Sunday 13 December 2009

What is a Clan?

I have a feeling, it’s nothing more than that, that Scotland’s new Lord Lyon King of Arms might be reviewing the “Innes of Learney school” of clan recognition and formation. The relevant page on the web site of the Court of the Lord Lyon states that it (the page) is “under review”. The Clan system is seen by many to be of extreme importance to Scotland’s tourist trade if nothing else as witnessed by the success of the July Great Gathering this year.

I know of at least two chief-less Clan Societies who are a very long way down the road towards petitioning Lyon for recognition of a new Chief; I hope that the draw bridge will not be pulled up before they achieve their aim.

Whatever the Scottish review may bring, it has come to my attention this week that within explanatory literature from the South African Chief Herald’s office there is reference to something called “family association coats of arms”:

Apart from personal coats of arms, the Bureau of Heraldry also design and register family association coats of arms. In such cases the coat of arms consists of a shield only (no helmet, crest and mantling) which is subdivided horizontally into two sections. The lower two thirds of the shield is reserved for elements which is chosen by the members of the family association. The upper one third of the shield remains empty and the shield is registered for the family association as is. Individual members of the association may then use this shield as a starting point and must place elements in the empty upper part of the shield as well as choose elements for the crest in order to create a new unique full coat of arms. Such a person’s coat of arms remains unique although one can clearly see that the person is a member of a specific family association. Prior to approaching the Bureau for such a registration the association must be established. It must be named, its aims must be set out and it must set up a constitution. END QUOTE

This is an interesting, and possibly innovative, development somewhat akin to the similarities in Scottish arms which help to identify names but I can't help wondering where it leaves existing armigers who may have liked to have indicated that they are a part of the "association".

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