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About the Court and Office

The Office of Lyon King of Arms dates from the 14th century.  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.The Lord Lyon is the sole King of Arms in Scotland. He is head of the Heraldic Executive and the Judge of the Court of the Lord Lyon which has jurisdiction over all heraldic business in Scotland. As the person responsible for heraldry in Scotland, the Lord Lyon King of Arms has both administrative and judicial functions in relation to the granting and recording of Arms. He is also responsible for state ceremonial in Scotland. Originally the duties of the Heralds did not relate to armory or the control of the use of Arms in Scotland. The duties of the Lord Lyon and the other Heralds were more ambassadorial in nature and these functions remain, although much changed, in the ceremonial duties undertaken today.                                           The Officers of the Court are the Lord Lyon King of Arms and the Lyon Clerk and Keeper of the Records, both appointed by the Sovereign on the recommendation of the First Minister. There is also the Lyon Macer who appears on judicial occasions bearing the mace of the Court. The organisation of the office of the Lord Lyon is regulated by a number of Acts of Parliament, the most important being an Act of 1672 which established the Public Register of All Arms and Bearings in Scotland and an Act of 1867 which made alterations to the regulation of the Office. The Act of 1867 also allows for there to be a principal  artist, the Herald Painter, who is responsible for overseeing the artistic standards of a team of free-lance painters. There is an independently-appointed Procurator-Fiscal  who is appointed by the Scottish Ministers to decide whether to bring prosecution relating to the illegal use of Arms before the Lord Lyon for judgement. Neither the Lord Lyon nor the Lyon Clerk is involved in determining whether a coat of arms is illegal until a case is brought although the Lyon Clerk can advise if a design could lead to difficulties.

The Lord Lyon King of Arms

The Lord Lyon is responsible for granting new Arms, an administrative function from which there is no appeal other than seeking Judicial Review, and the matriculation of Arms, a judicial function from which there is appeal directly to the Court of Session and ultimately to the Supreme Court. Such appeals are very uncommon as the majority of petitions seeking matriculation or a re-recording of existing Arms are not contested and it is only exceedingly rarely that more than one person believes they are entitled to the same Coat of Arms and the case becomes subject to a formal judicial process.

The Lyon Clerk and Keeper of the Records

The Lyon Clerk is responsible for the running of the Lyon Office, the execution of Letters Patent granting new Arms and  Extracts of Matriculation regarding the re-recording of Arms and for the maintenance of the Public Register of All Arms and Bearings in Scotland and other Registers. Lyon Clerk also has care of the manuscript collection, records and extensive library held in the Office. Lord Lyon King of Arms - Dr Joseph J. Morrow CBE, QC, LLD, DL The Lyon Clerk and Keeper of the Records - Russell Hunter Esq. Herald Painter - Mrs Yvonne Holton Procurator-Fiscal - Alexander Green Esq. Lyon Macer - David Walker Esq. Secretary - Miss Lorna Irving Honorary Vexillologist - Philip Tibbetts Esq.