Clan Carruthers, Lord Lyon

CLAN CARRUTHERS: New Appointments at the Lyon Court.

Seal of the Lord Lyon


So who is the Lord Lyon and what is his court. Simplistically, the Lyon has the full Heraldic authority for Scotland through the exercising royal prerogative powers in place of the Monarch. His counterparts in England are the College of Arms, and of course the Canadian Heraldic Authority in Canada.

The Lyons role, outwith that of his ceremonial function which includes State Visits, is dealing with all matters relating to Scottish Heraldry and Coats of Arms. His is an office of heraldic jurisdiction, which functions within its own right as part of the judicial system of Scotland. This court therefore controls Scottish armorial matters within a strict legal framework not enjoyed by their fellow officers of arms in London, and as a part of Scotland’s criminal jurisdiction has its own prosecutor, the court’s Procurator Fiscal.

Although its origins are very much more ancient, the Court of the Lord Lyon is in many respects a creation of the Stuart monarchs and all of the current titles of heralds and pursuivants would have been well known to Mary Queen of Scots (1542-1587). However it was the 1672 Act of the Scottish Parliament, in the reign of Charles II, which created the Public Register of All Arms and Bearings in Scotland, still in use today – which is approaching volume 100.

The Public Register of All Arms and Bearings in Scotland therefore contains all recordings of Scottish coats of arms from 1672 albeit were recorded prior to that, to the present day and it is added to daily.

Coats of arms cannot be used legally in Scotland unless they are recorded in that Register. The Register has been maintained by the Court of the Lord Lyon since 1672 as the office remains responsible for all heraldic matters in Scotland.

Entries into the Register can include a considerable amount of genealogical information although the older entries usually have less detail. By the mid 19th century recordings often contain details of an individual’s descent from his grandfather or earlier even when the individual is being granted a new coat of arms.

When a person is re-recording (matriculation) arms borne by an ancestor, often several generations earlier, an account of that person’s ancestry back to the forebear will be included. It is usual for people to have some knowledge of whether an ancestor had a coat of arms.

The Public Register of All Arms and Bearings in Scotland is not a register of genealogical account. There is a Public Register of Genealogies and Birthbrieves in Scotland which is also held in the Court of the Lord Lyon, whose office also has a large collection of family trees, family histories and other genealogical material.

It is therefore by having access to this and other official documentation, which allows an in-depth investigation and analysis of any proofs and documentation presented as a petition for arms. This is especially important in the granting of the arms of a chief, and ensures that an individual with the pedigree to match is formally and legally recognised as Chief. This occurs through the Lyons permission to bear those arms as their own, as Chief of the Name and Arms of a Clan or Family.


In addition to the Officers of the Lyon Court; the Lord Lyon, Lyon Clerk, Lyon Macer and Procurator Fiscal, there are the Officers of Arms who are members of the Royal Household in Scotland. While the Lord Lyon and the Lyon Clerk are appointed by the crown, and again with the Crown’s authority, the Lyon appoints the other Scottish officers.

These are Heralds and Pursuivants, known collectively as Her Majesty’s Officers of Arms. They also have rights of audience before the Lord Lyon allowing them to represent clients seeking arms. Their other duties are concerned with ceremonial events and they take no part in the day-to-day running of the Office but do carry out other non-ceremonial duties, such as presiding over the election of a clan chief at a clan or family gathering/derbfine held in Scotland, and at the Lyon’s discretion.

Until the Act of 1867 there could be up to six Heralds and six Pursuivants in Ordinary at any one time, reduced by that Act to three of each.There are also Extraordinary Officers of Arms who may be appointed either for a specific event or for a longer period. Currently there are three Extraordinary Pursuivants as well as two Extraordinary Heralds


The Lord Lyon has made some new appointments at the Lyon Court and our Society warmly congratulates them all.    

New Appointments at the Lyon Court (taken from Tak Tent Newsletter, Autumn 2021)


Mrs Yvonne Holton formally Dingwall Pursuivant, to be ISLAY HERALD

The Office of Islay Herald dates from the reign of King James IV (1488-1513)

The office of Islay Herald was first mentioned in 1493. The badge was designed by Alastair Campbell of Airds


Liam Devlin Esq, formally Unicorn Pursuivant to be ROTHESAY HERALD

The Office of Rothesay Herald dates from the reign of King Robert III (1390-1406)

The title of Rothesay Herald was created after 1398 when the Dukedom of Rothesay, the first Dukedom in Scotland, was created by Robert III for his son, David, as heir to the throne. The Duke of Rothesay continues to this day as the Scottish title for the heir to the throne, known otherwise as the Prince of Wales. The herald’s badge was designed by Sir Thomas Innes of Learney in 1952.


John Stirling WS Esq, formerly Linlithgow Pursuivant Extraordinary to be ORMOND PURSUIVANT

The office of Ormond Pursuivant dates from King James IV (1488-1513)

The title of Ormond Pursuivant was probably created around 1488 when James III created his second son Duke of Ross and Marquess of Ormond. The badge was designed by Mark D. Dennis.


Roderick Alexander Macpherson Esq, formerly Falkland Pursuivant to be UNICORN PURSUIVANT

The office of Unicorn Pursuivant dates from the reign of King Robert II (1371-1390)

The unicorn was adopted as a royal badge some time after 1381 but it is not known exactly when the first Unicorn Pursuivant was created, the earliest names being John Fraser in 1426. Perhaps because it is the national beast of Scotland, the line of Unicorn Pursuivants has remained almost unbroken.



The office of Linlithgow Pursuivant dates from the reign of King James V (1513-1542)

The badge is taken from the Arms of the Royal Burgh of Linlithgow



The office of Falkland Pursuivant dates from the reign of King James IV (1488-1533)

The title of Falkland Pursuivant first appearsin the Exchequer Rolls of 1494. The title alludes to the royal palace of that name in Fife. The badge was registered in 1998.



The office of March Pursuivant dates from the reign of King JamesV (1413-1542)

The title of this pursuivancy first appears in the Exchequer Rolls on 1515. The Marches refers to the Borders. The badge was designed by Elizabeth Roads LVO and registered in 2013


Sir Crispin Agnew Bart LVO QC, formally Rothesay Herald, to be ALBANY HERALD EXTRA ORDINARY

The Office of Albany Herald dates from the reign of King Robert III (1390-1406)

Albany Herald is first mentioned as being on a diplomatic mission to England in 1401. The office was instituted following the creation of Robert Stewart as Duke of Albany by his father, King Robert III, in 1398. The badge was designed by Sir Thomas Innes of Learne.


The Hon Adam Bruce stays in post as MARCHMONT HERALD

Marchmont is named after a royal castle – more commonly known as Roxburgh Castle. and may have been created to mark the accession of James II of Scots. The King was killed by an exploding artillery piece in 1460 when his army was besieging Marchmont, or Roxburgh, castle. The office of Marchmont Herald is first mentioned in 1438. The badge was designed by Sir Thomas Innes of Learney


Sheriff George Plean of Way remains as CARRICK PURSUIVANT

The title of this pursuivancy is derived from that of the Earldom of Carrick, held by Robert the Bruce before his accession. The badge was designed by Sir Thomas Innes of Learney


Robin Blair Esq, remains as ANGUS HERALD EXTRAORDINARY

The name of the office is derived from the noble title of the (Earl of Angus a subsidiary title of theDuke of Hamilton). The office was active from 1490 to 1513. The badge was created in the spring of 2009 by Lord Lyon King of Arms David Sellar. 


Elisabeth Roads has retired as SNOWDOUN HERALD, after a successful career spanning 46 years at the Lyon Office, being the first female Officer of Arms in the World. She is retains her role as Secretary of the Order of the Thistle.

The office was first mentioned in 1443, during the reign of James II and the title is derived from a part of Stirling Castle, which bore the same name.


Ms Clare McCrory to the office of HERALD PAINTER, in succession to Yvonne Holton, who has held office with great distinction since 2005

The office of Herald Painter dates from 1364 during the reign of David II.

The 1672 Lyons Act which initiated the function of the Lyon King of Arms as we know it today is translated into modern English by Michael Grewer, a Scottish Legal expert in such matters, is seen below:

Lord Lyon Act 1672 (Translation from old Scots Into English by Michael Grewar)

Concerning the Privileges of the Office of Lyon King of Arms

Our Sovereign considering that, albeit by the 125 act of the 12 Parliament, holding by his Majesty’s grandfather in the year 1592, the usurpation of arms by any of his Majesty’s lieges without the authority of the Lyon King of Arms is discharged; And that, in order thereto, power and commission is granted to the Lord Lyon, King of Arms, or his Deputes, to visit the whole arms of Noblemen, Barons and Gentlemen, and to matriculate the same in their Registers, and to fine in One Hundred pounds all others who shall unjustly usurp Arms; As also to confiscate all such goods and possessions as shall have unwarrantable Arms engraved on them. Yet amongst the many irregularities of these late times, very many have assumed themselves arms, whom should bear none, and many of these who may in law bear, have assumed to themselves the arms of their Chief, without distinctions or arms which were not carried by themselves or their predecessors; Therefore His Majesty with the advice of the three Estates of Parliament, Ratifies and Approves the foresaid Act of Parliament; and for the more vigorous prosecution thereof, do hereby statute and ordain that letters of publication of this present Act be directed to be executed at the market cross of the head Burghs of the Shires, Stewartries, Bailliaries of Royalty and Regality, and Royal Burghs, charging all and sundry Prelates, Noblemen, Barons and Gentlemen, who make use of any Arms, or ensigns Armorial, within the space of one year after the said publication, to bring or send an account of what Arms or ensigns Armorial they are accustomed to use; and whether they are descendants of any family the Arms of which family they bear, and of what Brother of the family they are descended; with testaments from persons of honour, Noblemen or Gentlemen of quality, with the intention of them having and using those arms, and of their descent as aforesaid, to be delivered either to the Clerk of the jurisdiction where the person dwells, or to the Lyon Clerk at his office in Edinburgh, at the option of the party upon their receipts gratis without paying anything therefore; Which Receipt shall be a sufficient exoneration to them from being obliged to produce again, to the effect that Lyon King of Arms may distinguish the said Arms with congruent differences, and may matriculate the same in his books and Registers, and may give Arms to virtuous and well deserving persons and extracts of all Arms, expressing the blazoning of the Arms under his hand and seal of office; for which shall be payed to the Lyon the sum of twenty merks by every Prelate and Nobleman, and ten merks by every Knight and Baron; and five merks by every other person bearing arms and no more; and his Majesty hereby dispenses with any penalties which may arise from this or any preceding Act for bearing Arms before the proclamation to be issued hereupon; And it is Statute and Ordained, with the consent foresaid, that the said register shall be respected as the unrepealable rule of all Arms and Bearings in Scotland, to remain with the Lyon’s office as a public register of the Kingdom, and to be transmitted to his Successors for all time coming; And whosoever shall use Arms in any manner of after the expiring of one year and a day from the date of the proclamation to be issued hereupon in the manner aforesaid, shall pay one hundred pounds money toties quoties to the Lyon, and shall likewise confiscate to his Majesty all the moveable goods and possessions upon which the said Arms are engraved, or otherwise represented: And his Majesty with the consent foresaid, declares that it is only allowed for Noblemen and Bishops to subscribe by their titles; and that all others shall subscribe with their Christian names, or the initial letter thereof with their surnames, and may, if they please adject the designations of their lands, prefixing the word “Of” to the said designations: And the Lord Lyon King-at-Arms, and his Brethren are required to be careful of informing themselves of the contraveners hereof, and that they acquaint his Majesty’s Council therewith, who are hereby empowered to punish them as persons disobedient to, and contraveners of the law: It is likewise hereby declared that the Lyon and his Brethren heralds are judges in all such causes concerning the malversation of messengers in their office, and are to enjoy all other privileges belonging to their office which are secured to them by laws of this Kingdom, and according to former practice.

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