Lord Lyon

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The Lord Lyon King of Arms

Coat of Arms of the Lord Lyon King of Arms.svg.png

Arms of Office of the Lyon King of Arms

The Lord Lyon King of Arms is the principle officer within the Lyon Court of Arms. <ref>George Way of Plean and Romilly Squire, Scottish Clan and Family Encyclopedia, 22</ref> Scotland and Spain are considered by one source to be among the few remaining countries where a court of heraldry and genealogy still exists in daily operation. <ref>http://www.heraldry-scotland.co.uk/lyon-court.html</ref> Appointments to the role are made by the Monarch, on the recommendation of the First Minister under section 3 of the Lyon Kings of Arms (Scotland) Act 1867.<ref>https://www.scotcourts.gov.uk/about-the-scottish-court-service/scs-news/2013/10/18/the-office-of-lord-lyon-king-of-arms-vacancy</ref>

The current incumbent (2014-) is Dr Joseph Morrow. <ref>http://news.scotland.gov.uk/News/New-Lord-Lyon-King-of-Arms-appointed-856.aspx</ref>

Role and Responsibilities

The Lord Lyon is the Head of the Heraldic Executive and Judge of the Court of the Lord Lyon. <ref>https://www.scotcourts.gov.uk/about-the-scottish-court-service/scs-news/2013/10/18/the-office-of-lord-lyon-king-of-arms-vacancy</ref> This means that the Lord Lyon has responsibility for regulating the use of heraldry, issuing new grants of arms and serving as the judge of the Court of the Lord Lyon, based in Edinburgh.

The Lyon Court operates within the Scottish judicial system and the Lord Lyon sits in state in full judicial attire.<ref>George Way of Plean and Romilly Squire, Scottish Clan and Family Encyclopedia, 22</ref>He is a Minister of the Crown as well as a judge. Through this judicial capacity the Lord Lyon is most likely to come in contact with members of the public, as almost all Scottish heraldic business is conducted on judicial lines. <ref>http://www.heraldry-scotland.co.uk/lyon-court.html</ref> This is through the operation of the Court of the Lord Lyon.<ref>http://www.heraldry-scotland.co.uk/lyon-court.html</ref> Determining succession to chiefship is among the Lord Lyon’s central work. <ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 22 </ref>

The Lord Lyon is also responsible for directing state ceremonies in Scotland. <ref>http://www.lyon-court.com/lordlyon/CCC_FirstPage.jsp</ref> On ceremonial occasions the Lord Lyon is accompanied by Her Majesty's Officers of Arms, all of whom are members of the Royal Household. They are at present Rothesay Herald, Snawdoun Herald and Marchmont Herald, Ormond Pursuivant, Dingwall Pursuivant and Unicorn Pursuivant. <ref>http://www.lyon-court.com/lordlyon/215.180.html</ref> The King of Arms and Heralds are present at openings of the Scottish Parliament. <ref>http://www.demotix.com/photo/741207/queen-opens-fourth-session-scottish-parliament</ref>

History and Powers

Thomas Innes of Learney.jpg

Sir Thomas Innes of Learney, Lord Lyon 1954-69

The office of Lyon King of Arms dates from the 14th century. <ref>http://www.lyon-court.com/lordlyon/215.180.html</ref>

Sir James Balfour claimed that the Lyon King of Arms and heralds attended the coronation of Robert II in 1371. <ref>James Balfour Paul, An Ordinary of Arms, v</ref> The earliest documentary evidence for the post is in 1377. <ref>James Balfour Paul, An Ordinary of Arms, v</ref>

The position may incorporate the much older Celtic office of royal Seanchaidh or of King's Poet with responsibility for keeping the royal genealogy and attending the inauguration (later coronation) of the King. <ref>http://www.lyon-court.com/lordlyon/215.180.html</ref> An Act of the Scottish Parliament of 1592 gave the Lord Lyon responsibility for prosecuting as a criminal offence anyone who uses unauthorised Arms. <ref>http://www.lyon-court.com/lordlyon/215.180.html</ref>

A further Act in 1672 established the Public Register of all Arms and Bearings in Scotland, which has since been maintained.<ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 22 </ref> This Register is maintained by the Lyon Clerk and Keeper of the Records and contains an official copy of every Coat of Arms granted in Scotland since 1672. <ref>http://www.lyon-court.com/lordlyon/215.180.html</ref> The Act also made it unlawful for any person to bear arms which have not been properly registered, and established that records were kept of all future grants.<ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 22 </ref>

Heralds originally had many duties in addition to administering heraldry: they regulated combats, tournaments, funerals and state occasions. They were also royal messengers. <ref>James Balfour Paul, An Ordinary of Arms, vi</ref>

Sensationally, in 1569 Sir William Stewart- incumbent Lord Lyon- was put on trial in St. Andrews for 'dyvers points of witchcraft and necromancy' and hanged.<ref>Raymond Lamont Brown, From the War of Independence to the Union of the Crowns, Donald Omand, The Fife Book (Edinburgh, Birlinn, 2000) 66</ref>

Recent History

The current Lord Lyon- Dr. Joseph Morrow, was appointed in 2014. Dr. Morrow is a former President of the Mental Health Tribunal for Scotland and former First Tear Tribunal Judge dealing with asylum and immigration issues. He is also professionally interested in ecclesiastical history and public ceremonies.<ref>http://news.scotland.gov.uk/News/New-Lord-Lyon-King-of-Arms-appointed-856.aspx</ref>

Dr. Morrow succeeded William Sellar (b.1941), a solicitor and genealogist who served as Lyon King between 2008 and 2014.

His predecessor, Robin Orr Blair (b.1940) was the first Officer of the Royal Household appointed by the Scottish Government rather that Whitehall. He was also the first to have been appointed in accordance with the European Union's rules on appointments to public service, and the vacancy was publicly advertised. <ref>http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robin_Orr_Blair</ref>

List of Officeholders

  • Henry Greve (c.1399)
  • Douglas (1400-1421)
  • Alexander Nairne of Saintfoord (1437–1450)
  • Duncan Dundas (1450–1488)
  • Sir Andrew Murray of Truim (1488-1496)
  • Henry Thomson of Keillour (1496–1512)
  • Sir William Cumyng of Inverallochy (1512–1519)
  • Thomas Pettigrew of Magdalensyde (1519-1542)
  • Sir David Lyndsay of the Mount (1542–1555)
  • Sir Robert Forman, made herald 1540, (1555–1567)
  • Sir William Stewart (1567–1568)
  • Sir David Lindsay of Rathillet (1568–1591)
  • Sir David Lindsay of the Mount (Secundus) (1591–1621)
  • Sir Jerome Lindsay (1621–1630)
  • Sir James Balfour (1630–1658)
  • Sir James Campbell (1658–1660)
  • Gilbert Stewart (1660)
  • Sir Alexander Dundas (1660–1663)
  • Sir Charles Erskine, Bt (1663–1677)
  • Sir Alexander Erskine (1677–1726)
  • Alexander Brodie of that Ilk (1727–1754)
  • John Hooke-Campbell (1754–1796)
  • The 10th Earl of Kinnoull (1796–1804)
  • The 11th Earl of Kinnoull (1804–1866)
  • George Burnett (1866–90)
  • Sir James Balfour Paul (1890–1927)
  • Captain George Swinton (1927–1929)
  • Sir Francis Grant (1929–1945)
  • Sir Thomas Innes of Learney (1945–1969)
  • Sir James Grant (1969–1981)
  • Sir Malcolm Innes of Edingight (1981–2001)
  • Robin Orr Blair (2001–2008)
  • William David Hamilton Sellar (2008–2014)
  • Dr Joseph Morrow (2014-)



References <references>