Tuesday, 27 July 2021

Office of the Chief Herald of Malta - Ombudsman's Conclusions Published


Last week the Office of the Ombudsman (Malta) published its findings following the investigation into the creation of the Office of the Chief Herald of Malta and shortly after I began to receive numerous reports from friends in heraldry who, in the early days prior to my intervention, had made enquiries to the "Chief Herald" about grants/registrations of arms that they had received an email from the present "Chief Herald". All of the emails were exactly the same and therefore appeared to be simply a marketing update. 

Extract from the email update sent by the "Chief Herald" "The Ombudsman in his ruling of 21st July made a number of recommendations. Legal counsel advises that these recommendations are in fact already fully addressed by the draft secondary legislation. I understand that these formalities will be concluded following the parliamentary recess, by Autumn/Winter 2021 and will update you accordingly. " 

The Ombudsman did indeed make a number of recommendations and as I have already stated, there was nothing in the original Bill except the mere creation of an empty office of Chief Herald and although rumour has it that the actual powers for said office will be included in the second reading we really, as yet have no idea what will be included. It is somewhat concerning that the Ombudsman, who presumably has greater access to these things than you or I states, in his report that "This Office observes that the proposed Bill does not include an amendment to specifically regulate heraldry, including the creation of new arms" .

For clarity and openness, I have uploaded the full report of Ombudsman here: https://bit.ly/3y75WvW

Thursday, 1 July 2021

Maltese Parliament to establish an Office of the Chief Herald of Arms (Properly?)

I note that, at last, Malta is attempting to do it right and doing what it should have done in the first place. My reader will already know that early in 2020 I brought to the attention of the Chief Investigating Officer at the Office of the Maltese Ombudsman that fact that the actions of the Chief Herald of Arms were ultra vires, unlawful and of no worth, because there was no lawful authority for the creation of the Office of Chief Herald or for anything he was doing. The Minister for the National Heritage, the Arts and Local Government, if he wished to create such an Office should have tabled a paper before Parliament for discussion. 

It seems that in actually attempting to now set up the Office of the Chief Herald of Arms of Malta, there is a tacit acceptance of my assertion that everything the so called Chief Herald has done to date is indeed ultra vires and I can say with some pride that my report, which can be found here https://bit.ly/3aWv1yi had some effect in that the Minister has been forced to do what he should have done in the first place.

On the 22nd June, The Cultural Heritage Amendment Bill, presented by the Minister for the National Heritage, the Arts and Local Government, Hon. José Herrera MP received its first reading in the Parliament of Malta. 

"The objects and reasons of this Bill are to update the principal Act according to current practice and standards of heritage management, especially regulatory obligations, edit and correct mistakes, establish an office of the Chief Herald of Arms, provide for compensation of impacts on cultural heritage, better facilitate the State’s right of preference for the acquisition of cultural heritage items, and the formal establishment of National World Heritage Sites Technical Committee." 

I do however, have some reservations as the bill does not actually go so far as to create a "Heraldry Act" like the one South Africa had the good sense to create but only goes as far as amending Article 8 of The Cultural Heritage Act (Article 8 of the Act refers to The Operating Agency and the fact that it is restricted, like all other parts of the Act, to “those elements of the cultural heritage entrusted to it are protected and made accessible to the public as defined in this Act”). The amendment adds the words "to setup and manage the Office of the Chief Herald of Arms of Malta."

So, having passed a 1st reading, the Bill now has to pass a 2nd reading, then go to Committee Stage (at which time I shall give it another perusal to see if there is to any actual substantive detail/explanation), then go to Recommittal and on to 3rd Reading. 

So far, all we know is that the Minister has asked Parliament to add the words " to setup and manage the Office of the Chief Herald of Arms of Malta." If this is all that is approved, then there will still be doubts over what the Office can and can't do because I have yet to see anything to amend the restrictions in the original Act which only allows Heritage Malta to protect, preserve and record that which is already existing. 

Setting up an Office of the Chief Herald of Malta is one thing (and I am delighted that they are attempting to do so) but, so far, I have seen nothing that will allow any Chief Herald to grant arms anew, to register the arms of foreigners or to grant them arms anew when to do so has nothing to do with Maltese heritage or to invent and assign new coronets to the "non titled nobility" of Malta when non existed before and so can't be classed as "heritage". I have yet to see any retrospective provision or mention of recompense to those who have up to now paid for a grant or registration of arms which is in effect and in law void and worthless. I shall continue to delve into the amendment Bill and watch with interest its progress.

Watch this space.

Friday, 25 June 2021

Courtesy titles of the children of disclaimed Peers

 Continuing my sojourn into back copies of The Coat of Arms, in a letter (Volume XII No. 86 April 1971) Patrick W. Montague-Smith, Editor, Debrett, reminds us that:

Under the Peerage Act a disclaiming peer irrevocably divests himself and his wife "of all right and interest to or in the peerage, and all titles, rights, offices and privileges and precedence attaching thereto." That the children are unaffected, retaining their precedence, was made clear in a statement issued by Garter King of Arms. The Earl Marshal, after taking the advice of Norfolk Herald Extraordinary and the Lord Lyon King of Arms, stated that they should continue to be accorded courtesy titles unless they do not wish to use them. The use of courtesy titles and styles, is, of course the Sovereign's prerogative.

Referring to Albertus Magnus' letter (Vol. No. 79, p 257) the Foreign Secretary undoubtedly ranks as a Secretary of State under Baronial Rank. His son, the former Lord Dunglass, obtained recognition at Lyon Court in his new name of D. A. C. Douglas-Home, Esq., before Garter's statement was issued, but in view of the above he retains precedence as the eldest son of an Earl.

The coronet of a Baron in the peerage.

The comments in the letter refer to David Douglas-Home who, upon the death of his father, who had disclaimed his peerage, became 15th Earl of Home.

The arms of the Earl of Home: Image by Wikimandia 

Quarterly: 1st & 4th grandquarters, quarterly: I & IV: vert a lion rampant argent armed and langued gules (Home); II & III: Argent three popinjays vert beaked and membered gules (Pepdie of Dunglas); overall an escutcheon or charged with an orle azure (Landale); 2nd & 3rd grandquarters, quarterly: I: Azure a lion rampant argent armed and langued gules crowned with an imperial crown or (Lordship of Galloway); II: Or a lion rampant gules armed and langued azure debruised of a ribbon sable (Abernethy); III: Argent three piles gules (Lordship of Brechin); IV: or a fess checky azure and argent surmounted of a bend sable charged with three buckles of the field (Stewart of Bonkill); over all on an inescutcheon argent a man's heart gules ensigned with an imperial crown proper and a chief azure charged with three mullets of the field (Douglas).




Thursday, 24 June 2021

The arms of Gover

 I have always enjoyed reading although, for some strange reason, I have always been drawn more to fact than to fiction. Being a heraldry addict when I get the time I am fond of looking through old copies of various publications such as my collection of back copies of The Coat of Arms, an heraldic quarterly magazine published by The Heraldry Society. It is interesting to view articles and correspondence from the early days with a "modern" eye; for example, a letter asking how, if Garter advises that crests should follow the orientation of the helmet, can we tell the difference between a lion rampant and a lion rampant affronty. Such a conundrum need not trouble us today since the convention that we must have left facing helms for gentlemen and esquires and front facing helms reserved for higher mortals such as knights no longer holds as we have, thankfully, moved on and we can move the helmet to suit the orientation of the crest without offending convention. 

The correspondence columns are entertaining and there is much scholarly debate which although often  combative is almost always conducted in a gentlemanly fashion (sometimes thinly disguised). Today I was looking through  Volume IV No. 33, January 1958 (Three Shillings!) as I had been following a debate through a number of previous volumes on "The Misuse of Banners" . This one made me smile:


We are constantly hearing complaints in the Coat of Arms about alleged crimes connected with the misuse of the Royal Banner of Scotland, and indeed Scotsmen seem generally to be unduly sensitive to real and imagined slights in the field of heraldry.

May I mention just one instance of offence in the other direction? On many occasions I have seen banners of my arms borne and flown by Scotsmen IN ENGLAND. Would Lord Lyon assert the right of his countrymen to use these arms in this country as vehemently as he denies the use of his arms to an Englishman in Scotland unless duly matriculated?

Yours etc.

Michael J. Gover

P.S. In case anyone wonders what this letter is all about, may I remind them that the arms of Gover are "Azure, a saltire Argent".

The personal banner of the arms of Gover!

Humphrey Lloyd, Alderman, 1624.

 Humphrey Lloyd, Alderman, 1624.

Arms: Quarterly of eight coats: 1, Argent, a cross engrailed the ends fleury Sable, between four Cornish choughs proper; 2, Or, a lion passant guardant Gules; 3, Azure, three fishes, their heads towards the fess point Argent; 4, Sable a chevron between three goats' heads erased Or; 5, Argent, a rose Gules barbed and seeded proper; 6, Sable, a lion rampant Argent; 7, Per pale Azure and Sable three fleurs-de-lis Or; 8, Sable, three nags' heads erased Argent. Over the whole, a martlet for difference.

Wednesday, 9 June 2021

A despicable fake

I came across this (undated) letter, purporting to be from Garter King of Arms while searching for something quite unrelated. It is such a despicable fake that it just has to be exposed. 

It would seem that this individual has a desire to claim the arms (and Lordship of the Manor) of Baguley despite the fact that the (heraldic) family of Baguley (those believed, but not proved, to have been descendants of Hammon de Massey) are extinct. Certainly the Hall came to the Leighs of Booths via an heiress. The arms are also quartered by Fritton. It is likely that most, if not all, of those with this name today have what is known as a location surname i.e. at the time surnames were adopted they lived in or were from the village, rather than being descendants of the extinct manorial lords.

I placed this fake letter on the Facebook forum of The Heraldry Society and participants in the discussion did a wonderful job of dissecting the elements which exposed it as a fraud. 

Quite apart from the different fonts used, we start with the word "apologize" with a "z". Englishmen tend to use apologise with an "s". But what is the apology for? It appears that Garter is apologising on behalf of York Herald for his lack of knowledge of Thomas Woodcock and his research in the Oxford Guide to Heraldry. I simply don't believe that  York would be ignorant of either the man or his works; this is too incredible to be believed. The comment about any case "in heraldic court" (not in the heraldic court or the Court of Chivalry) is also quite ridiculous as Garter would, if he wished to discuss a case to be brought before the Court of Chivalry, have mentioned his own view that any resurrection of the Court would be practically impossible and he would have cited comments made at the Manchester case.
Garter would know full well that in his judgement (Manchester Corporation v Manchester Palace of Varieties [1955] P 133) Lord Goddard suggested that: “if this court is to sit again it should be convened only where there is some really substantial reason for the exercise of its jurisdiction.” Someone wishing to prove a right to arms would do so by having his pedigree examined by The College, not by bringing a case before the Court of Chivalry. 

The reference to the Earl Marshal as "his grace" in lower case does not further convince us that this letter is genuine.

The next part is meaningless waffle but it is clumsy to write "bare" arms when the real Garter would know full well that a person bears arms. When a person is seeking to prove a right to bear arms, no garter would write, without substantial proof, and suggest that the petitioner simply accept his recognition as head of the family and the bit about nobility is meaningless to an English King of Arms. To suggest that there is a need to simply "accept my recognition and leave the matter alone" (implying that it would be too much trouble to do anything else)  is risible. 

Those of us with any smattering of knowledge about these things would know that anyone claiming the right to bear arms and writing to the College of Arms for guidance would be informed of a proper process, involving a proven genealogy, by which that right must be claimed and we know that the College of Arms would offer, for a fee, assistance in either proving or disproving the claim. The Court of Chivalry would not come into the discussion, nor would any herald suggest anything, without proof, which would indicate a sort of "its far too much trouble to go to these lengths so lets just say that you are the head of your American family and you can use the arms with some cadency marks, call yourself Esquire and be a nobleman"! 

Oh, and we don't end a letter with Yours Sincerely with an upper case S. It should be Yours sincerely.

What an utterly despicable, illiterate, effort to pretend to be something that you are not.   

Wednesday, 2 June 2021

John Lloyd, L.L.B., 1608.

Sometimes, I hit a brick wall and this evening was one of those times. I am coming to the end of the letter L in the Funeral Certificates and have a few outstanding arms to complete, one being the arms of Mrs. Elizabeth Leigh, daughter of Thomas Edwards of the Mould, in the County of Flint, gent. I'm saving that one up until I can pluck up the courage to spend time doing a complicated image. However, the one that has really frustrated me is that of John Lloyd, L.L.B., who died in 1608. The only description of the arms is "A trick of arms. On a chevron between three dolphins nowed an annulet." I don't have the luxury of seeing the actual trick and the written description isn't helpful, not only because it doesn't give tinctures but also because the dolphins are described as "nowed". This is an unusual attitude for a dolphin (it means tied in a knot; frequently applied to serpents and the tails of beasts when knotted) and I am wondering if it should actually be naiant which is used to describe fish swimming horizontally across the shield (and yes, I do know that a dolphin isn't a fish!). The default posture for an heraldic dolphin is naiant and they are typically drawn embowed or embowed counter-embowed.  

Sadly, neither Google or Burke's General Armory are helping as I can't find a Lloyd amongst the many in Burke's with a dolphin coat. 


It could be this one. Monument, St. Mary's on the Hill; Ormerod, Volume 1, page 266. : 

Office of the Chief Herald of Malta - Ombudsman's Conclusions Published

  Last week the Office of the Ombudsman (Malta) published its findings following the investigation into the creation of the Office of the Ch...

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