Monday 5 February 2018

Letters Patent and Feudal Baronies

I have had sight of a letter dated 23 October 2017 addressed to a learned solicitor. I feel justified in passing on its content as the Lord Lyon concludes his letter with the statement “Please feel free to circulate this letter to interested parties.” It would seem to me that all enthusiastic followers of Scots heraldry and the workings of the Lyon Court easily fall into the category of interested parties all be it that they are not parties to the purchase of a barony and wanting to petition for arms based upon said purchase..

“Letters Patent and Feudal Baronies
I have been reconsidering the wording relating to feudal baronies contained in Letters Patent. As you will be aware my function is to grant arms and the ownership of a barony is seen as sufficient to establish jurisdiction for me to grant arms. This will continue to be the position.

However, I have decided that from 1 January 2018 any application before me based on the ownership of a barony will no longer make any reference to the Deed of Assignation, transferring the barony.

The Letters Patent will simply state the petitioner “being within the jurisdiction of the Lord Lyon, King of Arms – he assigns Armorial Bearings”.
Please feel free to circulate this letter to interested parties.
Yours sincerely”

What is unclear, to me at least, is the reason why Lyon has changed his mind about naming the barony in Letters Patent and it is doubly unclear to me how an “Answer to a Petition” ( Menking 2014) can be published by a Judge, who ranks equally with a Court of Session Judge, and then have that decision negated by a single letter to a solicitor. This has thrown me into some confusion as to the status of an “Answer to a Petition”; is it a Judicial document or an administrative document? Clearly if it is the former then it requires a judicial procedure to set it aside and if it is the latter then surely an aggrieved party would have a right for the administrative procedure to be explained and justified by the administration. To quote one interested party, “It is not our tradition in the United Kingdom to be ruled by dictat!”

Perhaps, in the near future, there will be some sort of challenge or further questioning of the decision set down in the letter? Perhaps it will be accepted without question, who knows? Will the assignment of the baronial helm also now quietly disappear? Will new, post January, armigers who qualified by way of ownership of a barony (as they still will qualify) simply adopt the baronial helm as befitting their degree regardless?

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