of man, captures something central to our national character.
On the other, we are deeply attached to our history. Highlanders in particular have been famously and fanatically loyal to their kings and chiefs, even when those leaders, frankly proved unworthy of that devotion. Particularly among Scots of the Diaspora there remains a strong identification with clan, a fascination with chiefs and with the mottos, badges and insignia that go with them. (These are closely mirrored by Border Reiver Clans and Families who, as more people are becoming interested in their history and roots, are actively seeking factual and evidenced information on the same), These details therefore tie us together and bind us back to the land of our ancestors, the home of our hearts. (In our case as Carruthers, to the West March in Annandale, in the South West of Scotland).
Get to a Highland Games or Scottish Festival and see the proud displays in the clan tents, the flags flying everywhere, the vendors selling everything from T-shirts, ties and sashes to mugs, key-rings and who knows what with your clan tartan and insignia.
Except, of course, that clans don’t have coats of arms or mottos; armigers do. An armiger is defined as an individual with heraldic arms. A clan is a group of people who recognize a specific armiger as their chief and wear his or her crest surrounded by a strap and buckle bearing the chief’s motto or slogan.
But it’s also a bit more complicated than that. The Lord Lyon King of Arms, the supreme judge of heraldry in Scotland may, (based on evidenced genealogical proofs and documentation or alternatively though a derbfhine to elect a commander, again under the auspices of the Lyon Court), recognise the chief of a clan or the head of a family. This is done by the Lyon allowing a grant or a confirmation of the principal Arms of the clan or family in question. For an armiger to be recognised as an armiger, their arms must also have been recognized by the Lyon Court and entered in the Public Register of All Arms and Bearings in Scotland, which has been maintained since 1672. Scotland, in fact, has some very precise rules and laws governing arms and heraldic achievements.
The Society of Scottish Armigers was therefore founded to help people understand some of these rules and avoid common mistakes. The Lord Lyon is our President, and one of our missions is to serve as a conduit, a means of communication between him and the general public in matters of heraldry and practice, although we do not speak for him in an ‘official’ sense.
Similarly, many of the prominent clan chiefs are also members of the Society, and we are in active communication with the Standing Council of Scottish Chiefs (SCSC), although again, we do not speak for them in any official sense. You can find links on the SSA website to both the SCSC website and Lyon Court.
The SSA website, is intended to serve many disparate groups. We want to be a forum for our members. But most of all we hope to serve the general public and be a resource for Scots all over the world, and for cities which may find themselves hosting Scottish Games or festivals. By improving understanding, and avoiding misunderstanding, we hope to play our small part in strengthening the important ties, which bind Scots of the Diaspora to the land of our ancestors.
(Diaspora def; any group of people being dispersed far from their ancestral and traditional homelands, through flight, forced movement or migration)
The Arms of the SSA seen above, for those interested, are blazoned; Argent, on a sea barry wavy Azure and Argent a four masted clipper under full sail flagged Gules, on a chief Azure a saltire
Privileges of Arms (SSA).
There are a number of privileges that come with having your own coat of arms, such as wearing your own crest badge consisting of your crest within a circlet (not strap-and-buckle as clansmen do) inscribed with your motto and one eagle’s feather in silver behind the circlet on your bonnet; flying your own personal flag bearing your arms; and your wife wearing your crest by itself, to name but a few.
(By virtue of the fact that a Scottish Chief must bear the chiefly arms confirmed by the Lord Lyon, then only an armiger can be a chief. Clan Chiefs or Heads of Families are entitled to wear three feathers, while Chieftains two. This can be an eagle feather, but as conservation becomes the norm, many armigers have chosen to have their designated feather or feathers incorporated into the cap badge ed.)
More importantly, just as the arms of the chief descend to his heir, so do the arms of other Armigers. Their arms become part of their own family’s history and heirlooms, building a link across the generations with the symbols of heraldry and the genealogy of the bearers of those arms (Thus ensuring a strong link to their Scottish culture and heritage ed.). We Scots therefore take our traditions seriously, spending great effort in maintaining and celebrating them. The Society hopes to aid in both understanding and building upon that tradition.
Membership of the Society of Scottish Armigers.
Affiliation in the Society consists of four main classes:
- FELLOW: Those men and women possessing Armorial Bearings recognised in Scotland, who are of nobiliary station as defined by Scottish tradition and selected by a board to consider service and other factors of benefit to the community.
- MEMBER: Other men and women possessing Armorial Bearings recognised in Scotland.
- CORPORATE MEMBER: Corporate bodies possessing Armorial Bearings recognised in Scotland.
- HONORARY MEMBER – Persons who are Chiefs of the Name of Clans and Families.
- ASSOCIATE MEMBER: Spouses, daughters and anyone who may use the Arms by right of an Armiger. We may also have a quantity of up to 10% of regular members as Associates. These are people to whom the Society wishes to honor or who offer services to the Society. They have all the benefits of a regular Member – without voting powers.
The Board of the Society of Scottish Armigers.
The SSA board consists of the following dignitaries and experts;
President – Dr. Joseph Morrow, CBE, KStJ, QC, DL, PhD, LLD, Rt. Hon. Lord Lyon King of Arms.
Chairman of the Board – Hugh Archibald William Montgomerie, 19th Earl of Eglinton & 7th Earl of Winton, Chief of Clan Montgomery
Vice-Chairman of the Board – Andrew William Reginald Morrison, Rt. Hon. The Viscount Dunrossil
Past Chairman & Board Member – Colonel William Paret Boswell of Toberchurn, OStJ, JD, LLD, USAF (Ret)
Secretary, Acting Treasurer & Board Member – LCDR John Curtiss Glynn of Glynstewart, OstJ, USN (Ret.)
Sennachie & Board Member – Donald Draper Campbell, FSA Scot, MStJ
Commissioner, E.U. & Board Member – Charles McKerrell of Hillhouse, OStJ, FSA Scot
Board Member – Mark J.Harden – Baron of Cowdenknowes
Board Member – Major Randal Massey of Dunham, USA (Ret.)
Board Member – Brown McCallum Jr., CStJ
Board Member – Colonel Wilkins Urquhart of Urquhart, USAF (Ret.)
Board Member – COL Wayne Morgan
Board Member – Michael Todd McAlpin
Staff Webmaster: John A. Duncan of Sketraw, FSA Scot
Staff Editor: Dwyer Wedvick of Jarlsby
The Clan Carruthers Society International, suggests that if in doubt about the validity or claims of a group or an individual, it is best to take advice from an impartial organistation with the expertise to remain honest, professional and unbiased in its response. In the USA, in all things relating to Scottish heraldry and culture, the Society of Scottish Armigers is a very valid place to start.
When Fraud is Fraud.
As stated times many, arms belong to an individual and not a family and all Carruthers Arms are registered or recorded in the Lyon Court in Edinburgh.
Use of Arms, if they are not yours is inappropriate at best, however taking monies from people under false pretence is obviously deemed to be far more serious. It was therefore only in the last few years, in August 2017 to be precise, that an individual by the name of Colin Chisholm was jailed in the US for claiming to be Clan Chief of Clan Chisholm. He did this in order to con people out of monies in a US-based fraud. He was previously warned however, by the Clan Chisolm Society themselves, who wrote to him asking him to cease and desist making the claim, but he chose to ignore it. As Clan Carruthers currently have a similar problem, please be careful, as these people are definately out there.
The first mention of Carruthers Arms is in four Armorials dating back to the 13th century and are classed by the Society as ‘Ancient’. The last Carruthers’ Arms however, were warranted in 2017 by the Lord Lyon. Those Arms are registered to Dr George Carruthers, FSA Scot, Convenor of the Clan Carruthers Society. However we are hopeful that these will not be the last.
Currently another Carruthers and member of our Society, has petitioned for arms. This sits with the Lyon Court and we believe, based on the evidence provided, that another armiger will very soon join our ranks and his shield proudly legally displayed on our armorial. This remains separate to the ongoing action to have a Chief confirmed by the Lord Lyon, as if confirmed, they will bear the existing Chiefly Arms of Carruthers of Holmains as their own.
Blazon of the Arms (Carruthers 2017): Gules, two chevronells engrailed between in chief two fleurs-de-lys and in base a pheon Or.
The Crest: The figure of the Archangel Michael pinning the beast proper.
Motto: No Sto Solus (I do not stand alone).
Grant: Court of The Lord Lyon Public Register of All Arms and Bearings in Scotland: Warrant, September 2017.
Illustrated: Anthony Maxwell, Heraldic Artist, Edinburgh, Scotland
The design of the arms is based, as are all Scottish arms, upon those of the chiefly arms of the clan or family, in this case of Carruthers of Holmains. These were registered 1672, although it is believed that the arms existed well before the Lord Lyons Act itself
The arms are differenced from the Chiefly arms twice as is required in Scotland, with 1) chevronells engrailed, rather than chevrons and 2) a pheon to replace the fleur-de-lis on the base. The latter was chosen to represent the “lang spear” commonly used by his family as Border Reivers.
The crest is in keeping with the other Carruthers armigers through the ages, who have historically retained angelic representations, usually of the higher order. In this case the figure of the Archangel Michael was chosen by the armiger, again for a number of personal reasons.
In classic depictions, St Michael is normally identified defeating Satan, usually depicted as a beast, by standing over him. Therefore blazoning the crest as the figure of the Archangel Michael pinning the beast, seemed by far the more appropriate wording.
Rather than using the Chiefs motto of Promptus et Fidelis, Dr Carruthers chose the motto, Non Sto Solus (I do not stand alone), which he felt carried both historical and spiritual connotations of Carruthers as a riding family of the West Marches, as well as reflecting the Armigers own personal beliefs and his close family ties.
The Acquisition of Scottish Arms through the Court of the Lord Lyon King of Arms.
Those who wish to use arms in any personal sense must petition for a Grant of Arms or if they can trace their ancestry back to a direct or, in some cases collateral, ancestor – a “cadet matriculation” showing their place within the family. When a grant, or matriculation, of arms is successfully obtained, an illuminated parchment, narrating the pedigree as proved, is supplied to the Petitioner, and a duplicate is recorded in the Public Register of All Arms and Bearings in Scotland and/or the Public Register of Genealogies and Birthbrieves.
Application for such a Confirmation, by Letters Patent or Matriculation, from the Lord Lyon King of Arms is the only way to obtain a genuine (Scottish) coat of arms.
British Commonwealth – Anyone domiciled in Her Majesty’s realms overseas or in the Commonwealth (except those of English, Welsh or Irish ancestry who should approach Garter King of Arms in London [English or Welsh] or the Chief Herald of Ireland [Irish] in Dublin or Canadians who should approach the Chief Herald of Canada in Ottawa) can apply to the Lord Lyon King of Arms of Scotland for grant or matriculation of arms.
Foreign Countries – Arms are not granted to non-British citizens (though those of Scottish ancestry can apply to the Lord Lyon King of Arms for cadet-matriculations, as above described). Moreover even if not of direct armigerous descent, foreigners of Scottish descent can often arrange for a cousin in Scotland, or in one of Her Majesty’s overseas realms get arms established by the Lord Lyon King of Arms, and thereafter themselves to obtain a cadet matriculation (if proofed). Each party is in such cases is supplied with an illuminated parchment (Letters Patent).