High Court of Chivalry

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A session of the Court of Chivalry being held in the College of Arms, depicted in 1809.

Her Majesty's High Court of Chivalry of England and Wales is a civil court in England. It has had jurisdiction in cases of the misuse of heraldic arms since the fourteenth century. In Scotland, these types of cases are heard in the Court of the Lord Lyon, which is a standing civil and criminal court, with its own Procurator Fiscal (Public Prosecutor) under the Scottish legal system.


The sole judge is now the hereditary Earl Marshal of England, the Duke of Norfolk, though he normally delegates his responsibility to a professional lawyer as his Surrogate. Before 1521, the Lord High Constable of England also presided, but that office was abolished as a permanent institution (it is "revived" only for a Coronation).


The court was last convened in 1954 for the case of Manchester Corporation v Manchester Palace of Varieties Ltd;[1] prior to this, the Court had not sat for some centuries and before hearing the case, the Court first had to rule whether it still existed.[2] The Palace theatre displayed the arms of the Manchester Corporation (now Manchester City Council) both inside and on its seal and this usage implied that it was linked with the city's council. The Corporation had requested that the theatre cease the usage and had met with refusal. The court ruled in favour of the Corporation.

More recently, in Oct 2012, Aberystwyth Town Council declared its intention to take legal action against a Facebook page displaying unauthorised use of its coat of arms: these were subsequently removed.[3]


Historically, the court was also known as Curia Militaris, the Court of the Constable and the Marshal, or the Earl Marshal's Court.[4]

Appeals from the High Court of Chivalry[edit]

Since 1832, appeals from the High Court of Chivalry are to be heard by the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council.[5] Before 1 February 1833, in common with the admiralty and ecclesiastical courts, appeal from the Court was to the Crown in Chancery, with appeals being heard by Commissioners appointed by letters patent under the Great Seal in each case.[6] Sittings by these Commissioners became known as the "High Court of Delegates" by the time of the 1832 Act.[7]

Lieutenant, Assessor and Surrogate to the Earl Marshal, High Court of Chivalry[edit]

Joint Register, High Court of Chivalry[edit]

Cryer of the High Court of Chivalry[edit]

  • A.H. Smith, 1954

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Manchester Corporation v Manchester Palace of Varieties Ltd, P 133; [1955] 1 All ER 387
  2. ^ G.D. Squibb, The High Court of Chivalry: A Study of the Civil Law in England, Oxford, 1959
  3. ^ Cambrian News - 'Disgusting' sex antics web page sparks fury
  4. ^ G.D. Squibb, The High Court of Chivalry: A Study of the Civil Law in England, Oxford, 1959, pp.2-3; The Law of Arms in Mediaeval England
  5. ^ Privy Council Appeals Act 1832 (2 & 3 Will. 4 c. 92)
  6. ^ Halsbury's Laws of England (3rd Edition), vol. 13, para. 1049
  7. ^ Privy Council Appeals Act 1832 (2 & 3 Will. 4 c. 92), preamble.

External links[edit]