Category Archives: Heralds

Conrad Swan, R.I.P.

swanSir Conrad Marshall John Fisher Swan KCVO FSA (born 13 May 1924) was a retired long-serving officer of arms at the College of Arms in London. Having been first appointed to work at the College in 1962, he rose to the office of Garter Principal King of Arms in 1992, a position he held until 1995. He was the first Canadian ever to be appointed to the College of Arms. He was first appointed Rouge Dragon Pursuivant of Arms in Ordinary in 1962 and six years later became York Herald of Arms in Ordinary. In these capacities, he was among the Earl Marshal’s staff for the State Funeral of Sir Winston Churchill in 1965, the Investiture of the Prince of Wales in 1969, and was Gentleman Usher-in-Waiting to Pope John Paul II during his visit to the United Kingdom in 1982.

Swan was appointed Garter Principal King of Arms in 1992 on the retirement of Sir Alexander Colin Cole. His own retirement came in 1995, after having been diagnosed with cancer.

Swan was knighted by Her Majesty The Queen in 1994 as a Knight Commander of the Royal Victorian Order (KCVO). He is also a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Nation of Antigua and Barbuda (KGCN), Knight of Honour and Devotion of the Order of Malta, Cross of Commander of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland, Knight’s Cross of the Order of the Grand Duke Gediminas (Lithuania), Knight Grand Cross of Justice of the Sacred Military Constantinian Order of Saint George, Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Order of Francis I (GCFO) and Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Order of the Lion of Rwanda.

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He was also a Knight of the Most Venerable Order of St. John of Jerusalem and Knight Principal of the Imperial Society of Knights Bachelor (1995–2000); Commander (with Star) of the Royal Norwegian Order of Merit; Grand Cross with Grand Collar of the Imperial Order of the Holy Trinity (Ethiopia); Coronation Medal of the King of Tonga. He received the Commemorative Medal for the Centennial of Saskatchewan in 2005.

May he rest in peace.

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Sacerdotal Arms of Gaunt

Recently a priest from the UK shared with me the recent (November, 2018) grant of arms he received from HM College of Arms. Of course there was a very fine example of Letters Patent illustrating the grant as well as laying out the blazon of arms. This is not an inexpensive or a quickly done process. Being a subject of HM, the Queen it was altogether correct, however, for Fr. Adam Gaunt to petition for and receive a grant of arms from the legitimate heraldic authority within the country in which he lives. It may take some time; it may cost a rather tidy sum but in the end it is well worth it.

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The coat of arms itself (below) is illustrated ensigned by the appropriate ecclesiastical hat for a priest of the Church of England. That is to say with two black tassels suspended from cords composed of black and white skeins twisted together.

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The Letters Patent also depict an heraldic crest on a helm with a horse and mantling which is most often seen employed in the arms of a layman not in holy orders. (below)

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In addition, there are illustrations included of a heraldic badge, as well as an heraldic standard which is composed of the arms, crest and badge. (below)

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Father Gaunt was kind enough to explain that, “The arms are an adaptation of those attributed by “ancient and uniform tradition” to my ancestor Gilbert de Gaunt, Earl of Lincoln.”

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“He, (Gilbert) was of Flemish origin and related to the Counts of Flanders, who used the same heraldic colors and metals.”

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Here in the United States we do not have a heraldic authority. That is not to say that Americans cannot employ coats of arms. On the contrary, Americans are armigerous but we may legally and correctly, which are two different things, assume a coat of arms. That is to say we are able simply to design and adopt a coat of arms for our own use. In England there is a heraldic authority which is not a government office but a private corporation which operates as a part of the royal household. While it is technically illegal for a person to assume a coat of arms in England there isn’t a very great likelihood that there will be any legal repercussions to doing so as there might be in, say, Scotland or South Africa. However, it is quite incorrect simply to assume arms in England.

Instead, it is both right and, I would hazard a guess, quite delightful to do as Fr. Gaunt has done and receive a grant of arms from HM College of Arms. Well done Fr. Gaunt!

More Clergy With Multiple Versions of Their Arms

A couple of years ago I wrote about clergy who make use of more than one version of their coats of arms depending on offices held or circumstances of use. Once again I’ve come across a fine example.

The current Lord Lyon King of Arms, the principal heraldic authority for Her Majesty in Scotland is not only a heraldic expert and a jurist but he is also an ordained clergyman in the Scottish Episcopal Church (a.k.a. the Anglican Church north of the border). The Rev. Canon Dr. Joseph John Morrow, CBE, KStJ, QC, DL, LLD possesses a very nice coat of arms of his own.

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This coat of arms can be displayed all alone or, as Lord Lyon sometimes has chosen to do, with the helm, mantling and crest of the typical armorial achievement.

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However, sometimes this coat of arms is also displayed with the external ornaments proper to the Office of Lord Lyon King of Arms.

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Additionally, the Office of Lord Lyon has its own armorial bearings which may be used by the incumbent of the office of Lord Lyon in a “greater” form:

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as well as a “lesser” or smaller version.

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Finally, the current Lord Lyon may choose to impale his personal arms with those of Lord Lyon and display them with the external ornaments of the office, including the red lion supporters:

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or he may impale his personal arms with the arms of office and display them with some of the external ornaments of Lord Lyon as well as his own crest and supporters.

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Same man; same arms; many versions.

Cardinal Montezemolo R.I.P.

Andrea Cardinal Cordero Lanza di Montezemolo has died. He was a great diplomat for the Holy See and contributed much to the field of heraldry. But, with respect, I disagreed entirely with his ideas about papal heraldry. His encouragement of Pope Benedict to discontinue the use of the triregno heraldically was a mistake. Still, the large part of his service to the Church was outside the field of heraldry and he served the Lord and the Church well. Requiescat in Pace.

Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor: RIP

His Eminence, Cormac Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor, 10th Archbishop of Westminster died today in the UK after a battle with cancer. He was 85.

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He became the 10th Archbishop of Westminster in March 2000 and “de facto” the leader of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales. Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor retired from the role in 2009 and was the first archbishop to do so. Born on 24 August 1932 in Reading, Berkshire, Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor was one of six children. Two of his brothers became priests while another played rugby for Ireland. He was ordained priest in Rome in October 1956 and was made Cardinal-Priest in the title of Santa Maria Sopra Minerva in 2001 by Pope John Paul II.

His coat of arms (above) was originally designed by the late Bruno Heim when Murphy-O’Connor was named Bishop of Arundel & Brighton in 1977. Later they were impaled with a modified version of the arms of the See of Westminster as recorded at HM College of Arms in London.

May he rest in peace.

Archbishop Stack of Cardiff

From the most recent College of Arms Newsletter: A grant of Arms was made by Letters Patent of Garter and Clarenceux Kings of Arms dated 14 October 2016 to George STACK, Archbishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Cardiff.

College reference: Grants 179/343. The blazon reads:

“Arms (illustrated below): Vert a Pall parted and fretted each piece Argent voided Azure between in chief a Fleur-de-lys Argent in the dexter a Garb and in the sinister a Stag’s Head caboshed a Crescent between the attires Or.”

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