Canada, Clan Carruthers, Coat of Arms, USA

CLAN CARRUTHERS: Can I get ‘CARRUTHERS’ Arms in America and Canada?

Accepting that all Scottish arms belong to an individual and not a family or clan, the Carruthers arms as we know them are proudly borne by the Chief of Carruthers, Peter Carruthers of Holmains.

Therefore all Scottish heraldry ie arms/coats of arms come under the auspices of the Lord Lyon King of Arms in Edinburgh who, like the College of Arms in London and the Canadian Heraldic Authority in Ottawa, have a Letters Patent from the British Monarch and as such are government agencies.

Each authority has their own jurisdiction, which is highly respected by the others and each communicate with each other on arms that may overlap.

This means that with regards Scottish Arms, only the Lord Lyon has jurisdiction, although in some cases for those in say Canada and the US and with the correct paperwork, the granting of Scottish Arms may be considered.

This is most certainly the case for those in the US who can prove ancestry from Scotland and were living in the ‘colonies’ pre the American Revolutionary War of 1775-1783.

However, outwith Scotland, there are ways of registering arms in Canada and through non-government agencies, registering arms in the US.

Saying this any Carruthers personal arms, or all other Carruthers armiger’s arms are taken from our chief’s arms but differenced twice and as these are Scottish arms, that will not change.

We now look at how to register arms in both Canada and the US. See below.


Canada has its own heraldic office as above, and its own process of granting arms for it citizens, although arms belonging to another individual would still not be granted to someone else.

  • As such the LLC ‘arms’, after a query by the Clans and Scottish Societies of Canada (CASSOC) was deemed illegal for usage in Canada by the Canadian Heraldic Authority.

For those Canadians wishing to have arms granted below is the form for Canadian citizens:-

Please fill out the online application form. The form is also accessible in a PDF version, which can be filled out manually and returned to

After reception of your application form, we will contact you to obtain the documents listed below and required to open your file.

1. Proof of Canadian citizenship or permanent residence

A copy of at least one of the following documents:

  • Birth certificate (issued by a provincial or territorial government)
  • Certificate of Indian Status or Secure Certificate of Indian Status (both sides)
  • Canadian passport identification page
  • Canadian citizenship certificate or card (both sides)
  • Valid Canadian permanent resident card (both sides)

Note: Please ensure that the document bears the name that you wish to see used in the grant or registration of your emblems.

2. Résumé/CV

A summary of your education, work experience and community service, including dates and locations

3. If applicable, documents for your descendants

For each descendant for whom you are requesting a cadet shield, a copy of:

  • A completed application form for heirs (only available as a PDF)
  • Their government-issued birth certificate (long form, indicating the names of their parents)

Note: If they use a name that is different from the name shown on their birth certificate, please provide documentation indicating the change.

4. For a registration, the emblem-related documents

If you are applying to register arms that have already been granted, please also include:

  • In the case of emblems not granted by the chief herald of Canada, a high-resolution, full-colour image of the original official document by which they were granted or assigned. The emblems, the full text of the document and the signatures must be clearly visible.
  • In cases of inheritance of arms, a full family tree linking you to the ancestor who received the original grant of arms. Note that every generation, including all children, must be detailed with birth and death dates.


As we are aware the USA does not in itself have an official heraldic registration or granting authority other than for governmental arms. However, although there are others out there, the most prestigious and respected heraldic group offering registration is the American College of Heraldry founded in 1972.

This is because they work within the concept of standard Heraldic procedure, and will not knowingly grant arms to an individual, previously and legally granted to another, especially from registered heraldic Authorities. As such they are recognised as a group with whom the international heraldic community can work and they are held in high esteem.

So accepting heraldry has no governmental authority in the US, would the ‘arms’ of any group or individulal using someomes else’s arms ie that of a Scottish Chief, be able to be registered with the College of Heraldry, or in fact any other respected American Heraldic group?

The information below from the American College of Heraldry and the American Heraldic Society, two prestigious and well respected groups in the US will clarify any possibility…or not as is more likely the case it seems.

The statement below posted on the American College of Heraldry’s facebook of 2nd November 2022, at 16:30 hours clearly sets out their stance on plagiarism and therefore on the misuse of someone else’s arms without their permission.

This is clearly stated in relation to access to their own Armorial Albums and thus any Arms granted by them :-

American College of Heraldry

Samples of thousands of armorial bearings registered by the College through decades (Note: No Armorial Bearings appearing in this album on the American College of Heraldry’s Facebook Page, may be used in any way without the written permission of the rightful owners of their legal representatives . Each Coat of Arms contained within this album is the exclusive property of those individuals or corporate bodies who registered the Arms with the College. Occasionally such ownership may extend to the persons who are direct descendants of the original Armiger in the family, but who have not registered their existing arms with the College. Any unauthorized use whatsoever of these Armorial Bearings may result in the offended family seeking redress within the judicial systems)

Further from these are statements they make in their answers to FAQ’s, it seems that ‘arms’ are not protected in the US.

“The Court of The Lord Lyon protects arms granted in Scotland, The College of Arms protects arms granted in the UK – how can I protect arms registered with the College (or any other US entity)? Can I trademark or copyright them?”

  • Unfortunately, there is no way to legally protect a coat of arms in this country. I would refer you to a brief article on the subject – An abridged explanation:
  • The Coat of Arms definition is made of words [blazon] – for instance, “Per fess argent and vert, a dragon passant gules”.
  • The Coat of Arms representation is a picture/rendering, which can be drawn/painted by any heraldic artist.
  • As to copyright, you could certainly copyright the blazon, but that would not impact someone drawing the arms and displaying them. 
  • You could apply for a trademark, but that would only be for a specific rendering of a coat of arms, and not ALL renderings of that coat of arms.
  • So, the long and short of it is, there is no legal protection in this country (US).

“I am descended from Charlemagne (or Queen Victoria, or Robert the Bruce – insert your ancestor of choice here). I know that I am a direct male line descendant, and so I want to register those arms in my name.”

  • As stated (previously), the College is not a research organization, and thus cannot verify with any certainty your claim to a certain genealogical descent. While you may actually be entitled to inherit arms borne by an ancestor, the College is not in a position to study this. Thus, the only “historical” arms we would register would be those granted to you by a recognized heraldic authority (such as the College of Arms, Lord Lyon, etc.).
  • As you can imagine, there are tens of thousands of possible descendants from any given historical figure (famous or infamous), and there are just as many incorrect or falsified genealogies floating about for every one of them.

For those wishing to have personal arms granted in the US, here is the application form for the College of Heraldry in the United States.


The American Heraldry Society (AHS), another well respected group internationally has within its guidelines some often misquoted simple statements relating to the use of arms:

  • 1.6.2. It has never been legitimate anywhere for a person to take someone else’s arms for his own. Since arms are hereditary emblems of identity, the proven descendants of a person who bore arms have a right to those arms in accordance with the rules of heraldic succession (section 3.4) applicable to the place and time. However, the mere coincidence of bearing the same family name as another person is not proof of descent from that person. Commercial enterprises that claim to sell the arms of a name do so under false pretenses, and anyone who pays them for such arms has been duped.

In the case of our own chiefs arms, there is no coincidence involved but simply a deliberate act of fraud.

In the design and use of a shield the AHS states:

  • As far as possible, the design displayed on the shield should be unique; the intentional usurpation of someone else’s arms is morally tantamount to identity theft. Moreover, a newly devised coat of arms should not resemble an existing one so closely as to suggest a connection that does not exist. While the coincidental selection by different people of the same or similar designs is probably inevitable considering the hundreds of thousands of arms in existence—most of which have never been published—the designer of a new coat of arms is morally obliged to make a good faith effort to verify that his design is truly original. A qualified heraldist can help in this effort.

Further in the case of using supporters:

  • The use of supporters with personal arms is not customary in the United States. In most countries where supporters are part of the heraldic tradition, they tend to be associated with the arms of the titled nobility, even where there are no formal regulations on the matter. Supporters should therefore not be included in personal arms adopted in the United States. American citizens who have a hereditary right to arms that have traditionally been displayed with supporters in their ancestors’ country of origin, or in their own right as recipients of foreign grants of arms are encouraged to omit the supporters when using such arms as their own in the United States. This is both a matter of honoring the prevailing U.S. custom as well as of avoiding the impression of a claim to noble status that is not recognized by American social and legal norms. Supporters should definitely not be used if the current bearer of the arms does not meet the legal criteria for possession of supporters in the country in which the arms were created (for example, the descendant of a British knight grand cross who was entitled to supporters only during his own lifetime). In addition, if the supporters are indicative of noble status in the country of origin, they should not be used if the current bearer of the arms or an ancestor from whom they were inherited renounced such noble status in connection with naturalization in the United States. See section 5 on the use of foreign arms in the United States for further discussion.
  • There is no objection to the private display of the full achievement with supporters if it is presented as the arms of an ancestor who was entitled to them. See section 5 on the use of foreign arms in the United States.

At the base of a list of the American Heraldry Society’s member armigers and arms, the following is stated:

PLEASE NOTE: Any personal coat of arms and all alternative emblazonments displayed or linked in this armorial are the sole property of the armigers. They may not be used, copied, transferred, stored electronically, reproduced, nor used in any way whatsoever without the written permission of the armiger.

So what does this mean, for those who wish to have arms?

Canadian Arms are controlled by their own heraldic authority who follow strict guidelines, application process is above.

In America however, there is no such authority, but their are internationally respected groups that do exist, two of which are mentioned above.

However, if you wish to own arms you can of course get of course have them granted ideally not fraudulently by using the arms of another, as you will neither gain respect nor credibility.

However, if you are proud of your Scottish heritage and you wish them linked to the Carruthers arms, you may be able to achieve this.

As ‘CARRUTHERS’ are Scottish arms, if personal arms are taken from them they will need to be differenced at least twice from those of our Chief whose arms they are. This is seen in the arms of Isle (registered 1672) and those to the right of the Chief’s arms (from 1672 onwards).

The Arms of course are the shield itself, as it is this that is the main part of an armigers personal and visual identity.

Supporters, on the other hand would definitely not normally be allowed in Canada, nor would supporters be recognised in the US by any respectable heraldic agency. But all this can be seen above.

NB Based on correspondence with this institution, the Smithsonian does not register nor grant arms to anyone in the US nor beyond.

Again, as Clan Carruthers (International) we are always happy to advise to help you on the right road and suggest that for a Scottish Clan and Family, arms granted by the Lord Lyon are always credible as a heraldic currency.

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